Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential group of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are important for our body’s proper functioning. These fatty acids cannot be synthesized by the body and absorbed by an external source.
There are three types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
- Alpha-Linoleic Acids (ALA)
- Docosahexaenoic Acids (DHA)
- Eicosapentaenoic Acids (EPA)
Benefits Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids play a major role in the body’s growth and development and are responsible for carrying out various functions that sustain it. Here are some ways in which Omega-3 fatty acids affect our health and offer multiple benefits to various parts of our body:
Benefits for the Heart
Omega-3 fatty acids have the following benefits for cardiovascular health:
● Aids in Regulating Circulation: Omega-3 fatty acids help improve blood circulation by restricting platelet aggregation and promoting the dilation of blood vessels.
● Helps in Preventing Cardiovascular Diseases: Research has shown that the regular supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids reduces bad cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations in the bloodstream, which lessens the chances of developing heart disease.
● Supports Plaque Reduction: Consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids helps delay the buildup of plaque — a substance composed of fat, cholesterol, and calcium, which hardens and blocks your arteries upon coagulation.
● Helps Prevent Cardiac Arrhythmia: Omega-3 fatty acids help stabilize the heart’s electrical activity, which helps maintain the normal heart rhythm/beat.
● Helpful in Reducing Inflammation: Consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids aids the reduction of inflammation — the body’s response to wounds and injuries, by lowering triglyceride levels and preventing arterial blood clots.
Benefits for the Brain
Omega-3 fatty acids have the following benefits for cognitive health:
● Helps with Regulation of Cognitive Processing: The DHA released by the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids promotes phospholipids’ secretions, which are essential for holding the fundamental structure of neurons, regulating cognitive processing, and aiding the absorption of fats and fat-soluble nutrients.
● Helps with Prevention of Neurodegenerative Diseases: Chemical reactions such as alterations in the fatty acid composition of membranes can significantly influence a wide range of cognitive functions. These reactions, combined with the reduced triglyceride levels, help manage the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s. Another study observed that long-term supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids positively affects Mild Cognitive Impairment in older adults.
● Aids in Improving Mental Health: Combined with their anti-inflammatory properties, the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids has also been linked to boosting the secretion of ‘feel-good hormones’ such as serotonin and dopamine, which helps in reducing the symptoms experienced by patients suffering from mental disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression, and ADHD.
● Supports Protection From Injury: Omega-3 derived lipids resolvins and protectins play an important role in protecting the brain against both internal and external injuries.
Benefits for the Skin
Omega-3 fatty acids have the following benefits for our skin:
● Helps Prevent Sun Damage: Studies have shown that Omega 3 supplementation helps in reducing the skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet sun rays. It also helps to reduce the symptoms of sunburns, and photosensitive skin conditions such as rashes and redness because of their anti-inflammatory properties.
● Supports Acne Reduction: Consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids helps prevent acne, owing to their anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that Omega-3 supplementation can also help reduce the side effects experienced while medicating with isotretinoin, a serum used to treat severe acne and pimples.
● Aids in Treating Skin Dryness: Omega-3 fatty acids help improve the skin barrier function, sealing in moisture, and ward off irritants. This helps the body guard against dry, itchy, or red skin that is commonly experienced among those diagnosed with atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.
Benefits for the Hair
Omega-3 fatty acids have the following benefits for our hair:
● Helps Boost Hair Growth: Consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with improved blood circulation, which leads to stimulation of hair cell formation, thereby boosting hair growth.
● Aids in Reduction of Hair Fall: Supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids have also been linked with increasing biotin levels, strengthening hair volume and density – causing patients to report a significant decrease in hair fall.
● Supports Restoration of Damaged Hair: Studies have observed that intravenous transfer or topical application of Omega-3 fatty acids helps promote the repair of hair tissues – prolonged supplementation was found to restore the symptoms of minimally extensive hair damage.
Benefits for Nails
Omega-3 fatty acids offer the following benefits for nails:
● Aids in Providing Shiny Appearance: Omega-3 supplementation promotes the secretion of moisture in the nails, which helps in providing a lush, shiny appearance.
● Helps Reduce Inflammation: Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties which help in reducing swelling under the nails — a condition caused by an allergic reaction to cosmetic applications.
● Helps Restore Nail Plate: Studies have observed that the prolonged supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids nourishes and promotes new nail cells, which help in reconstituted damaged nail plates. This is a condition commonly observed among those who smoke.
Benefits for Bodybuilding/Sports recovery
Omega-3 fatty acids have the following benefits for bodybuilders/athletes:
● Helps Reduce Muscle Soreness: Research has shown that the regular supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids helps reduce symptoms of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) — a condition experienced by bodybuilders and athletes post-workout. Omega 3 prevents muscle damage and reduces inflammation.
● Supports Improved Workout Quality: The EPA and DHA present in Omega-3 help keep muscle soreness at bay while maintaining muscle strength. Consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids also leads to lowered body O2 consumption, thereby improving the workout’s overall quality.
● Aids Muscle Health: With ageing, there is a significant decrease in muscle resistance and quality. Continuous supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids delays muscle ageing and their sensitivity to resistance training due to the nutrient’s anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have observed that Omega-3 consumption could also be beneficial for boosting muscle mass when combined with resistance training.
