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Do We All Need Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

Nov 12, 2007
Omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential fatty acids are found in the brain in high concentrations and are particularly essential for behavioural and cognitive function.

They can by obtained via fish-oil supplements and from foods as they cannot be manufactured by the body. The three primary fatty acids that are utilized by the body for different functions include docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). When foods containing these acids are ingested, the body takes the ALA and converts it to DHA and EPA, which are utilized by the body more readily.

The Sources

Cold-water fish including salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and halibut are the primary source of DHA and EPA. Sources of ALA include walnuts, broccoli, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, cantaloupe, canola oil, kidney beans, soybeans, soybean oil, pumpkin seed oil, perilla seed oil and walnut oil. As mentioned earlier, another way of getting the required amount of Omega 3 fatty acids is by taking fish-oil supplements. New Zealand green lipped mussels have been used for centuries as a potential source.

The Benefits

Scientific research has long proven that these Omega 3 fatty acids play a vital role in brain function and help prevent a host of medical illnesses. Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil help raise HDL and lower triglycerides and are especially beneficial for people suffering from diabetes, bipolar disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, prostrate cancer and colon cancer.

In addition Omega 3 fatty acids also possess other properties that make them valuable in the treatment of other conditions including:

High Cholesterol - The substance present in walnuts and fatty fish, is rich in ALA, and has been proven to reduce the levels of total cholesterol as well as trigycerides in the body.

Heart Disease & Stroke - Evidence indicates that DHA and EPA that are found in fish oil help lower the risk factors for coronary disease including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. These substances also help treat and prevent atherosclerosis by retarding the development of blood clots and plaque, both of which are factors that tend to clog arteries causing heart disease or stroke. Daily supplements drastically reduce the risk of subsequent heart attacks, strokes and death in people who have been subject to a heart attack. Two fish servings per week can meet any individual's requirements and lower the risk of stroke by as much as half.

High Blood Pressure - Studies show that a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids help lower blood pressure considerably and is very beneficial for people with hypertension. However, tuna and other mercury-rich food should be avoided as mercury can cause an increase in blood pressure.

Rheumatoid arthritis - Omega 3 fatty acids reduce morning stiffness and decrease the tenderness in the joints. Studies also show that it also helps reduce inflammation and lower the cartilage-destroying activity of enzymes.

Osteoporosis - Omega 3 fatty acids, especially EPA help deposit calcium in the bones, increase calcium levels in the body and enhance bone strength. People with normal levels of EPA are less likely to suffer from bone density than those who are deficient.

Depression - Omega 3 fatty acids are vital components of the membranes of the nerve cell membranes. They assist in the communication of nerves, which is essential for sustaining good mental health. Deficiency accompanied by a rise in levels of omega-6 can lead to an increased risk of depression.
About the Author
Sandra Lightowler is the owner of Omega 3 Fatty Oil the leading online information site for Fish with Omega 3 Fatty Oil
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