What are omega 3 fatty acids?
Almost everyone knows that Omega 3 has amazing health benefits. Heart health, joint protection, brain function, eyesight, coping with stress ... and much more! There is no other vital substance that has such a positive effect on so many areas of our body at the same time.
Omega 3 fatty acids are among the most important and partly essential fatty acids for the human organism. They are indispensable building blocks for the cell membrane and have a positive effect on the blood circulation, the viscosity of the blood and the blood lipid values.
Omega 3 fatty acids have been extensively researched in more than 6,000 scientific studies and their impact on health is amazing. That is why they are also called 'miracle foods of the 21st century'.
- Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids and must be ingested daily through food.
- The best known representatives include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahaexenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
- Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for optimal metabolism and a healthy cardiovascular system.
- Its most important properties also include its positive effects on the skin, brain, musculoskeletal system and the immune system.
- Omega 3 fatty acids reduce the formation of inflammatory substances and strengthen mental and visual abilities.
- Excellent omega 3 fatty acid suppliers are vegetable oils from linseed, canola and soybeans as well as fatty sea fish.
Benefits of omega 3 for health
Research awards omega 3 fatty acids the following health benefits:
- reduce the risk of heart disease
- reduce inflammation throughout the body
- support eye health
- support brain health
- reduce ADHD symptoms in children
- relieve symptoms of depression
- support general health and well-being
- promote the fluidity of the blood
- prevent high blood pressure
- support the development of eyes and brain in the fetus during pregnancy and lactation
- lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
Other research approaches are testing the role of omega 3 supplements in alleviating the following diseases:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Stress and anxiety
- Bipolar disorders
- Multiple sclerosis
- Type 2 diabetes
A deficiency in omega 3 fatty acids can cause the following symptoms:
- Preventing arteriosclerosis, hypertension and dementia
- Bad memory
- Dry skin and eczema
- Heart problems
- Joint pain and osteoarthritis
- Rheumatic diseases
- Circulatory disorders
- Huntington's disease
- Concentration problems
Omega 3 effect
Due to their very different effect mechanisms, omega 3 fatty acids have a very broad spectrum of activity. One of its most important properties is the protection of cells against premature aging.
Omega 3 fatty acids are considered very powerful antioxidants that can even cross the blood-brain barrier.
In the cardiovascular system, omega 3 fatty acids lower triglyceride levels and at the same time increase good HDL cholesterol levels. They also improve blood circulation and reduce deposits in the blood vessels due to their blood-thinning effect.
In addition, omega 3 fatty acids reduce the formation of substances that promote inflammation and thus have a positive effect on rheumatism, arthritis, psoriasis, neurodermatitis and other inflammatory diseases.
Why do DHA and EPA have such far-reaching effects?
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are present in every cell membrane of our body. They are crucial for the communication between the cells, e.g. in the nervous system, where messages need to be spread quickly throughout the body.
Omega 3 also stimulates the production of prostaglandins.These are hormones that control many functions, such as the inflammatory and immune responses.
Virtually every area of the body needs substances that rely on an adequate supply of omega 3 fatty acids. Our eating habits determine the relationship between omega 3 and the other fatty acids in the cell membranes. You decide whether all bodily functions work optimally.
What can omega 3 fatty acids do for you?
- Omega 3 reduce inflammation throughout the body. They are therefore recommended against allergies, asthma and eczema.
- Omega 3 lowers triglyceride levels and increases good HDL cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart diseases.
- Omega 3 reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and recurrent heart attacks better than any medication it has been compared with.
- Omega 3 is probably the best 'medicine' available to prevent sudden cardiac death.
- Omega 3 improves cartilage and joint health.
- Omega 3 supports eye health and supports the development of the eyesight of the growing child in the womb.
- Omega 3 plays an important role in brain development. A Scottish study in young children showed that omega 3 improved mental and visual skills - which made the children smarter than those who did not take omega 3.
- Omega 3 can be used effectively to support the treatment of Alzheimer's.
- Omega 3 improves brain performance, increases IQ and helps to fill gaps in memory that occur with age.
- Omega 3 helps people who suffer from multiple sclerosis.
- Omega 3 reduces the symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) in children.
- Omega 3 maintains the permeability of the cell walls.
- Omega 3 balances hormones, which has many advantages. One of them is a much better, deeper sleep so that you wake up completely fresh and strengthened in the morning.
- Omega 3 can lower high blood pressure. Unlike drugs that force blood pressure into the normal range, omega 3 fatty acids work by naturally lowering blood pressure to a healthy level. It only takes a little longer with Omega 3, but it has no side effects.
- Omega 3 prevents thickening of the arteries by reducing the production of a platelet-based growth factor by the endothelial cells (the lining of the arteries consists of endothelial cells).
- Omega 3 reduces the sticking of the platelets together. It can reduce the risk of stroke caused by blood clots in the brain.
