WHEN YOU START RESEARCHING THE BENEFITS OF ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS you soon discover we don't get enough of them, that is to say, the omega-3s and the 6s in our diet. The 3s and 6s are the essential ones. They're 'essential' because our body can't manufacture them. So we must get them from food or supplements, or both. And getting the balance right is important: we need more omega-3 than omega-6. In an ideal world good sources of the fatty acids would come from eating plenty of the right seeds, plants and nuts and unless we're vegan or vegetarian we would also eat meat and fish. In that spectrum of a varied diet most of us probably don't eat enough omegas.
For non-vegans and vegetarians taking a fish oil or Omega 3 supplement is important as is working out how many capsules to take to get the right 'strength.' On most good bottles of fish oils the label normally specifies between 1- 3 capsules and it can be confusing knowing how many to take. Cod liver oil is not straightforward because it's made only from the liver of cod and therefore, although higher in vitamin's A and D, it is lower on the omegas. Usually the recommendation for a high strength cod liver oil is one per day. A 'fish oil' capsule on the other hand is derived from the whole fish and the more specialist brands of fish oil can come in double, or even triple strength and that can lead to a higher consumption of omegas.
So how many capsules a day are we supposed to take? For that reason alone it's important to buy from a reputable high street shop where advise can be given. We all love a bargain but with health cheap can be expensive, or in some cases if the quality and strength is bad, pointless. Good advice or information will save money and stand a better chance of putting you in touch with the correct product, whatever your health needs.
The health benefits of the Omega-3 fatty acids are well established within the scientific community and normally include the following benefits:
- Improve artery health by helping to reduce plaque build-up and blood clots in arteries that lead to the brain.
- Improve cholesterol by lowering triglycerides and elevating HDL (good cholesterol) levels. These benefits come primarily from DHA and EPA.
- Improve joint health by reducing joint tenderness and stiffness associated with arthritis and osteoarthritis.
- Improve bone health by positively impacting the body's calcium levels, reducing the incidence of bone loss.
- Improve mental health by helping to insulate nerve cells in the brain, allowing these nerve cells to better communicate with one another. People who are deficient in omega 3s may suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and ADHD.
- Improve skin health by helping to alleviate symptoms related to skin disorders like acne and psoriasis.
- Improve bowel health by reducing inflammation of the bowels, helping alleviate symptoms of Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Improve lung health by reducing inflammation in diseases like asthma.
- Improve menstrual health by reducing the pain associated with PMS and menstruation.
- Help prevent cancer. Colon, breast, and prostate cancers have all been correlated with low intakes of omega 3s.
For some of the health conditions above, a higher amount of Omega-3 is likely to be more effective, that is to say taking the upper recommended dose of whatever the label recommends but this also depends on your diet and how efficiently your body absorbs. If you are taking any medication it's also important you let your health practitioner know since fish oils can interfere with some medicines.
Omega oils work best together with ample amounts of vitamins A, B3, B6, C and E and the minerals magnesium and zinc, so a good multivitamin would go well with them. For vegetarians and vegans flaxseed, either taken as a cold-pressed organic liquid or in capsules is available, and with vegans a good vitamin B12 is also recommended.
- Getting the balance right of omega 3 & 6
- Sources of omega 3
- Cod liver oil compared to a fish oil
- Health benefits of omega 3's
- A good multivitamin