I’m sure most of you have heard of OMEGA 3s, especially when taking supplements or eating fortified packaged food with fish. These fats are a well-known fish-based fats that are said to help in reducing the “bad cholesterol” in the body. But what exactly are they, what do they do, and how do we benefit from them? Why take a special test to see how much we have in our system? Well, let me educate you, my good people! Let me tell you the wonders our aquatic friends have to offer us!
Here at Priceline Pharmacy West Brunswick, we have a service that will send a sample of your blood abroad to have your serum OMEGA 3s measured.
What are OMEGA 3s?
Just like how we are advised to take in extra vitamins from the food we eat, omega 3 fatty acids are recommended to be included in our diets as well. If you’re wondering why they’re called “omega-3’s,” they’re named such based on their chemical structure. It is an unsaturated fatty acid (the better kind – which is less “saturated” hydrogen) with a double bond connecting the 3rd and 4th Carbons from the Omega-end (the end without oxygen) of the fatty acid chain. This double bond creates a kink or bend in the chain of carbons making it less likely for the chains to accumulate and clog vasculatures. This also gives its liquid state at room temperature.
They are called essential fatty acids because our bodily systems cannot produce them on their own, which is why we take them from our nutrition. There are three types of OMEGA 3s we can possibly consume in our diets: Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA), Eicosapentanoic Acid (EPA), and Docosahexanoic Acid (DHA). The first oil is plant based, while the two latter oils are found in seafood. Your body has a way of converting ALAs (the more commonly consumed oil) into EPA and DHA; however, only in small amounts.
What do OMEGA 3s do?
Fats, in general, contain 9 calories per gram of fat. Having said that, they provide the body with the most amount of energy. Fat is actually stored energy waiting to be used and we use this energy for our different bodily functions. Specifically, for omega 3s, they are mainly used for the following:
- As a component of plasma membranes that permits what and what should not pass through the inner workings of each cell in the body
- Affect the cell receptors on these membranes that transmit certain signals between cells
- Bind to some receptors to regulate genetic function
- Powers the heart, blood vessels, immune system and endocrine system (glands)
- Aids in the production of hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation
- Prevents heart and circulatory conditions and diseases like stroke
- Controls lupus, eczema and RA (rheumatoid arthritis)
- Protects against cancer
- DHAs are usually high in the eyes, brain and sperm cells
- Raises HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) which decreases harmful cholesterol levels in the bloodstream
Where can we find OMEGA 3s?
Nowadays, manufacturers have made themselves aware of the importance these oils in our diets. They’ve taken the liberty of fortifying or incorporating their food products with essential vitamins, fats and minerals like omega-3s. But where do they get them in the first place? And, as much as the economy appreciates “fortified” packaged foods, it’s always best to eat fresh food! Listed below are common food items you can take omega-3s from:
- Fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines)
- Nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts)
- Plant oils (such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil)
- Fortified foods (such as certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, soy beverages, and infant formulas)
How can we benefit from OMEGA 3s?
Now that we’ve been briefed on what they are, and how important they are for our bodily functions, I know what you’re thinking: so, what? Let’s talk about that a bit more and fit in the pieces, shall we? By supplementing our body with the metabolites it cannot concur on its own, we are giving it the necessities it needs to function better. We probably already are getting some essential fats from the food we take in on the daily but making it a point to eat certain foods on take in certain supplements can really make a difference, especially for people with medical conditions.
Basically, omega-3s bring up the good fat levels and bring down the bad fat levels; and they do so depending on the three specific fatty acids I mentioned earlier (ALA, DHA and EPA). These 3 fatty acids all work differently, on different parts of the body, and are integral in the beneficence of omega 3s. Below are medical conditions and what omega-3s can do to prevent and manage these diseases:
- Heart Conditions
- Decreases serum triglycerides, which may eventually clump up and clog arteries
- Lowers blood pressure in hypertensives
- May act as an anti-coagulant and curbs the formation of harmful blood clots
- Prevents plaque formation
- Aids the immune system in preventing autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes type 1, lupus and psoriasis
- Boosts anti-inflammatory effects of drugs and mediates inflammation in conditions like asthma
- Brain and mental conditions
- Lowers depressive symptoms
- Controls erratic and manic behaviors in bipolar disorder and reduces depressive symptoms
- Decreases age-related decline manifestations and risk for Alzheimer’s disease
- If given early, it also helps baby’s visual development, immune systems and neurologic development
How much OMEGA 3s are we supposed to have?
This will depend on several personal factors like body size, age, health status, specific omega-3s a person is deficient in. Therefore, there isn’t a standard dosage any one person should have since we all have different body configurations and habitus. Some health organizations recommend 2000 -3000 milligrams of EPA and DHA for healthy adults. Below is a tabulation of the adequate intake of omega-3s should be according to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine in the United States:
|Adequate Intakes (AIs) for Omega-3s|
|Birth to 6 months*||0.5 g||0.5 g|
|7–12 months*||0.5 g||0.5 g|
|1–3 years**||0.7 g||0.7 g|
|4–8 years**||0.9 g||0.9 g|
|9–13 years**||1.2 g||1.0 g|
|14–18 years**||1.6 g||1.1 g||1.4 g||1.3 g|
|19-50 years**||1.6 g||1.1 g||1.4 g||1.3 g|
|51+ years**||1.6 g||1.1 g|
*As total omega-3s
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