Why are omega-3 fatty acids necessary for the body and why are they said to be good for health? Omega-3 fatty acids are also said to be essential for women who want to become pregnant and during pregnancy.
In this article, I would like to share with you three points you should know about omega-3 fatty acids.
About Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids belong to the polyunsaturated fatty acids that are important for various functions in the body. The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish (e.g. salmon, tuna, trout) and seafood like crustaceans (e.g. crabs, mussels, oysters).
ALA, a different type of omega-3, is found in other foods such as vegetable oils (e.g., oilseed rape, soybeans). Omega-3 fatty acids can also be taken as supplements. For example, fish oil supplements contain EPA and DHA, and flaxseed oil contains ALA.
There is some evidence for the health benefits of consuming seafood, but the health benefits of omega-3 supplements are not clear.
6 Things you should know about Omega-3 fatty acids
1. According to a study on diets high in seafood (fish and crustaceans) and heart disease, people who eat seafood at least once a week are less likely to die from heart disease than those who eat it infrequently or not at all.
- The “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010” recommends that adults consume at least 224g of a variety of seafood per week because it provides a variety of nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids. The recommended amounts for infants are smaller, and there are special recommendations for pregnant women and breastfeeding women. See Tip 4
2. There is some evidence to suggest that EPA and DHA-rich seafood should be added to a heart-healthy diet, but EPA and DHA supplements have not been proven to prevent heart disease.
- There is some evidence to suggest that EPA and DHA-rich seafood should be added to a heart-healthy diet, but EPA and DHA supplements have not been proven to prevent heart disease.
3. A 2012 review of scientific papers concluded that EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood and fish oil, maybe somewhat effective in alleviating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
- In the study seen in the review, many of the subjects reported that taking fish oil resulted in a shorter period of morning stiffness, less swelling and pain in the joints, and a reduced need for anti-inflammatory medication to control such symptoms. 4 . The nutritional value of seafood is especially important during fetal development and fetal growth, as well as in early infancy and early childhood. Pregnant and lactating women should consume 224g to 336g per week of a variety of seafood with low methylmercury content, taking care to stay within calorie requirements as part of a healthy diet.
- Pregnant and lactating women should limit the amount of white tuna (labeled as albacore tuna) to no more than 6 ounces (about 168 grams) per week. Pregnant and lactating women should also not eat red snapper, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel as they contain high levels of methylmercury.
5. Research on omega-3 fatty acids and brain and eye diseases is ongoing, but there is insufficient evidence to conclude the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on these diseases. DHA plays an important role in brain and eye function.
- Therefore, researchers are actively investigating the possible benefits of DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention and treatment of a variety of brain and eye-related diseases.
- There is conflicting evidence as to whether there is an association between omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) found in seafood and fish oil and an increased risk of prostate cancer. Further research is underway on the association between omega-3 fatty acid intake and prostate cancer risk.
Including seafood in your regular diet is good for your health. However, it is not clear whether omega-3 fatty acid supplements are effective or not. If you are thinking of using omega-3 fatty acid supplements, consult your medical staff.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, taking medications that affect blood clotting, allergic to seafood or planning to give omega-3 fatty acid supplements to your child, it is especially important to consult with yourself or your child’s medical staff.