First things first, take a look at your diet. If you are not consuming fish on a weekly basis then you may not be consuming enough omega-3’s. Aside from seafood, you may be getting omega-3’s from nuts and seeds (flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts), plant oils (flaxseed oil, soybean oil, canola oil), or fortified foods. Still nothing? Then keep reading!
There are three main Omega-3 fatty acids ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). EPA and DHA are our main focus today. Omega-3’s are extremely important to cell function, as they are strong components in the cell membrane. DHA is found most in eye, brain, and sperm cells. However, all omega-3 fatty acids are an integral part of how your immune system, endocrine system, and circulatory system function.
Now, our bodies are generally self-sustaining. Things just work all day every day to make up our movements, thoughts, moods, the list goes on. If you are getting a healthy diet, regular exercise, avoiding bad habits, you are likely to live a long, healthy life. With that said, the body cannot produce EPA or DHA unless you are consuming it through diet or supplementation. So, that’s the catch.
‘But, I don’t want to eat fish and what are flaxseeds?’ You might be thinking this to yourself. You are not alone. That’s why many people are turning to fish oil supplements or vegan alternatives to get the omega-3’s their body needs. If you are currently taking an omega-3 supplement, it is important to confirm that both EPA and DHA are on the ingredient list, otherwise you are missing out on essential fatty acids.
Benefits of Omega-3’s
If you have made it this far, that means you are not getting omega-3’s in your diet and are really considering an omega-3 supplement. We don’t blame you. The benefits are endless and new studies come out on a regular basis as more and more people are adding this supplement to their daily routine.
Omega-3’s are most well known for their effect on cardiovascular health. There is evidence that for African Americans, a 77% reduction in heart attacks was found when taking 1g/day. There was also a 25% reduction in cardiovascular events across the board with humans who have suffered or are currently suffering from heart disease (taking 4g/day working with their doctor).
Other studies have suggested that Omega-3’s can support arthritis management and potentially reduce the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. Studies are also currently underway assessing effects of omega-3 supplementation in children that are diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder).
The Bottom Line
If you are not currently consuming foods rich in omega-3’s, daily supplementation is worth considering. If you have concerns starting a new supplement or suffer from any health problems or currently are on medication, it is suggested to speak with your doctor.