Omega 3 fatty acids in recent times have become more popular than ever. This part of the supplement industry which was previously reserved or limited to medical uses only, now have become a widely used supplement throughout the world. The price of these supplements are also not cheap. There have been many speculations and studies about the benefits of taking these as added supplements.
But is it justified for the premium price one pays for it? Today in this article I will try to answer these questions and to shed some clarity on the topic which will help you in deciding whether to buy fatty acids supplements or not.
Before going through the Nity-grities of omega fats one should know a little bit about their actual origin and normal function and distribution in the human body.
Omega−3 fatty acids, also called ω−3 fatty acids or n−3 fatty acids, are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) characterized by the presence of a double bond three atoms away from the terminal methyl group in their chemical structure. They are widely distributed in nature, being important constituents of animal lipid metabolism, and they play an important role in the human diet and in human physiology.
The three types of omega−3 fatty acids involved in human physiology are α-linolenic acid (ALA), found in plant oils, and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both commonly found in marine oils.Marine algae and phytoplankton are primary sources of omega−3 fatty acids.
Common sources of plant oils containing ALA include walnut, edible seeds, clary sage seed oil, algal oil, flaxseed oil, Sacha Inchi oil, Echium oil, and hemp oil, while sources of animal omega−3 fatty acids EPA and DHA include fish, fish oils, eggs from chickens fed EPA and DHA, squid oils, krill oil, and certain algae.
Human are unable to synthesise these omega 3 fats hence we need to take it through diet in sufficient quantities.
1- Heart Disease Risk
Omega 3 fats can improve the heart disease risk factors. They decrease triglycerides which are a major portion of so called bad fats which causes heart disease.
But in studies the incidence of strokes and heart attacks have not been found to be decreased.
2- Coagulation profile
Omega 3 fatty acids are blood thinning agents which means they decrease blot clotting. Hence if someone is one blood thinning medications they should avoid taking these as a supplement.
3- Metabolic Syndrome
Can reduce the manifestations of metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of the following conditions
It includes central obesity — also known as belly fat — as well as high blood pressure, insulin resistance(type 2 diabetes), high triglycerides and low “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
Omega 3 acids are well knwon for their anti inflammatory properties.
They reduce inflammation and help in wound healing and other conditions associated with high degree or chronic inflammation, for example- autoimmune diseases.
Omega 3 fats also cause dilatation of blood vessels and increase blood flow in areas of low blood flow.
6- Autoimmune disease
Type 1 diabetes is one prime example, in which your immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas.
Omega-3s can combat some of these diseases and may be especially important during early life.
Studies show that getting enough omega-3s during your first year of life is linked to a reduced risk of many autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes, autoimmune diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
7- Mental health
Taking omega 3 has been sufficiently proven in improving mental health. It helps improve memory, elevate mood hence helps in reducing depressive symptoms.
In this regard I myself can say confidently that my memory has improved a lot since i started taking these omega 3s.
Studies show that people who consume the most omega-3s have up to a 55% lower risk of colon cancer.
9- Asthma in kids
As ashthma is a disease in which there is hyperinflammation of the airways, omega 3 may help in decreasing the exacerbations of ashthma.
10- Fatty liver
As omega fats decreases triglycerides, which is the cause of fatty liver, it also reduces incidence of fatty liver.
11- Omega-3s and Menstrual Pain
Menstrual pain occurs in your lower abdomen and pelvis and often radiates to your lower back and thighs.
It can significantly affect your quality of life.
However, studies repeatedly prove that women who consume the most omega-3s have milder menstrual pain.
One study even determined that an omega-3 supplement was more effective than ibuprofen in treating severe pain during menstruation.
Low level of omega fats interferes with sleep. Hence taking it may improve sleep.
13- Hair loss
There have been many studies in the past and many more still going on, but one thing that all of them have in common is the benefits omega 3 has on hair loss. In animal studies especially rats its been shown to increase the hair growth by taking these supplements, which shows a good promises for future in treating alopecia.
As with every food or drug there is always side effects associated if taken in excess amount than required. The incidence of all the side effects themselves are pretty small but some people might experience one of the following or maybe more.
1- Gastric reflux
This is one side effect that I have personally experienced. If taken in excess and frequent amounts,which I took initially. But if taken in appropriate amounts its all right.
2- Hemorrhagic stroke
Although the incidence is infinitesimally small but it’s there. Almost all cases are seen in Patients who are taking blood thinning agents for different disease hence these patients should strictly not take any omega fatty acids as supplements.
The 2nd most common side effect is diarrhoea which is cured if the person stops taking the supplement and can also restart it in low doses again.
4- Vitamin Toxicity
some omega 3 supplements contain vitamin A added as well hence taking large amounts or for very long can cause vit a toxicity.
5- High blood sugar
People with diabetes should first consult with their treating physician before taking supplements containing omega 3.
The benefits of taking omega 3 supplements evidently outweighs the harm caused by it. But more research needs to be done on the effects and side effects of these so called supplements. But for present times with the amount of research that is available now it is not considered to take it in appropriate dosages.
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