Omega 3 fatty acids are getting a lot of attention these days.  You probably know you need them, but you may not know why you need them or how to get more of them in your diet.  Here are the facts you need to know.

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega -3 fatty acids are fats that your body needs in order to function properly.  There are two main types of omega -3 fatty acids:

  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).  These are called long-chain fatty acids. 
  • ALA (alpha-linolenic acid).  This type is called short-chain fatty acids.

 Why do I need omega-3 fatty acids?

Many common, chronic diseases share a common starting point:  inflammation.  These include cancer, depression, cardiovascular disease, ADHD, asthma, and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.   Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial because they decrease the inflammation in your body, thereby possibly improving or preventing these diseases.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also highly concentrated in brain tissue.  Having an ample supply of omega-3 fatty acids in your body is linked to reduced incidences of Alzheimer’s diseases, stroke and cognitive decline.  In fact, people with high levels of the omega-3 DHA in their bodies have their risk of getting dementia and Alzheimer’s cut in half.

Omega-3’s also relieve the symptoms of depression.  People with depression tend to have smaller amounts of gray matter in three areas of their brain.  Omega-3’s not only lessen the symptoms of depression but also increase the size of this gray matter.

Where do omega-3 fatty acids come from?

Your body cannot manufacture these important fats.  The only way to increase your levels is to include them in your diet either in whole food form or in dietary supplements.  Both are effective.  Here are some options for you:

1.  EPA and DHA, the long-chain fatty acids, are considered the more potent omega-3 fatty acids and may be the most beneficial.  Sources of these fats include fish and shellfish such as salmon, shrimp, canned light tuna, catfish and Pollock.  

2.  ALA, the short chain fatty acid, can be found in flaxseed, walnuts, Brussels sprouts, kale and spinach.3.  If you would prefer to get your omega-3 fatty acids from a dietary supplement, you can simply take a fish oil capsule.  500 mg per day is the recommended dose.  Just make sure that the supplement you choose is mercury-free and contains both DHA and EPA.  Also check to see what the total amount of