Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, meaning our bodies are unable to make them on our own and must get them in through our…
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, meaning our bodies are unable to make them on our own and must get them in through our diet.
Omega-3s play an important role in immune health, cognition and brain health, and neuromuscular function.
The two key forms of omega-3s are - DHA and EPA. There is a third form found in plants - ALA - which can be converted by the body to EPA & DHA at a lower level.
Sources of EPA & DHA include:
The Western diet has an imbalance in fat intake. Higher intake of saturated fats and certain polyunsaturated fats, such as Omega-6s, compared to Omega-3 intake may correlate with greater inflammation and increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Increasing Omega-3 intake and striking a better balance could lead to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and promote better regulation of inflammation.
Coupled with the anti-inflammatory activity, DHA, specifically, may protect the brain. 60% of the brain is composed of fat, and of that 60%, 25% is DHA. When we look at the brain, especially after an injury, there is a whole cascade of events that causes additional inflammation and damage. DHA provides a neuroprotective effect by minimizing or dampening that additional inflammation.
DHA & EPA may also target muscle activity by improving recovery and decreasing soreness.
Should You Supplement?
Before going right to the supplemental form of omega-3s (also called fish oil), ask yourself the following question:
If your answer is no, you should consider adding an omega-3 supplement.
Currently, there is no consensus on how much omega-3’s, but:
For many of the athletes, I work with, I recommend consuming, through both food and supplementation, 1,000-3,000 mg per day of EPA + DHA combined.
When picking out an omega-3 or fish oil supplement, I recommend using the following criteria:
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