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The importance of omega-3

The human body has the propensity for the weird and wonderful but can’t create omega-3 fatty acids from scratch, it has to come from what you eat…
The importance of omega-3
June 12, 2017   |    Matthew Majendie


If a pregnant mother ingests omega-3, it can also lower the risk of Type 1 diabetes in infants through the mother’s breast milk. Research by the National Institute of Health and Welfare in Helsinki, found benefits after examining 7,782 infants between three and 24 months old at risk of Type 1 diabetes. Dr Sari Niinistö explains: ‘Our findings support the view that breastfeeding or some components of breast milk, including fatty acids, are protective, particularly with early autoimmunity and that long-chain omega-3 status during the early
months – at a time when the immune system is maturing and being programmed – is critical.’


Omega-3 apparently comes with backing from Prince Harry, who turned to supplements containing caviar oil, sourced from Norwegian herring roe, as a preventative to avoid hair loss. A University of Maryland study also advises the use of omega-3 to help prevent hair loss and for those with sun sensitivity. Look for omega-3 oil rather than fish liver oil, like UnoCardio Active Mind + Vision Complex, and check the DHA and EPA content to ensure the equivalent of 450mg per daily dose.


The names are not particularly memorable but there are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic (EPA), docosahexaenoic (DHA) and alpha-linolenic (ALA) acid. The last of those comes from plant sources like vegetable oil and nuts, such as canola oil and walnuts. The first two come from fish – the oilier the fish, the higher in omega-3. But why is it so crucial? EPA and DHA reduce risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Studies show omega-3 protects against Alzheimer’s and dementia, too.


Mackerel is king when it comes to omega-3, followed by trout and herring.


Men who eat fish more than once a week lower their risk of dying from a heart attack by 50% compared to those who eat it only once a month.


A recently published survey from Harvard Medical School found that omega-3 also plays a role in preserving the blood-brain barrier. That means they protect the central nervous system from the likes of bacteria and toxins within the blood system.


Longer term, researchers are hopeful that such a finding can pave the way for discovering how the blood-brain barrier can be used to allow drugs to enter and remain in the brain. This would then treat illnesses such as brain cancer, Alzheimer’s and strokes.


Chenghua Gu, who led the research, says: ‘A better understanding of the mechanisms will allow us to begin to manipulate it, with the goal of getting therapeutics into the brain safely.’

Read more: Why your small intestine is more than just a 20-foot long tube

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