06 Dec Why Omega-3s Are So Popular
Until fairly recently in our history, our daily requirement for omega-3s was taken care of by our traditional diet, which came mainly from food gathering, fishing and hunting. This has changed radically with the advent of our modern lifestyle, which includes a diet high in factory-farmed meat, vegetable oil and processed foods.
What are omega-3s and why do we need them?
Omega-3s are long-chain fatty acids, which provide energy and regulate many functions in our body. Amongst their many well-known benefits are their ability to boost metabolism, improve vision, reduce joint pain, regulate cholesterol and decrease the risk of diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Recent research indicates that they may also:
- Reduce the symptoms of depression, anxiety and ADHD
- Enhance sleep quality
- Improve both brain structure and function
- Lower the risk of auto-immune disease
- Combat non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease
- Boost memory
- Decrease the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- Reduce loss of muscle function and mass
- Increase bone mineral density
In addition, omega-3s are powerful anti-inflammatories, which help to balance out the overdose of omega-6s many of us suffer from. While we do need a certain amount of omega-6s, the diet of the average person tends towards too much of the omega-6s and not enough omega-3s. Taken in excess, omega-6 causes inflammation, which can lead to many different health issues, including rheumatism, asthma, skin conditions and heart disease.
Where can we get omega-3s?
The best food source for the two most important omega-3s, icosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is oily fish, a food group which includes salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines (all ideally wild-caught).
Another fatty acid, called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), is converted into EPA and DHA in the body. This form is found in plant-based foods like hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, linseeds and chia seeds, which are suitable for those who don’t or can’t eat fish, for whatever reason. Most people don’t eat enough of any of these foods though, so supplementing becomes even more important.
What kind of omega-3 supplements are available?
The best boost of omega-3s comes from high quality fish oil, either in the form of liquid or capsules, which are easier for the more squeamish consumer to swallow.
As an added bonus, omega-3 supplements work really well when used alongside allopathic medicine, even boosting the effects of the medicine. There are a few notable exceptions though, for example, blood thinning drugs, so some care does need to be exercised.
It’s clear that all age-groups need adequate levels of omega-3s, from babies and pregnant or breastfeeding women through to older people. As more and more people realise this, try them out and start to see the benefits in their lives, the market for omega-3s can only grow. With this in mind, be sure to educate yourself about what brands are out there so you can choose to stock only those of the best quality.
If you’ve taken omega-3 supplements before, how have they benefitted you personally? We’d love to know, and invite you to post your comments below.