Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat which have a double bond strategically placed in the third hydro-carbon from the end. There are other types of fatty acids. One is called n-6—non fatty acids. The names of the major omega 3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) , and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
What are omega 3 fatty acids involved in?
Omega-3 fatty acids are involved in multiple processes. This is a very active research field. Omega-3’s are involved in cellular membranes, inflammation, cancer, arrhythmias.
How do they effect my heart?
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to effect the heart on two major fronts and possibly more. First, by eating salmon which is high in fish oil (high in omega-3 fatty acids) there is a definite decrease in the risk of sudden cardiac death. These are felt to be membrane stabilizers or have an anti-arrhythmic property. These are also involved in heart attack prevention.
Trials have been shown that people have less sudden cardiac death when they take omega-3 fatty acids as well as they have less heart attacks. Thus, omega-3s are felt to be anti-thrombotic.
Will omega-3 fatty acids help to prevent heart attacks?
Yes, there is relatively good research that people who had an atherosclerotic event, in particular a heart attack, who take fish oil supplements or eat fatty fish decreased the rate of death. Both fish oil supplements and fatty fish are rich sources of omega-3s. Individuals who take approximately 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids per day do have less death from heart disease.
Where do I get omega-3 fatty acids?
These may be found in many sources. The easiest source is fatty fish, in particular salmon, halibut, herring, or sardines. Eating two 8oz servings per week of the aforementioned fish is adequate intake to prevent heart attacks. Another source of omega-3 fatty acid is flax seed. The oil from flax seed is high in alpha-linolenic acid, that is a precursor to the fish oils— DHA, and EPA.
Are there any other uses for omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acid, mostly fish oil, is very useful in lowering Triglycerides. Up to 12 grams per day can significantly lower triglyceride levels up to 40-50%.
What are the Side effects of omega-3 fatty acids?
Besides being membrane stabilizers, triglyceride reducers, and anti-thrombotic, an individual can have a minor increased risk of bleeding which in clinical trials has not proved to be a major issue. All in all, omega-3 fatty acids are considered to be safe.