- Omega 3 reduces the production of cytokines. These messengers are associated with inflammatory reactions that increase the risk of hardening of the arteries.
- Omega 3 increases the activity of messenger substances (prostaglandins), which are produced by endothelial cells, which relaxes and dilates the arteries.
- Omega 3 increases the concentration of good eicanosanoids (prostaglandin-F2α and thromboxane-B2) and at the same time reduces serum triglycerides.
- Omega 3 is a very powerful antioxidant and one of the few that can cross the blood-brain barrier. It is possibly the ultimate antioxidant.
- Omega 3 improves character, mood and reduces the development of mental illnesses.
- Omega 3 is an effective natural antidepressant.
- Omega 3 improves the ratio of testosterone to DHT (its metabolite).
- Omega 3 helps reduce the growth of cancer cells. It has also been shown to be effective in assisting in the treatment of prostate, breast B1 and colon cancer.
- Because omega 3 fatty acids improve hormone levels and joint health at the same time, it is the perfect anti-aging supplement and a fantastic nutritional supplement for athletes that speeds up recovery after hard workouts.
- Omega 3 reduces inflammation in the lungs and can also be used to treat allergies, asthma and eczema.
- Omega 3 reduces the risk of becoming obese and improves the cells' ability to respond to insulin by stimulating the excretion of leptin. This hormone regulates food intake, body weight and metabolism, which is reflected in the number of adipocytes (fat cells).
Omega 3 deficiency
Unfortunately, the average European does not eat a lot of fish and therefore does not eat enough brain-strengthening omega 3 fatty acids for optimal brain function.
Many nutritionists and medical experts believe that the increasing number of patients with Alzheimer's, depression and other brain-related diseases could be related to an imbalance in the amount of omega 3 in our diet. Since we ingest too much omega 6 through our diet, we lack the essential omega 3 fatty acids which reduce the likelihood of developing these diseases.
Researchers at Tufts University have discovered that Alzheimer's patients have little DHA in their blood plasma - one of the two essential fatty acids that we are telling you about here. By examining blood samples from a group of 899 men who did not have dementia at the start of the study, the researchers were able to show that people with higher levels of DHA in the blood were 47% less likely to develop dementia and a 39% smaller chance to develop Alzheimer's.
If you or a relative already suffer from the debilitating effects of this disease, Alzheimer's treatment can be supplemented with omega 3 fish oil. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm discovered that the course of Alzheimer's in patients who took fish oil capsules with a high DHA content slowed down.
How does a lack of omega 3 fatty acids express itself?
- Development of cardiovascular diseases
- Depression and other neurological disorders
- Increased risk of rheumatism and other inflammatory diseases
- Dry, flaky skin
- High blood pressure
- Decreased eyesight
- Weakened immune system
- Decreased blood flow
Omega 3 dosage
Although the German Nutrition Society does not provide exact values, it recommends that 0.5 percent of the daily amount of energy be consumed in the form of omega 3 fatty acids as a guideline in order to ensure an adequate supply. With a daily amount of calories of around 2400 kcal, this would correspond to an amount of 1.25 g omega 3 fatty acids.
However, many therapists recommend significantly higher doses for the accompanying treatment for cardiovascular diseases or inflammatory diseases. Here, omega 3 fatty acids as nutritional supplements in capsules offer the possibility of actually meeting this increased need.
If you love fish, you're in luck! If you eat fatty cold water fish several times a week, make sure you consume the amount of omega 3 your body needs to function optimally. For example, herring, mackerel, sardines and wild salmon are very suitable.
Unfortunately, the typical Western diet usually only contains one fish meal in 10 days. This amount is less than the recommendation from the US National Institute of Health.
Based on the numerous results that shed light on the positive effects of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids on health and disease prevention, various health authorities have given recommendations for eating fish or taking omega-3 supplements.
In 2008, the Food Committee of the International Life Sciences Institute of North America noted that there is now sufficient evidence to establish a dietary reference intake for EPA and DHA with a recommended intake of between 250 and 500 mg/day.
Research shows that the following daily intake would be ideal for your health:
- Approximately 650 milligrams of EPA and DHA per day for normal, healthy adults
- 1 gram in case of an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases
- 2 grams if you want to lower your triglyceride levels
If you want to lower your cholesterol level, it is also important to take a higher omega 3 dose. A too low dose would not lead to the desired reduction in cholesterol.
There is no standardized dosage recommendation for taking Omega 3, as the amount depends heavily on the reason for taking it.
For example, the American Heart Association recommends that cardiac patients take 1 gram of DHA and EPA per day. However, a lower amount is sufficient to reduce the triglyceride value.
Omega 3 side effects
No side effects were found with omega 3 fatty acids as food supplements when taking the recommended dosage.
No official side effects are officially known for omega 3 supplements. There have been some reports of gastrointestinal disorders and nausea. Fishy aftertaste or fishy breath have also been reported. To counteract this, omega 3 capsules with lemon oil or other flavors are offered to reduce the unpleasant aftertaste.
