Omega 3 – What is it, what is it for, food, benefits and deficiency!

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that is very important for the body to function. As it is not produced naturally by the body, it must be consumed in the form of fats. There are, in general, 3 types of omega 3 : DHA, EPA and ALA. DHA and EPA can be found mainly in cold, deep-water fish that feed on marine animals. ALA, in turn, is found in legumes, nuts and other foods.

Health benefits of omega 3:

First of all, it is good to specify that, for the health of our body, it is important to have a balance between omega 3  and omega 6 fatty acids, which are, rather than vegetables, found, for example, in sunflower seeds, wheat germ, nuts, soy, corn and derived oils. As the doctor explains, “the omega 3  / Omega 6 ratio should be 3: 1, because these levels between the two types of fat have a preventive action in relation to hypertension, type 2 diabetes , immunological and inflammatory disorders and coronary diseases”. Specifically, omega 3 fatty acids have  benefits, including:

  1. they prevent breast cancer
  2. they are good for eye health
  3. prevent colon polyps
  4. improve mood and cognitive functions, so they are useful against dementia ( Alzheimers ), schizophrenia, anxiety and depression (even postpartum)
  5. they have an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effect
  6. benefit people predisposed to cardiovascular events such as stroke, heart attack and thrombophilia
  7. are helpful against hypertension and chronic inflammatory bowel disease, as well as lowering cholesterol and rheumatoid arthritis
  8. they are good for visual and cognitive development
  9. they enhance learning.

What is a fatty acid?

Fatty acids are a type of fat present in many types of foods. They can be classified as Saturated, Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated. Saturated are the fatty acids present in meat and dairy products. Its excessive consumption can lead to circulation problems, such as increased cholesterol in the blood. Monounsaturated fatty acids, on the other hand, are found mainly in vegetables and can bring some benefits, such as reducing the risks of high blood pressure.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids, on the other hand, are called essential, as they cannot be produced directly by the body, and must be obtained from external sources, that is, from food.

Essential fatty acids:

Essential fatty acids are very important for the body as they can be used as energy by the cells of our body. In addition, they act as clotting agents and, as they have antioxidant action, help maintain skin elasticity and fight premature aging.

Types of Omega 3 :

In general, there are 3 types of omega 3 : alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

EPA and DHA are found more commonly in fish and seafood, and studies indicate that they have more health benefits than ALA, which is more commonly found in plant-based foods such as flaxseeds, walnuts. and soybean oil. Understand the difference:

  1. EPA: EPA has anti-inflammatory action, as it helps the enzymatic reactions responsible for the production of essential substances to combat inflammation that neutralize the pro-inflammatory activity.
  2. One of the main benefits of this type of omega 3  is in helping the health of the heart and blood circulation, as it helps to prevent the formation of thrombi (clots) in the blood,
  3. thus decreasing the risk of thrombosis and stroke.
  4. People who suffer from cellulite, obesity, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, for example, can benefit greatly from consuming EPA.
  5. DHA:  In addition to having antioxidant action, DHA is essential for the development of the fetus. It helps in the formation of the retina (part of the eyes responsible for transforming the stimulus
  6. light in nerve stimulation).
  7. It is the most beneficial type of fatty acid for brain health, as it favors cognition and connections between neurons, benefiting memory, attention, reasoning, imagination,
  8. judgment and several other aspects related to the human mind.
  9. ALA:  Plant-based, ALA can be converted to DHA or EPA after ingesting. The human body is capable of producing enzymes that make this transformation, however, their activity is reduced by factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, diabetes, stress, high intake of trans fats and, mainly, by aging.

Foods rich in omega 3 :

As stated earlier, there are 3 types of omega 3 . Each of these can be found in different food sources, with EPA and DHA being most easily found in fish and seafood.

However, it is not only these foods that contain significant amounts of omega 3 . Check out:

Foods Rich in Omega 3PortionAmount in Omega 3Energy
Sardine100 g3,3 g124 calories
Herring100 g1,6 g230 calories
Salmon100 g1,4 g211 calories
Atum100 g0,5 g146 calories
Chia seeds28 g5,06 g127 calories
Flax seeds20 g1,6 g103 calories
Nuts28 g2,6 g198 calories

Signs of omega 3 deficiency :

One of the most characteristic clinical signs of essential fatty acid deficiency is, without a doubt, dry skin. This sign is very common in children when they are small, if they do not feed properly. Skin problems are often the direct result of not getting enough omega -3s . These are the times when we are most sensitive to infections and poor wound healing.

Omega 3 side effects :

Useful links: 

The use of omega 3  in the recommended doses is generally safe and well tolerated. The most frequently observed side effects would affect the gastro-enteric system, with nausea, dyspepsia, abdominal pain, diarrhea, aerophagia, and fish-like regurgitation. The onset of clotting and bleeding complications is very rare.

Precautions for using omega 3 :

  1. The use of omega 3  during pregnancy, during lactation and during the first years of life must be supervised by medical personnel.
  2. The same attention should be reserved for patients on drug therapy with anticoagulants and platelets.
  3. Omega 3 use  should be discontinued prior to surgery due to increased risk of bleeding.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *