What are Omega 3 fatty acids?
Omega 3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat. They are made up of ALA, DHA and EPA. Omega-3 is required for the healthy functioning of almost every cell in your body, and is especially important for your brain, heart, and nervous system.
Omega 3 fatty acids play an elemental role in the development of cell membranes. They are also imperative for the hormone production that’s responsible for regulating blood clotting, relaxation and contraction of the arteries as well as the inflammatory response.
Essential fatty acids cannot be produced by our body and therefore they have to be provided through our diet.
- ALA or Alpha-linolenic Acid is found in plants. Dietary sources of ALA include leafy greens, flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds, soybeans, tofu, pumpkin seeds.
- EPA or Eicosapentaenoic Acid is contained in marine plants, fatty fish and fish oils.
- DHA or Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) is also contained in fatty fish, marine plants as well as eggs.
A deficiency of omega 3 fatty acids may include the following:
- Depression and anxiety
- Impaired memory
- Attention deficit
- Dry, flaky skin and hair
- Brittle nails
- Hair loss
- Poor circulation
- Painful periods
- Joint and muscle pain, stiffness
What are Omega-6 fatty acids?
Another long chain of fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids are also essential, but rather than dilate blood vessels as omega-3 fatty acids do, they cause them to contract, restricting the amount of space your blood has to flow through the body. Less space for blood volume not only reduces blood flow but also creates pressure within the blood vessels, increasing your blood pressure.
Omega 6 fatty acids are also essential but when consumed in excess they may advance the progression of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), especially when they are not balanced out by their counterpart, omega-3.
Supplementing with Omega 3 fatty acids
Ideally you want to make sure you are getting plenty of omega 3 fats through the diet such as: salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, white fish, egg yolks, chia seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds.
However, supplementing with Omega 3 fatty acids may be beneficial if you do not consume enough through the diet or have any of the above symptoms.
Quality and purity should come first when selecting a fish oil supplement to ensure they are free of impurities and contaminants. There are many brands of fish oil on the market and not all are created equal.
You also want to make sure that your fish oil has not oxidised. Fish oil oxidation occurs when the omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oil are exposed to heat, oxygen, or light. Do the sniff test! Cut open your fish oil capsule and take a sniff! It should NOT be highly odorous/fishy in smell. If it is, it may be oxidised…..and that may not be so good for you.
Therefore, it is important to seek out the best quality omega 3 supplement you can afford. It does make a difference! Purchase your supplements from a reputable source that clearly tests for hazardous contaminants. Or, call in and speak to our experts who can guide you to select the right omega 3 supplement and the right dose for your individual requirements.