Omega 3 interactions and allergies
However, if you are on medication, have a blood clotting disorder, are pregnant or are breastfeeding, you should speak to your doctor before taking omega 3 fatty acids.
Very high doses of omega 3 may promote bleeding and reduce blood clotting. Therefore, people taking blood-thinning medication should have their blood clotting checked at regular intervals.
You should also avoid omega 3 if you are allergic to fish or shellfish.
Omega 3 in food
Omega 3 is obtained from eating fish and seafood, but also from other animal and vegetable sources. The best source of omega 3 is high-fat fish with a high DHA and EPA content, such as anchovies, blue bass, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout and tuna.
Plant based sources of omega 3 are chia seeds, linseed, canola oil and walnuts. However, they mainly contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) fatty acids, which the body can convert into omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 from fish is more effective than from plants
Since only a very small amount of the plant-derived omega 3 alpha-linolenic acids (ALA) is converted into long-chain omega 3 fatty acids, the necessary amount of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to protect the tissue can only be achieved by these omega 3 fatty acids which can be ingested through fish or other seafood.
Omega 3 protects the heart
Omega 3 supplements are particularly known to support heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease. Studies show that omega 3 capsules as a dietary supplement can actively improve and maintain heart health.
Studies have shown that taking omega 3 fatty acids may reduce the following symptoms:
- Cardiovascular complaints
- Sudden cardiac death due to cardiovascular problems
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood lipid levels
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Thrombosis and arteriosclerotic plaque that can lead to a heart attack and stroke
- Cardiac syndrome X
Medication is not the only treatment for cardiovascular complaints. Millions of people are already using the power of omega 3 to prevent and treat cardiovascular complaints.
Researchers began to study fish oils for the first time in the 1970s when they found that the Greenland Eskimos had an inexplicably low number of heart diseases, despite eating almost half a kilogram of whale and seal meat, including blubber and guts, per day. Not exactly a cholesterol-friendly diet!
They discovered that not only the locals only have almost no heart diseases, they also don't really have arthritis or other chronic inflammatory diseases such as bursitis, swollen joints, macular degeneration and more.
In fact, these diseases occur less frequently worldwide in countries where the diet traditionally contains more fish and seafood - a strong contrast to the Western diet.
FDA and Mayo Clinic confirm the effects of Omega 3 on the heart
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a statement in 2004 confirming the role of omega 3 fatty acids in reducing coronary artery diseases. Thousands of scientific studies have led to this statement and many studies are still being carried out around the world today.
Omega 3 fatty acids and heart disease
Omega 3 fatty acids have received a lot of media attention due to their impressive ability to reduce the number of deaths from heart disease, especially sudden cardiac death.
A study of people who survived a heart attack showed that those who ate only one gram of omega 3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil a day had a mortality rate that was half that of people who did not take these fatty acids.
Research in Japan and other places shows that there is very little heart disease in regions where seafood is eaten almost daily. For this reason, the American Heart Association recommends everyone to eat fish at least twice a week, especially fatty fish such as salmon, rainbow trout, herring, mackerel and sardines.
For people who already have health problems, the more frequent consumption of seafood or omega 3 supplements is also important.
Effects of omega 3 on heart health
Reduced risk of dying from heart disease In western countries, heart disease claims more lives than any other cause of death. You can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by eating fish regularly or by consuming omega 3 fatty acids.
These fatty acids can reduce the likelihood of uncontrolled heart rhythms and fatal blood clots, both common causes of death from a heart disease. Omega 3 fatty acids also lower the risk of a heart attack being fatal.
Improved heart rhythm An extremely fast heartbeat or an irregular heart rhythm can be fatal. Fish omega 3 can help you maintain a stable heart rhythm by positively influencing the heart's electrical activity. It is therefore less likely that an irregular heart rhythm will develop.
Unstable and uncontrolled heart rhythms are the reason for the sudden cardiac death, which accounts for almost half of all heart-related deaths. By stabilizing the heart rhythm, omega 3 reduces this risk.
Improved heart rate The heart rate is the number of heartbeats per minute. This increases to increase the amount of blood expelled from the heart. The heart rate is lower in physically fit people and higher in overweight people. The normal heart rate is between 60 and 80 beats per minute and usually increases with age.
The heart rate adapts to changing conditions - the greater the adaptability of the heart, the better the condition. Omega 3 consumption is associated with a low heart rate and a greater adaptability in heart rate. Both are prerequisites that can lead to better heart health and a lower risk of heart attack.
Omega 3 fatty acids can also support the heart by relaxing the blood vessels. This reduces the risk of blood clots in the arteries of the heart, abnormal heartbeat (such as irregular heartbeat, ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation).
