An essential fatty acid known to one and all is Omega-3 fatty acids. It’s a must-have in the world of fatty acids and including it in your diet can ensure good health. Not only is it beneficial for your skin and hair, but it also makes a marked difference in helping people who suffer from depression, arthritis, and inflammation. This polyunsaturated fatty acid is much needed for the body, except the body doesn’t produce it. That’s why it is vital to include it as a part of your diet.
The three different types of Omega-3 fatty acids found in food are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). While EPA and DHA are found in seafood, ALA is found in plant-based substances. In this article, we touch upon the benefits and side effects of consuming Omega-3 fatty acids.
The uses of Omega-3 fatty acids are many. Good fatty acids have multiple benefits that fortify the human body against many diseases.
Omega-3s are known to keep cardiovascular diseases at bay
The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that adults should try to include fish in their diet at least twice a week. This should provide 500 mg of Omega-3s and will be extremely beneficial to patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases. For those suffering from coronary artery disease, AHA advises consuming 1,000 mg daily. Be cautious when you double your intake of seafood, as it should not step over 3,000 mg without a doctor’s consultation.
Benefits skin health and hair growth
Omega-3 benefits the skin and hair in many ways. Fatty acids such as DHA and ETA produce oils that will help the skin and also help your hair stay hydrated and healthy. The oils also keep the skin supple and prevent premature aging. It controls the sebum secretion, which also reduces the risk of acne.
Crucial for brain growth development in infants
Omega-3s have recently found their way into formulas made for infants as there is ample evidence that it helps with visual functions. It’s also known to improve cognitive functioning in children. If a mother regularly eats fish, then her breast milk will contain Omega-3s naturally.
Omega-3 helps with curbing inflammation
Studies show that people who consume more fish or fish oil, which is a high source for Omega-3 are less prone to skin diseases such as psoriasis that causes painful inflammation and scales. It was noted that Omega-3s were instrumental in containing the rapid division of skin cells, which allows psoriasis to develop. When researchers ran a test to check the result of Omega-3 on a psoriasis patient, they discovered that 60 percent of the patients experienced a substantial decrease in cell division and inflammation. The affected areas also seemed to have healed a little. Diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease, which are inflammatory diseases, are also known to decrease with Omega-3 intake.
Can fight autoimmune diseases
Autoimmune diseases are those diseases where the immune system misinterprets the body’s healthy cells for foreign bodies and attacks them. Lupus, type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis are all known to be autoimmune diseases. Research shows that consuming Omega-3 fatty acids when younger can prevent or reduce the risk of getting any of these diseases.
Helps keep mental health intact and helps fight depression
Joseph Hibbeln, from the National Institutes for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, says that when depressed people were given Omega-3 fatty acids, they seemed to respond to it better than the antidepressants they were on, which they failed to respond to. Since the fatty acids increase dopamine secretion, it helped fight depression and other mental disorders.
Reduces asthma in children
Lung infections, such as asthma and wheezing, affect both children and adults. During an asthma attack, the airways of the lungs swell up and cause inflammation. A study prepared by the National Institute of Biotechnology Information suggests that consumption of Omega-3 can lower the risk of asthma in children.
Prevents a fatty liver
Having a fatty liver can be a common condition between alcoholics and non-alcoholics. In this condition, the liver starts to store fat cells and can cause a lot of liver diseases. Studies show that consuming Omega-3 helps in keeping the fat cells at bay and reduces the inflammation in the liver.
Bone density can be enhanced
Omega-3 intake helps with the increase of bone density. Upon observation, Bruce Watkins, a nutrition professor at Purdue University, says that coastal communities who eat more fish have lower chances of developing osteoporosis. Although he couldn’t pinpoint the exact mechanism of how it helped with bone density development, he concluded that the strong bone formation was due to the Omega-3 intake.
Boosts chemicals in the brain and helps the nervous system
A large amount of Omega-3 is found accumulated in the brain area and throughout the nervous system. Fatty acids are the key to neurons functioning well and nerve transmissions too. Cells are protected and cell death decreases vastly with the aid of Omega-3. It’s known to increase chemicals such as dopamine, and serotonin in the brain. These are essential to cut down depression and violence, respectively.
Helps women deal with menstrual pain
At least 60% of women are affected by PMS on a monthly basis. Cramps can leave a woman exhausted and bitter, but there is hope. Studies show that adding Omega-3 to your diet can help with the pain. You might experience some mild discomfort during cramps, but other than that Omega-3s can help you during your PMS. Another study said that taking Omega-3 tablets helped better than consuming painkillers would.
Reduces the risk of getting cancer
Studies show that consuming Omega-3 fatty acids has a chance of reducing certain types of cancers. The Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of California, discovered that when curcumin, an ingredient found in turmeric, was mixed with Omega-3 fatty acids, it was effective in fighting off pancreatic cancer. Some other studies showed that consuming fatty acids can decrease the risk of prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women.
Side effects of consuming too much Omega-3
As they say, too much of anything is bad. It applies in this case as well. It’s best to consult a doctor for the right dosage to avoid any of the following effects.
High blood sugar
Research shows that boosting your Omega-3 fatty acid levels can increase blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. Huge quantities of Omega-3s can stimulate the manufacturing of glucose, which in turn creates a spike in your long-term sugar levels. Some results say that only very high doses of Omega-3s make an impact on blood sugar, but the bottom line is that there can be a substantial impact when Omega-3 dosage isn’t monitored.
Can result in diarrhea
Diarrhea is the most common side effect of over-consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids. This also results in flatulence and other digestive problems. Supplements that contain fish oil should be taken only as prescribed. One other Omega-3 supplement that can cause diarrhea is Flaxseed oil. As a vegetarian alternative to ensure consumption of Omega-3, it was known to have increased the frequency of bowel movements and acted as a laxative. To avoid this, make sure you take supplements with your meal or stop your intake a few days if the symptoms persist.
Can cause a stroke
A stroke is a condition caused by the rupturing of weakened blood vessels which causes your brain to bleed. Some research conducted on animals found that high intake of Omega-3s can decrease the ability to clot and run the risk of causing a stroke. These coincide with other research that proves that fish oil can reduce clotting. More studies should be conducted to show how these fatty acids can cause a stroke.
Taking in too much Omega-3 can interfere with your sleep patterns. It was reported that an elevated intake of Omega-3 did actually worsen symptoms of anxiety and insomnia for a patient with a history of depression. More research needs to be conducted in this field as this was a single case study and can’t be applied to the masses.
Since the dosage is everything, so what is the right amount of Omega-3 needed for the human body?
A prescribed amount of Omega-3 should be consumed as too much Omega-3 can lead to side effects. According to the World Health Organization, the human body needs a combined amount of 250-500 mg of both EPA and DHA every day for healthy adults. They recommend the consumption of fish at least twice a week to guarantee Omega-3 intake to keep heart diseases at bay. Improve your overall heart health with TrueBasics Omega Heart.
For women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, an extra 200 mg of DHA is needed on top of the recommended intake. The suggested amount of ALA for men is 1.6 grams and for women is 1.1 gram. If you are set on improving a specific type of health condition, then it’s best to consult a doctor to help you.