Omega 3 fatty acids are a collection of polyunsaturated fatty acids that include EPA (eicosapentaenic acid) and DHA (docosahexanoic acid), usually found in a 50:50 or 60:40 ratio in fish and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which is found in plants.

Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid. It is essential because it must be consumed in the diet because it cannot be made by the body. Therefore it is important to get Omega-3 fatty acids from your diet or from supplements.

Not only does your body need these fatty acids to function, but also they deliver some big health benefits.

• Anti-inflammatory
Research indicates that diets high in EPA and DHA helps to reduce inflammatory responses in the body. This can also have beneficial effects in reducing the symptoms of arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
• Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
Omega-3 can also reduce blood clotting and plasma triglycerides (blood fat), increase HDL (good cholesterol) and thereby reduces an individual risk of cardiovascular diseases.
• Cell membranes and prevent DNA damage
Omega-3 is an important element of cell membranes, serving as a cell lubricant, improving flexibility and communication between cells, and aiding cell metabolism and gene expression.
• Brain health and play role in depression
Omega-3 concentrations are highest in the brain and nervous system. The fatty acids are necessary for optimal functioning of the neurons, protect cells, decrease cell death and improve nerve transmission. Research indicates omega-3 may boost levels of the brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine, decreasing depression.
• Immune system
According to research omega-3 fatty acids may help boost the immune system by enhancing the functioning of immune cells.
• Pregnancy health and Fetal growth
Omega-3 can support pregnancy health. It is also essential for fetal growth and development by offering critical nutrients for the neurological development of your baby. It also promotes the development of your baby’s cardiac and respiratory systems and support the development of your baby’s brain and eyes.
• Brain support and cognitive development in infants and children
The DHA in a mother’s diet is incorporated into the breast milk, to the benefit of the infant that needs support for the rapid brain growth that occurs during the first 3 months. It has also been shown to increase the learning, cognitive function and possibly increase the attention span of your child.

When possible, try to get omega-3 fatty acids from foods rather than supplements. Aim to eat fish high in DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids two to three times a week.
Examples include:
• Anchovies
• Herring
• Mackerel
• Salmon
• Sardines
• Lake trout
• Tuna
Examples of good food sources of ALA are:
• Walnuts
• Flaxseed and flaxseed oil
• Canola oil
• Soybean oil

While foods containing omega-3 fatty acids have health benefits, some (like oils and nuts) can be high in energy. So remember to consume them in moderation.

Most individuals don’t consume fatty fish at least 3 times per week. Supplements are effective and may be used if insufficient amounts are consumed through the diet. Easy Health Wellness has an Omega-3 supplement available that is high in both EPA and DHA and low in heavy metals.

It is essential for you to ensure that your whole family consume sufficient amounts of Omega-3 daily. Omega 3 supplements are available at our clinic.

For more information contact the Dietitians at Easy Health Wellness at 012 997 2783 or
Written By Monika Nieuwoudt for Easy Health Wellness