Less likely to have a first heart attack. There is evidence that people who show no signs of a heart disease can avoid a first heart attack if they eat fish or omega 3 fatty acids frequently.
For people who have already had a heart attack, taking omega 3 greatly reduces the risk of suffering from another one. Regular intake of these fatty acids reduces the likelihood of blood clots, lowers the inflammation associated with heart disease and improves blood lipids. All of these effects of Omega 3 reduce the risk of a cardiac arrest.
Lower the risk of a stroke A stroke is caused by a blood clot in an artery in the brain. Clots can develop directly or be transported to the brain from other parts of the body.
Strokes that are not fatal can result in severe disabilities. In most western countries, ischemic strokes, which are caused by blood clots or lack of oxygen, are the most common form.
Several studies have shown that people who eat fish at least once a week are 30% less likely to have a stroke or heart attack than people who eat fish less than once a month.
Improved blood lipids The blood transports various types of lipids, including fats and cholesterol, through the body. High blood fat levels lead to deposits on the artery walls, which are called plaques. These reduce blood flow and reduce the oxygen supply to the heart.
High doses of omega 3, which can only be achieved with a dietary supplement (3 - 4 g/day), improves blood lipids by lowering the triglyceride or fat levels and by increasing the HDL level ('good' cholesterol level, which removes cholesterol from the blood). However, they do not lower the total LDL ('bad') cholesterol level.
This improvement in blood lipids is especially important for people with type 2 diabetes who have high triglyceride levels and low HDL levels.
Decreased blood clotting A certain amount of blood clotting is vital, but an increased tendency to clot can increase the risk of artery occlusion. It can be fatal if a clot completely closes a blood vessel in the heart, lungs or brain.
Omega 3 fatty acids reduces platelet clumps and affect certain factors, reducing the likelihood of a blood clot. Omega 3 fatty acids also improve blood flow and make red blood cells more flexible so they can flow more easily through tiny blood vessels.
Omega 3 fatty acids only pose a risk of blood clotting if you take extremely large amounts (approximately 10 grams per day), or if you already take blood thinners (anticoagulants) and also consume a lot of omega 3.
Reduces inflammation Without realizing it, a developing heart disease also causes inflammation of the blood vessels. Certain feedback mechanisms of the body on this problem increase the risk of heart diseases and impede the correct functioning of the blood vessels.
High blood levels of the CRP protein are associated with existing inflammatory processes in the body. A higher CRP value therefore means a higher risk of developing heart problems.
Some studies, but not all, have shown that omega 3 consumption lowers CRP in people with heart wdisease. Omega 3 fatty acids are known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
Omega 3 and cholesterol
Omega 3 is there to keep LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) levels under control. Some people call LDL 'bad cholesterol'. LDL transports cholesterol from the liver to different parts of the body. A high LDL cholesterol level is usually unhealthy because it can promote heart disease.
Omega 3 can also cause high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, which are referred to as 'good cholesterol', to transport cholesterol away from the artery walls. Low HDL levels mean a higher risk of heart disease.
Omega 3 reduces triglycerides
Research has also shown that fish oil capsules can lower triglyceride levels. A high triglyceride level can increase the risk of heart disease and lead to thrombosis in the arteries. It can also be an indicator of the metabolic syndrome.
High triglyceride levels are often due to the following causes or living conditions:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Unbalanced diet
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Kidney disease
Triglyceride levels can also be increased by taking steroids, the pill or estrogen.
In addition to this, omega 3 fatty acids can reduce platelet clumping, reducing the likelihood of sudden cardiac death and a clot-related stroke.
Omega 3 could save you from high medical costs
The Lewin Group from USA conducted a study on omega 3 supplements that have the potential to improve user health.
The study critically examined the research results and estimated the savings in health care costs that could be achieved by taking omega 3 fatty acids and the associated reduced risk of developing coronary artery disease (CHD).
The estimated savings in hospital and medical fees that would result from a decrease in coronary artery disease in people over 65 years from taking 1800 mg of omega 3 fatty acids daily for five years (2006 - 2010) were $ 3.1 billion. An estimated 384 million hospitalizations due to CHD could be avoided in five years.
Omega 3 and inflammations
There is growing evidence that omega 3 plays a role in preventing and relieving inflammatory processes. The impact of omega 3 supplements on rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints) has been well researched.
Since omega 3 supplements have anti-inflammatory properties, they are said to reduce the pain caused by arthritis. Omega 3 is considered by researchers to be the safer alternative to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) when it comes to relieving non-surgical neck or back pain.
A diet high in omega 3 is also said to result in less stiffness and pain in the joints and several other benefits for people with osteoarthritis.
While omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, a high proportion of omega 6 fatty acids can even be inflammatory. Therefore, the right balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids is essential. The diet in the western world is usually rich in omega 6 and too low in omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 supplements can help
- relieve inflammation
- relieve pain caused by arthritis
- improve joint stiffness
- relieve pain in people with osteoarthritis
Omega 3 fatty acids and arthritis
Do you know someone who has arthritis? Or do you have pain in your knees, shoulders or swollen ankles yourself? These are symptoms of inflammation - and as you may know - fish oil counteracts inflammation.
