The massive surge in proposed health benefits of omega-3 essential fatty acids are hard to ignore. A growing body of evidence suggests that omega-3 supplements are vital for overall health and may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, improve joint health, enhance brain function, and optimize body composition. Adding foods like avocado and fish to your weekly diet, could make a substantial difference in the quality of your life.
What Are Omega-3s?
Omega-3’s are classified as essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). The human body requires both groups of essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) to survive, however the typical modern-day diet, is much higher in Omega-6 fatty acids than Omega-3, making supplementation critical to your overall health. Since they are essential, omega-3s must be be obtained from your diet or through supplementation, and can be found in seafood such as salmon, sardines, tuna, halibut, algae, and krill.
Several studies have shown that PUFAs may reduce the risk of heart disease, inflammation, symptoms associated with arthritis, and may have anti-cancer effects. There are three types of omega-3s
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
EPA and DHA are found in cold water fish, while ALA is found in vegetarian sources such as flax seeds, canola, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans. Vegans or for those that choose a plant-based diet, have a significantly harder time obtaining enough Omega-3 in their diet. ALA must be converted into EPA and DHA by the liver. However the conversion is rather limited, with rates of less than 15% [R]. Therefore, consuming EPA and DHA directly from foods and/or dietary supplements is the only practical way to increase omega-3 levels.
Several foods contain omega-3 fatty acids. The FDA has established a daily recommended value for total fat at 65g per day, however, has not established a recommend value for omega-3. Although the American Heart Association does recommend eating fish at least twice per week. If you don’t eat much fish then supplementation is crucial to get an optimal amount of omega-3 into your diet.
Grams per serving
Flaxseed oil, 1 tbsp
Chia seeds, 1 ounce
English walnuts, 1 ounce
Flaxseed, whole, 1 tbsp
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed cooked, 3 ounces
Salmon, Atlantic, wild, cooked, 3 ounces
Herring, Atlantic, cooked, 3 ounces*
Canola oil, 1 tbsp
Sardines, canned in tomato sauce, drained, 3 ounces*
Mackerel, Atlantic, cooked, 3 ounces*
Salmon, pink, canned, drained, 3 ounces*
Soybean oil, 1 tbsp
Trout, rainbow, wild, cooked, 3 ounces
Black walnuts, 1 ounce
Mayonnaise, 1 tbsp
Oysters, eastern, wild, cooked, 3 ounces
Sea bass, cooked, 3 ounces*
Edamame, frozen, prepared, ½ cup
Shrimp, cooked, 3 ounces*
Refried beans, canned, vegetarian, ½ cup
Lobster, cooked, 3 ounces*
Tuna, light, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces*
Tilapia, cooked, 3 ounces*
Scallops, cooked, 3 ounces*
Cod, Pacific, cooked, 3 ounces*
Tuna, yellowfin, cooked 3 ounces*
Kidney beans, canned ½ cup
Baked beans, canned, vegetarian, ½ cup
Ground beef, 85% lean, cooked, 3 ounces**
Bread, whole wheat, 1 slice
Egg, cooked, 1 egg
Chicken, breast, roasted, 3 ounces
Milk, low-fat (1%), 1 cup
* USDA database does not specify whether fish are farmed or wild caught.
** USDA database does not specify whether beef is grass fed or grain fed.
What Is Omega-3 Good For? 5 Proven Omega-3 Benefits
Omega 3 Can Improve Athletic Performance
An interesting yet growing body of evidence suggests, that Omega-3 supplementation may improve athletic performance indicators and act as an ergogenic aid. Recent evidence shows that astaxanthin, the naturally occurring antioxidant in Krill Oil, may help reduce muscle damage. Studies have also shown Astaxanthin may increase time trial performance and power output in competitive cyclists [R, R, R] as well as increase strength and endurance [R].
A recent conducted by Department of Comparative Biosciences at the University of Wisconsin in Madison investigated the effects of Krill Oil on mTOR signaling and resistance training. Hold tight, i'm about to drop get sciency for a minute. mTOR functions as a serine/threonine-protein kinase that regulates cell growth, cell proliferation, cell motility, cell survival, protein synthesis, autophagy, and transcription. Signaling through the mammalian target of rapamycin [mTOR] is activated by amino acids, insulin, and growth factors, and impaired by nutrient or energy deficiency. mTOR regulates numerous components involved in muscle protein synthesis [R] and can lead to greater gains in lean muscle mass.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, resistance-trained subjects consumed either 3g of krill oil daily or placebo, and each took part in an 8-week periodized resistance training program. Body composition, maximal strength, peak power, and rate of perceived recovery were assessed collectively at the end of weeks 0 and 8.
The results indicated that Krill oil significantly stimulated mTOR signaling in comparison to the control and that Krill oil significantly increased lean body mass from baseline (p=0.021, 1.4 kg, +2.1%) [R].
Other investigational studies have concluded that supplementation with Omega-3s, may increase peak torque, increase muscle strength, maximal oxygen uptake (VO2) and reduce muscle fatigue and soreness [R,R,R,R]. These findings suggest that supplementing with 500mg of omega-3 per day, can have a significant effect on training performance [R].
RELATED ARTICLE The Ultimate Guide To Krill Oil
Omega 3 May Reduce The Risk Of Coronary Heart Disease
Heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death in the US [R]. Omega 3 fatty acids have been clinically proven to improve cardiovascular function by improving hypertension, raising HDL (good cholesterol) and lowering LDL (bad cholesterol). Omega-3s also aid in lowering blood pressure and combating inflammation within the artery walls.
