How Does Omega-3 Help the Body?
Omega-3 is a group of fatty acids that are essential for body functions. If you get enough of them, they can provide great health benefits. You can absorb omega-3 fats by consuming food. You can mostly find them in fish, seeds, oils and some nuts. A person who avoids these foods can choose to take omega-3 supplements instead.
There are three main types of omega-3 – ALA, DHA and EPA. Each comes with its own benefits, so combined, there are a lot of advantages to getting enough omega-3 in your diet! We’ve outlined these three types of omega-3 below:
ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid)
The body uses this type of omega-3 for energy. It is the most common omega-3 acid within the body. ALA is mostly in plant-based foods.
DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid)
This type of omega-3 plays a key role in the maintenance of body systems, such as the brain and the liver. As this is most commonly found in animal products, someone who doesn’t eat a lot of animal products or is on a vegan diet may often look to supplement DHA in order to get enough of this fatty acid.
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid)
Perhaps the most important acid, EPA can largely be found in animal products. It helps prevent heart disease and helps to reduce inflammation. It can also be prescribed by doctors for patients due to its positive effects on mental health. EPA can help prevent depression and aid in day to day brain function.
Benefits of Omega-3 in the Diet
Cognitive Function and Sleep
Ample levels of omega-3 in the diet assist greatly with brain function and health when consumed on a daily basis. They can help the brain to rest and achieve greater levels of sleep, as well as deeper sleep. Omega-3 will also help boost a person’s memory when consumed regularly.
Lower Blood Pressure
A person with increased levels of omega-3 in their diet will have lower blood pressure. By reducing the strain on cells walls the circulatory system does not have to work as hard reducing a person’s blood pressure.
Sufficient levels of omega-3 in the body greatly aids in protection against the sun if overexposed for long periods of time. A person with a skin disorder may also look to supplement to increase omega-3 levels. They may even be prescribed this due to its effect on fighting conditions such as eczema and dermatitis.
Omega-3 helps increase hair growth. It helps against dry and flaky scalps and prevents against inflammation which is attributed to hair loss. Studies have also been carried out to support the belief that a person with high omega-3 levels can also begin to reverse hair loss if that person is suffering from baldness.
It is not possible for the body to produce omega-3, therefore it can only be consumed from food sources. A general recommendation of omega-3 in the diet by medical professionals is 250 – 500mg on a daily basis. This can change due to a person’s health condition, therefore it is important an individual seeks medical guidance before looking to supplement omega-3.
Not only can omega-3 help with brain functions like memory, it can also help with mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. Studies have increasingly started to show that people with higher levels of omega-3 in their diet are less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety. And taking supplements can even alleviate their symptoms. Of the three main omega-3s listed above, EPA appears to be the most effective at fighting such mental illnesses.
Omega-3s in Your Diet
While a lot of health advice is to avoid fatty foods, omega-3 fatty acids are an exception! Getting enough of these in your diet is essential for optimal health. The best way to include omega-3s in your diet is to eat whole foods, like fatty fish, a few times a week. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, or perhaps just don’t like to eat a lot of fatty fish, you may alternatively wish to take supplements. These are easy to get hold of, and are relatively inexpensive too.