Table of contents:
- Foods rich in omega 3
- Benefits of omega 3 in pregnancy
- Recommended daily amount
- When to take omega 3 supplements
Omega 3 is a type of good fat that has a potent anti-inflammatory action and, therefore, can be used to control cholesterol and blood glucose levels or prevent cardiovascular and brain diseases, in addition to improving memory and the disposition.
There are three types of omega 3: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which can be found especially in sea fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines, and in seeds such as chia and linseed.
Omega 3 can also be consumed as a supplement in the form of capsules, which are sold in pharmacies, drugstores and he alth food stores.
Due to its properties, omega-3 has been indicated as an essential nutrient for a he althy and balanced diet, as it can provide several he alth benefits, the main ones being:
1. Decreases inflammation
Omega 3 has anti-inflammatory properties that can be very useful in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease or rheumatoid arthritis, for example, as it reduces the production of inflammatory substances such as eicosanoids and cytokines. In addition, the anti-inflammatory action of omega 3 helps to prevent cell damage that can lead to cancer.
2. Protects against cardiovascular disease
Omega 3 helps to reduce bad cholesterol and triglycerides, which are responsible for forming fatty plaques in the arteries, which promotes better functioning of the arteries and helps to prevent heart attack, arrhythmia, heart failure and stroke.
In addition, omega 3 helps increase good cholesterol, control blood pressure and reduce cell damage, keeping blood vessels he althy.
3. Prevents clot formation
Omega 3, especially DHA and EPA, has anticoagulant properties, reducing the formation of blood clots by preventing blood platelets from clumping together and, therefore, this fat can help prevent serious complications, such as deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, for example.
4. Helps fight depression
Omega 3 protects brain cells, improving their activity, leading to an increase in substances responsible for emotions, mood and well-being such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.
Thus, omega 3 helps to prevent, fight and assist in the treatment of depression, reducing depressive symptoms, sleep disturbances and lack of sexual appetite, which are common symptoms in depressed people.
5. Fight asthma
Omega 3, as it has anti-inflammatory action, helps to fight asthma, in addition to being able to reduce the risk of new crises, and therefore, the consumption of foods rich in this fat or the use of supplements can be indicated by the nutritionist in order to complement the treatment indicated by the doctor.
6. Prevents autoimmune diseases
Some studies show that omega 3 can help reduce the risk of developing autoimmune diseases, which is when the immune system does not recognize he althy cells in the body and attacks them, destroying these cells, as in the case of type diabetes 1 or multiple sclerosis, for example. In addition, this fat can help treat lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, and psoriasis.
7. Helps control blood glucose
Some studies show that omega 3 can help reduce blood sugar levels by improving the resistance of the hormone insulin, which can be an important ally in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
In a study , the ingestion of capsules with 1g fish oil (with 430 mg DHA + 60 mg EPA) for 3 months showed that the levels of Blood insulin levels were reduced in participants, indicating that the use of omega-3 supplements can help prevent diabetes.
8. Improves brain function
Omega 3 is a very important nutrient for brain functions, as 60% of the brain is made up of fat, especially omega 3. Therefore, a deficiency in this fat may be associated with a lower capacity for learning or memory.
In this way, increasing the consumption of omega 3 can help protect brain cells ensuring the proper functioning of the brain, improving memory and reasoning.
9. Prevent Alzheimer's
Some studies show that the consumption of omega 3 can reduce memory loss, lack of attention and difficulty in logical reasoning, which can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's, by improving the functioning of brain neurons.However, further studies are needed to prove this benefit.
10. Improves skin quality
Omega 3, especially DHA, is a component of skin cells, responsible for the he alth of the cell membrane keeping the skin soft, hydrated, flexible and wrinkle-free. Thus, by consuming omega 3 it is possible to maintain these skin characteristics and its he alth.
In addition, omega 3 helps protect the skin from sun damage that can cause aging or skin cancer, as it has an antioxidant effect.
11. Controls attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Many studies show that omega 3 deficiency is associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and that increased consumption of omega 3, especially EPA, can reduce symptoms of this disorder, helping to improve attention, task completion and reduce hyperactivity, impulsivity, agitation and aggression.
