Omega 3 – Essential ingredient for a healthy life
For a long time, fat per se was considered harmful and largely to be avoided: a myth that has long since been refuted by modern research. Today, there is sufficient evidence that the so-called healthy fats fulfil important and vital functions. Omega 3 fatty acids play a prominent role and should be an important part of a healthy diet.
What you will know after reading this text
Which diseases can be mitigated or even prevented by optimal care of Omega 3? Why is Omega 3 so important? What is Omega 3, what foods are used and how do you manage to get enough of this vital fat? Is it possible to be adequately supplied with it by a purely plant-based diet? Are there special risk groups? How high must the dosage be? All these questions are answered in this text. You will also receive numerous practical tips.
Overview of the positive effects of Omega 3
Omega 3 fatty acids can help to increase your well-being in many ways. Numerous studies have tested the efficacy and identified the positive influences:
- Omega 3 can prevent serious diseases such as Alzheimer’s. A variety of studies have found that a good supply of Omega 3 promotes brain development and helps maintain cognitive abilities
- Omega 3 fatty acids have a positive influence on the regulation of cholesterol levels
- The intake of Omega 3 significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Optimal care of Omega 3 can significantly reduce the risk of cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed in a 2004 statement. In Western countries, heart disease kills more people than any other cause of death. In many ways, Omega 3 has a positive effect on human heart health. Omega 3 reduces the overall risk of dying from heart disease, and significantly reduces the likelihood of uncontrolled heart rhythms and fatal blood clots. The heart rhythm is also significantly stabilized, the heart rate is also improved: the heart rate is the number of heartbeats per minute
- The body’s hormone balance is positively regulated by Omega 3
- There is many indications that these fatty acids provide protection against various cancers
- Optimal care of Omega 3 is important during pregnancy to provide ideal care for both mother and child. It has been shown that babies develop best mentally and motorically before and after birth if the mother is adequately supplied with omega 3 during pregnancy. It also reduces the risk of premature birth
- Omega 3 can prevent depression. Studies have shown that depression is often associated with a low omega 3 level. Conversely, it was found that depression is much less common in countries where the diet has a high level of omega 3. Depressive symptoms can also be noticeably attenuated by increased intake. Some studies also suggest that the effect of antidepressants in combination with Omega 3 may also be significantly enhanced. Other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and a borderline personality can also be positively affected by the increased increase in omega 3
- In the case of ADHD, too, adequate care is recommended, as this increases the ability to concentrate
- Regulation of the moisture content of skin and hair as well as improvement of the eyes through positive effects on the retina
- Many inflammatory diseases are alleviated by omega 3, such as arthritis, periodontitis and ulcerative colitis. Omega 3 also has a preventive effect and causes these diseases not to occur in the first place
- Sleep disorders can be treated with Omega 3
- Omega 3 is an important factor in maintaining fitness and stopping muscle loss. A daily intake can increase the production of muscle protein and thus reduce the risk of degenerative muscle loss. In addition, the likelihood of becoming obese decreases.
- Last but not least, it can help to relieve pain, especially in the case of chronic joint pain and inflammation.
What are Omega 3 fatty acids?
First of all, it is important to explain in which group of fats Omega 3 is to be classified. Fat is not the same as fat: you’ve probably heard this rush before, but what exactly is it like? Firstly, there are the so-called saturated fatty acids, which are primarily found in animal products, such as meat, sausage and butter. It is still said here that this should be used sparingly. Secondly, there are the monounsaturated fatty acids, which are particularly found in vegetable oils such as olive oil and rapeseed oil. Here, in relation to saturated animal fats, a more generous consumption is possible. However, omega 3 is neither saturated nor monounsaturated. There is a third category of so-called polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are divided into omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. These are particularly healthy and should be a central element on your diet.
Omega 3 fatty acids are one of the essential fats, which means that people have to eat the Omega 3 fatty acids, because the body cannot produce them themselves.
How Omega 3 Fatty Acids Work
Omega 3 fatty acids, on the other hand, can be divided into three different categories: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapenaetic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Polyunsaturated fatty acids are central components of cell membranes. All human cells are surrounded by such a cell membrane, which has the function of maintaining the inner environment of the cell. They are crucial for communication between cells, e.g. in the nervous system, where messages need to be disseminated quickly throughout the body.
In addition, omega 3 stimulates the production of the so-called prostaglandins, which are hormones that control important functions such as inflammatory and immune reactions.
In addition, tissue hormones are formed from the omega 3 fatty acids in the human body, which are essential for the regulation of many metabolic processes. In the cardiovascular system, omega 3 fatty acids lower triglyceride levels and increase good HDL cholesterol levels.
What foods is Omega 3 in?
A distinction is made between animal and plant sources.
