What is Omega-3?
Many of us have for sure heard about Omega-3. But at the same time many of us do not know what omega-3 actually is and what it is in omega-3 that is good. Actually, omega-3 is fatty acids essential to human health which our body can’t make itself. This means that you have to get them through food.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines.
We need omega-3 fatty acids for numerous normal body functions, such as controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids are also associated with having a beneficial impact on our normal health. We will come to this later.
Until today, many studies have been done around omega-3 and its beneficial impact on the human health. Some say that it is over 10 000 studies and some respected researchers in e.g. Germany say it can be even 17 000 studies done. One thing is for sure – thousands of studies are made around the importance and beneficial impact of omega-3.
“When it comes to fat, there’s one type you don’t want to cut back on: omega-3 fatty acids. Two crucial ones — EPA and DHA — are primarily found in fat cold-water fish e.g. salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna and sardines”
What is it in omega-3 that is so healthy to us?
There are two major types of omega-3 fatty acids – EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
EPA serves our organism as a starting material for the formation of so-called eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are small molecules that transmit important messages inside our cells, a discovery that was awarded the Noble prize in medicine or physiology in 1982. Moreover, the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are basic components of cell membranes and regulate the functions of skin, brain cells and the eye retina.
The EU body EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has confirmed that omega-3 fatty acids – and then especially EPA and DHA – have a beneficial impact for our health when taken in certain amounts.
- A daily intake of 250 mg EPA and DHA contributes to the normal function of the heart.
- A daily intake of 250 mg of DHA contributes to maintenance of normal brain function.
- A daily intake of 250 mg of DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal vision.
How do I make sure to get enough of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA?
To make sure that we get enough of EPA and DHA, it is required that we have a proper and varied diet. Both EPA and DHA are found in fat fish. Therefore it is important that fat fish is included in our diet to make sure our bodies get the necessary amounts of EPA and DHA.
But how much fish should we eat to make sure we get enough EPA and DHA?
In Norway, the recommendation is to eat at least 200 gram fat fish 2 to 3 times a week according to The Norwegian Directorate of Health that authority subordinate to the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services.
In Sweden, the National Food Agency recommends that you should eat fish 2 to 3 times a week as well.
In Germany, the working group Arbeitskreis Omega-3 e. V. recommends a daily intake of more than 0.3 grams of the important omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. This can preferably be done by two fish meals per week, or about 30 g of fish per day.
But today, not too many of us can make sure to eat so much fish on such a regular basis. Therefore, it could be a good idea to supplement with omega-3 in form of capsules.
Did you know:
Did you know that in 1982 the Noble prize in medicine or physiology was awarded to research describing the existence of fundamental signaling molecules, the eicosanoids, which are derived from omega-3 fatty acids.