The Benefits of Omega-3

The Benefits of Omega-3

Fish oils, omega-3 fish oils, to be exact— are highly beneficial to human beings: they’re among our hearts’ best friends. Ever since this was first surmised, in the 1970s, the evidence for the role of these fish oils in protecting us from cardiovascular disease—and from other diseases as well, including dementia, the metabolic syndrome, and perhaps cancer—has continued to mount. The medical literature now contains thousands of papers dealing with innumerable aspects of the effects of omega-3 fatty acids (which are components of the fish oils) on human physiology, especially as it pertains to cardiovascular disease.

Omega-3 fish oils are called that because they’re composed in part of omega-3 fatty acids, organic acids that have a long hydrocarbon chain with several double bonds in it, the first one at the omega-3 position (third carbon from the end). When three fatty acid molecules (of any kind) are chemically bound to a molecule of glycerol (which is an alcohol), the result is a triglyceride, or fat molecule. Almost all fats of animal or plant origin are triglycerides; if the compound is a solid at room temperature, it’s a called a fat; if it’s a liquid at room temperature, it’s called an oil.

Although triglycerides are vital to your health, they can be highly detrimental, especially to your heart and brain, if their levels in your blood become too high (in that, they’re analogous to cholesterol, another potentially dangerous substance that’s vital to your health). For good heart health, therefore, and for good brain health as well, your triglycerides must be kept under control.

Furthermore, the molecular structure of the fatty acids contained in your triglycerides makes a big difference in how those fat molecules will affect your health. The most healthful fatty acids are unsaturated ones: monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Among the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), the most beneficial ones are the omega-3 fatty acids, or omega-3’s.

Study: Could Diet Help Prevent Vision Loss?

Here’s another reason to get your daily recommended allowances of vitamins and minerals: to lower the odds of vision loss in midlife. Researchers from several universities in the Netherlands, including Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, found that people who got the highest amounts of several nutrients, including zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, in their diet had a lower risk of developing a condition known as macular degeneration. Among people with the LOC387715S variation, only two nutrients, zinc and omega-3, were associated with a lower risk of vision loss. But in all cases, the authors found that it wasn’t necessary to eat excessive amounts of the nutrients to see a benefit — getting the government-recommended daily allowances of healthy foods was sufficient.

Omega-3 ‘Scientifically Supported’ To Reduce Blood Vessel Stiffness

A review of the scientific literature reveals that omega-3 fatty acids offer a ‘scientifically supported means of reducing arterial stiffness’, says a new review from Australia. According to findings published in the British Journal of Nutrition, analysis of data from ten clinical trials revealed that omega-3 fatty acids were associated with an improvement of both pulse wave velocity and arterial compliance, both of which are measures of the stiffness of arteries.“The findings of the present study reveal that supplementation with omega-3 offers a scientifically supported means of reducing arterial stiffness,” wrote researchers from the NICM Centre for Study of Natural Medicines and Neurocognition in Australia.

Omega-3 Relieves Anxiety, Inflammation in Healthy Sample

The psychological surveys clearly showed an important change in anxiety among the students: Those receiving the omega-3 showed a 20 percent reduction in anxiety compared to the placebo group. An analysis of the of the blood samples from the medical students showed similar important results.“We took measurements of the cytokines in the blood serum, as well as measured the productivity of cells that produced two important cytokines, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFa),” said Dr. Ron Glaser, professor of molecular virology. “We saw a 14 percent reduction in the amounts of IL-6 among the students receiving the omega-3.” Since the cytokines foster inflammation, “anything we can do to reduce cytokines is a big plus in dealing with the overall health of people at risk for many diseases,” he said.

Fish Oil During Pregnancy Fights Colds Among Newborns

Colds are no fun for anyone, but for newborns, any assault on their still-developing immune systems can be dangerous. But moms-to-be can reduce the risk that their little ones will get sick by taking fish oil supplements.In a study published in Pediatrics, researchers at Emory University and in Mexico report that women taking 400 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil, helped their one-month newborns to fight off more cold symptoms such as coughing, nasal congestion and runny noses than moms who took a placebo. The cold-fighting effect lasted for six months; by that time, the DHA-protected infants experienced about the same amount of cold symptoms as the babies whose mothers did not take DHA, but their symptoms didn’t last as long.

Beyond the Heart and Brain: Emerging Benefits of Omega-3

There is a wealth of evidence supporting a role for omega-3’s in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and boosting overall heart health, improving eye and brain development in our formative years and maintaining cognitive performance as we age. But can omega-3 have other benefits? Fatty acids, once solely thought of as an energy source in our bodies, have been shown to be highly active molecules. They can act as transcription factors that regulate protein synthesis, play important roles in cell signaling, and act as membrane components that regulate the fluidity, permeability, and dynamics of cell membranes. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as alpha-linolenic (ALA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA), have infact been associated in beneficial ways with a wide range of illnesses and diseases including cancer, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, lupus, alcoholism, visual acuity, kidney disease, respiratory disease, dermatitis, psoriasis, cystic fibrosis, schizophrenia, depression, neurologic and brain development, malaria, multiple sclerosis, and migraine headaches. Indeed, it is difficult to find any human disorder where omega-3 fatty acids have not been tested.

Study Links Low DHA Levels to Suicide Risk Among U.S. Military Personnel

In a finding suggesting psychiatric benefits for a component of fish oil, a study published Wednesday has linked military suicides to low levels of docosahexaenoic acid and found that service personnel with higher levels of DHA in their blood were less likely to take their own lives.The study, published this week in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, looked back at the medical records of 800 U.S. servicemen and women who took their own lives between 2002 and 2008, and compared them with the records of 800 service personnel — matched for age, gender and rank — who had no history of suicide attempts.


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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.The products and statements made about specific products on this web site have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. All information provided on this web site or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new vitamins, supplements, diet, or exercise program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.

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