Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids

Health Hub

Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids

Definition 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (n-3 fatty acids) are essential dietary fats that cannot be made by the body. There are three main types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids that can be found in foods and dietary supplements: alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Description 

Dietary fats are classified as unsaturated or saturated, according to their chemical structures. While the intake of saturated fats should be kept to a minimum in a healthy diet, there is a requirement for moderate amounts of certain unsaturated fatty acids, as these are important for maintaining good health. Omega 3 (n-3) Fatty Acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that are essential in the human diet. These fats help to form the highly specialised membrane that surrounds the cells in the human body. Omega-3 Fatty Acids have many beneficial health effects, such helping to prevent heart disease, improving certain skin conditions and helping to control inflammation in chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Omega 3 Fatty Acids can be found in certain types of fish and fish oils. Darker fleshed, oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, salmon, tuna and herring contain more Omega-3 Fatty Acids than white fish. Green, leafy vegetables and flax oil, soybean oil, mustard oil, canola oil and walnut oil also contain Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

Medical Use 

Always consult your Wizard Wellness Practitioner to advise you on dosages and any possible medical interactions.

HEART DISEASE AND BLOOD PRESSURE

Omega 3 fatty acids have a number of beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, such as;

  • Omega 3 fatty acids help to lower blood triglyceride (fat) levels in people who have elevated levels of fat in their blood. High blood triglyceride levels can lead to high cholesterol levels and certain types of heart disease.
  • They reduce blood clotting by having effects on the blood platelets to make them less 'sticky', thus less likely to form blood clots. Reducing platelet stickiness decreases the risk of heart attack.
  • They help to reduce elevated blood pressure.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids may reduce the risks of arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats).

All of these properties help to reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attack.

INFLAMMATORY DISEASES

A wide variety of diseases are caused by uncontrolled inflammation in the body. Omega-3 Fatty Acids can prevent the formation of inflammatory chemicals in the body. This means that Omega-3 supplements can help chronic, inflammatory conditions such as the skin diseases eczema and psoriasis. The anti-inflammatory effects of Omega-3 supplements also improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Supplements of Omega-3 Fatty Acids are helpful in the treatment of asthma as they can reduce inflammation in the airways. Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis may also be improved with Omega-3 supplements.

Deficiency 

Deficiency of essential fatty acids may cause problems in circulation in the extremeties (e.g. cold hands and feet), dry, flaky skin, dull, dry and brittle hair, nails that have no sheen and breast pain and tenderness. Long term essential fatty acid deficiency may contribute to diseases such as the early development of insulin resistance and diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and chronic inflammatory diseases (e.g. eczema and asthma).

Sources 

Cold water fish that are especially rich in Omega-3 fatty acids are listed below;

  • Mackerel
  • Herrings
  • Sardines
  • Tuna (fresh, not tinned the fish oil is often drained off before the fish is tinned)
  • Salmon
  • Anchovies
  • Lake or rainbow trout
  • Halibut
  • Bass

Certain plant oils are good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids in the form of linolenic acid, including flaxseed, canola, soy and wheatgerm oils. Flaxseed Oil is one of the best sources as it contains both of the Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids. Pumpkin seeds, tofu and dark green vegetables are other sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Scroll to top