Omega 3 – is your heart missing out?

Omega 3 – is your heart missing out?

Author -  Jamie Jones, Naturopath

Naturopath Jamie Jones talks about the importance of Omega 3 fatty acids for heart health.

What is Omega 3?

The human body needs many nutrients. Some of them – vitamins and minerals, for example – are common knowledge. Others, like amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and fatty acids are less well-known – although no less important for our health. Nutritionists categorise important fatty acids into three different Omega “families”, depending on their chemical structure. And it is the Omega 3 family of fatty acids, most often found in Fish Oil, that seems to affect our heart health the most.

How our bodies use Omega 3 fatty acids

As with all nutrients, our bodies can use Omega 3 fatty acids in several ways. They’re an intrinsic part of our cell membranes, and can help to ensure those membranes function properly. They have important anti-inflammatory properties that may help to reduce joint soreness, stiffness and swelling. And they can help to keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels healthy, which may explain a big part of the role they play in heart health.What the experts say about Omega 3 and heart healthDr Tony Lewis of Australia’s Complementary Healthcare Council comments that research results sometimes appear to be conflicting, so further study is needed. However, he notes that there are clear indications that Omega 3 Fish Oils can benefit heart health.

Tim Crowe, a lecturer in nutrition at Deakin University in Australia agrees that the evidence is not yet conclusive. However, he says, there is strong evidence that Omega 3 may offer some protection against heart problems, especially in people who have a history of heart disease.

How much Omega 3 should you take, and how?

National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines recommend a daily Omega 3 intake for men of 610mg, and for women of 430mg. Unfortunately, the average Australian only gets around 189mg each day.Dr Crowe recommends either eating oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines or mackerel) or taking Fish Oil supplements as the best way to address this shortfall. Either two servings a week of these kinds of fish, or two capsules of high quality fish oil a day will contain the recommended Omega 3 levels.

‘Omega 3 is a crucial nutrient.’ Rachel Gibson. June 10, 2006. The Age, Melbourne.