Omega 3 fish oil has long been known as a natural remedy for joint pain. The omega 3 fatty acids from fish oils have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the severity of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, slow the progression of the disease and reduce the need for painkillers.
The optimal dose of omega 3 fish oil to reduce arthritis symptoms and joint pain for adults is around 3 grams. This amount is very difficult to ingest through the consumption of fish.
The latest studies on joint health and arthritis show that reducing the inflammation that leads to knee and joint pain could be the most effective way to help professional or amateur athletes achieve top performance. Because injuries during sports can arise due to stress and overstretching or inflammation.
Relieve joint pain with Omega 3
In a study published in the Journal of Rheumatology in October 2006, omega 3 fish oils reduced the need for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in 75% of the participants.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburg discovered that 60% of people with neck and back pain no longer had to take any pain reliever after replacing ibuprofen with a therapeutic dose of omega 3 fish oil (1200 mg per day).
Chronic joint pain caused by the many types of arthritis can be painful and debilitating. Common problems caused by joint inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and bursitis, affect people of all ages.
The most common treatment is over-the-counter pain relievers. These drugs help relieve pain by masking the pain but they can't heal the body.
It is important to diagnose the specific cause of joint inflammation. The subsequent treatment plan should also include a dietary supplement such as fish oil that reduces inflammation, which is responsible for the pain, swelling, stiffness and fatigue.
Another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that omega 3 fish oil can reduce interleukin-1 beta production, leading to a significant decrease in morning stiffness and painful joint symptoms in arthritis patients.
An alternative, which also minimizes the risk of eating fish contaminated with pollutants, is the regular intake of omega 3 fish oil as a dietary supplement. Joint pain can be reduced with fish oil alone, or - depending on the cause of the joint pain - in combination with various natural nutritional supplements such as collagen type II, glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM.
Omega 3 - Important for mother and child
Omega 3 increase the intelligence of the newborn. A study of over 11,000 pregnant women found that mothers who did not consume enough omega 3 during pregnancy were almost 50% more likely to have a child with a low verbal IQ.
The children also had problems with social behavior, less pronounced fine motor skills and poor communication skills. These reduced abilities could still be determined after a few years.
The children, whose mothers had taken the highest amount of omega 3, enjoyed:
- better brain development and higher IQ
- calm, balanced behavior through optimal formation of neurotransmitters in the baby's brain
- optimal retina formation for better eyesight
- a longer attention span
- less asthma and eczema
- less food and environmental allergies
Many other studies show that children who receive a sufficient amount of omega 3 perform better in the eye-hand coordination test and that their eyesight on an eye chart is on average 1.5 lines better than that of their peers who have not taken as much omega 3.
There is already more evidence of the positive effects of prenatal omega 3 consumption than there was in the early 1990s for the benefits of prenatal folic acid intake. However, studies show that only 2% of all pregnant women consume enough omega 3 in their diet.
Omega 3 is a vital component of the brain, the nervous system and for sharpening eyesight, which a pregnant woman usually does not consume in sufficient quantities through food due to the mercury in fish. In the next decade, omega 3 will be as common during pregnancy as folic acid.
Omega 3 also takes care of the mother's health
Many studies show that women who also take omega 3
- have a reduced risk of developing blood poisoning or pregnancy toxicosis (a rapid rise in blood pressure that occurs in 7% of pregnancies)
- have less 'brain shrinkage', which occurs when the fetus gets essential omega 3 fatty acids from the mother through the umbilical cord
- suffer from postpartum depression less often
- have premature labor less often
- are less likely to experience anxiety symptoms during pregnancy
The safest and most effective way to get enough omega 3 fatty acids is to take a high quality omega 3 dietary supplement.
Prenatal vitamins often do not contain omega 3 fatty acidsThe Mayo Clinic advises pregnant women to take an omega 3 supplement to ensure the baby's healthy growth. The reason for this is that prenatal vitamin supplements don't often cover this need and that 98% of pregnant women question if there is enough omega 3 in their diet. Unborn babies need omega 3 fatty acids for the development of the brain, eyesight and nervous system.
Omega 3 DHA protects the eyes
The highest concentration of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a long-chain omega 3 fatty acid, which is mainly found in fish, is found in the retina. The DHA concentration can be up to 65% there.
DHA is an important part of the retina structure. The fatty acid increases the development of photoreceptors, specialized cells in the retina that are necessary for the eyesight.
High DHA values are necessary so that the rhodopsin - a pigment in the rod cells of the photoreceptors - can react to light so that you can even see in poor light conditions and at night. The highly unsaturated properties of the DHA have unique effects on the retinal cell walls and enable it to transmit light signals very quickly.
