The power of omega-3s
Everyone seems to be talking about the benefits of consuming fish oil, so let’s spend a few moments to learn just what it is in fish oil that provides these benefits. Fish oil is one of the best sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA. Omega-3s provide benefits for people at every stage of life, but statistics show that even the most healthy lifestyles may be lacking in this essential nutrient. Omega-3s are considered so important because of their contribution to overall health. Much like certain vitamins and minerals, we cannot generally produce adequate amounts of omega-3s on our own. Because many folks don’t like or have access to wild-caught fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel, supplementation with a top-quality fish oil supplement is important. The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults who don’t eat fish should supplement with about 1 gram per day of an omega-3 product.
Other benefits of omega-3s
Did you know that the benefits of omega-3s go far beyond the heart? Extensive research has focused on health benefits of EPA and DHA and has come to some interesting conclusions.
Brain: The relationship between adequate omega-3 intake and brain health has been the subject of much research. EPA and DHA, the omega-3 essential fatty acids in fish oil, are particularly concentrated in the brain—an organ composed of nearly 60% fat—and the nervous system, where they provide necessary building blocks for healthy cells and tissue. The cerebral cortex, which is responsible for memory and attention, is composed of around 20% DHA. EPA and DHA have been studied for their effects on mood,1 cognition, memory, learning, and attention.2
Joint Health: EPA and DHA have been studied for many different joint conditions and may help promote joint mobility and flexibility and also help reduce stiffness, swelling, and pain.3, 4
Pregnancy: The importance of EPA and DHA for normal infant development cannot be overstated. The essential fatty acids help with normal brain, eye, and nervous system development.5
Skin and Nails: Essential fatty acids are important for skin health and may help for a variety of conditions, including inflammatory conditions of the skin.6
Lean Body Mass: Athletes and those looking to maintain muscle mass may want to consider supplementing with fish oil. A recent study has suggested that there is a relationship between lean body mass (muscle mass) and the amount of EPA/DHA in the body.7
Immune System: While the impact of omega-3 oils on the immune system is just now beginning to be investigated, it appears that EPA and DHA may increase B-cell functioning,8 and may help enhance other areas of the immune system.9