There have been wide spread use of omega-3 fatty acids with their health benefits backed by relevant scientific studies. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats necessary for your cell membrane functions. They are present in certain food such as flaxseed oil, flax seeds, vegetable oils, leafy vegetables, walnuts, fish and also in dietary supplements as fish oil.
Omega-3 fatty acid belong to a class of polyunsaturated fatty acids.There are different types of omega-3 fatty acid but the following three are the most relevant. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which are found mostly in plant oils e.g flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) found in mackerel, tuna, cod liver and salmon. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in oily fish such as salmon.
Both EPA and DHA are considered long chain omega-3s due to the long carbon chain they contain. They are mostly present in fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines. There are limited scientific reports that both EPA and DHA are beneficial in the reduction of inflammation in cardiovascular diseases.
The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acid
1. The EPA omega-3 fatty acid have been linked to a healthy skin through the production of oil that are necessary for the hydration of your skin. They also can protect your skin from sun damage.
2. The DHA omega-3 fatty acid helps in reducing risk of macular degeneration (leading cause of blindness).
3. The DHA omega-3 fatty acid fortified baby formula are a great benefit for your child.
4. Omega-3 fatty acid have been linked to causing reduction in triglycerides levels (hypertriglyceridemia), increases level of the good HDL cholesterol and reduces plaque formation that can potentially cause blockage in your arteries. It is worth mentioning that omega-3 fatty acid do not prevent heart attack or strokes.
5. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements can help improve attention and reduce hyperactivity and aggression in children with Attention Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
6. Omega-3 fatty acid can help reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome such as obesity, diabetes and inflammation.
7. Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to reducing risk of certain autoimmune diseases including diabetes, rheumatoid and ulcerative colitis.
8. Omega-3 fatty acids can improve bone strength and reduce risk of osteoporosis and arthritis. They have been useful in managing chronic and long term inflammatory conditions.
9. Omega-3 fatty acids increases fertility and sex drive by improving circulation to your vital sexual organs.
10. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial during pregnancy. They increase blood flow to the fetus during pregnancy.
There have been studies to back up claims that high doses of omega-3 supplements can carry some health risks such as bleeding or increase in heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation). It is therefore recommended that you check with your healthcare professionals if you have other underlying medical condition such as cardiovascular disease before supplementing on omega-3.
Regardless of whether you take omega-3 fatty supplements or derive them from natural foods, the take away from here is to maintain a healthy lifestyle including regular physical activity, eat a healthy diet, quit smoking and drink alcohol moderately.
Written by GEORGE ORISILE (Clinical Pharmacist) 16 May, 2020.
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