Eyesight usually worsens with age, which is related to changes in the retina and other cells of the eyes. Cell walls become less permeable, cell structures change, deposits form, oxidation causes damage and cells die. These changes make vision deteriorate in old age.
With age-related macular degeneration, yellowish deposits (glands) accumulate in the middle of the retina. As a result, the cells in the macula no longer function and the view becomes distorted and blurred. Eyesight may be lost.
Druzes can develop into advanced forms of age-related macular degeneration that endanger your eyesight. The most common type is dry macular degeneration. The macular cells stop working as they progress. If these completely stop functioning, the central vision will be severely disturbed.
A second type of age-related macular degeneration, called exudative or neovascular macular degeneration, accounts for 90% of vision loss from this disease. With exudative macular degeneration, the blood vessels behind the eyes change and become brittle, which can lead to tears and bleeding.
Advanced age-related macular degeneration can affect either one or both eyes and both the exudative and dry types can lead to blindness.
Studies show the positive effects of omega 3 fatty acids
Studies show that age-related macular degeneration occurs less frequently in people who eat more fish or DHA. Recently, a study on twins found fish consumption twice a week to be associated with a significantly lower risk of macular degeneration. Smoking increased the risk to twice that amount.
Interestingly, patients with advanced macular degeneration, increased intake of polyunsaturated omega 3 fatty acids has been associated with a lower risk of the disease, but this was only true if they consumed little omega 6 or polyunsaturated vegetable fatty acids.
People who consumed more vegetable fat or linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated omega 6 fatty acid) were more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration. These observations have also been made in patients suffering from early or middle stages of the disease.
The disease progressed much more slowly in people who ate more fish and less linoleic acid than in those who consumed a lot of vegetable fats or baked goods with vegetable fat.
These studies show that the type of fat we consume can increase or decrease the likelihood of developing macular degeneration. A very high intake of polyunsaturated vegetable fats can increase the likelihood of the disease and negate the effects of omega 3 fish acids.
An increased intake of fish and fish oils can lower the risk of developing macular degeneration and slow the course of the disease. However, we do not know whether omega 3 fatty acids can prevent the disease.
Because omega 3 has promising effects, the National Eye Institute in the U.S. is conducting a large clinical trial to determine whether omega 3 fish oils in combination with large amounts of antioxidant vitamins and selected minerals slow the course of age-related macular degeneration in people with medium or advanced levels in one eye.
A study shows that people who consume enough omega 3 have a reduced interleukin 6 production, a decreased inflammation parameter and a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms. Interleukin 6 is a protein that is produced by the immune cells during an inflammation and helps regulate the body's immune response.
Omega 3 and brain health
Since omega 3 fatty acids are concentrated in the brain, it makes sense that it works best if it is adequately supplied with omega 3.
Omega 3s are also very important for our behavior. This in turn could explain why children with ADHD have low levels of EPA and DHA. Research has shown, for example, that boys with ADHD and low omega 3 levels had more behavioral and learning problems than those with normal omega 3 levels.
The intake of omega 3 is also associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's and increased memory. Infants who are deficient in omega 3 have a higher risk of developing vision and nerve problems.
Omega 3 can help:
- increase mental performance
- improve the behavior of boys with ADHD
Stay young longer with omega 3 capsules
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) examines the relationship between the amount of long-chain omega 3 fatty acids in the blood and the change in the length of telomeres (an indicator of biological age).
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, were studying the length of the telomeres, DNA sequences at the end of the chromosomes, that are getting shorter as cells divide and age.
The delicate tips at the ends of the DNA
The telomeres reveal how old or young you are. They become shorter and shorter as the natural aging process progresses. The omega 3 fatty acids seem to help the sensitive DNA tips - the telomeres - to stay young longer.
During cell proliferation, the telomeres ensure that the cell's chromosomes do not fuse or rearrange, which could lead to cancer. Elizabeth Blackburn, a pioneer in telomeres at the University of California, San Francisco, said telomeres protect DNA from fraying, much like the plastic ends of shoelaces.
Stress, inflammation, lack of exercise, smoking and being overweight can shorten these peaks even faster, thereby promoting a wide range of age-related cell damage. This creates additional wrinkles, gray hair, brittle bones and even heart disease and cancer.
Scientists suspect that the omega 3 fatty acids activate the body's antioxidant defenses against free radicals, which destroy telomeres. These healthy omega 3 fats can also increase the activity of an enzyme that maintains telomeres and is called telomerase.
This can probably explain why the subjects of a recent study who had heart disease and were between 50 and 70 years old had such a different telomer length.
The researchers measured the length of telomeres in blood cells from patients in outpatient treatment with a stable coronary artery disease. The length of the telomeres was measured in the leucocytes at the beginning of the study and again after 5 years.
