7 top health benefits of taking Omega 3 Fish Oil

7 top health benefits of taking Omega 3 Fish Oil

Author -  Healtheries Naturopath

Find out why you need Omega 3 everyday to stay healthy

Fish are one of nature’s superfoods and are packed full of important nutrients including protein, vitamins A and D; minerals iodine, iron, zinc and selenium, as well as special health-protective fats called Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs).

What are Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)?

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are special fats that the body needs but cannot synthesize on its own. This means they need to be obtained every day from the diet, or deficiencies that leave the body vulnerable to poor health can occur.

Omega 3 and 6 EFAs

There are two main groups of EFAs called Omega 3 and Omega 6. Omega 3 EFAs are found in oily fish, and some plants such as flaxseed, whereas Omega 6 are found in plant or seed oils such as sunflower, safflower, corn and sesame.

EFAs are found throughout the entire body, occurring in large quantities in the brain, nerve endings, adrenal glands, eyes and reproductive organs.

The overall levels of EFAs in today’s Western diet have declined considerably to one-sixth of what they were in the 1850s. More importantly, however, the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 EFAs has changed – partly because today’s diet includes more Omega-rich grains and processed foods. This has led to Omega 3 deficiencies[1], and an overall EFA imbalance.

What is Omega 3 Fish Oil and why is it important for my health?

Oily fish contain two special types of Omega 3 EFAs called EPA and DHA. Recently, these fatty acids have been the focus of a significant amount nutritional research. They have been studied for their many health benefits, some of these include:

  • heart health, cholesterol management, blood pressure and circulation
  • brain health, learning, memory and concentration
  • eye health and development
  • joint mobility
  • pregnancy and breastfeeding

Why do we need Omega 3 Fish Oil?

EFAs are just as important as vitamins and minerals. They play many key roles in the body and are involved in processes as diverse as:

  • Keeping the outside of cells supple: Omega 3 EFAs are an important component of cell membranes, keeping the membrane supple, giving it structure, and allowing it to transmit electrical signals from one cell to another.
  • Maintaining heart health and cholesterol levels: Omega 3 EFAs help to keep the heart and blood vessels healthy; and eating Omega 3-rich foods has been shown to reduce heart disease risk, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and arteriosclerosis.
  • Supporting vision: Omega 3 EFAs are found throughout the eye tissues and are needed for healthy vision. They help to promote the help of the retina, especially in early infancy and throughout adulthood.
  • Supporting brain health and development: Omega 3 EFAs are found in high levels in the brain; and research shows that EFA levels have a significant effect on brain function and development. Investigations suggest that a good Omega 3 EFA intake is needed both in the womb and throughout childhood to ensure healthy brain development and learning abilities. Low levels of Omega 3 EFAs are linked to depression and other mood problems.
  • Maintaining healthy joint mobility: Omega 3 EFAs help protect against stiff, painful joints and play an important role in managing inflammation.
  • Supporting a healthy pregnancy and assisting breastfeeding: Omega 3 EFAs are needed before conception, during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Omega 3 EPA and DHA provide the growing baby with important building blocks for building healthy brain and eyes, especially in the third trimester and in early childhood when the growth rate is greatest.  DHA is found in high concentrations in the brain’s grey matter, and is critical for normal brain development in the womb and infancy (unsurprisingly, it is the most abundant Omega 3 EFA in breast milk). DHA deficiencies have been linked to poor vision, and DHA has been shown to be important for baby’s growth and development, learning and behaviour, and sleep-state patterning.
  • Promoting healthy hair, skin and nails: Omega 3 EFA deficiencies can create prostaglandin imbalances that cause skin problems, e.g. dry, red, itchy skin patches – especially on the face, arms or legs. They can also lead to dull hair, dandruff and cracked brittle nails. Because Omega 3 EFAs are critical for cell membrane structure, they can also help to prevent moisture loss from the skin, and help nutrients enter skin cells. This makes them important for smooth, vibrant skin and optimal wound healing.

[1] Simopolous, A. The omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio, genetic variation, and cardiovascular disease. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008;17 (S1):131-134

 
 
 
 
 

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