mega-3 fatty acids is a compound that has gained a great deal of popularity in the recent times. Nowadays, there is no shortage of articles and blogs on the internet that talk about the abilities of this compound. More and more people have started paying attention to this compound. A lot of them have incorporated this compound in their diet as well.
Not just the interest of general public, omega-3 fatty acids have also been thoroughly investigated by experts in the field of science. Tons of clinical trials and scientific studies have been conducted in the last few decades to find out about the numerous ways in which omega-3 fatty acids, a type of PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) can benefit the health of a person.However, there are still very few of us who are well-aware of the ways in which this compound can positively affect our health. Here we have discussed many must-know facts about omega-3 and its various benefits including for heart and mental health. Read on to know further:
- What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
- What Is The History Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
- What Are The Sources Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
- Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Benefit Your Health?
- Benefits Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- What Happens If There Is A Deficiency Of Omega-3 In The Body?
- What Precautions Should You Take While Taking Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
- Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Dietary Supplements Interact With Medications?
- What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Omega-3?
What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
A type of polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids are also referred to as n-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are cited to be significant for normal metabolism. In total, there are three types of omega-3 fatty acids that are involved in human physiology. These are ALA (α-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). 
While ALA is most commonly found in plant oils like canola oil, soybean oil and flaxseed oil, the other two omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are reportedly found primarily in seafood like fish. A-linolenic acid (ALA) is the type that does not get naturally made in the body. That is why the only way to get it is by consuming it. The human body is capable of converting certain ALA into the other two types – EPA and DHA. However, it is found that in order to maintain a healthy level of omega-3 fatty acids in the body, one must consume food items that contain EPA and DHA. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered to be important elements of the membranes that surround the cells in the body. 
What Is The History Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
It is a well-known fact that omega-3 fatty acids are compounds that are extremely important for normal health and growth of a person. However, this fact was not known till the 1930s. In fact, the awareness among general public regarding the numerous benefits of omega-3 only started to rise after the 1980s. In 2004, the FDA in the USA stated that there was supportive research to show the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids in lowering the risk of certain diseases. Even the Food Inspection Agency of Canada has recognized omega-3 as an important compound. 
What Are The Sources Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
In general, the primary source of omega-3 fatty acids are fish and vegetable oils. The most extensively available source of the two types of omega-3, EPA and DHA are fish such as herring, salmon, sardines, menhaden, mackerel and anchovies. 
Even, nuts and seeds such as flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts are considered to be great dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Along with that, plant oils such as soybean oil, flaxseed and canola oil can be consumed for taking omega-3 fatty acids. Lastly, certain types of fortified foods such as eggs, soy beverages, yogurt, milk) also contain this highly beneficial compound. 
Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Benefit Your Health?
There are numerous pieces of scientific research that have investigated the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Many of these studies and trials have found that higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids can undeniably improve the health condition of a person and lower the risk of developing a wide array of ailments. 
Benefits Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Here are some of the incredibly benefits of taking omega-3 fatty acids that you should know about:
1. Benefits Of Omega-3 For The Heart
There is no denying the fact that in many parts of the world like the western countries, heart disease continues to be one of the most common causes of fatalities among the population. Even though, plenty of advancements have taken place in the world, heart disease still causes the death of approximately half a million people every year in the USA alone. Heart attacks also referred to as myocardial infarction, result from blocked coronary arteries. This attack can severely impact the electrical signaling system of the heart that serves the purpose of taking care of the pumping action of the heart. This, in turn can lead to an arrhythmia that is popularly known as cardiac sudden death. However, with the help of omega-3, the rate of life-threatening arrhythmia can be reduced by 30%. According to a few reports, more than 70,000 people could be saved in the USA every year if they have the adequate amount of omega-3 fatty acid in their body.
Omega-3 fatty acids along with their eicosanoid derivatives possess the strength to relax as well as dilate blood vessels and coronary arteries and result in an increase in the blood flow. This type of vasodilation is known to safeguard the heart from heart attacks as it increases the blood flow to the heart.  Furthermore, omega-3 may reduce triglycerides in the body, cause reduction in blood clotting, irregular heartbeats and lower the risk of a person getting a stroke or suffering from a heart failure. It can also cause a slight reduction in the blood pressure level. Consumption of fish that contains a high content of omega-3 can help lower the risk of heart disease that can lead to unexpected cardiac death. It is considered to be good to consume at least 1-2 servings of this type of fish on a weekly basis. 
2. Mental Health Benefits Of Omega-3
Reports have found that there is a strong link between omega-3 fatty acids and the health of the brain. There is evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can be used for tackling mental health problems such as depression related to bipolar disorder. EPA supplementation, a type of omega-3, can prove to be beneficial in improving the condition of individuals suffering from depression. That is because, these compounds can deal with inflammation that is considered to be one of the causes of depression. 
