You hear about Omega-3 fatty acids all the time, but what are they? 

Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fatty acids that are necessary for the body to function. According to the medical professionals of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, they are one of two groups of essential fatty acids, the other one being omega-6. They are called ‘essential’ because they are key in a properly functioning body, although our bodies are unable to actually manufacture them. Since the body is unable to synthesize omega-3s we have to obtain these essential nutrients through our diet or by taking supplements.

What Omega-3s can do for your body

At the cellular level, omega-3 fatty acids help to make up the cell membrane, which is the gatekeeper of the cell. Its function is to regulate what enters and exits the cell. A proper functioning membrane will allow necessary nutrients into the cell, allowing waste to pass out of it and protect the cell from attack by keeping foreign bodies out.

European Food Information Council says omega-3s are the basic components from which other substances that controls the body’s inflammatory response and blood pressure are made. Not only do omega-3s reduce inflammation, they also help to reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.

How to incorporate Omega-3s into your diet

Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, herring and herring among others. It is recommended that these sources be included in your diet at least twice each week, according to researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Fish isn’t the only source of omega-3s however.

omega 3 supplements

These plant and nut extracted oils are also good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, too

Flaxseeds, walnut, walnut oil, canola oil, soybean oil, pumpkin seeds are examples of these. Below is a summary of some of the benefits of omega-3s.

How they benefit the hair

When it comes to healthy, shiny hair, you get out what you put in. This means that proper nutrition is key for healthy hair, and fatty acids help to promote hair growth, as well as add sheen and luster to hair. Proper amount of omega-3 in your diet prevents dry, itchy, flaky scalp and is beneficial in reversing hair loss.

How they benefit the skin

A balanced diet is essential for glowing skin. As they reduce inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids can improve the appearance and feel of skin. Omega-3s also function as moisturizers from within ensuring healthy skin that is clear, supple and free of wrinkles. Omega-3s may also help to improve skin conditions such as psoriasis and reduce UV ray sensitivity. However, this is no excuse to skimp on using sunscreen!

curly haired woman

The heart

According to the National Institute of Health, a diet rich in unsaturated fats–such as omega-3s–is the best way of preventing heart disease. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are two of the risk factors for heart disease and the risk of these conditions are also lowered by diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The risk of getting a stroke also decreases when people eat at least two servings of fish on a weekly basis.

The brain

Research suggests that omega-3 may protect new moms against postpartum depression and depression sufferers who took omega-3 fatty acids in addition to their anti-depressants had better symptom improvement than those on antidepressants alone.

Sufferers of dementia, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia may see improvements in their symptoms–less frequent mood swings, for example”>–when omega-3 supplements are taken. Studies on the subject, however, have yielded conflicting results.

Omega 3-s are believed to protect against Alzheimer disease and dementia as research has shown that reduced intake of omega-3s is linked to an increase in risk of age-related cognitive decline/dementia which includes Alzheimer disease.

The eyes

Macular degeneration is an age related condition of the eye that can lead to blindness. People who eat more fish and have diets rich in omega-3s are less likely to develop this condition.

Personal growth and development

We know that omega-3s are essential for proper growth and development. Studies have shown that during pregnancy omega-3s are important for proper brain development of the fetus and one study has found that children with low omega-3 levels had difficulty reading.

Higher IQs in children have been linked to higher levels of maternal omega-3 consumption during pregnancy. ADHD in kids may also be improved by increasing omega-3 intake.

healthy omega 3 diet

Cancer prevention

The risk of colon cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer is believed to be less in people (Eskimos, women and men in that order”> who have diets rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids.

Menstrual cramps

One study linked the intake of omega-3 fatty acids supplements with a reduction in menstrual pain.

With such a long list of benefit in every area of health and well-being, the fact that many of us do not meet the recommended intake of omega-3s is quite unfortunate, says the Meg-3 site.  Just look at all the benefits that we’ve been missing out on. Luckily, we can take action now by making small adjustments our diets.  Should you decide that supplements are the way to go then be sure to discuss this with your doctor. Time to glow!

Photos courtesy of Beyhan Yazar at Getty Images and @sgrx on Instagram

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