Despite our current understanding of the myriad of benefits from increasing our daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids, researchers continue to dig deeper into the health benefits of this family of oils and the reach of their impact continues to grow. Omega-3 fats fall under the umbrella term “Essential fatty acids (EFAs)”, deemed essential because they are absolutely necessary for good health and because the human body cannot make them. They must be consumed and are therefore an essential part of every diet. Omega-6 fatty acids are also EFAs, but are present in a much wider collection of foods in the modern diet meaning that most of us are getting plenty of omega-6 EFAs but need to be more conscious of consuming sufficient levels of omega-3 EFAs.
Clearly omega-3s are essential but how do you know if you're deficient. Here are a few of the possible symptoms:
Countries with regular omega-3 consumption have a lower rate of depression.
2. INFLAMMATION AND ARTHRITIS
In a study published by the Institutes of Health, 125 individuals were placed on a daily regimen of omega-3 fish oil supplements. After just 75 days of use, 60 percent of respondents reported an improvement in overall joint pain, 80 percent were “satisfied with their improvement,” and 88 percent continued their intake of omega-3 supplements.
3. WEIGHT GAIN
Omega 3 has been shown to increase the metabolic activity in cells.
4. HEART DISEASE
In a study undertaken by the Harvard School of Public Health, 40 percent of individuals that died from heart disease had elevated levels of LDL cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids are effective in reducing the levels of bad cholesterol in the body. Also, omega-3’s help to reduce inflammation throughout the body, lower blood pressure, and reduce blood clotting.
5. DIFFICULTY LEARNING
Omega-3 is highly concentrated in the brain and contributes to the normal functioning of neurons. When these essential fatty acids are low, the chemicals surrounding brain and nerve cells are insufficient, inhibiting the functioning of neurons and may lead to difficulty learning and retaining new information.
6. UNHEALTHY SKIN
Fatty acids function as a barrier to things in the air that can cause skin damage. Further, omega-3 allows the skin to absorb healthy nutrients and expel waste products that are harmful.
7. MEMORY LOSS
In one study of people aged 55 or older who complained about memory loss, one group of individuals were given fatty acid supplements for a period of six months, while the others were given a placebo. Afterwards, the supplement group tested two times higher in a memory-related activity than the placebo group.
Those that suffer with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) often test for low levels of fatty acids, particularly of the EPA variety. Inflammatory cytokines (certain cell proteins) often contribute to feelings of fatigue, another physiological effect that can be mitigated by consuming enough of omega-3.
10. EYESIGHT PROBLEMS
Omega-3 fatty acids are important to protecting eye health. Macular degeneration, dry eye syndrome and glaucoma are just three ailments potentially preventable by ensuring proper intake of omega-3. In one study published in Europe, subjects who often ate oily fish (source of DHA and EPA) were half as likely to develop macular degeneration.
How to Get Your Omega-3s
Fish and fish oil supplements are obviously the best sources of omega-3. Salmon, mackerel and sardines contain the highest levels of both DHA and EPA omega-3s. Plant-based foods, including flaxseeds, leafy greens, beans, cabbage and squash are also excellent sources.