12. Improves muscle performance
Omega 3 supplementation can help reduce muscle inflammation caused by exercise, speeding muscle recovery and decreasing post-workout soreness.
Omega 3 also helps improve mood and enhance performance in training, as well as being important to facilitate the start of physical activities or for people undergoing medical treatments, such as physical therapy or cardiac rehabilitation.
Learn more about the benefits of omega 3 in the following video:
Foods rich in omega 3
The main source of omega 3 in the diet is seawater fish, such as sardines, tuna and salmon. In addition to these, this nutrient is also present in seeds such as chia and flaxseed, chestnuts, walnuts and olive oil.
Among the plant sources, flaxseed oil is the richest food in omega-3, and its use is very important for people who are vegetarians. Check out a complete list of foods rich in omega 3.
Benefits of omega 3 in pregnancy
Omega 3 supplementation in pregnancy can be recommended by the obstetrician, as it prevents premature births and improves the child's neurological development, and in premature babies this supplementation improves cognitive capacity, since the low intake of this fat may be associated with the baby's lowest IQ.
Omega supplementation during pregnancy has benefits such as:
- Prevent maternal depression;
- Reduces the risk of preeclampsia;
- Reduce cases of premature birth;
- Reduces the risk of low birth weight in the baby;
- Reduces the risk of developing autism, ADHD or learning disorders in a child;
- Lower risk of allergies and asthma in children;
- Better neurocognitive development in children.
Omega 3 supplementation can also be performed during the breastfeeding phase to meet the nutritional needs of the mother and child, and should be done according to medical advice.
See the following video for some advantages of using omega 3 in pregnancy and childhood:
Recommended daily amount
The recommended daily allowance of omega 3 varies by age, as shown below:
- Babies from 0 to 12 months: 500 mg;
- Children from 1 to 3 years: 700 mg;
- Children from 4 to 8 years: 900 mg;
- 9-13 year olds: 1200 mg;
- Girls aged 9 to 13: 1000 mg;
- 14 to 18 year olds: 1600 mg;
- Girls 14 to 18 years: 1100 mg;
- Adult and elderly men: 1600 mg;
- Adult and elderly women: 1100 mg;
- Pregnant women: 1400 mg;
- Breastfeeding women: 1300 mg.
It is important to remember that, in cases of deficiencies or increased nutritional needs, omega 3 supplementation should be done on the recommendation of a doctor or nutritionist.
When to take omega 3 supplements
Omega 3 supplementation is usually indicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding, when there is a deficiency of this nutrient in the body or during treatments against sagging and acne. In addition, omega 3 supplements may be indicated to prevent diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's and cardiovascular diseases.
To prevent omega 3 deficiency, maintaining a balanced diet and consuming fish at least 2 times a week already guarantees adequate levels of omega 3 for the body. In vegetarian diets, one option is to use linseed oil, which can be consumed at least once a day, as a salad dressing, for example.
How to choose the best supplement
There are several types of omega 3 supplements, such as fish oil, cod liver oil or krill oil, or even those of vegetable origin, such as seaweed oil, flaxseed oil or chia seed oil.
To choose the best omega supplement, here are some recommendations:
- Prioritize supplements containing only EPA or having a higher proportion of EPA than DHA in capsules;
- Choose supplements with wild fish oils, as they have better quality of omega 3;
- Opt for supplements that are certified for sustainable fishing, the purity of the oil and the percentage of EPA and DHA in the capsules.
The amount of EPA and DHA in omega-3 supplement capsules varies by manufacturer. The fish oil supplement contains an average of 1,000mg of oil per capsule, with 180mg of EPA and 120mg of DHA. Seaweed oils contain 100mg to 300mg of DHA and some may also contain EPA.
In addition, omega 3 supplements with better absorption should be preferred, such as those containing free fatty acids, natural triglycerides, re-esterified triglycerides and phospholipids, and those containing ethyl esters in the composition should be avoided.See an example of an omega-3 supplement.