Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are one of the most often consumed supplements by Americans.
Omega-3 ranks among the most important essential nutrients out there today.
In 2008, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published three studies investigating the role of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids in elderly populations.
Low concentrations of EPA and DHA resulted in an increased risk of death from all causes, as well as accelerated cognitive decline.
Studies also suggest that long-term supplementation of omega 3 will bring significant health benefits.
Let’s discuss which conditions this type of supplement can help and prevent and outline some of the best omega 3 benefits.
Benefits Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
1) Inflammatory Bowel Disease
One of the conditions that omega-3 fatty acids can help treat is inflammatory bowel disease.
Inflammatory bowel disease is a type of autoimmune disorder involving the gut. It encompasses both Crohn’s disease as well as ulcerative colitis.
2) Gut Microbes
Omega-3 fatty acids have an impact on gut microbes as well. One study found that there was a change in gut microbes after omega-3 supplementation.
Omega-3 fatty acids increase the production of anti-inflammatory compounds (like short-chain fatty acids, for example).
Omega-3 fatty acids are also able to revert the microbial composition in people with inflammatory bowel disease.
Increasing evidence in scientific studies has found that there is an interplay between gut microbes, omega-3 fatty acids, and immunity.
Research also demonstrates that this interaction helps to maintain the integrity of the cell membranes in the walls of the intestines. Studies have also found that omega-3 fatty acids can influence the gut-brain axis by acting through microbes in the gut.
Another condition that can be helped by omega-3 fatty acids is epilepsy. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the functioning of the human body, most notably for the brain.
Omega-3 fatty acids (docosahexaenoic acid or DHA) participate in several physiological processes within the brain.
There is evidence to suggest that omega-3 fatty acids might have neuroprotective and anticonvulsant effects. Therefore, omega-3 fatty acids can be an essential part of a treatment plan for a patient with epilepsy.
Hyperlipidemia is the medical term for “too much fat in the blood.” This means that you have high cholesterol and can increase your blood pressure and risk for cardiovascular events.
Although it may seem counterintuitive that fat can help when you have too much fat in the blood, it is true. In one study, omega-3 fatty acids were able to significantly reduce the size of low-density lipoproteins compared to control groups.
Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation was also able to lower total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, and non-high density lipoprotein. This suggests that omega-3 fatty acids can help to improve blood lipid profiles and reduce the amount of fatty plaques depositing within the arteries.
5) Vitamin D Deficiency
Omega-3 fatty acids can also help with vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. This is because omega-3 fatty acids help to increase levels of vitamin D synergistically.
They do this by inhibiting the expression of an enzyme called CYP24 within the kidneys and liver.
6) Liver Cirrhosis
Omega-3 fatty acids also help with liver cirrhosis or scarring on the liver (caused by alcoholism, poor diet, etc.). Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the fibrosis of the liver.
They also help to promote regeneration of the liver, even when the liver has cirrhosis or scarring on it.
7) Muscle Loss
Omega-3 fatty acids can help to prevent muscle loss. Both animal and cell-based models have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can influence the metabolism of skeletal muscle.
Skeletal muscle is the type of muscle that we use for movement (for example, our biceps and our hamstrings are types of skeletal muscle).
Recent research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids can influence the exercise and nutritional response of the skeletal muscle. These studies show that your prior omega-3 fatty acid status affects your metabolic response to nutrition.
Interestingly enough, your prior omega-3 status also influences your body’s functional response to exercise. Therefore, omega-3 fatty acids have the potential to help prevent several human diseases, including the physical decline that is associated with aging.
8) Cognitive Decline
Omega-3 fatty acids can also help prevent problems with brain development in children.
There is growing evidence stating the importance of omega-3 fatty acids for brain development in childhood. Omega-3’s are also crucial for optimal brain health in adults.
Research has found that infants whose mothers’ milk was higher in omega-3 fatty acids had lower scores on the negative affectivity questionnaire.
The negative affectivity questionnaire is a measure of temperament that is associated with a risk for internalizing disorders later on in life.
The researchers in this study concluded that the behavior of children could actually be adjusted through omega-3 supplementation.
8) Colon Cancer
Omega-3 fatty acids can also help to prevent the progression of colon cancer. Scientific studies have demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acids can decrease inflammatory biomarkers and tumor markers.
This research also showed that consuming omega-3 fatty acids can improve nutritional status in colorectal cancer patients.
Researchers concluded that omega-3 fatty acid intake can be an effective adjuvant therapy for patients with colorectal cancer based on its ability to reduce inflammatory biomarkers and its resistance to cancer treatment.
10) Cardiovascular Risk
Omega-3 fatty acids may also help to prevent the endothelial dysfunction and cardiovascular risk that come with older age.
Omega-3 fatty acids work to delay aging-related endothelial dysfunction and are, therefore, useful in cardiovascular disease prevention. They also help in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, which is related to endothelial dysfunction in the brain.
11) Age-related Macular Degeneration
Omega-3 fatty acids can also help to prevent age-related macular degeneration. One research study found that levels of arachidonic acid (a pro-inflammatory substance) were lower in the omega-3 treated group compared to controls.
The levels of eicosapentaenoic acid were higher in the blood, and the retinas of the omega-3 treated the group as well. The treated group also had fewer granules and a thicker outer nuclear layer of the eye.
They also had significantly greater expression of several important proteins in the eye. Researchers concluded that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation slows normal age-related macular degeneration.
12) Joint Pain
The two types of omega 3 fats most important for health are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Both these are found in oily fish and fish oil supplements.
They inhabit parts of the inflammation process, including the attraction of white blood cells to the joints, the cells that adhere to the joint that causes the inflammation, and the actual white blood cell-adhesion interaction.