Several large-scale studies have found lowered risks of heart disease amongst those with higher omega-3 in their diets. A study of more than 63,000 participants found that individuals with higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet, had a 17% reduced risk of cardiovascular events and mortality rates [R]. The Nurses’ Health Study also found a 40% reduced risk of sudden cardiac death in women who ate the highest amounts of ALA. Lastly a third Cardiovascular Health Study cohort with more than 5,000 study participants, ages 65 years and older, found a 50% lower risk of fatal ischemic heart disease with higher intakes of ALA [R].
A study published in the journal Nutrients found that 98% of all Americans fall below the optimal range of Omega-3 ideal for heart health. All study participants agreed that a balanced diet is important for health, but only half believe they actually eat one. Additionally, 82% of people believe they don't need to take a supplement to have a balanced diet, but when it came to Omega-3, study results show that almost none of them have an Omega-3 level in the optimal range of 8.0 [R]. The reality is, diet alone is not enough to obtain the necessary amounts of Omega-3 for optimal health and wellness. By supplementing just 500mg of omega-3 per day, you can drastically reduce you risk of heart disease. Swolverine's Krill Oil contains 500mg of EPA/DHA and naturally occurring astaxanthin.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT Krill Oil (60 Servings)
Omega 3 Can Improve Joint Health
Arthritis and Osteoporosis are two very common disorders that can affect your skeletal system.
The anti-inflammatory effects of Omega-3 can help reduce chronic inflammation of the tendons and joints, which can cause detrimental effects to your overall quality of life. In a randomized, double blind placebo-controlled trial by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 90 patients were recruited with rheumatoid and or osteoarthritis to evaluate the effectiveness of krill oil on arthritic symptoms. The results were astounding. After seven days of treatment with a dose of 300mg of administered krill oil, patients reported reduced pain scores by 28.9%, reduced stiffness by 20.3%, and reduced functional impairment by 22.8% [R].
In a study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 125 patients that were diagnosed with nonsurgical neck or back pain were administered 1200-2500mg of Omega-3 fatty acids per day. After 75 days, 59% discontinued taking their prescription NSAID medications for pain. 60% stated that their overall pain was improved, and 60% stated that their joint pain had improved. 80% stated they were satisfied with their improvement, and 88% stated they would continue with Omega-3 supplementation. This study concluded that Omega-3 supplementation demonstrated an equivalent effect in reducing arthritic pain, as does Ibuprofen [R].
Omega 3 May Improve Cognitive Function
What is Omega-3 good for? Brain health. Omega-3 fatty acids EPH and DHA have been extensively studied in regards to their benefits on cognitive function, supporting anti-depressive behaviors and promoting positive mood state [R]. DHA has been shown to increase dopamine and serotonin, which are your “feel good hormones,” and help to alleviate depression and promote positive mood state. EPA has been shown to reduce inflammation in the brain and help treat depression. Additionally, studies have shown that the naturally occurring antioxidant Astaxanthin, has a neuroprotective effect, which may increase spatial memory, while fighting against the aging process [R, R].
In an incredibly interesting Australian study, published in the journal PLOS one, 136 male prisoners were administered omega-3 to determine if omega-3 intake was correlated with more aggressive and attention deficit behavior. The study found a direct correlation with lower omega-3 levels and higher aggression and attention deficit order behaviors [R].
In a famous study called the Framingham Heart Study, two-thirds of the adult population of Framingham, MA, totaling 5,209 people in all were monitored for 57 years. One of the findings of this study showed that only 180 milligrams per day of the Omega 3 DHA, the equivalent of about 2.5 servings of fish per week, was associated with a 50% reduced risk of dementia [R].
This study proves the vital importance of preventative treatment, and the impact nutritional factors have on brain and heart health. Supplementing daily with an omega-3 supplement such as Krill Oil can improve long-term health and help protect against the aging process and brain health.
Omega 3 Can Fight Depression & Improve Mood
Globally, more than 264 million people suffer from depression, making it one of the most common mental disorders in the world.
Often characterized by sadness, lethargy, and a general loss of interest or apathy for life, studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between omega-3 intake and depressive mood state [R].
Studies have also shown that omega-3 can help improve anxiety. A study conducted at Ohio State University administered Omega-3 supplementation to 68 students in a double-blind 12 week randomized controlled trial. The study concluded that omega-3 supplementation reduced anxiety symptoms by 20% [R].
Which Omega-3 Is Best?
Omega-3 supplementation comes in many different forms, including fish oil, krill oil, flax seed, algae, cod liver oil, sardine, and salmon oil. However, several studies have shown that the best form of Omega-3 supplement is Krill Oil, due to its bioavailability and antioxidant content.
Unlike fish oil, Krill oil is bound in phospholipids as opposed to triglycerides. The simple addition of the phosphate group permits more efficient digestion and absorption. Krill oil is absorbed in 2-3 hours as compared to fish oil, which can take anywhere from 48-72 hours, therefore prolonging the benefits associated with inflammation and workout recovery
Krill Oil also contains the world's most powerful antioxidant Astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid - an antioxidant which helps fights the build-up of free radicals and suppress the signs of aging. Free radicals are uncharged molecules having an unpaired valence electron that can cause damage to your immune system as a by-product from numerous cellular reactions. Astaxanthin also plays a crucial role in reducing inflammation of the cardiovascular system and improving immune system function by increasing HDL-cholesterol which helps the body rid of plaque buildup on the inner arterial walls.
RELATED ARTICLE 14 Studies That Prove Krill Oil Is The Best Omega-3 Supplement
What Is Omega-3 Good For: Takeaway
So, what’s Omega-3 good for? Well, a lot. Considering that 98% of Americans are not getting ample amounts of Omega-3 in their diet, it’s safe to bet that you’re probably amongst that 98%. Adding an omega-3 supplement to your daily nutrition regimen is easy, and with the litany of proposed health benefits, it’s probably a good idea to start taking it sooner than later.
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