What is Omega-3?
There are many different types of fats that are essential to the human body. One fat in particular that is essential for us is a fatty acid called Omega-3. Omega-3 has many health benefits that include, but are not limited to, improving brain development and the prevention of certain diseases. This fatty acid can be found in certain foods that we consume and can also be bought over the counter as a daily supplement.
What is Omega-3 Made Of?
So, What is Omega-3? Omega-3 is made up of Alpha-Linolenic Acid, Eicosapentaenoic Acid, and Docosahexaenoic Acid. Alpha-Linolenic, also known as ALA, can be found in plant sourced foods such as walnuts or canola oil. ALA is an essential fatty acid. Therefore, the body cannot make it on its own. That being said, its very important to consume foods that contain ALA. Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid can both be found in fish foods such as salmon or tuna. I understand that some of these foods are not appealing to certain people. If none of these foods are a part of your diet, you should talk with a doctor about taking Omega-3 supplements or simply buy them over the counter. “Your body can convert some ALA into EPA and then to DHA, but only in very small amounts.” (National Institutes of Health). With our body only being able to convert ALA in small amounts, getting EPA and DHA from foods or supplements is even more important.
Why is Omega-3 Important?
Omega-3 is very important for the membranes that surround each cell in the human body. High levels of DHA can be found in our retinas and brain cells, therefore taking Omega-3 helps these functions. It also gives the body energy and helps with the heart, blood vessels, lungs, and the immune system. It has been proven that Omega-3 helps reduce the risk of heart attacks. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, taking Omega-3 can help improve your baby’s health. If you decide to take Omega-3 during pregnancy or breastfeeding, try to stick to foods that are low in mercury. Omega-3 does not reduce the risk for cancer in general, but is does reduce the risk of breast cancer and colorectal cancer. Lack of Omega-3 can cause rough skin, an a red swollen rash. Keep in mind that Omega 3 deficiency is rare and most people in the United States get enough from the foods that they consume.
What Omega-3 Supplements Are Available?
Omega-3 supplements come in a wide range of doses and forms. These supplements may interfere or interact with other medications. That being said, it is important to talk with a doctor to make sure that supplements are right for you. The US Food and Drug Administration states that a person should not consume more than 3 grams of Omega-3 a day. Taking very high doses of this fatty acid can cause bleeding problems and affect immune function. Always read the supplement label and make sure you are consuming the correct amount.
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Dr. McCarthy is an experienced chiropractor serving patients from Plainfield, Illinois and the surrounding areas. When Dr. McCarthy is not working at the clinic, he can be found out and about in the community volunteering his time with Lions Club International and Knights of Columbus. Connect with Dr. McCarthy through our contact form or through LinkedIn.