Most importantly, it is found that omega-3 fatty acids can have a profound impact on the cognitive functionality of one’s brain. A few observational studies were able to establish that individuals who consume diet that is enriched with omega-3 fatty acids are at a lower risk of experiencing decline in the cognitive abilities of the brain. Also, it reduces the risk of him or her suffering from diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As DHA, a type of omega-3 is an important part of cellular membrane in the brain, various scientific researchers believe that omega-3 can safeguard the part of the brain that performs cognitive function.
A few studies were conducted which found that healthy older individuals who consumed proper amount of omega-3 experienced comparatively less decline in the cognitive functionality of the brain.  Apart from that, data from a few clinical trials found that when it comes to fighting off schizophrenia, omega-3 fatty acids can prove to be quite beneficial. This compound can effectively reduce the clinical symptoms that people suffering from this mental disorder tend to experience in the early stages. 
3. Omega-3 Benefits In Fighting Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration is considered to be one of the most common causes of loss of vision in adults who are older. Averting this disease is something that proper consumption of omega-3 fatty acids can result into. Various observational studies were conducted and the reports state that consuming a high quantity of omega-3 fatty acids can effectively reduce the risk of a person developing a life-limiting disease like AMD (age-related macular degeneration). 
4. Omega-3 Benefits For Autoimmune Disease
Autoimmune disease especially rheumatoid arthritis is a troubling chronic condition in which the person experiences inflammation in his or her joints. Some of the symptoms of this disease are stiffness in the joints, swelling as well as pain in the joints and few others. A few scientific studies found that omega-3 fatty acids can prove to be helpful in tackling the annoying and discomforting symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.  Individuals who suffer from this type of autoimmune disease can take omega-3 fatty acids to experience a reduction in the pain. 
5. Omega-3 Benefits For Cancer
There are various researchers in the world who have time and again hypothesized that omega-3 fatty acids can play a role in aversion of cancer. They believe that due to the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3, a higher intake of these compounds can effectively lower the risk of a person developing a life-threatening disease like cancer. A few reviews of the clinical trials have found that a high intake of omega-3 fatty acids can lead to an aversion of different types of cancer such as breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer. 
What Happens If There Is A Deficiency Of Omega-3 In The Body?
There is evidence that shows that due to the consumption of modern-day food supply that contains less quantity of omega-3 fatty acids, people tend to develop a deficiency of omega-3 in their body. Whether, children or adult, this particular deficiency can lead to various health-related problems. The impact of this deficiency on the functionality of a person’s brain is quite profound. Problems during pregnancy like premature birth along with neurologic complications in the newborn can be a result of this deficiency. It could have an impact on the cognitive functionality of the brain and also negatively affect the visual development.
This deficiency in children may result in an inability to pay attention or lead to impulsive behavior while increasing the risk of depression. Among teenagers and adults, this deficiency can increase their susceptibility to violence or hostile behavior. After a particular age, omega-3 deficiency in the brain can put a person at a higher risk of getting a stroke, experiencing memory problems or dementia. In fact, it is believed that irrespective of the age, this deficiency in any person puts him or her at a higher risk of various mental disorders like bipolar disorder, depression and psychiatric disorders. 
What Precautions Should You Take While Taking Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Prior to taking omega-3, it is crucial to inform your health care specialist if you are allergic to either this compound or fish. Even if you have allergies from ingredients like peanut or soy, you should share that information with the specialist as at times omega-3 may contain such ingredients. Other than that, women during pregnancy should only take omega-3 if it is absolutely essential and needed. Also, women who are breastfeeding should consult with their doctors prior to taking this compound to avert any negative effects. 
Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Dietary Supplements Interact With Medications?
The most common dietary supplement of omega-3 fatty acids is fish oil and this supplement does have the potential to interact with certain type of medications. That is why, it is imperative to check with your doctor prior to taking omega-3 fatty acids dietary supplements. 
What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Omega-3?
In most cases, a fishy aftertaste is considered to be commonly reported side effect of omega-3 fatty acids. However, this only occurs, if you take omega-3 that is made with fish oil. Apart from that, possible side effects of this compound can be nausea or bloating. In few cases, burping may also occur. In case any of these side effects get worse, then it is highly recommended to consult with a doctor. However, be mindful of the fact that a highly serious allergy to omega-3 is rare. 
There is vast literature that details the importance of omega-3 as a potentially beneficial compound that comes loaded with a wide array of health benefits. These benefits range from its ability to avert diseases to improve the overall health of a person. Proper intake of omega-3 fatty acids is essential for maintaining one’s health and as this can be found in natural dietary sources such as fish, it becomes rather easy to start taking omega-3 rich diet. So, go ahead, help improve the health of your heart and brain and ward off many distressful health conditions by making omega-3 a part of your daily diet.