During the 5-year study, telomeres appeared to decrease three times faster in people with the lowest levels of omega 3 in their blood compared to those with the largest amounts.
By comparing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) with subsequent changes in telomere length, the researchers discovered that the telomeres of the study participants with the lowest average amounts of DHA and EPA shortened the fastest. The telemore of the people with the highest average amount in the blood decreased the slowest.
'Every increase of DHA and EPA levels has been associated with a 32% reduction in the likelihood of telomere shortening,' the authors wrote.
The aging and lifespan of normal, healthy cells are associated with the so-called telomerase reduction mechanisms, which limit the division of the cells to a fixed number.
The telomeres shorten with each cell division. When the telomeres are completely used up, the cells are destroyed (apoptosis). Previous studies have also shown that telomeres are highly susceptible to oxidative stress.
Omega 3 for the figure and muscles
A study in Australia concentrated on the effects of fish oil on exercise while focusing on the composition of the body fat.
Overweight and obese adults with an increased risk of heart disease participated in a 12-week treatment study that looked at the effects of taking omega 3 fish oils daily in combination with moderate aerobic exercise three days a week.
These panelists were divided into three groups, either taking fish oil or sunflower oil, or combining sunflower oil with exercise.
The participants were not only overweight but suffered from the metabolic syndrome. This term summarizes various symptoms related to obesity, such as high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels in the blood, insulin resistance or increased insulin levels, which are signs of diabetes.
Using dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA/DEXA), which provides an image of the body and shows the different density of the tissue, the researchers were able to differentiate between fat, muscles and bones.
The results showed that the total amount of fat in the body, especially on the abdomen, was greatly reduced in the FOX (fish oil & exercise) group, although this effect did not occur if only fish oil was taken or if only the aerobic exercises was carried out.
While blood pressure decreased with fish oil alone, this tendency was strongest in the FOX group. FOX also had a positive impact on heart rate, triglyceride levels and artery function.
These were incredible results in just 3 months. Dr. Howe also states that 'Omega 3 fish oil protects the blood vessel walls by increasing their elasticity and improving endothelial dilation, which enables better nutrition for the exercising muscles.'
So if you want to lose weight, you should not only exercise, but also take omega 3 fish oil.
Omega 3 can counteract degenerative muscle breakdown
The results of a new study show in humans show that the daily intake of omega 3 fatty acids can stimulate the production of muscle protein in older people and reduce the risk of degenerative muscle breakdown.
According to results published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 4 grams of omega 3 fatty acids a day taken for eight weeks increase the speed of muscle protein synthesis associated with the increased supply of amino acids and insulin.
'Although the exact mechanism by which omega-3 fatty acids stimulate muscle protein synthesis in hyperinsulinemia-hyperaminoacidemia has yet to be explored, our study provides convincing evidence for a link between omega 3 fatty acids and protein metabolism in human muscles and shows us that taking omega 3 fatty acids through a dietary supplement could be a safe, easy and inexpensive method of treating sarcopenia,' the researchers wrote.
Sarcopenia is a disease that affects the older generation and is associated with the loss of the lean body mass, strength and function.
Bettina Mittendorfer, PhD, from the Institute of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science at the Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis and an author of the study, said that, to the best of their knowledge, this is the first study to show the positive effects of omega 3 fatty acids in the fight against sarcopenia.
In the United States, approximately 45 percent of the population over the age of 65 suffer from the symptoms of sarcopenia. The muscles of a person in their 20s are up to 60 percent fat-free mass, while in a 70-year-old this percentage drops to less than 40 percent.
'A main reason for the loss of muscle mass in old age is the inability of the aging muscles to adequately increase the speed of protein synthesis in order to respond to nutritional stimuli (e.g. amino acids and insulin),' the researchers explained.
Details of the study
To test whether omega 3 could benefit muscle health, the researchers looked for 16 healthy adults with an average age of 71 years and an average BMI of 25.65 kg/m2 and randomly divided them into two groups, one of which was an eight week omega 3 group and while the other group took corn oil.
The study tested a daily dose of 1.86 grams of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and 1.5 grams of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
'We chose this dose because it was approved by the American regulatory agency to lower triglyceride concentrations in blood plasma in hypertriglyceridemia patients and had previously shown that it was physiologically important for humans,' the researchers said.
As the researchers summarized in the AJCN (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition), the results showed that while there were no differences between the groups in terms of 'the basal rate of muscle protein synthesis', an increase in 'due to hyperaminoacidemia Hyperinsulinemia-induced rate of muscle protein synthesis 'could be reported.
This observation was accompanied by an increased rise in the activation of a signaling pathway called mTOR-p70s6k, which is an 'essential control point for the growth of muscle cells'. The researchers indicated that the actual mechanism needs to be examined more closely.
