The importance of Omega 3’s

Omega-3 and 6 are essential fatty acids, meaning they are an essential nutrient for humans. Our bodies can’t make produce them on their own, so we need to obtain them through diet.

For optimal health, we require a balance of both Omega 3 & 6, otherwise dis-ease, auto-immune and inflammatory conditions can start to form. Western diets are often deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and have excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids due to consumption of processed foods, seed & vegetable oils.
There are 3 main types of omega 3:
the long chain omega 3 fatty acids : docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
and the short chain omega 3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid ALA

The longer chain fatty acids DHA and EPA are found in fish and seafood, particularly oily fish such as Sardines, Mackerel, Salmon, Tuna and Cod.
For those following a plant based diet, Omega-3 EPA & DHA are naturally available from microalgae.
ALA is found in plant sources such as flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds and hemp seeds. ALA is converted in the body to DHA and EPA. It’s worth noting however that ALA is not converted very efficiently by the body which is why fish-based sources of Omega-3 are generally recommended, and in lower dosages.

Our bodies require DHA and EPA to build & repair cells, as well as hormones that control immune function & blood clotting. The body also constructs hormones from omega 6 fatty acids. Too much tends to increase inflammation, blood clotting, and problems with arthritic conditions. Both families of hormones must be in balance to maintain optimum health. Stress (release of adrenaline & cortisol) can also deplete your cells of omega 3 fatty acids so supplementation can be useful during this time.

Omegas are incredibly important during conception and fertility in both men & women. Whether you increase your dietary intake via oily cold-water fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds & walnuts or you look to supplementation, Omegas are important in regulating hormones, increasing blood flow to the uterus, reducing inflammation, & increasing sperm count. Once pregnant, ensuring adequate omega intake can help with brain & retina development.

Signs of Omega 3 deficiency:

– dry hair, skin & nails – especially recent changes & brittleness
– inability to concentrate & brain fog
– fatigue but having trouble sleeping
– aching muscles, joint stiffness, leg cramping

There have been several clinical trials assessing the benefits of dietary supplementation with fish oils in several inflammatory and autoimmune diseases in humans, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis and migraine headaches.

It’s not that omega-3s are good and omega-6s bad; we need both in balance. With so many aspects of our current diet and lifestyle contributing to an increased inflammatory burden, supplementation that helps to reduce systemic inflammation is important.

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