Omega-3 essential fatty acids, simply called Omega 3’s for short, are essential for a healthy life, particularly a healthy heart.1 The body cannot make omega-3 by itself, but it is essential for a person to consume these through foods (hence the name Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids). There are other types of essential fatty acids, but the two principle types are omega-3 and omega-6; both are important in the right proportion.2 Most Americans have a diet that is imbalanced in the consumption of omega-3 and omega-6. One reason is because we are a “quick and easy” processed meals society. The ideal amount, is 1 to 2 ratio omega-6 to omega-3 instead of being 25 times more Omega 6!2 Since our diets are already rich in omega-6s, this article will focus on how to get more omega-3s.
First, let’s start with the benefits of omega-3s. Many studies have shown that people who consume a high intake of omega-3 fatty acids1:
· Have a decreased risk of developing heart disease
· Have a reduced risk of death from a cardiac causes, when taken after a heart attack
· Ease depression and bipolar depression
· May protect against Alzheimer’s disease
· May lower chance of developing dementia
· May help in treating hyperactivities disorder (ADHD)
· May help to treat joint pain, stiffness and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis
You can obtain omega-3 by eating cold-water fish, ground flaxseeds, or supplements. Consult your doctor to schedule a physical assessment; then work with your doctor, dietician, or fitness/nutrition counselor to determine the appropriate amount you need.
1Schulman, Robert MD. Solve It With Supplements. New York: Rodale, 2007.
2”Introduction to Probiotics.” National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Jan 9, 2009. Jan 17, 2009 <http://nccam.nih.gov/health/probiotics/#uses>.