Omega 3 fatty acids have many health benefits. Research shows that omega-3’s EPA and DHA can help lower inflammation throughout the body in addition to lowering triglycerides and blood pressure and omega 3 fatty acids may also help with other conditions, such as risk of stroke, heart disease and heart attack, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, visual and neurological development in infants, asthma, ADHD, Alzheimers and dementia. Omega 3 fatty acids may also reduce the risk of blood clots and boost immunity.
Omega 3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids (EFA’s) as they are essential to human health. We need them for our bodies to work normally. Because certain essential fatty acids (ALA, DHA, EPA) can’t be made in our bodies well, we have to get them from our diet.
There are several types of omega-3 fatty acids. Two crucial ones — EPA and DHA — are primarily found in certain cold water fish. Plants like flax contain ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid that is partially converted into DHA and EPA in the body. Algae oil provides only DHA.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids have these health benefits:
Reduced Risk of Depression. Some researchers have found that cultures that eat foods with high levels of omega-3s have lower levels of depression. Fish oil also seems to boost the effects of antidepressants. Fish oil may help reduce the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Prenatal health. DHA appears to be important for neurological development in infants.
ADHD. Some studies show that fish oil can reduce the symptoms of ADHD in some children and improve their cognitive function. Low blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids are being associated with poorer cognitive performance and poor behavior in children. Fatty acid supplementation is being suggested as a benefit to children with ADHD and to related behavior/learning difficulties. Lower DHA levels were also associated with diminished reading ability and working memory, and with higher levels of parent-reported oppositional behavior and emotional instability.
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Some research suggests that omega-3s may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. One recent study showed that DHA may have a positive effect on the gradual memory loss associated with aging.
Reduced Risk of Stroke. Past studies suggest omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of strokes and the brain damage caused by strokes.
Foods containing omega 3 fatty acids high in DHA and EPA include anchovies, bluefish, herring, mackerel, salmon (wild salmon has more omega 3’s than farmed salmon), sardines, sturgeon, lake trout and tuna. Most freshwater fish have less omega-3 fatty acids than do fatty saltwater fish as a rule. Good food sources of ALA (which converts to fatty acids DHA and EPA in the body) include walnuts, flax and flaxseed oil, canola oil, olive oil and soybean oil.
Omega-3 supplements (EPA/DHA) may cause the blood to thin resulting in excess bleeding in those people taking anticoagulant drugs so supplementation with omega 3 fatty acids should be reported to your doctor.
Montgomery P, et al. PLoS One. 2013;6:e66697.