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What do Omega 3’s actually do?

When it comes to fats, there is one type you don’t want to cut back on and that’s Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3s are essential fatty acids that have a wide array of well-recognised health benefits, particularly for the heart and brain. There are 11 types of Omega 3’s with the most important being DHA and EPA.

Fatty acids are integral to all functions of the body, including the brain, organs, hormones, respiratory system as well as maintaining good skin and circulation. Research has strongly indicated that increasing Omega-3 intake can assist in improving overall health.

So what exactly is an Omega-3?

There are three main forms of Omega-3’s: alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DHA).

  • ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) cannot be made in the body so must be obtained from food. It has important functions and is needed to make other Omega-3 fats. ALA is found mainly in plant sources such as vegetable oils, rapeseed and linseed (flaxseed), nuts (walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts) and green leafy vegetables.
  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are long-chain fats that are made from ALA in our bodies. They are the most important as they have the most direct health benefits. EPA and DHA are also found in animal sources, such as fish. These are easier for the body to absorb and utilize and offer us more significant health benefits.

VitaminMe’s Brain + Heart Health vitamins have particularly high levels of both DHA and EPA due to their effect on cardiovascular and cognitive wellbeing.

Where do Omega-3 fats come from?

The production of EPA and DHA from ALA is a slow process and only small amounts are eventually created. The best way of ensuring sufficient EPA and DHA levels is to ensure your diet is rich in these fats, found largely in oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, trout, herring, and fresh tuna. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends an intake of two to three portions of a week.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Content in Fish & Animal Products
Source EPH & DHA per 100g portion
Mackerel 2.6
Salmon 1.9
Trout 1.1
Herring 1.7
Tuna 1.7
Beef 0.3
Lamb 0.6
Pork 0.8
Chicken 0.2

The benefits of Omega-3s:

A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, has been shown to reduce risk of heart disease. Higher levels that can only reached with taking supplements, have also been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Low grade inflammation is at the root of many chronic diseases lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.

Optimal Omega-3 levels are also known to protect the heart and blood vessels from disease. Omega-3s lower triglyceride levels, reducing the risk of heart attack, dangerous abnormal heart rhythms and strokes in people with known cardiovascular disease. They also help to slow down the build-up of plaque in the arteries, lowering blood pressure.

Omega 3s are frequently used in the treatment and prevention of depression with research indicating the core role played by EPA in mood regulation. Omega 3s have also been to a reduced likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive impairments.
Pregnant women are encouraged to take Omega 3 supplements during pregnancy due to the benefits this has on the development of infant’s brains.

Macular degeneration is often associated with a DHA deficiency due to the key role DHA plays in the retinal structure. From a hearth health point of view, Omega 3s are well known to catalyse a reduction in triglycerides and blood pressure while positively contributing towards HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

What if you don’t eat fish?

People who do not eat fish can get omega-3 from nuts and seeds, certain vegetable oils (rapeseed oil), soya and soya products as well as green leafy vegetables. It is important to note however, that these forms of Omega-3 have a very low conversion rate to EPA and DHA. We recommend supplementing your diet with our Brain + Heart Health vitamins to ensure you’re consuming the ideal amount of Omega 3’s for optimal wellbeing!

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