We have all heard of omega-3 and that it is healthy for us. But why? How does it benefit our health? Here I hope to shed some light on why it is so important to include this fat in your diet. . .
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are known to have multiple health benefits. The human body is unable to make this essential fatty acid1, making it important for us to get it daily from our diet. Although all forms of Omega-3 have benefits, Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) have been well-researched and proven to provide the health benefits we associate with Omega-3. These forms are the most biologically potent, being building blocks to many different molecules that play important roles in the functioning of various different systems within the body2. EPA and DHA are taken into many parts of the body, including cell membranes where they play a role in anti-inflammatory processes, as well as the fluidity of cell membranes. Below the benefits are discussed for various conditions and stages of life.
Omega-3 is important across all stages of life, and it is essential for healthy aging3. A recent study found that insufficient intake of Omega-3 may increase the risk of all-cause mortality.
BENEFITS IN PREGNANCY & FETAL DEVELOPMENT
The benefit of Omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy has been supported by several studies. Omega-3 is important for the proper development of the brain and the eyes3. Supplementation of EPA and DHA during pregnancy also aids in preventing premature birth and helping carry the baby to term. Some evidence also indicates that the use of EPA and DHA supplementation during pregnancy and breastfeeding may help protect the child against development of allergies.
Omega-3 is a key and essential structural component of the brain, where DHA is found in abundance2,3. It supports all areas of brain function, including: brain development, attention and learning, cognitive health, memory support, and reduces symptoms of depression. A number of studies support the following findings:
- A decreased risk of cognitive impairment is achieved through intake of Omega-3 from fish sources. There is an association between DHA (derived from fish) intake and a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease2.
- In older adults with mild memory complaints, the intake of DHA or a combination of DHA and EPA contributes to support memory health2.
- Omega-3 supplementation may be beneficial alongside antidepressant medications in people with Major Depressive Disorder2.
CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE (CVD)
EPA and DHA have anti-inflammatory effects and play a role in preventing oxidative stress. They also lower blood pressure and lipids, improve the stability of plaque, reduce blood vessel lining dysfunction and improve blood vessel permeability, these aspects act together to decrease the risk of a cardiovascular event occurring2,3.
DHA is a key component of all cell membranes, and is found in particular abundance in the retina of the eye3. Intake of DHA in particular helps to prevent various vision-related health issues and maintain good vision.
There is evidence to suggest that Omega-3 may improve liver function. It can reverse the course of liver disease and prevent liver disease in individuals who are at high risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is the most common chronic liver disorder in the Western world2.
It has been found by a number of studies that omega-3 may provide protection against the adverse health risks that are associated with air pollution. Its positive effects include:
- Reduced oxidative stress.
- Lower risk of asthma incidents.
- Normalising heart rate variability, which is a physiological phenomenon where there is variation in the interval between heartbeats.
- Decreases negative effects on the heart, and normalises the blood lipid profile of those affected by air pollution.
WHERE DOES FUTURELIFE® FIT IN?
Did you know that almost all of the FUTURELIFE® products including FUTURELIFE® Smart food™, and FUTURELIFE® HIGH PROTEIN Smart food™ are high in Omega-3 fatty acids? Take note, the form of Omega-3 in FUTURELIFE® is Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA), converting to EPA and DHA in the body4. It can therefore make an important contribution to your daily Omega-3 requirements.
- L. Kathleen Mahan, Sylvia Escott-Stump and Janice L. Raymond. Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process. St. Louis : Elsevier Saunders, 2012.
- DSM. Benefits of optimal omega-3 intake and status. [Online] August 2016.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA: Health. Danielle Swanson, Robert Block, and Shaker A. Mousa. New York : Advances in Nutrition, 2012, Vol. 3.