All You Need to Know About Omega 3 Benefits and Food Sources
It is no secret that regularly ingesting Omega 3 Fatty Acids comes with a variety of health benefits. From proven positive mental health impacts to reduced muscle soreness and more, Omega 3 is a supplement worth exploring!
Bodybuilders and other health and body conscious individuals regularly to Omega 3 supplements and food sources for a reason. However, with so much conflicting research out there, it can be difficult to determine the accurate Omega 3 health benefits and food sources.
We’ve done the research, so you don’t have to! From reliable sources, we’ve gathered information about Omega 3 health benefits, adequate intake amounts recommended by the World Health Organization, and even the top Omega 3 foods.
What is Omega 3?
The in-depth breakdown of what Omega 3 fatty acids can be a little complicated! However, we have the quick scientific facts you need to understand what Omega 3 is without getting too bogged down with the details.
Omega 3 is made up of three acids called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), EPA (eicosatetraenoic acid), and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) that are all essential to the health of our bodies and brain function.
ALA is often found in seeds such as flaxseed and even pumpkin seeds while DHA and EPA are more prominent in seafood such as tuna, salmon, etc. Omega 3 can be found in a supplemental form as well as a variety of foods!
According to research published on PubMed, ALA can be converted to EPA and DHA for further brain function support; unfortunately, this process becomes less efficient with aging and the lack of Omega 3 in the diet has been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease.
Omega 3 Benefits
We hear that we should be taking Omega 3 fatty acids for their proven health benefits, but very rarely hear the reasons behind those claims. As it turns out, Omega 3 benefits range from improved brain function to even cardiovascular improvements!
Improves Brain Function for the Elderly and Children
A Harvard publication called “Nutrition for the Brain” observed the effects of receiving an influx of Omega 3 Fatty Acids through breast milk on breastfed children. They contribute the advantages to early breastfeeding to the amount of Omega 3 Fatty Acids found in the mother’s milk.
Likewise, it has been discovered that people who regularly ingested beneficial doses of Omega 3 throughout their life had greater brain functionality at an elderly age than those who may have had an Omega 3 deficit for long periods of time during their lifespan.
Protects Against Depression
As researched and proven by the Biological Psychiatry medical journal, Omega 3 fatty acids have been proven to improve the severe symptoms of depression. Notably, they discovered “lower levels of omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids in depressive patients”.
This finding led them to realize the Omega 3 benefits regarding brain health and mood. The article concluded that Omega 3 can be used as an “alternative treatment for depression”, which sheds light and hope on those who have been long suffering from the mental disorder.
May Reduce Inflammation Caused by Metabolic Syndrome
The Mayo Clinic has defined metabolic Syndrome as, “a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.” From high blood pressure and even blood sugar to excessive body fat in the stomach region, this condition can wreak havoc on the body!
Studies conducted and analyzed on PubMed and PMC suggest conflicting outcomes on whether regularly ingesting Omega 3 has a positive result on patients experiencing Metabolic Syndrome.
The article published at PubMed discusses no improvements over a 6-month period where the PMC study showed marked improvements and suggested ongoing use to maintain results.
Does Omega 3 Improve Cardiovascular Function?
Just like with the studies relating Omega 3 to the improvement of Metabolic Syndrome, there is currently conflicting research on whether Omega 3 provides benefits on Cardiovascular function and health. While
An article found at the National Library of Medicine determined, “long-term effect of high dose omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may be beneficial for the onset of cardiac death” amongst other heart-related benefits.
On the other hand, a study titled “Associations of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplement Use With Cardiovascular Disease Risks” found no proof that Omega 3 Fatty Acids have a positive impact on patients with Cardiovascular Disease.
Omega 3 and Bodybuilding
The use of Omega 3 has been widely linked to bodybuilders, because of the assumption that it increases muscle mass and reduces fat as a part of its role in protein synthesis (creating protein molecules).
Studies show that, although Omega 3 does have benefits that can be enjoyed by bodybuilders, the Omega 3 benefits may not include building more muscle mass.
A study posted on Frontiers in Nutrition concluded no notable increase in muscle mass between two groups of bodybuilders (one being prescribed Omega 3 and one serving as a control group). Similarly, another study researching the impact of Omega 3 on skeletal muscle protein did not find an increase in muscle mass.
However, that second study did impressively conclude, “promise is the potential for omega-3 fatty acids to counteract muscle atrophy, and promote recovery, from periods of muscle-disuse induced by surgery and subsequent bed rest/inactivity.”
That is, while there isn’t sufficient research indicating Omega 3 benefits bodybuilders in their pursuit of gaining more muscle, it is proven to improve muscle recovery and assist in preventing muscle atrophy.
The Adequate Intake of Omega 3
Depending on your age and the state of your body, there are varying recommendations about how much Omega 3 you should take. Furthermore, organizations such as the World Health Organization and the American Heart Association have differing suggestions for how much Omega 3 to take.
As stated at Healthline, while the World Health Organization suggests taking anywhere between “250–500 mg combined EPA and DHA each day for healthy adults” the American Heart Association suggests for each individual to work on eating fatty fish at least twice a week to gain the right amount of Omega 3.
Although the research varies on how much Omega 3 is adequate, all major organizations conclude that it should be eaten or taken on a regular basis for maximum benefits!
Omega 3 Foods
Aquatic life seems to have the common trend of being rich in the Omega 3 acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)! Fish, shellfish, and even algae are notably some of the most common foods found with DHA.
EPA, also known as eicosatetraenoic acid, can also be found in various types of fish. Notably, cold-water fish that are known for being fattier such as salmon and even sardines are the best sources for EPA.
On the other hand, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is more commonly found in plant-based foods such as flaxseed oil, edamame, avocados, etc.
While there are proven Omega 3 benefits on brain health, there are many conflicting studies on the impact of Omega 3 on muscle growth as well as cardiovascular health. Scientific research does suggest that, although they are still discovering benefits of Omega 3, only good can come from taking it regularly.