Why Omega-3s Are Important

Posted on by Paula Gallagher


Are you getting enough omega-3s in your diet? Many people are still falling short! If you aren't getting enough in your diet, there are lots of reasons why you should consider supplementing.

Omega-3 is a type of fat that is found in some kinds of fish, plants and seafood. There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is commonly found in fats from plant foods, such as nuts and seeds (walnuts are a rich source). EPA and DHA are naturally found in fatty fish such as salmon and fish oils, including cod liver oil. There are many studies on the benefits of omega-3s for heart disease, blood pressure, blood clotting, inflammation, cognitive wellness, eye disorders, and even some cancers.

One common factor with all of these diseases and other age-related illnesses is unmanaged inflammation in the body. The reason omega-3a are so helpful with these ailments is because they help reduce chronic inflammation. Inflammation is a normal response by the body to protect itself, fight off infection and speed up healing. Chronic inflammation occurs when the body fails to turn off the inflammation signals, causing your body to attack healthy tissues and organs. When inflammation has become chronic, you may no longer feel the pain or the problems associated with a normal response. Instead, your body systems may start to break down and health issues begin to develop. As an example, evidence shows that heart disease is a result of too much C-reactive protein in the body, which is a response to inflammation. Inflammation also worsens diabetes symptoms and, in some cases, can also be the root cause of the first stage of type II diabetes. Inflammation in the brain can cause cognitive diseases and impairment. In the lungs, it can cause breathing disorders, and in the digestive system, it can cause IBS, colitis and Crohn's. Less severe symptoms that indicate your inflammatory response is starting to misfire may be skin rashes, eye inflammation, hair loss, dry mouth and difficulty losing weight.

Omega 3s, particularly in fish oils, can improve chronic inflammation by significantly changing the molecules that play a role in creating an inflammatory response. Omega-3s found in fish oils also trick the eicosanoid pathway into producing anti-inflammatory signals. The eicosanoid pathway is responsible for turning on and off inflammation. Omega-3s also produce signalling molecules such as "resolvins," that not only suppress inflammation, but also promote healing and protection against cellular damage. What does this mean? It means that omega-3s can benefit a wide range of health conditions, especially those whereby the root cause is chronic inflammation.

When choosing an omega-3 supplement, make sure you are choosing one that is high-quality and has had third party testing to ensure a safe and effective product. Pathway and Nordic Naturals are two of my favorite brands. Pathway Super Omega 3 is a high-potency omega-3 supplement that is enteric coated to deter those fishy burps. Nordic Naturals offers a large variety of omegas to suit your whole family's needs... from liquid to tiny chewables for kids.

Photo from here, with thanks.