Omega 3 Fats: Necessary and Effective

Omega 3 fats are crucial to our well being. Do you consume cold-water, fatty fish; seafood; flax seeds; walnuts; and leafy green veggies daily? If not you probably aren't getting enough omega 3 fats in your diet.

Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.

Image of fish and green vegetables

If you want to include more foods in your diet high in these fats, consider these:

  • Cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, tuna, lake trout, and herring are some of the best fish sources.
  • Flax seeds, flax meal, and flax oil.
  • Canola (rapeseed) oil.
  • Soybeans.
  • Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil.
  • Purslane.
  • Perilla seed oil.
  • Walnuts and walnut seed oil.
  • Sea life such as krill and algae.

Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function as well as normal growth and development.

They have also become popular because they may reduce the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least 2 times a week.

Image of Meditteranean Diet pyramid

It's important to have a balance of omega 3 fats and omega 6 fats (another essential fatty acid) in the diet. Omega 3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, and most omega 6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation.

The standard American diet tends to contain 14 to 25 times more omega 6 fats than omega 3 fats due to the processed foods and oils, and excessive meats that are consumed so often.

The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, has a healthier balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Studies have shown that people who follow this diet are less likely to develop heart disease.

The Mediterranean diet does not include much meat and emphasizes foods rich in omega 3 fats, including whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, garlic, as well as moderate wine consumption.

Most of us would definitely benefit from a daily omega 3 supplement. Here are a few of those benefits:

Image of fish oil capsules

  • Freedom from pain and inflammation. Omega 3 supplementation will help with any condition ending in "itis" and may help relieve pain from chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
  • Better brain function and higher intelligence. Pregnant and nursing mothers can have a great impact on the intelligence and happiness of their babies by supplementing with omega 3 fish oil with DHA. For adults, fish oil improves memory, recall, reasoning and focus.
  • Feelings of well being with less depression. Studies show that fish oil may alleviate symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder and psychosis.
  • Improves cardiovascular health protecting from heart attack and stroke. They help lower bad LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure, while at the same time increasing good HDL cholesterol.

    When plaque builds up on arterial walls and then breaks loose, it can cause a blood clot. If a clot gets stuck in the brain, it causes a stroke. When it plugs an artery, it causes a heart attack. Research shows fish oil fatty acids can break up clots before they can cause any damage.

    This could add years to your life expectancy.

  • Lessen severity of ADD and ADHD. Children (and adults) with ADD and ADHD experience a much better quality of life. Those with dyslexia, dyspraxia and compulsive disorders also benefit thanks to fish oil supplements.
  • Improved vision.Like the rest of the cells in the brain, the cells of the retina contain fatty acids. The most prominent of these fatty acids in the eye is an omega-3 fatty acid called DHA. These omega 3 fats help protect against cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and even dry eyes.

    My husband will attest to this as his vision improved after a couple of months of taking Usana's Biomega fish oil daily. I've also had other clients comment that they no longer had dry eyes after taking fish oil or flax oil.

  • Beautiful skin and hair. Lack of adequate amounts of omega 3 fats can cause dry, dull skin and dry, brittle hair and nails. Adding omega 3 fats to your diet on a regular basis can help your skin to glow and strengthen your hair and nails.
  • Improve osteoporosis. According to information published by the University of Maryland Medical Center, some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may help increase levels of calcium in the body and improve bone strength.

It is extremely important that your omega 3 supplement be pure and high quality fish oil, not just soybean oil disguised as fish oil. One that I have used and recommend is Carlson's Super Omega-3. Just be sure your have a pure source for your fish oil supplements.

If you are concerned about burping or belching the fish oil taste after taking your supplement, try keeping them in the freezer! They will still be just as potent.

Precautions to Consider

Image of boy deep sea fishing

  1. Often people are concerned about fish consumption due to potentially harmful contaminants, such as heavy metals (including mercury), dioxins, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

    For sport-caught fish, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that pregnant or nursing women eat no more than a single 6-ounce meal per week, and young children less than 2 ounces per week.

    For farm-raised, imported, or marine fish, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that pregnant or nursing women and young children avoid eating types with higher levels of mercury (such as mackerel, shark, swordfish, or tilefish), and eat up to 12 ounces per week of other fish types.

  2. Omega-3 fatty acids should be used cautiously by people who bruise easily, have a bleeding disorder, or take blood-thinning medications including warfarin (Coumadin) or clopidogrel (Plavix). High doses of omega-3 fatty acids may increase the risk of bleeding.
  3. If you have type 2 diabetes, use fish oil supplements only under the supervision of a health care provider.
  4. Make sure your fish oil supplement is pure and meets NSF Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs).

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