Benefits for the Eyes
Omega-3 fatty acids offer the following benefits for ocular health:
● Helps Prevent AMD: Studies have shown that the regular supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids is beneficial for reducing the risk of developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration, one of the world’s leading causes of blindness in people.
● Helpful in Treating Dry Eye: Consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to reducing dry eye symptoms. It is a condition caused by the lack of oils and moisture in the eye’s outer layers. But the anti-inflammatory properties of EPA and DHA help find relief from this condition.
● Helpful in Treating Glaucoma: Research has shown that Omega-3 supplementation is beneficial for glaucoma patients. It helps reduce intraocular pressure and increase blood circulation in the eyes, thereby improving overall neurotic health.
Benefits for the Joints
Omega-3 fatty acids offer the following benefits for our joints:
● Helps Reduce Joint Pain: Studies have observed that regular supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids helps regulate joint pain by controlling the production of inflammatory substances. Surveys recorded that people had an increased gripping strength and dexterity post supplementation.
● Aids in Treating Arthritis: Several clinical studies have observed that the daily supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids helps decrease the tenderness in joints (especially the knees). It also strengthens weak joints and reduces morning joint stiffness in people diagnosed with arthritis. Omega 3 supplementation could also help prevent bone and cartilage destruction during inflammatory arthritis.
● Helpful in reducing the risk of Osteoporosis: Consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids has been noted to increase the body’s production and absorption of calcium, reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis. Especially beneficial for the elderly, Omega 3 helps manage weak and brittle bones that are prone to deformation.
Omega-3 fatty acids have the following benefits for aiding weight loss:
● Helpful in Reduction of Appetite: Studies have observed that the constant supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids among obese people helped reduce general appetite levels and hunger pangs by releasing a hormone that caused a feeling of “fullness” in the stomach – leading to weight loss. Those supplemented with Omega-3 reported having little to no appetite for almost three hours post meals.
● Useful in Boosting Metabolism: Regular consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids helps boost metabolism, which aids a faster breakdown and utilization of the nutrients you consume, enabling the process of weight loss. Athletes who were supplemented with Omega-3 also reported an increase in muscle mass after prolonged exposure.
● Supports in enhancing The Effect Of Exercise: Research has shown that the regular consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids helps boost the effectiveness of working out by increasing the number of calories burned while exercising. It also aids weight loss by transferring the source of energy from carbohydrates to fats, resulting in faster inch loss.
Benefits for Sleep
Omega-3 fatty acids offer the following benefits for sleep quality:
● Treats Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Prolonged supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to reduced symptoms in those diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. It is a breathing disorder that causes partial or complete obstruction of the upper airway, causing staggered breathing
● Improves Sleep Patterns: Studies have shown that the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids helps improve sleep patterns, especially among those diagnosed with insomnia. These fatty acids regulate the release of melatonin, a hormone that enables you to fall asleep. Left unchecked, sleep deprivation can lead to complications such as diabetes, depression, and heart disease.
Benefits during Pregnancy
Omega-3 fatty acids offer the following benefits for pregnancy:
● Reduces The Risk Of Preterm Birth: Continuous supplementation of Omega-3 during pregnancy can help boost DHA levels, which are beneficial for reducing the risk of preterm births. They also have postnatal benefits such as aiding the ocular and cognitive health of the baby.
● Maternal Well Being: Studies have shown the consumption of Omega-3 acids aid in maternal well-being. Elevated EPA and DHA levels have been linked to a reduced risk of developing depression during or after pregnancy.
● Development Of Foetus: The DHA released by Omega-3 helps aid brain and cognitive development in babies besides ensuring their retina’s development during pregnancy.
Benefits to Manage Stress
Omega-3 fatty acids offer the following benefits for dealing with stress:
●Supports in reducing Stress Levels: Several trials and studies have concluded that timely supplementation with Omega-3 fatty acids regularly helps lower the oxidative stress exerted upon the brain and the muscles. As a result, the overall stress levels of the body reduces. Test-tube studies have also proven that the consumption of Omega-3 aids in releasing a micronutrient called magnesium, which helps bring the mind to a state of calmness.
● Helps Deal With Anxiety: Studies have observed that Omega-3 fatty acids can act as adaptogens — compounds that help in relieving stress and pressure on the body. Individuals diagnosed with anxiety were proven to be less prone to an attack when supplemented with Omega-3 fatty acid nutritional supplements. The anti-inflammatory properties of Omega-3 also help reduce the brain’s inflammatory levels, allowing it to relax and stay calm. This in turn helps one to remain peaceful and reduce the risk of experiencing severe anxiety.
Benefits in Managing Blood Sugar
Omega-3 fatty acids offer the following benefits for regulating blood sugar levels:
● Helps Regulate Metabolic Syndrome: High levels of insulin, combined with an increased triglyceride count and bad cholesterol, can lead to metabolic syndrome development. This is one of the leading conditions for chronic illnesses such as angioplasty. Regular supplementation with Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce insulin resistance and the risk of developing diabetes.
● Aids in Insulin Secretion: Studies have hypothesized that by taking dietary Omega-3 fatty acids, the level of fatty acids in the beta phospholipid membrane also increases, leading to higher insulin secretion. It has also been observed that this supplementation alters the phospholipid membrane composition of peripheral cells leading to an increased sensitivity and affinity in insulin receptors. This helps in enhancing glucose transport across the membranes. The increased levels of insulin secretion positively impact carbohydrate metabolism on the whole and thereby improve glucose homeostasis.