EPA and DHA also create inflammatory resolving mediators called resolvins, protectins, and maresins. These two also stabilize plaques in the arteries.
According to research studies, omega-3 fats have been shown to reduce morning stiffness and the number of tender and swollen joints in those with rheumatoid arthritis.
One Iranian study showed a 50% improvement of tender joints of 89% of the study participants was seen, and the average erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) decreased from 39 to 16. There was a notable reduction in pain after 12 weeks of supplementation.
13) Good For Your Skin
DHA is a structural component of your skin. It is responsible for the health of cell membranes, which make up a large part of your skin.
EPA also benefits your skin by managing oil production, reducing premature aging and lowering the risk of acne.
14) Improves Sleep
Low levels of omega-3 fatty havve been linked to sleep problems in children and obstructive sleep apnea in adults.
Low levels of DHA are also linked to lower levels of the hormone melatonin, which helps you fall asleep.
Studies have shown found that supplementing with omega-3 can help to increase the length and quality of sleep. The participants who consumed fish reported better daily functioning than the Control group during post-test.
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How Much Omega-3 To Take
The average recommended a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids in adults is between 1 and 4 grams. Please note that this is based on clinical trials performed on healthy volunteers.
People looking to treat various health concerns (such as cardiovascular disease, high triglyceride levels, heart disease, brain health, or age-related macular degeneration) may require a higher dose.
The Food and Drug Association’s recommendation is no more than 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day. They also suggest that up to 2 grams per day of those 3 grams can come from omega-3 fatty acid supplements.
What can happen if you consume too much omega-3?
Research has shown that if you consume too much omega-3 fatty acids, you can experience liver damage, specifically:
- Inflammatory infiltration
- Bridging fibrosis
- Too much omega-3 can exacerbate injury to the gut liver axis.
How Can You Ensure You Are Getting Enough Omega-3?
You can ensure you are getting enough omega-3 fatty acids by consuming foods high in omega-3’s, such as marine oils.
These could include fish oil or algal oil. Research has shown that the best practice is to consume at least two oily fish meals per week. Eggs are another source of omega-3 fatty acids you could include in your diet.
Interestingly enough, there are plant sources of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that have been produced in laboratories. These are terrestrial plants that are genetically modified to produce both eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid.
One way to ensure your children are getting enough omega-3 fatty acids is by breastfeeding your infants if you can.
However, concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids in breast milk are reflective of the mother’s diet. Therefore, you will need to make sure you are consuming enough omega-3 fatty acids.
Finally, one way to ensure you are getting enough omega-3 fatty acids to have positive health benefits is by taking a good, high-quality omega-3 supplement.
Sources Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids (especially the essential fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid or DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA).
If you need more omega-3 fatty acids, you should eat omega-rich foods such as:
- Flax seeds
- Algae oil
If you consume a vegetarian or vegan diet, it may be harder for you to consume enough omega-3 fatty acids. In this case, you must ensure you consume algae oil.
If you need more omega-3 fatty acids, you may want to consider consuming a Mediterranean diet. Research has shown that this diet contains lots of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
If you want to consume more omega-3 fatty acids for their various health benefits, the easiest way to do this is by consuming dietary supplements. Just make sure that the supplement you choose is pure and of good quality.
To get the most out of your omega-3 supplement, however, your supplement must be stored properly so that it does not oxidize or go rancid.
Ensure that the supplement comes in dark packaging and store it in the fridge. Otherwise, it may not be as effective at helping you to reach your omega-3 targets.
Best Omega-3 Supplements
Where can you find the best omega-3 supplements?
The best omega-3 dietary supplements can be found at Ben’s Natural Health. You can also look at local health food stores. Do your research and advocate for your own health. Be sure to make an informed, knowledgeable decision when it comes to picking the omega-3 supplement that is best for you.
The best omega-3 supplements have the proper dose of at least 1 gram. Good omega-3 supplements will contain both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
They will also be free of impurities, toxins, and heavy metals. A good sign is when omega-3 fatty acids have seals from U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF International, or ConsumerLab.com.
Krill Oil Vs. Fish Oil
Krill oil is often seen as an alternative to fish oil. So what is the difference? They both contain the same omega 3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid.
However, the fatty acid composition of krill oil and fish oil are technically different from each other. The fatty acids in fish oil are attached to triacylglycerols, whereas the fats in krill oil are bound to phospholipids by ethyl esters.
This improves the bioavailability of fatty acids in krill oil, meaning that they are absorbed more easily. This is why many people believe krill oil to be a superior supplement to fish oil.
One study looked at the effects of krill oil as compared to fish oil when it came to the incorporation of EPA and DHA into the membrane of red blood cells. This study looked at both human and animal studies.
The researchers also compared krill oil and fish oil findings related to health effects, specifically looking at fats, inflammatory markers, cardiovascular disease risk (blood pressure), and biological functions.
Krill oil also played a role in far more metabolic pathways than fish oil did. This insinuates that krill oil and fish oil may have different biological effects in the body. Krill oil may be the better choice for cardiovascular health.
Ben’s Wild Antarctic Krill Oil is sourced from the clean, pure and unpolluted waters of the Antarctic, and is more easily absorbed, more productive, and requires a much lower dose than fish oil to have the same effect.
If your triglyceride levels are abnormally high and you have a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, talk to your health care provider about whether high dose omega-3 fatty acid supplementation might be a good option for you.
If you are not vegan or vegetarian, then a fish oil, fish liver oil, or krill oil supplement is probably best for you. When it comes to krill versus fish oil, it appears as if krill oil might be the best choice.
Flaxseed oil is a vegan-friendly option. However, it contains alpha-lipoic acid and no docosahexaenoic acid or eicosapentaenoic acid.
Please take into consideration all the above information and confer with your health care provider to see if an omega-3 supplement is a good choice for you.