North Shore Acupuncture and Natural Medicine
Acupuncture Clinic in Beverly, MA
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Studies show that Omega-3 fatty acids are incredibly important and have many health benefits within the human body. Omega-3 fatty acids work to fight inflammation within the body which can have many protective effects against disease. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk or improve symptoms of diseases such as, Alzheimer's disease, high blood pressure, ADHD, rheumatoid arthritis and depression (among many others!).
11 types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
There are 11 different types of Omega-3 fatty acids. However, the 3 most important are ALA, EPA, and DHA. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat and are consider essential fatty acids because the human body can't synthesis (or create) them on it's own.
There are only 2 ways to obtain Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Diet (or the foods we consume)
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are not stored and used for energy, but rather support many important roles in the human body, including supporting the immune system, inflammation, cardiovascular health, and brain health! Studies show that diets high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids are associated with higher intelligence and lower risk for depression, heart disease, arthritis, and cancer.
ALA, EPA & DHA
ALA: Are found mostly in plant foods, such as chia seeds, spinach, kale and flax seeds. ALA is a precursor, (must be converted), to EPA and DHA, but the conversion rate is low (less then 1% is converted). If it is not converted then it is stored or used as energy (fatty acid metabolism)
EPA & DHA: Found mostly in seafood. The highest concentrations are found in mackerel, herring, salmon, and shrimp. Also, found in Grass-fed animals products. EPA & DHA are considered long-chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids and are the holy-grail to combat acute and chronic disease if consumed in high levels.
"All diseases have common genesis in inflammation" - Dr. Joseph C. Maroon MD and Vice Chairman of the department of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Unfortunately in the United States the largest source of omega-3 consumption is ALA. Due to the low consumption of EPA & DHA within the diet, general medical advice would be to eat fish, especially oily fish or grass-fed animal products. If you can't obtain your Adequate Intake (AIs) *see link below for more details* then it would be generally recommended to use Omega-3 supplements. If dietary supplementation does not occur, many health side effects or chronic disease can result.
Over the course of the next 3 blogs, I would like to discuss Omega-3 supplements and how studies published illustrate protective effects against the following diseases:
Blog 1: Will focus on Overall Health
Blog 2: Will focus on Mental Health and Sleep
Overall Mental Health and Alzheimer's Disease
Depression & Anxiety
Blog 3: Will focus on Women's Health and Children
Brain health during Pregnancy and childhood
Reduction of ADHD
Alleviate Menstrual Pain