Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids, are considered essential because they are necessary for human health, but your body cannot produce them. Diet is the only way to provide your brain, tissues and cells with these essential fats.
What are Omega 3 EFA?
Omega 3 are polyunsaturated fatty acids. Fatty acids are the building blocks that our body uses to make hormones, but they also play a role in energy production, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, supporting the immune system, regulating inflammation & mood.
It is important to be getting the right types of fat in your diet.
Where do we get them from?
There are three main types of Omega 3 – Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
EPA & DHA are the active forms of Omega 3 and rich sources are found in cold water fatty fish such as Sardines, Mackerel, Anchovies, Herring, and Salmon.
ALA is the inactive form, and needs to be converted to EPA & DHA
in the body. The conversion process is often not efficient and relies on a
healthy functioning liver. ALA is found in plant sources like walnuts,
flaxseeds, flax oil, chia seeds and hemp seeds.
Why are Omega 3's important?
1. They significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease & reduce LDL cholesterol.
2. They help reduce inflammatory conditions such as asthma, eczema, and obesity.
3. They lower blood pressure levels.
4. They provides structure for the brain, regulating mood & cognition.
5. They are important for skin health & preventing allergies – (psoriasis, eczema, dryness, itchiness, hay fever)
6. They help to maintain healthy brain and eye function.
7. Important for hormone regulation
8. Known to reduce joint pain & arthritis.
It is recommended to eat at least 2-3 portions of oily fish a week to maintain omega 3 levels. Signs of deficiencies can show in joint pain, inflammatory skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis, dandruff), mood related conditions (irritability, anxiety, depression), poor sleep and fatigue.
When should you take a supplement?
If you are vegan, then I would recommend taking an Omega 3 supplement, as you cannot rely on the conversion of ALA to EPA & DHA. A daily intake of 200 to 300 milligrammes of EPA & DHA from an algae oil supplement is a good alternative.
For mothers-to-be, getting enough Omega-3 fatty acids for both you and your baby is important for brain and eye health. If you are pregnant, I would seek medical advice from a Nutritionist before taking a supplement.
If you have any questions, please get in touch. I would love to hear from you. Alternatively, you can book a 15-minute free call with me.