The human body can make most types of fat it needs from other fats or raw materials. This is not the case with omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential fats that the body cannot manufacture but must obtain through food.
There are many foods rich in omega 3 but it is not always easy to consume enough of them. Supplementation with omega 3 will therefore be particularly interesting in order to have a sufficient daily intake.
What are Omega 3s
Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats. There are 3 types of omega 3:
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) come primarily from fatty fish, which is why they are sometimes referred to as marine omega 3s.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) , the most common omega 3 fatty acid in most Western diets, is found in vegetable oils, nuts, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, vegetables with leaves and some animal fats, especially in grass-fed animals. The human body generally uses ALA for energy, and the conversion to EPA and DHA is very limited.
What are the benefits of Omega 3
Omega 3s are often associated with the practice of sport. However, they go far beyond a simple sports food supplement. Omega 3s fall into the category of health supplements and everyone should consume them if they don't get enough from their diet.
We have compiled a non-exhaustive list of the main benefits of omega 3:
1. IMPROVED CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.
Studies show that people who eat a lot of fish have much lower rates of heart disease.
Multiple heart disease risk factors appear to be reduced by the consumption of fish or fish oil. The benefits of consuming fish oil for heart health include:
- Improved cholesterol levels. It can increase good cholesterol levels and can also lower bad cholesterol levels.
- Reduction of blood pressure. Even in small doses, it helps lower blood pressure in people with high levels.
- Prevention of the formation of arteriosclerotic plaque. These plaques formed by the accumulation of bad cholesterol in the arteries can damage them leading to the formation of blood clots inside the arteries themselves. This phenomenon is called thrombosis.
Thrombosis can then cause a reduction in blood flow to the area served by the artery leading to a heart attack or embolism.
Although fish oil supplements may improve a number of risk factors for heart disease, there is no clear evidence that they can prevent heart attacks or strokes.
2. REDUCTION OF INFLAMMATION
Inflammation is your immune system's way of fighting infection and dealing with injury.
When you contract a germ, your body will defend itself by creating an inflammatory response. The same applies when your body is damaged by it, for example via a fracture, an injury,...
In sports, training creates micro tears in your muscles. This leads to an inflammatory reaction during the repair process. In addition, training can cause significant stress on the tendons. Repeated overload on these can lead to tendonitis.
The anti-inflammatory properties of omega 3 are particularly interesting in order to prevent these conditions which can hinder the training and progress of an athlete.
The intake of omega 3 is also of interest in the context of chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis, polyarthritis,...
3. BONE AND JOINT HEALTH
Calcium and vitamin D are very important for bone health, but some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may also be beneficial.
People with higher omega-3 intakes and blood levels may have better bone mineral density.
A number of small studies suggest that fish oil supplements reduce markers of bone breakdown, which may prevent bone disease.
4. IMPROVING EYE HEALTH
Like your brain, your eyes depend on omega-3 fatty acids. It is proven that people who do not consume enough omega-3 have a higher risk of eye diseases.
Also, eye health begins to decline in old age, which can lead to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Fish consumption is linked to a reduced risk of AMD.
An older study found that consuming a high dose of fish oil for 19 weeks improved vision in people with AMD.
Two larger studies conducted in 2013 looked at the combined effect of omega-3s and other nutrients on AMD. One study showed a positive effect, while the other found no effect. Therefore, the results are unclear.
5. IMPROVING SKIN HEALTH
Your skin is your body's largest organ, and it contains plenty of omega 3 fatty acids.
Skin health can deteriorate throughout life, especially during old age or after too much sun exposure.
That said, fish oil supplements may be beneficial in a number of skin disorders, including psoriasis and dermatitis.
6. LIVER FAT REDUCTION
Your liver processes most of the fat in your body and may play a role in weight gain.
Liver disease is becoming more common, especially non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, in which fat builds up in the liver.
Fish oil supplements can improve liver function and inflammation, which may help reduce symptoms of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and the amount of fat in your liver.
What foods are rich in Omega 3
It is possible to have a sufficient intake of omega 3 through food. However, it is necessary to focus on the intake of EPA and DHA which are the most important omega 3s and have the best benefits.
Fatty fish remain the best source of EPA and DHA. Among them, we will find:
- Cod liver oil
Among the plant sources, we will mainly find seeds and oilseeds:
- Linseed and Linseed Oil
- Walnuts and Walnut Oil
- Chia seeds
- Colza oil
Omega 3 supplementation
Omega-3 fatty acids are very important for health.
The best way to get enough is to eat whole foods rich in omega-3s, such as fatty fish.
If you don't eat a lot of fatty fish, you may want to consider taking a supplement. Below, you'll find what you need to know about omega 3 supplementation.
TYPES OF OMEGA 3 SUPPLEMENTS
Omega 3 capsules:
Omega 3s usually come in the form of capsules or softgels. These are popular with consumers because they are tasteless and easy to swallow.
Capsules are usually made from a soft gelatin layer, and many manufacturers also use an enteric coating.
The enteric coating prevents the capsule from dissolving until it reaches your small intestine. This process makes it possible to avoid having this unpleasant taste of fish oil which is not necessarily appreciable.
Within these capsules, there is usually fish oil. Salmon, sardines, herring and cod liver are some of the most common sources of natural fish oil.
ALA is short for alpha-linolenic acid. This is the plant form of omega-3s.
It is found in particularly high amounts in flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.
Your body can convert it to EPA or DHA, but this conversion process is inefficient. Most vegetable oils are also higher in omega-6 than omega-3.
Krill oil is extracted from Antarctic krill, a small shrimp-like animal. Krill oil contains omega-3s both in the form of triglycerides and phospholipids.
Krill oil is very resistant to oxidation because it naturally contains a powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin.
Also, krill are very small and short-lived, so they don't accumulate many contaminants over their lifetime. Therefore, their oil does not need to be purified.
CRITERIA FOR SELECTING AN OMEGA 3 SUPPLEMENT
Here are the important criteria you should pay attention to when choosing your omega 3 supplement:
- Dosage in EPA and DHA: it is important that the product is rich in EPA and DHA.
- Purity and authenticity: in order to ensure the best possible quality, it is important to find out about the origin of the raw materials.
- Freshness: omega-3s tend to go rancid. Once rancid, they release an unpleasant odor and become less powerful, even dangerous. Always check the date, smell the product and see if it contains an antioxidant like vitamin E.
At Health Nutrition, we always select the best products.
Our range of Omega 3 is made up of fish oil supplements in capsules. We work closely with our suppliers and guarantee our customers high quality products.
Here is our personal selection of omega 3: