Before I list the 13 benefits of Omega-3s, let me explain what I mean when I discuss Omega-3s.
Omega-3s are unsaturated fats that are important for good health for everyone. This includes babies, children, and adults. These essential fats are also important for children with special needs such as Autism and ADHD.
Omega-3s reduce the risk of certain diseases in aging adults.
For example, Omega-3s have benefits for persons with conditions such as coronary artery disease (CAD), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and macular degeneration.
13 Benefits of Omega-3 Fats and Oils
1. They are essential nutrients.
Omega-3 fats and oils cannot be made in the body, or there is limited production. For example, there are three different omega-3s:
- EPA, which stands for Eicosapentaenoic acid
- DHA, or Docosahexaenoic acid
- and ALA, which stands for Alpha-Linolenic Acid.
DHA can be converted to EPA. Also, ALA can be converted to DHA, but both processes are inefficient.
As a result:
Sufficient amounts of Omega-3s, require consuming adequate amounts in your diet to prevent deficiency.
2. Omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory.
Inflammation is what your body does in response to injury or sickness. When a part of your body experiences redness, swelling or pain, you are experiencing inflammation.
3. Omega-3 fats work to decrease Inflammation associated with diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a disease of inflammation of the joints. And Omega-3s have been shown to decrease the inflammation associated with RA.
4. Omega-3s have been shown to reduce the severity of Macular Degeneration.
In case you aren't familiar, macular degeneration causes age-related loss of sight. This disease has been shown in some studies to improve as a result of omega-3 therapy.
5. Lower risk of death from coronary artery disease (CAD) is associated with sufficient amounts of Omega-3s.
For example, CAD is one form of heart disease that is caused by clogged arteries. Omega-3s have been shown to reduce the risk of dying from this CAD.
6. Omega-3s may reduce the risk of stroke.
For example, Ischemic stroke may be reduced as the result of sufficient dietary intake of omega-3s.
7. Omega-3s improve the blood cholesterol profile.
Specifically, Omega-3 supplementation may decrease levels of triglycerides in the blood. They may also decrease HDL, which is considered to be the good cholesterol.
8. Sufficient omega-3 levels are crucial to adequate brain development of babies before and after birth.
9. Additionally, omega-3s enhance immunity in pregnant moms who take omega-3s or eat fish regularly.
In fact, one of the reasons breastmilk is so healthful is because Omega-3s are naturally in breastmilk. The US started fortifying baby formulas in the 1990s for this very reason. Adding omega-3s is another example of how science is doing its best to mimic breastmilk.
10. Omega-3s are associated with a reduced risk of asthma. For example, one study showed this result in teenage children of women who took fish oil during pregnancy.
11. Omega-3s, particularly EPA, may help treat depression in some people.
12. And treatment of ADHD and autism has shown promise, though research is mixed.
13. Research shows that diets high in fish are associated with reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
14. Treatment of Type-2 diabetes has shown some promise as well. (Wait that's 14)!
So which omega-3s should you take?
I'm so glad you asked because three different Omega-3 fats must be taken in through the diet. Read below to find out more.
EPA – Eicosapentaenoic acid
- Fatty fish such as salmon
- EPA can be converted from ALA or DHA, but is not efficient.
DHA – Docosahexaenoic acid
- Fish only (or fish oil supplements)
- Cold-water fish, including mackerel
- Cod liver (oil)
- Whale and Seal blubber
- DHA can be converted from ALA in the body but is not an efficient process
Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA)
- Nuts (particularly black walnuts) and nut butters
- Chia and flax seeds
- Soybean oil
- Canola oil
- Olive oil
Below are three different fish oils we have used, and that I recommend. They are some of the highest quality on the market, and the dosages are not too high. These are Amazon affiliate links.
The one on the left is the one our family takes. We gave our 13-year-old the Carlson Kids Chewable until about six months ago. He really liked them, but I wanted to give him a higher dose. He tried the fish oil in the middle but didn't like it after a while. It is very lemony (and they have orange too), but not sweet at all.