Omega 3's - What are they?

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our brain, heart, and eye health (1, 2, 3). Even though it is naturally found in several foods, like fatty, cold water fish, nuts like walnuts and almonds, and seeds like chia and flaxseed, most of us don’t get enough of it in our diet.

International guidelines recommend that we consume about 250 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids a day, but most of us don’t get enough (4). Instead, we consume a lot more of another type of oil called omega-6 fatty acids that are found in cooking oils and processed foods that are commonly used in the western diet. We should be consuming just as much omega-3 oils as we do omega-6 oils, but the western diet has up to 25 times more omega-6 than omega-3 oils, which can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, mental health disorders and other health issues (5, 6).

There are three types of Omega-3 fatty acids:

  • DHA and EPA: these are only found in seafood and algae. The foods that are highest are cold water fish like mackerel, salmon, and sardines. These have the most benefits for eye and brain development, and our bodies have a hard time making them.
  • ALA: This is found seeds and nuts like flaxseed, walnuts, almonds, and chia seeds.

Most of these foods are hard to come by. We can help offset the disbalance in our by taking Omega-3 supplements that contain the right proportion of the different types of omega-3 fatty acids.

Research-based benefits

Omega 3 supplement may:

  • Support healthy brain development in babies and young children (7, 8, 10)
  • Lower risk of heart disease (4)
  • Lower triglyceride levels (9, 12)
  • Aids in symptoms of depression (10)
  • Decrease risk for arrhythmias, which can lead to sudden cardiac death (12)
  • Decrease risk for thrombosis, which can lead to heart attack and stroke (12, 13)
  • Decrease rate of growth of the plaque on the arteries (12, 14).
  • (slightly) lower blood pressure (12)
  • Reduce inflammatory responses (12)

Recommended for:*

  • People who want to support a healthy heart and brain for life
  • Pregnant and lactating women
  • Elderly people
  • People with psychiatric and cognitive disorders, like depression and bipolar disorder

*These are general recommendations and do not replace medical prescriptions or recommendations.

Research Summary:

 

 

Outcome

Findings

Dose

Study Reference

Lower triglyceride levels

Omega-3 supplement safe and effective means of lowering serum triglycerides over one year in patients with CHD and combined hyperlipidemia, whose triglycerides remained elevated despite simvastatin treatment

2g two times per day

(9)

Aids in Symptoms of depression

From the preliminary findings in this study, omega-3 PUFAs could improve the short-term course of illness and were well tolerated in patients with major depressive disorder.

9.6g per day

(10)

Supplementation in pregnancy augments IQ of Children

Maternal intake of very-long-chain n-3 PUFAs during pregnancy and lactation may be favorable for later mental development of children.

2.5g per day

(11)

Helps prevent advancement of coronary heart disease

For patients with documented CHD, the American Heart Association recommends

1 g of EPA and DHA (combined) per day

1g of combined DHA and EPA per day

(12)

Lowers risk of stroke

Women 27% decrease in risk for stroke when consuming fish 2 to 4 times a week and a 52% decrease in risk when consuming fish 5 or more times a week.

Fish 2-5 times a week

(13)

Lowers blood pressure

Our analyses indicate that diet supplementation with a relatively high dose of ω-3 PUFA, generally more than 3 g/d, can lead to clinically relevant blood pressure reductions in individuals with untreated hypertension.

3g per day

(15)

 

 

References:

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1350946204000527
  2. http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/58/20/2047
  3. https://www.nature.com/articles/ncpneuro1044
  4. http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/58/20/2047
  5. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12035-010-8162-0
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0753332202002536
  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006899308021033
  8. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2362.2005.01570.x
  9. https://heart.bmj.com/content/85/5/544.short
  10. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924977X03000324
  11. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/111/1/e39.short
  12. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.616.1136&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  13. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/193470
  14. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/mnfr.201100710
  15. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/617401