Fats have always been considered risk factors for cardiovascular disease. However, today it is universally recognized in the scientific forum that reducing the fat content does not provide effective prevention against these diseases.
Indeed, some polyunsaturated fatty acids are necessary.
the omega-3 fatty acids and omega 6 are important precursors of other substances in the body involved in the regulation of arterial pressure and in inflammatory responses.
Omega 3s are essential fatty acids. Our body can produce them but not enough and the only way to increase the level is to take them with food or supplements.
But you know how many omega 3 per day are they necessary for optimal health?
Omega 3 for your well-being
The two main classes of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
Omega 3s, sometimes called “n-3 PUFAs”, are found in certain foods such as flaxseeds and fish, as well as in dietary supplements such as fish oil.
They contribute to the heart health.
There are several omega 3s, but most scientific research focuses on three: alpha-linolenic acid (WING), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
The human body is able to produce all the fatty acids it needs, except two: linoleic acid (LA), an omega 6 fatty acid, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega 3 fatty acid.
Both are needed for tissue growth and healing, but can also be used for the production of other fatty acids (eg.arachidonic acid – AA – derives from this LA).
Therefore, ALA and LA are considered essential fatty acids, meaning they must be obtained from the diet.
ALA is present in vegetable oils, such as those of
In the human body ALA and LA are in competition because they have the same receptor, an excessive supply of LA with foods rich in omega 6 it can make ALA metabolism less available, leading to an increased risk of heart disease.
There is an “ideal” ratio between omega 6 and omega 3 in food: currently the n-6/n-3 ratio in Western diets is expressed by a factor > 15, whereas the ideal should be 4:1.
Since it consumes less fish rich in omega 3 you have to assume the omega-3 fatty acids with supplements such as fish oil.
ALA can be converted to EPA and then to DHA, but the conversion (which occurs mainly in the liver) is very limited, with reported rates of less than 15%.
Therefore, the only way to increase the levels of these fatty acids in the body is to consume EPA and DHA directly from foods rich in omega 3 and or omega 3 supplements.
DHA and EPA are present in
- oily fish
- fish oils
- krill oils
but they are originally synthesized from microalgae, not fish.
When fish consume phytoplankton, they have consumed microalgae in the food chainthey accumulate omega 3 in their tissues.
Daily tips for omega 3
The main lipids provided by our diet are triglycerides, each composed of a glycerol and three fatty acids: saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.
According to their chemical structure, fatty acids do not have the same effects in the body. Acids polyunsaturated fats the best known are omega 3.
Omega 3 needs begin as early as fetal life, because in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, they are massively incorporated into the retina and the nervous system. This phenomenon continues after birth, facilitating visual maturation and cognitive development.
It is believed that for a 6 month old baby, half of the omega-3s in the body are collected in the brain.
As you age, omega 3s help slow down cellular aging. They are among the promising nutrients against Alzheimer’s disease.
Data reported by the LARN (Nutrient and Energy Reference Intake Levels for the Italian population) provide an estimate of the average intake of alpha-linolenic acid.
The median intake is 1.4 g/day for men and 1.3 g/day for women. For the elderly, the median intake is 1.3 g/day for men and 1.0 g/day for women.
The requirement for alpha-linolenic acid is estimated as follows:
- 0.9 g/day for children 1 to 6 years old
- 1.3 g/day for children 7 to 10 years old and for girls
- 1.6 g/day for boys
The two main n-3 PUFAs (EPA and DHA) are synthesized from alpha-linolenic acid, which is also present in the diet in limited quantities.
The introduction of 250 mg/day of EPA + DHA appears sufficient in cardiovascular prevention, however in particular states such as pregnancy and lactation an increase in the introduction of DHA per day equal to 100-200 mg / day.
Omega 3 for heart health
Over the years, several studies have shown the effects benefits of omega 3 on the cardiovascular system. EPA, one of the components of omega 3, acts as a cell protector, maintaining the flexibility of membranes such as endothelial tissue, which lines the interior of blood vessels and heart chambers.
It is the job of the endothelium to control the passage of nutrients and the exit of waste from our vascular system.
Therefore, supplementation with EPA has the potential to prevent the formation of fatty plaques in the vessels, improve blood flow and facilitate blood pumping.
In addition, omega 3s have a proven effect on:
- reduce triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol
- increase “good” HDL cholesterol
- decrease the formation of clots
- fight chronic inflammation also caused by excess omega 6
Omega 3 for depression
Omega 3s can be as effective as antidepressants, making them a great natural strategy for dealing with attacks of anxiety and depression.
If your doctor has already recommended that you take antidepressants, you can start a diet rich in omega 3 by consuming more fish, shellfish and seaweed.
New mothers who regularly eat these foods after giving birth have a lower risk of developing postpartum depression.
Omega 3 for Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that causes dementia and long-term memory loss. There is still no consensus on the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, but some mechanisms involved in this process are already well understood.
One is the depletion of stores of EPA and DHA in the brain (omega 3 fatty acids).
Therefore, many clinical studies have been conducted with EPA and DHA supplementation via fish oil with the aim of seeing the effect on the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and the treatment of symptoms in those who had already sick.
The results are very promising: omega 3 not only helps prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease, but also delays its symptoms and acts as a complement to clinical treatment.
Is consuming too much omega 3 harmful?
According to researchers, the immune system does not work well when there is an excess of omega 3 in the body. Moreover, those who have very high levels of this substance are also usually deficient in omega 6, which prevents the body from performing its functions properly.
While omega 3s fight inflammation, omega 6s somehow promote it, which, oddly enough, is important for modulating the body’s natural defense system, as well as activating white blood cells to fight infection.
We therefore understand that consuming too much omega 3 can be harmful, because it weakens the immune system and can even promote the appearance of diseases.
What happens with an omega 3 deficiency?
Omega 3 deficiency is manifested by visible signs throughout the body:
- dry, cracked and rough skin
- dry eyes and hair
- deterioration of the retina
- cardiac arrhythmias
- pulmonary thrombosis
- hepatic dysfunction
- high pressure
- memory loss and dementia
- depression and anxiety
- attention disorders
The based on omega 3 it consists of certain foods such as oily fish. Alternatively, a supplement can be used.
The recommended intake of alpha-linolenic acid is 1.3 grams per day for men and 1 gram per day for women.
Conversely, there are no official guidelines for taking long-chain omega 3s such as EPA and DHA. However, health organizations generally recommend a minimum of 250 mg and a maximum of 3 g of EPA and DHA combined per day, unless otherwise directed by a healthcare professional.