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OMEGA 3 - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

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There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids that are very beneficial for us; ALA that is contained in plant oils from edible seeds, walnut, algal oil, hemp oil, Echium oil, among others while DHA and EPA that are normally found in Marine oils from sources like fish oils, squid oils, egg oils and krill oil. The later are also known as long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 is also available in vitamin supplements, but forms and volumes of these fatty acids differ.

Numerous studies have been conducted to establish the real benefits of consuming omega-3 and the findings have been overwhelming. They are useful in the management of various ailments like asthma, cancer, depression, ADHD, cardiovascular complications, and even autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. All the above diseases have some connection with inflammation, and that is where omega-3’s come in; they lower the inflammatory process that results in most of the chronic diseases listed above. It is in this regard that people are encouraged to eat at least two servings of fish weekly, each 8-ounce.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF EPA AND DHA OMEGA 3S

A dosage of between 2 and 5 grams of DHA and EPA daily has been recommended by various studies as being ideal for the realization of the benefits below:

  • BRAIN FOOD

The most common fatty acids in the brain are the DHA, which is exactly why a greater supply of it in the brain improves its functionality. In a study conducted by a Rush Institute for Healthy Aging, the fish-eating behaviors of more than 800 adults (men and women) aged between 65 and 94 were analyzed. In the findings, Alzheimer’s disease was found to be least likely to affect those who ate fish at least once a week compared to those who didn’t. A different study was conducted on over 2,000 Norwegians aged between 70 and 74. A questionnaire was used to evaluate the frequency of consumption of five types of fish. Later, cognitive tests were conducted by the researchers who established that those who consumed fish of any type were up to 70% less likely to record poor performance on the tests.

In a separate study, researchers at Harvard Medical School and University of Kuopia in Finland studied the prevalence of silent brain damage in about 3,500 people aged 65 years and older. In the findings, it was established that consumption of non-fried fish and tuna lowered the risks of abnormalities associated with higher cases of stroke and decline in cognitive capabilities by up to 25%.

It must however be pointed out that in as much as omega-3 fatty acids are known to exhibit various benefits, the cause and effect are not established in these studies. All we have is the relationship between the consumption of fatty acids and the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

  • CANCER PREVENTION

Cancer is one of the world’s most common killer diseases whose treatment is costly. However, consuming omega-3 can help suppress the risks involved with causing cancer. A study conducted on 1,300 Swedish men found out that those who ate salmon and related fish like mackerel or herring were at a lower risk of prostate cancer than those who didn't. The higher volumes of consumption were also matched against the risk and those who ate five or more fish servings weekly had approximately 64% a lower risk of suffering from the disease.

  • BLOOD CIRCULATION

Women who ate at least two servings of fish weekly had healthier arteries than those who didn't. This is according to a study on postmenopausal women in United Studies and Finland.

  • EYE FUNCTION

EPA and DHA are unsaturated fats since they have five and six double bonds on their long-chain structures. These are very important nutrients that should be consumed so that the healthy functions of various parts of the body are maintained. DHA, for example, is a building block of tissue in the eye’s retina as well as the brain. It aids in the formation of neurotransmitters like phosphatidylserine that is key for effective brain functioning.

  • IMPROVED CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM

EPA and DHA are transformed into prostaglandins, a hormone-like substance that assists in the regulation of cell activity and a healthier cardiovascular function.

  • HUMAN GROWTH AND INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT

Intellectual development is very important, and starts in the fetal stage. During the last trimester alone, the concentration of DHA in the brain of an infant rises by between 300 and 500 percent. Therefore, expectant mothers are encouraged to consume lots of omega-3s to boost the child’s intellectual capabilities when born. In old age, it is also recommended that you consume lots of EPA DHA since the body’s ability to naturally generate EPA and DHA dwindles with age leading to less cognitive function and mental focus.

Some other well known benefits of consuming EPA and DHA include prevention of the skin from flaking and drying, energy boosts, cushioning of body organs and tissues and insulation of the body against loss of heat.

Image courtesy of artemisphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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