Omega-3’s are a supplement that you may have heard about, but do you know what it really is? Omega-3 supplements consist of essential fats, and there are up to 11 different types. Omega-3s offer a wide variety of benefits to the body. They can help support the cardiovascular and immune systems. Improve vision and joint pain, and boost concentration. The most important of the bunch are three in specific.
These specific omega-3’s are called ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). ALA is most often found in plant-based products. EPA and DHA, however, are found in animal foods; especially fatty fish. We’ll explain each of the types in a little bit more detail below.
ALA most commonly appears in most people’s diets as it’s abundant in many plants. Surprisingly though, ALA actually needs to be converted into the other two common omega-3s (EPA & DHA) in your body in order to actually provide any supplement. This process isn’t the most efficient, however, and only small percentages are actually effectively converted. The ALA that is not converted is left to be stored just like other fats in the body, and this can actually lead to many complications over time. Counteractively, the other two omega- 3’s have shown to decrease risk in multiple avenues.
EPA is an important molecule when it comes to physiological activity, It is commonly used to produce a signaling factor called eicosanoids, which help decrease inflammation. Because of this. EPAs have been shown in studies to help ease problems related to conditions that involve low levels of inflammation. EPAs are more specifically found in foods such as herring, salmon, eel, shrimp, sturgeon and grass-fed animal products, such as dairy and meats.
DHA is an important piece involved in the development of the skin and the retinas of your eyes. DHA has been shown to improve vision in infants and improve cognition/brain function in both developing children and in adults. It also has been expected to help ease symptoms of arthritis, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Lowered DHA levels have also been linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Before taking any Omega-3 supplements, however, it’s important that you first consult your doctor. Talk to them about what your best plan of action may be.
Hjalmarsdottir, F. (2019, May 27). The 3 Most Important Types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Retrieved from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/3-types-of-omega-3