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Do You Need an Omega-3 Supplement?

by Kate Ferguson on September 2, 2015
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There are some conflicting headlines out there about whether we really need to be taking omega-3 supplements, but hopefully we can clear up some of the confusion. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that we have to get through our diet or through supplemental form. Some studies present them as life savers while others question if we really need them, but here are some facts to clear that up. To be on the safer side, getting plenty of omega-3’s is still suggested despite the articles that say otherwise. Here’s why.

One study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that there was no correlation between taking an omega-3 supplement and a decreased morality rate, however there are a couple reasons why this isn’t necessarily relevant. For one thing, the people that were used in the study were already high risk patients, not your average healthy guy. If you’re already overweight with diabetes for example, an omega-3 isn’t going to fix everything on its own. But if you’re generally healthy taking the supplement has been shown to improve artery function and HDL cholesterol levels, which of course does have positive health repercussions.

Not to mention, omega-3’s aren’t just taken to ward of mortality, they have a whole bunch of other suggested health benefits including improving your mood as much as taking an antidepressant, reducing inflammation, reducing joint pain, lowering blood pressure, and keeping your skin looking good.

Omega 3’s are also crucial for a lot of cell function and other natural body functions, including regulating the cell division, providing strength for the cell membranes, sending endocrine hormones to the right cells, keeping the cell membranes fluid, helping to regulate oxygen flow from the red blood cells to the tissues, preventing blood cells from getting stuck together, helping neurological function in the eyes, regulating nerve communication, maintaining kidney function, and regulating smooth muscle function.

Do keep in mind that there are different processes that supplements go through to get to the store shelves, and that some are better than others. It is generally better to get your omega-3’s from good sources when possible, but supplementing is fine as well. To get your omega-3’s from your food, fill up on eggs, fatty fish like salmon, flax seeds, and walnuts. Keep in mind that EPA and DHA’s are mostly found in fish and that ALA is found in nuts, so you need a variety of those to get all the ones you need. Plus, all of those foods are great for you and provide tons of protein and other nutrients that you need anyway.

Aim to eat some sort of fatty fish like salmon a couple times a week, and work flax seed into your diet wherever possible. Sprinkling them onto your morning oatmeal is one option, as is mixing them up in smoothies or juices. Walnuts are great in salads and can add a lot of flavor with their healthy fatty content.

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