Omega-3 Benefits and Supplementation
Omega-3 fats are essential to your overall health, and many health experts stress the same, and as such decades of research have been devoted to discovering the many health benefits of omega-3.
Omega-3 comes from both animal and plant sources, with the primary animal sources being krill oil and fish oil, while the primary plant sources are flaxseed, chia, and hemp.
Americans spend about 2.6 billion dollars on nutritional supplements and foods fortified with omega-3 fats
Types of Omega-3 Fats
Marine animals such as fish and krill provide Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are some types of Omega 3 fats, and mostly promoted for their protective effects on your heart.
Flaxseed, chia, hemp, and a few other foods, on the other hand, offer alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), another type of omega 3.
However, the recommendation is that you choose an animal-based variety, since most of the cellular health benefits linked to omega-3 fats are linked to the animal-based EPA and DHA, not the plant-based ALA.
Furthermore, ALA is converted into EPA and DHA in your body at a very low ratio, meaning that even if you consume large amounts of ALA, your body can only convert a relatively small amount into EPA and DHA, and only when there are sufficient enzymes to aid the conversion.
Remember, plant-based omega-3 fats are not inherently harmful and should not be avoided, but ideally, what you want to do is include an animal-based form in your diet.
Here are the benefits of omega-3:
1. Omega-3 benefits your heart vigor: An Italian study (GISSI) of 11,324 heart attack survivors found that patients supplementing with fish oils noticeably reduced their risk of another heart attack, stroke, or death.
In another study, American medical researchers reported that men who consumed fish once or more every week had a 50 percent lower risk of dying from a sudden cardiac event than men who eat fish less than once a month.
2. Omega-3 normalizes and regulates your cholesterol triglyceride levels: Both fish oil and krill oil are more efficient in doing this function, as both oils notably reduced the enzyme activity that causes the liver to metabolize fat.
However, krill had a more pronounced effect, reducing liver triglycerides significantly more.
Several studies and revisions have also shown that omega-3 fats are anti-arrhythmic (preventing or counteracting cardiac arrhythmia), anti-thrombotic (prevents thrombosis or a blood clot within a blood vessel), anti-atherosclerotic (preventing fatty deposits and fibrosis of the inner layer of your arteries), and anti-inflammation.
3. DHA affects your child’s learning and behavior. A study did link low levels of DHA with poorer reading, and memory and behavioral problems in healthy school-age children.
In another study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August 2013, children who consumed an omega-3 fat supplement as infants scored higher on rule learning, vocabulary, and intelligent testing at ages 3 to 5.
Omega-3 has such a great impact on your brain health, as EPA and DHA keep the dopamine levels in the brain high. It also increases neuronal growth in the frontal cortex of your brain and increases cerebral circulation
4. Omega-3 has been found to save the lives of children going through short bowel syndrome (SBS), which is not common but still impacts thousands of people in the United States.
SBS can occur from birth when a portion of the intestine fails to develop or due to an infectious inflammatory disease that attacks premature newborns.
5. Omega-3 benefits cover many areas of health, from mental and behavioral to preventing premature death from the disease.
You Cannot Substitute Animal Omega-3s with the Plant-Based Sources. In recent years, many people, particularly, vegetarians have believed that they do not have to consume animal products to get omega-3s, as long as they are consuming high amounts of plant-based omega-3s.
However, as mentioned before, most of the health benefits that you can get from omega-3 fats are linked to its animal-based EPA and DHA fats, not plant-based ALA. They are simply not substitutable.
While EPA and DHA contain between 20 and 22 carbons, ALA has 18 carbons, and all of these fatty acids have their first double-bond in the third position, which is why they’re called “omega-3.”
Make sure that you and your family get the right type of omega-3 fats. Go for a pollution-free, eco-friendly, and highly sustainable animal food source, like krill oil and fish oil.
However, krill oil appears to work at a lower dose, resulting in major cost savings. This makes it more affordable than fish oil.