The top 3 animal donors for Omega 3 are:
- Anchovies and sardines or herring
These fish have a high concentration of omega 3. Nevertheless, it has also been proven for other fish species that they are a carrier of the important polyunsaturated fatty acids. Incidentally, the discovery of omega 3 fatty acids is closely linked to a fish-rich diet: about 150 years ago, a German doctor investigated why the Eskimos are so rarely the victims of a heart attack. The result of his research was that the high consumption of fish is responsible for this. Fifty years later, about 100 years ago, other researchers have determined that the high content of omega 3 is the reason for this positive effect. Recent research has revealed that you do not necessarily need fish for an optimal supply of omega 3: there are also plant alternatives.
The top 3 plant sources for Omega 3 are:
- Chia Seeds
Chia seeds in particular have a high density of omega 3, they contain up to 64% alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). In addition to these three sources, there are other plant sources with a high content of omega 3: a range of high-quality cooking oils, for example from rapeseed, walnuts, linseed, soy and olives. Also in vegetables such as leeks, soybeans, spinach and peppers there is plenty of omega 3.
Furthermore, it is possible to take Omega 3 in capsules as a dietary supplement. Many experts recommend this as it is a safe and effective way to satisfy the daily needs of the human body on the important fat.
Two advantages are particularly important:
- Appropriate dietary supplements provide a high and concentrated dose of Omega 3
- The constant daily intake ensures a balanced omega 3 level, so that the positive effects of the healthy fat are optimally exploited
Dietary supplements are often oil-filled capsules. Most of them contain fish oil,some others also vegetable oils and oils from microalgae.
Vegetable or animal Omega 3 – what is better?
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapenaeic acid (EPA) are only present in certain microalgae and enter fat marine fish through the food chain. DHA and EPA are undisputedly the most biologically active omega 3 fatty acids. There are no plant sources for DHA and EPA. Alpha-linolenic acid, on the other hand, is only present in plants. So those who eat purely plant-based foods cannot absorb DHA and EPA directly through the food. However, the human body can convert alpha-linolenic acid into DHA and EPA in sufficient mass. In principle, this can also ensure a sufficient intake through a purely plant-based diet.
Lack of Omega 3 fatty acids: how does it express itself?
A lack of omega 3 leads to a lack of important long-chain fatty acids. This can have a significant impact on health and can be reflected in many different areas. There are certain symptoms that are often associated with a deficit of Omega 3:
- Development of cardiovascular diseases
- Increased risk of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatism
- Dry skin and increased dandruff
- High blood pressure
- Weak and vulnerable immune system
- Decreased blood flow
- Visual impairment
- Feeling of restlessness
Risk groups for which Omega 3 is particularly important
- Persons with pre-existing cardiovascular diseases, atherosclerosis or elevated blood lipid levels
- Persons suffering from rheumatism, arthritis, Crohn’s disease or any other inflammatory disease
- People who eat as fat-free as possible
- Persons with existing skin disease
- People with increased alcohol consumption
With a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, it is also important to keep an eye on the omega 3 value, but this does not mean that a deficiency is pre-programmed: the chance is higher, however, especially for people with a vegan diet.
Tips to ensure adequate supply of Omega 3
- Once or twice a week a portion of fish. As shown above, salmon, anchovies, sardines, herring and mackerel provide you with the highest dose of Omega 3
- Regularly a small amount of walnuts or almonds
- In addition to an optimal diet, the Omega 3 level can be optimized by adequate physical activity and a low-sugar diet
- Several times a week edible oils from rapeseed, walnuts, linseed, soy or olives
- Food supplements. These are especially important in times of special needs, or when a healthy value of the Omega 3 cannot be achieved through the individual daily diet
What is the right amount of Omega 3
A common guideline is to absorb 0.5 percent of the daily energy in the form of omega 3 fatty acids. With a daily calorie quantity of 2400 kcal, for example, this would be a proportion of about 1.3 g of omega 3 fatty acids: this is strongly recommended by the German Society for Nutrition, among others. However, this value applies to healthy people. In the course of therapy – in the course of a disease – a higher dose is recommended: such a value can then be achieved by dietary supplements, in addition to an optimal diet.
Unfortunately, for the typical Western diet, the intake of Omega 3 is often too low. It is precisely for this reason that it is essential to carry out education in this area.
Importance of Omega 3: Conclusion
Omega 3 fatty acids are very important to optimally control many vital processes in the human body. To this end, there is a wide range of scientific studies carried out which lead to this insight. Too little intake of omega 3 can lead to a variety of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, depression and cardiovascular disease. Healthy and enlightened consumption prevents this. The amount of Omega 3 required, on the other hand, depends on the person: especially people who can be counted among a risk group, require a high dosage of Omega 3. Generally, also for healthy people, the total deficit in Western societies is Omega 3, which often results in individual suffering: suffering that would often have been very easy to prevent. An optimal diet is important to prevent this. The consumption of fish is an important factor in this. However, there are also alternatives for vegetarians and vegans: chia seeds– and flaxseeds, or a variety of vegetable oils. If the diet does not ensure the need for Omega 3, it is advisable to use dietary supplements. Through optimal care, you make an important contribution to staying healthy and fit.