“Omega 3 is vital to our health and well-being as every cell in the body is dependent upon it for their function.”
Dr. Paul Clayton
WHAT ARE OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
AND WHAT DO THEY DO?
We all want to feel fit, fabulous and as if we were running at full capacity. But if you’re not getting enough Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet, you could be asking your body to do the impossible. Everything from the joints and the heart to the brain, in addition to the skin in which they are involved, needs a good supply of Omega 3 to stay healthy. And you can only get it from the food you eat.
But while you may have heard about Omega 3 fatty acids, what are they and how do they work once we have eaten them?
WHAT ARE OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS?
When it comes to the human body, there are only three types of Omega 3 fatty acids that we use; alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid, all better known by their abbreviations ALA, EPA and DHA.
DEFINITION OF OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
EPA and DHA are long chain Omega 3 fatty acids (20 carbon compounds or more in length) and are found in bluefish. They are the most important types of fatty acids nutritionally because they have the most health benefits. Fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids include cold-water fish such as mackerel, sardines, and salmon or you can take an Omega 3 fatty acid supplement such as a fish oil capsule.
ALA is a medium chain fatty acid (18 carbon compounds in length) and is found in plant sources such as rapeseed oil, flaxseed, walnuts, and quinoa. The body uses ALA to prepare EPA and DHA, but it can only do so in very small amounts.
THE PROBLEM WITH RELYING ON VEGETABLE-BASED FATTY ACIDS TO GET YOUR OMEGA 3
While ALA can be converted to EPA and DHA in the body, our ability to carry out this conversion is poor and made even more difficult by the prevalence of Omega 6 in our diets.
In short, three reactions are needed in our bodies to make the EPA come from ALA and four other reactions to transform that EPA into DHA. And to complete these reactions, the body needs an adequate supply of enzymes to kick-start the process.
Unfortunately, enzymes are easily altered by the presence of too many Omega 6 fatty acids in the body, something that is common for us in the West with our dependence on vegetable oils and processed foods.
While foods like chia and seed oils are often touted as high in ALA, relying on these foods alone will not provide you with enough of the most important Omega 3, EPA and DHA.
“Less than 2% of ALA is converted to EPA by the liver, and less than 0.5% of ALA becomes DHA,” explains Dr. Loren Cordain, professor emeritus of the Department of Health and Exercise Sciences at the State University. of Colorado. “Most of the effects of long chain Omega 3 fatty acids (AGEs) are attributed to EPA and DHA, with DHA being the most dominant EFA, therefore, when consuming concentrated sources of ALA, such as flaxseed oil, very little becomes healthy EPA and DHA.”
The best way to ensure that we get enough biologically active EPA and DHA is to eat foods rich in these fats, such as bluefish.
BENEFITS OF OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
While ALA provides energy to the body, it is EPA and DHA that are vital. They work together to give your body some powerful health benefits.
As Jackie McCusker, nutritional therapist at the Be Well London clinic at the University of Westminster told us, “EPA is essential for the reduction of cellular inflammation, while DHA is necessary for the fluidity of the cell membrane. They work together to help other cells function.”
EPA is intrinsically linked to the reduction of inflammation, which is the basis of all chronic diseases, such as autoimmune diseases, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. It can also help reduce “inflammation,” a term coined by Norwich Research Park in the United Kingdom that describes low-grade inflammation that increases with age.
DHA is an important structural fat found in body tissues. It represents up to 97% of the total Omega 3 fats in the brain, up to 93% of the Omega 3 fats in the retina of the eye and is a key component in the heart and cardiovascular system.
DHA is particularly important for fetal development since it ensures that the cells of the brain, heart eyes and other parts of the nervous system grow and function properly. This is the reason why pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding need more DHA in their diet.
WHERE ARE THE OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS?
EPA and DHA are abundant in bluefish, where they are usually found in a 50:50 or 60:40 ratio. Like us, they have to convert the ALA into the food they eat to make it, but, unlike us, they are much more efficient at doing it.
It also helps that marine microbe that oily fish enjoy, such as algae and phytoplankton, overflow with ALA.
WHAT FISH HAS OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS?
Look for cold water, bluefish such as mackerel, trout, herring, sardines or salmon. But what are the fatty fish richest in Omega 3 fatty acids?
We can answer that in two words: wild! The fact that most of the fish we eat today are grown, rather than captured in the wild, is another reason why we can not rely on eating two servings of bluefish per week to get our bodies so desperately they need only to work normally
Johnathan Napier, from Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire, explains why. “During the last decade, the amount of EPA and DHA in fish feed and, consequently, in the fish we consume has decreased significantly, mainly as a consequence of a finite supply of Omega 3 of oceanic origin, combined with the continued growth of aquaculture, which is a vital production system to provide protein to the ever-growing human population, which means that although farmed fish is still a great source of protein and Omega 3, such as EPA and DHA, now We need to eat more than before to get the recommended dose. ”
So you can see why the best Omega 3 fatty acid supplements are made with wild fish, instead of farm fish. The fish oil in all Bare Biology supplements is made from wild sardines (never farmed), anchovies and mackerel.
HOW DO OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS WORK
IN OUR CELLS?
So, once we have eaten a good dose of wild fatty fish or taken a good quality supplement like Bare Biology’s Lion Heart, Omega 3 clinical strength, how does our body use it at the cellular level?
Omega 3 free fatty acids that you eat can enter all the cells of the human body. Here they not only work as a lubricant (hello, beautiful skin) but they can also improve communication between the cells. This is because when there is enough Omega 3 in the cell membrane, the long and flexible structure (provided by those 20 carbon compounds) allows a better flow of nutrients to the cell while preventing waste from re-entering. The DHA fatty acid, in particular, is especially high in the cells that make up the retina and the brain, which explains its great reputation for improving vision and cognitive performance.
At the same time, Omega 3 works to relieve inflammation by blocking multiple pathways of inflammation in the cell. They do this by inhibiting an enzyme called cyclo-oxygenase (COX), which produces prostaglandin hormones that cause inflammation in the first place. In fact, the way in which Omega 3 works in inflammation is similar to what happens when we take an anti-inflammatory drug: it interrupts the signaling pathway of COX-2, reducing inflammation and pain.
Another vital function of Omega 3 fatty acids is to make important signaling molecules known as eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are a bit like hormones but do not travel around the body. Instead, they work locally and have wide-ranging functions in the cardiovascular system and the immune system. Eicosanoids made from EPA and DHA Omega 3 are compatible with healthy bodily functions. However, eicosanoids made from Omega 6 can sometimes cause inflammation.
WHY DO WE NEED OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS?
We have billions of cells in our body, from the neurons of our brain to the heart cells of our heart. Omega 3 helps everyone to function correctly and communicate with each other.
“If the cells do not communicate, there will be cell death,” says Jackie McCusker. “When many cells die, you get a damaged tissue, which triggers an inflammatory response, which in turn causes disease, for example, if many brain cells die, you get depression or Alzheimer’s, while cell death in the heart can cause diseases. cardiovascular.”
So you can see why Omega 3 fatty acids play such a vital role in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system and in controlling inflammation, one of the main causes of most chronic diseases.