Omega 3 fatty acids are very healthy for our body and essential for a lot of processes in our system. In this article, we want to present the top 3 health benefits of those polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are backed up by science and well researched. Omega-3s are such important building blocks of our body, that a lot of research has been done on them and few nutrients have been studies as thoroughly.
We will focus on the following three health benefits: omega 3 as an anti-inflammatory, its impact on our heart health and why it is so important during pregnancy. So, at whatever stage in your life you are at, there is some benefit for you in taking an omega 3 supplement to ensure that your body is always fuelled with what it needs.
Benefit No. 1 – Omega 3 is anti-inflammatory
The most important benefit of omega 3 fatty acids are their anti-inflammatory properties. This means, that they support our immune system in its work in defending our body against bacteria and viruses, and help to protect it from injuries and infections. An inflammation is a reaction by our immune system and a natural response to infections and damage to our body. They are therefore vital for our health and a perfectly normal thing to happen. However, when those inflammations don’t end and become chronic, they can cause damage to our body. Studies have shown that such chronic inflammation can contribute to almost every chronic Western illness like heart disease or cancer. The immune system is responsible for starting and stopping the inflammation process and omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to be part of the process of terminating the inflammation and can also play a role in the communication and activation of immune cells.
But how do they help reduce inflammation?
The fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are the most important omega – 3 fatty acids for humans, can reduce the production of molecules and substances which are linked to inflammation, like inflammatory eicosanoids and cytokines for example. Those fatty acids EPA and DHA are so-called essential fats, which means that our body cannot produce them itself, and we rely on consuming them through our diet or with the help of food supplements. Fish oil or krill oil are such supplements, which give you a daily boost of omega – 3 fatty acids and help your body performing at its best and strengthens your immune system.
They can also help against the development or reduce the risk of getting an autoimmune disease. The immune system of someone with an autoimmune disease mistakes the body’s own cells for foreign ones and starts to attack them. A prominent example is Type 1 Diabetes, where our immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in our pancreas. Omega-3 has been shown to be able to combat those diseases and especially in early life, getting enough of those fatty acids is linked to a reduced risk of getting them in the first place.
Benefit No. 2 – Omega 3 is good for your heart
Another very important benefit of omega – 3 fatty acids is their positive influence on our heart health . Studies have shown, that EPA and DHA can reduce the triglyceride levels in our blood, and even lower blood pressure in people who suffer from high blood pressure. Another benefit is that they reduce the risk of developing an irregular heartbeat, so-called arrhythmias. They also contribute to the prevention of the formation of blood clots and plaque, both of which can increase the risk for a heart attack or stroke. Taking sufficient amounts of omega – 3 fatty acids is hence beneficial for our heart health, because it can reduce risk factors for heart disease. Omega-3-supplements are therefore most commonly prescribed for primary and secondary prevention of a variety of cardiovascular disease.
But how do they reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease? EPA and DHA have been proven to have the ability to inhibit platelets or thrombocytes, which are small, colourless cell fragments produced by in bone marrow, which float in our blood and stop or prevent bleeding out of a wound by clotting up. But if we have too many of this specific type of cell, it can cause our blood to clot in our veins which can increase the risk for a stroke or heart attack. Plaque is a substance made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances found in our blood. With time, this plaque can build up on the walls of our arteries, harden and therefore make them narrower and stiffer. This means, that more pressure is created, less oxygen-rich blood can flow to our organs and the risk of a blood clot getting stuck in one of those narrow parts is higher, therefore increasing the risk for a heart attack.
However, those fatty acids are not just important later in life, but have an impact from the moment we are conceived and below we will look into why omega-3 is so important for unborn children and pregnant women.
Benefit No. 3 – Omega 3 is an important nutrient for your unborn child
We have already explained, that EPA and DHA are the two omega-3 fatty acids that play the most important role in our bodies. But they don’t just help our body with a wide range of processes, they are also important building blocks of our cells. DHA for example, is a major structural component of the retina in our eyes and cells of our brain. This is why it is very important, that pregnant women consume sufficient amounts of those fatty acids while their child is developing and growing. Insufficient intake of omega-3 can lead to vision problems and even as adults, we should always make sure to provide our body with sufficient EPA and DHA as this is linked to a reduced risk of macular degeneration, which is one of the leading causes of permanent eye damage and blindness in the world.
DHA also plays an important part in our brain. It accounts to 40% of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in our brain and a sufficient intake of omega-3 during pregnancy is associated with cognitive benefits for the child like higher intelligence, better communication and social skills as well as a reduced risk for behavioural problems and developmental delays.
Because the main source of omega-3 for many pregnant women was fish and seafood, it can be difficult to maintain their usual intake because it is recommended, that they only consume fish and seafood a couple of times a week. A high-quality food supplement can therefore come in handy to make sure you do not miss out on those important nutrients while staying healthy yourself and abiding by your dietary restrictions. At Omega 3 of Norway we pride ourselves in only using high-quality resources to produce a highly concentrated and sustainable food supplement, so head over to the shop, to have a look at our selection of products.
Omega-3 fatty acids really are a strong all-rounder with a variety of health benefits for both body and mind, for people young and old, no matter your situation. The top three benefits are: its anti—inflammatory properties with which it supports our immune system and can reduce the risk for autoimmune diseases, its impact on heart health and importance during pregnancy as a building block of our eyes and brain,.
On this blog we’ve written more about practical things such as how to take your supplement, we have debunked the top 5 myths around omega-3 and explained more about the benefits of EPA and DHA for your skin and memory . So if you are keen to learn more about omega-3, have a browse and check out our blog for a range of high-quality krill oil and fish oil supplements.