Omega 3: What are the benefits and what to look for?
As a nation, or even simply as human beings for that matter, it’s safe to say that many of us are simply not taking the right care of ourselves and more and more of us are gaining weight and becoming ill as a result. In order to be fitter and healthier, it’s advisable that we follow a healthy eating diet plan in conjunction with regular bouts of physical activity. The problem that many of us seem to face however, is actually finding the right nutrition from the right foods in the first place. Once we do have our diets under control and balanced, we can then begin thinking about health supplementation. As far as healthy and beneficial supplements go, you’d be hard pressed to find something more beneficial than a good quality omega 3 based product. But are all Omega 3 supplements the same? Do they all have the same benefits, and what actually are the benefits?
What exactly are Omega 3 fatty acids, and what should you look for when buying them?
Omega 3 fatty acids are basically a vast array of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are commonly found inside fish, nuts, seeds, and certain oils. These fatty acids are hugely, hugely healthy and beneficial for the body in a whole number of different ways, which we’ll be looking at shortly. As they’re so healthy, these omega 3 fatty acids are extracted from various sources and are sold in supplement form, providing us with a quick and easy way of getting more of them into our diets. The problem with these supplements is that unfortunately you get what you pay for, so if you pay cheap prices, the supplement won’t be anywhere near as good quality and beneficial as it should be. One of the main things to look for when choosing an Omega 3 supplement is to look for just the right balance between EPA and DHA. EPA (EicosaPentaenoic Acid) and DHA (DocosaHexaenoic Acid) are both essential fatty acids, which means that the body does not produce them naturally, which is why it’s so important to find a supplement that contains a high dosage of both. For Adults a product with a high EPA value will be best. EPA has been shown to aid recovery after exercise, it is also a very strong anti-inflammatory and has shown to aid treatment of conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, asthma, type 2 diabetes, IBS, MS, endometriosis, eczema, acne and psoriasis. For children you actually want to have a higher DHA as this has been shown to help with their brain development as well as studies have shown that children with low levels of DHA are likely to have poor reading ability, memory and behavioural issues. Omega 3 supplementation is also thought to be very beneficial for pregnant women as it can raise omega 3 levels within their blood, which could help their baby’s brain development.
It’s also worth noting that most of us in the UK consume higher amounts of omega 6 fatty acids as a lot of our processed food use vegetable oil as a key ingredient, and if you consume a lot of chicken this is likely to be high in omega 6 as most chicken are grain fed these days, so we should try to balance this out with increased omega 3 intake as the two actually compete with one another, so too much of one could cancel the health related benefits out of the other.
Krill oil is looking like a promising source of omega 3
As far as sources of omega 3 are concerned, most people tend to think of cod liver oil or fish oil capsules as the main source, but there is now research that’s suggesting that Krill oil is looking just as beneficial, if not more so, than cod liver oil. Krill oil is rich in an antioxidant known as Astaxanthin, this is what gives shrimp their colour. It was discovered that it shields against destructive free radicals and that almost every cell in our bodies can benefit from this antioxidant. The fact that Krill oil includes this as well as high Omega 3 makes this supplement a great choice and is a good insurance to help fight off illness and disease.
So what exactly are the benefits of omega 3’s?
As well as in supplement form, we should also try to consume foods naturally rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, including oily fish, seeds, and certain grass fed meats. Omega 3’s:
- Improve eyesight and vision
- Are good for the arteries
- Lower bad cholesterol levels
- Improve circulation
- Improve lung health
- Help protect against cancer
- Are great for the joints
- Help protect the heart
- Help boost metabolism
- Help with short and long-term memory
- Improve digestion
- Help protect the bones
- Help improve mental health and general well-being
- Improve skin health
- Improve hair health
- Help strengthen the immune system