The Omega-3 fatty acid consists of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and its sister molecule EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Essential fatty acids, are so-called due to the need for them to be acquired solely from the diet in humans, as they cannot be manufactured inside the body.
Omega 3 has many functions in the body. On a cellular level, these unsaturated fatty acids exist in the membranes of our cells and so contribute towards a healthy structure of the outer layer of a cell. A good balance of omega 3 to omega 6 fats are required for healthy cell membranes. Zoom out, and it is clear that a healthy-shaped cell is vital for all aspects of health, because cells make up the tissues in our body.
Omega 3 essential fats are beneficial to the cardiovascular system, such as heart health and health of blood vessels around the body, contributing to healthy blood flow. These fats are precursors of immune signalling molecules that aid in reducing high blood pressure, migraines, headaches, arthritis and other conditions. It is said people originating from the arctic, in places such as Greenland, have particularly low levels of cardiovascular disease.
The immune regulating action of omega 3 may also enhance skin health in conditions such as eczema and other forms of dermatitis. The same mechanism applies to other atopic diseases including asthma, which often can be related to cases of eczema. Additionally, omega 3 can improve symptoms of psoriasis.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids can be found in fish oils, primarily in oily fish with higher fat content such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, to name a few. 115g of Salmon contains up to 3,600 milligrams of omega 3. While white fish such as cod typically only contains only 300 milligrams.
Fish oil has the added benefit of also containing other nutrients such as vitamin A and vitamin D in beneficial ratios for the body. Some fish oils may contain up to 13,800 international units of vitamin A and 1,380 international units of vitamin D per tablespoon. However, any additional requirements for these vitamins should be obtained from supplements taken alongside fish oil. It may be pertinent to source good quality fish, for a richer source of omega 3. Wild caught fish have access to their natural food sources compared to farmed fish, which are commonly fed omega 6 rich foods. Alternatives include krill oil, which is made from small crustaceans called krill instead of fish.
Algae oil is said to be a superior option for vegetarian or vegans, coming from the same source as that obtained by fish. This marine organism is cultivated in laboratories for its unique oil, which is packed with omega-3 fatty acids.
Flaxseeds are also a great plant-based source of omega 3; with the added benefit of B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and zinc. The nutty flavour of ground flaxseed is pleasant and can be added to baking or sprinkled onto meals such as soups, salads or smoothie bowls. Flaxseed oil is another option, several studies have shown benefit in arthritis with the reduction of pain, inflammation and swelling. Walnuts are also a good source, however they contain more omega 6 in comparison. Please view the article of omega 6 for further information.
Allergies (Respiratory) , Arthritis (Osteo) , Cardiovascular Health , Eczema , Eye Health , Depression , Dermatitis , Dry Eyes , Dry Skin , Hair Health , Hayfever , Headaches , Hypertension , Inflammation , Joint Health , Nail Health , Pain , Psoriasis , Rheumatoid Arthritis , Sciatica , PCOS , Skin Support , Sports Performance
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