When we hear about Omega-3 fatty acid the first thing come to mind is fish oil, the diet rich in fatty acid. Many of us have common misconception that only vegetarians among us are omega-3 deficient. But you can also be deficient of it as our body doesn’t produce Omega-3 on its own; this means they are essential fatty acid one needs to consume them from outside.
You can examine yourself whether you are omega-3 deficient or not by observing some common symptoms which includes fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problem, mood swings, depression and poor circulation.
What is Omega-3?
Omega-3 is special type of polyunsaturated fatty acids, containing more than one double bond. The 3 omega-3’s found in food are ALA, EPA and DHA.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA):
ALA is also known as the short-chain omega-3, which is needed to be converted in long chained EPA and DHA to synthesize it. Only about 1% of ALA we consume is converted to long-chain version body needs. This is plant based omega-3 found in green leafy veggies, flaxseeds, chia seeds, canola,walnuts and soybean oils.
Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA):
It is a 20- carbon fatty acid which our body synthesizes in its original form. These along with DHA are the omega-3s which body needs in high quantity. Fish oil, algae oil and krill oil are the source of EPA.
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA):
This is 22-carbon molecule, which on more consumption converted back to the EPA to keep them at fairly equal level. The source of both DHA and EPA are almost same.
Benefits of Omega-3 fatty acid
Healthy cholesterol level support:
For healthy body the blood cholesterol profile needs to be within the normal range. By just adding 3-6 gm of fish oil a day can promote healthy ratio of HDL to LDL , as well as healthy levels of triacylglycerol.
One can consume fish oil supplements and eat diets that are rich in fresh fruits, veggies for overall health and well being.
Supports healthy bones and joints:
The issue to osteoporosis is one of the major factor affecting the older and adults, especially in case of women , when they enter menopausal years and no longer have standard estrogen and progesterone hormone level, the bone density decreases drastically resulting in osteoporotic fractures once every three seconds.
Omega-3 fatty acid is found to increase the amount of calcium absorption in bones enhancing vitamin D an supporting the healthy bones. It is important to make sure to consume good ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid. Its unbalanced consumption can put you at higher risk for lower bone-mineral density.
Mood support and fight mental disorder:
Today’s diet which is filled with the processed foods is not a quality nutrient that supports healthy system. They only add to the stress build-up which exacerbates mood disorder like depression and anxiety. The diet filled with the omega-3 fatty acid helps in supporting the mood and manages stress level.
There are other numeral conditions related to brain and mental health which seems to improved when individual gets good amount of omega -3 in body. Such as bipolar disorder, antisocial behavior, Alzheimer’s, age related mental decline etc.