'In this study, we provide new evidence that omega 3 fatty acids as a dietary supplement increases the speed of muscle protein synthesis caused by hyperaminoacidemia-hyperinsulinemia,' wrote Dr. Mittendorfer and her colleagues. 'Omega 3 fatty acids are therefore likely to reduce the build-up resistance and could be helpful in treating sarcopenia,' they added.
Dr. Mittendorfer confirmed that the researchers will repeat the study with 'more participants and more technical results'.
The researchers included the Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis and the University of Nottingham in England. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Doctors and omega 3 fatty acids
Research clearly shows the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids to reduce the risk of death from heart disease. Increasing the population's omega 3 intake would certainly be more useful than distributing defibrillators in all communities.
Despite the many studies that show the positive effects on health and the cost savings of omega 3, a current survey among general practitioners in the USA shows that they far too rarely recommend taking omega 3 fatty acids to their cardiovascular patients.
The survey was sent to randomly selected doctors in Washington State. The result shows the following:
- 99% agreed that nutrition is important in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases
- 92% agreed that doctors play an important role in nutritional recommendations
- 57% knew about the positive effects of omega 3 for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases
- however, only 17% actually recommend omega 3
This survey shows that despite their knowledge of the benefits of omega 3 and their positive attitude towards nutritional advice, family doctors rarely recommend fish oil to patients with cardiovascular diseases.
The authors of the survey therefore recommend that strategies be developed to raise awareness of the effects of omega 3 on preventing heart diseases and that this important information be disseminated to general practitioners as soon as possible.
For whom are omega 3 fatty acids particularly important?
- People with cardiovascular diseases, arteriosclerosis or high blood lipids
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
- People who suffer from rheumatism, arthritis, Crohn's disease or other inflammatory diseases
- People who eat almost fat-free meals
- People who suffer from skin diseases
- People with an increased alcohol consumption
- People with depression or Alzheimer's
Omega 3 for vegans and vegetarians
According to a new report, people who eat a vegan diet sometimes need additional omega 3 and vitamin B12 to reduce the risk of heart diseases.
The authors of the report stated that meat eaters are known to have a much higher risk of a cardiovascular disease than vegetarians. Nevertheless, they emphasized that strict vegetarians and vegans are not immune to the risk, as some important nutrients are hardly contained in their diet, such as iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and omega 3.
The report published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, states that a vegan diet low in omega 3 and vitamin B12 has a high risk of blood clots and arteriosclerosis - both factors increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The authors therefore explain that an increased intake or supplementation of polyunsaturated omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 can help reduce these risks.
'Based on the available data, it is believed that vegetarians and especially vegans can benefit from an increased intake of polyunsaturated omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin B12, as the balance between omega 3, polyunsaturated omega 6 and vitamin 12 improves ... which can reduce thrombotic tendencies, which can increase the generally low risk of a heart disease, 'said the report's author, Duo Li from the Zhejiang University, China.
Details of the study
The report, which marked the end of a 30-year study of vegetarian biochemistry, said that meat eaters are known to have a significantly higher risk of certain cardiovascular diseases than vegetarians.
Such risks include an increased body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, blood pressure, total cholesterol in plasma, triglyceride levels and blood lipid concentration in the blood serum. Li stated that vegetarians and vegans have a lower amount of vitamin B12 in the blood serum and polyunsaturated omega 3 fatty acids in the tissue membrane phospholipids as compared to meat eaters.
Previous findings have shown that vegetarians and vegans who do not take a vitamin B12 supplement often have an unnaturally low concentration of vitamin B12 in the blood serum, which is strongly related to the homocysteine levels in the plasma.
Li said that the risks associated with low vitamin B12 and omega 3 levels are increased blood clotting (platelet aggregation), increased homocysteine levels and lower levels of 'good' HDL cholesterol. These can all be associated with an increased risk of thrombosis and arteriosclerosis.
In conclusion, Li noted that it is recommended that vegetarians, and especially vegans, increase their intake of polyunsaturated omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin B12. Despite the fact that vegans do not eat food of animal origin, Li mentioned several animal sources of omega 3 and vitamin B12 in his recommendations. However, he stated that food supplements can also provide these nutrients.
Experts on omega 3 fatty acidsOmega 3 fatty acids reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death
According to a study by the Harvard Medical School in Boston, with more than 45,000 participants without previous heart problems, taking 250mg of EPA/DHA daily reduces the risk of sudden cardiac death by up to 50 percent.Omega 3 fatty acids can reverse arteriosclerosis
As a clinical study with 233 participants showed, omega 3 fatty acids also affect existing arteriosclerosis. According to Prof. Dr. von Schacky demonstrably reduced existing arteriosclerotic changes by taking 6 grams of fish oil concentrate daily for a period of 24 months.USFDA recognizes the benefits of EPA and DHA for heart health
The positive effects of omega 3 fatty acids on the heart health of the cardiovascular system convinced the American Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) to make the following statement: 'Supportive but not final research shows that the intake of EPA and DHA from omega 3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of a coronary heart disease'.