Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s play major roles in the body as a component of the phospholipids that form the structures of cell membranes. DHA, in particular, is especially high in the retina, brain, and sperm. Apart from their structural role in cell membranes, omega-3 fatty acids provide energy for the body and are used to form eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are signaling molecules that have similar chemical structures to the fatty acids from which they are derived; they have wide-ranging functions in the body’s cardiovascular, pulmonary, immune, and endocrine systems.
The three major omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found mainly in plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils. DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood.
Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s are present naturally in some foods. Omega-3s is available in variety of foods, including the following:
- Fish and other seafood (salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines)
- Nuts and seeds (flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts)
- Plant oils (flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil)
Omega-3 dietary supplements include fish oil, krill oil, cod liver oil, and algal oil (a vegetarian source that comes from algae).
A deficiency of Omega-3s can cause rough, scaly skin and dermatitis. Plasma and tissue concentrations of DHA decrease when an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency is present. Due to Omega-3 deficiency, the visual, neural or immune function can be impaired.
Health Benefits of Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids have been tied to numerous benefits for heart health. Omega-3s can cause a major reduction in triglycerides, usually in the range of 15–30% and raise HDL cholesterol levels. Omega-3s can reduce blood pressure levels in people with high blood pressure and can also restrict blood platelets from clumping together. This helps prevent the formation of harmful blood clots. It also keeps arteries smooth and free from damage and help prevent the plaque formation which restricts and hardens the arteries
Infant health and development
Studies have shown the effects of maternal seafood and omega-3 intakes on infant birth weight, length of gestation, visual and cognitive development, and other infant health outcomes. High concentrations of DHA are present in the cellular membranes of the brain and retina, and DHA is important for fetal growth and development. The accumulation of DHA in the retina is complete by birth, whereas accumulation in the brain continues throughout the first 2 years after birth.
Studies show that people who consume Omega-3s have up to 55% lower risk of colon cancer. Additionally, omega-3 consumption is linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women.
Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and cognitive function
Some shows that people who consume more omega-3s from food such as fish may have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other problems with cognitive function. Studies also suggests that omega-3 supplements may be beneficial at disease onset, when the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease are very mild
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
Age-related macular degeneration is a major cause of vision loss among older adults. Studies suggest that people who get higher amounts of omega-3s from the foods they eat may have a lower risk of developing Age-related macular degeneration.
Dry eye disease
Dry eye disease occurs when tears don’t provide enough moisture, causing eye discomfort and vision problems. Some studies show that getting more omega-3s from foods or supplements mainly EPA and DHA helps relieve symptoms of dry eye disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes chronic pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints. Some clinical trials have shown that taking omega-3 supplements may help manage Rheumatoid arthritis when taken together with standard Rheumatoid arthritis medications and other treatments.
Studies indicate that people who consume omega-3s regularly are less likely to be depressed. People with depression or anxiety supplemented with omega-3, showed improvement in their symptoms. There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids which is ALA, EPA and DHA. EPA appears to be the best at fighting depression.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in Children
Omega-3 supplements can reduce the symptoms of Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. They improve attention and reduce hyperactivity, impulsiveness and aggression.
Omega-3s can have numerous benefits for people with metabolic syndrome. They can reduce insulin resistance, fight inflammation and improve several heart disease risk factors.
Long-term inflammation can contribute to almost every chronic Western illness, including heart disease and cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the production of molecules and substances linked to inflammation, such as inflammatory eicosanoids and cytokines.