With this article I want to give you useful information, like “why omega 3 are important?”, “What omega 3 does to your body?”, “who should take them?”, “where can I find them, what’s the best one?”
You read about omega 3 everywhere, there’s even a milk with omega 3! I don’t even know that existed something like this. I start using omega 3 in spring 2015, when I came home from a winter spent working in the Alps and I had a very bad laryngitis and bronchitis. A friend of mine introduced me to antioxidants and omega 3.
Even though I’m not a doctor (ask him/her for advice), the courses of bio-chemistry and botany I attended made me very curious about all these things, so I want to share what I’ve learnt so far. Let’s start!
“What is omega 3?”
I want to make it easier for you to understand. When you hear about omega 3 and EPA/DHA, it means they’re talking about long chains of fatty acids you need to take through food as your body isn’t able to produce them. For this reason omega 3 are defined essential fatty acids.
The 3 main types of Omega-3 and the difference between them.
Chemically speaking, EPA is a long chain of fatty acids as it’s composed of 20 carbons. You can find it in fatty fish, fish oil and seafood.
The key point of EPA is being a precursor of molecules essential for our metabolism. It means, some functions and mechanisms of our body can be improved or not according to the balanced level of omega 3 we take. I tell you more about the benefits in a bit.
The core principles are the same of EPA. As for this one, you find DHA in fish oil, krill, seafood and fatty acids; but in this case the omega 3 chain is composed of 22 carbons.
This one is the type of omega 3 you find in dried food and high fat plant foods like walnuts, chia and flax-seeds. Unfortunately, ALA is considered just a “normal food”, let me explain. You can consider it a great source of energy (a snack of walnuts is great), but not a source of omega 3 at the same level of EPA/DHA. Want to know why?
Here’s the difference between the plant-based omega 3 and the one you find in fish oil.
ALA is not active in our body as EPA and DHA are. It contains certain molecules that are precursors of those present in EPA and DHA. Being a precursor means: you need specific enzymes to transform ALA into the precious molecules our metabolism needs, in this case those within EPA and DHA.
So, ALA should be converted into EPA and DHA, but it just doesn’t work. They are simply not interchangeable. This conversion process is completely inefficient in our body, just about 5% turns into EPA and only the 0.5% into DHA.
The carbons length makes the difference here, EPA and DHA have longer chains, and it’s thank to this length that features change and become more or less effective for the cells’ health.
The longer the chain, the higher the benefits. As you may understand now, you should rely on ALA just as a main source of energy, not the main omega 3 source. It’s much better if you rely on a marine animal sources like krill oil.
Where can I find omega 3?
A quick recap of 3 main sources:
- Krill and fish oil, algae
- Salmon, sardines, tuna, seafood in general
- Walnuts and chia seeds
“Why omega 3 are important?”, “what omega 3 does to your body”?
These 2 questions are key points, I’m sure that when you get them, you’ll understand much better how important is to switch the bad habits to the good ones.
I try to give you an idea describing a few main benefits:
- omega 3 helps reducing inflammations
The one I’m talking about is not a swollen ankle when you play football. Here, we talk about those that damage cells and tissues and are caused by a lack of nutrients in our diet. This type of inflammations happens to be the 1 cause of cardiovascular diseases (disorders of the heart and blood vessels) in the world!
I quote what’s written in the WHO website “An estimated 17.7 million people died from CVDs in
2015, representing 31% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, an estimated 7.4 million were due to coronary heart disease and 6.7 million were due to stroke”
Curious about what’s one of the causes? The “opposite” of omega 3: omega 6. Making the concept very easy, omega 6 are within the majority of fatty foods typical of the Western diet, such as burgers, fries, sweets, soda and so on.
Our body needs a bit of omega 6 too, but being the omega 6 pro-inflammations and the percentage between the two of them completely the opposite (people eat much more omega 6 than omega 3), the damage is done!
- It keeps your blood vessels clean
This is something I’ve learnt reading about nitro oxide (I tell you more in this article). (link altro articolo su NO per lo sport) In this case, nitro oxide (molecule produced by your blood vessels) acts like a vasodilator (Ignarro won the Nobel Prize for this discovery in 1998), which means it allows your blood to flow easily into your veins, plus omega 3 keeps your veins clean and elastic.
Without this magic combo, your blood vessels are like a rubber band under the sun. Namely, they become stiff and if your diet is based mainly on omega 6, they will be seriously damaged.
On the contrary, enhancing the production of nitro oxide and using omega 3, your body reacts like a child when unwraps his favourite toy on Christmas Eve!
- omega 3 improves brain functions
40% of the nerve cells of the brain and eyes are composed of omega 3. 15% of its growth is during infancy and it’s completed during preschool years. During these years, DHA plays a crucial role in the brain development. Always ask your doctor for specific advice, but even if you’re pregnant or you’re breastfeeding omega 3 it’s absolutely recommended.
I’ve been taking omega 3 supplements from krill and sockeye salmon (from Alaska) since 2015 and, I can confirm you first hand, that it’s great when you have to study, work or learn and you need to be very focused on what you’re doing. Another awesome benefit is that you sleep like a baby. You wake up truly relaxed and ready for another busy day!
Whether you’re are a mum, an employee, entrepreneur or student of every age, you experience more than one benefit. Although It’s true that each one of us it’s different and there’s no one fits for all, there are a few benefits like a better sleeping quality that’s confirmed by 9 people out of 10!
In this case it’s possible thank to a very pure source of omega 3.
The sockeye salmon eats krill, which are small marine creatures at the beginning of the food chain. It means they DO NOT have heavy metals like others species, bigger than krill.
Often, omega 3 is extracted from other fishes (which may be bred, worst quality ever!) found on the middle of the food chain, which means they absorb all the heavy metals that the other fishes before them in the food chain have.
So, choose wise!
Quickly I mention now other few benefits:
- Omega-3 supplements has been found more effective than ibuprofen in treating severe pain during menstruation
- It help keeping your skin cells healthy, protecting them from the sun damage, preventing premature aging and more.
- Omega-3s can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and arthritis and can improve joint health and bone strength.
- It helps dealing with depression, anxiety, cholesterol, diabetes and asthma
Benefits of omega 3 are countless. I hope this article serves you and makes you understand what could have a great impact for you!
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