The powerful antihypertensive and anti-inflammatory properties of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish and dietary supplements are not overrated. In fact, numerous clinical studies have found evidence after evidence of the far-reaching health benefits of diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, most especially the crucial DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), DPA (docosapentaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). There are downsides to excessive intake, too. The negative health aspects of excessive omega-3 supplementation are also discussed in this article. Here are ten of the most important research findings you might want to know about when it comes to incorporating omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.
1. Rheumatoid Arthritis
The paper entitled “The relationship between fish consumption and disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis” in a 2017 issue of the journal, Arthritis Care & Research, details the promising effects of a recent study on oily fish consumption and the painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The study offers evidence of how a twice-weekly intake of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids can successfully alleviate the symptoms of arthritis. A more pronounced reduction in disease activity is seen as the servings of oily fish are increased.
A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acid DHA may promote better sleep, according to research from the University of Oxford. The findings are systematically laid out in the paper, “Fatty acids and sleep in UK children: Subjective and pilot objective sleep results from the DOLAB study – a randomized controlled trial,” which is published in a 2014 issue of the Journal of Sleep Research. It has been found that the higher the omega-3 fatty acid DHA levels present in the blood, the lower the incidences of sleep problems such as parasomnias and sleep disturbance.
In yet another study, the same omega-3 fatty acid DHA has been found to block a common trigger to the genetic disease and autoimmune disorder called lupus. With lupus, the body’s immune system essentially attacks itself, and this attack can harm organs, joints, and other parts of the body. But when the lupus trigger happens to be inhalation of crystalline silica, and more specifically when silica is in the form of quartz, omega-3 DHA can stop the disease. The paper detailing these important findings is entitled “Silica-Triggered Autoimmunity in Lupus-Prone Mice Blocked by Docosahexaenoic Acid Consumption,” and it is published in a 2016 issue of the journal, PLoS ONE.
4. Childhood Asthma
Owing to its potent anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3 fatty acid supplements can help combat childhood asthma even if the child in question has not even been born yet. According to “Fish Oil-Derived Fatty Acids in Pregnancy and Wheeze and Asthma in Offspring” which appears in a 2016 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, pregnant women given 2.4g of long-chain omega-3 fatty acid supplements, which include both DHA and EPA, has effectively lowered by 31 percent their baby’s risk of developing asthma.
The aging process can be slowed down a bit on the cellular level, and this can come from a bottle of omega-3 fatty acid supplements. The paper, “Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation in healthy middle-aged and older adults: A randomized controlled trial,” which is published in a 2012 issue of the journal, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, provides evidence of omega-3’s ability to protect telomeres, DNA segments in white blood cells. Telomeres tend to contract because of aging. This destructive shortening of telomeres can be successfully thwarted through omega-3 supplementation.
6. Prostate Cancer
A second large-scale study has verified the elevated risk for developing prostate cancer when exceedingly high levels of omega-3 fatty acids are present in the bloodstream. These breakthrough research findings are detailed in “Serum Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk: Results From the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial,” which can be found in a 2011 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. The high levels of DHA, DPA, and EPA used in the study–most especially those that led to a 71-percent elevated risk for the deadly high-grade prostate cancer–are not achievable by just eating salmon twice weekly. Exceedingly high omega-3 dosages are likely the result of needless supplementation combined with eating heavily fortified foods.
7. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Research from the University of Gothenburg demonstrates the effectiveness of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplements in alleviating ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), which can present as an inability to control temper, impulses, or attention span. Stimulants are the prevailing treatment of choice for ADHD-afflicted people. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplements are looking to be viable alternatives.
8. Blood Pressure
Formally presented during the American Heart Association’s 2016 Scientific Sessions, a preliminary study recommends diets loaded with omega-3 fatty acids to effectively prevent the development of high blood pressure. The recommendation is targeted at healthy young adults.
9. Working Memory
For healthy people 18-25 years of age and regardless of ethnicity, increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids typically found in wild fish can boost working memory, according to the study, “Improved Working Memory but No Effect on Striatal Vesicular Monoamine Transporter Type 2 after Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Supplementation,” which appeared in a 2012 issue of the journal PLoS ONE. A high-performing working memory can unlock a person’s full cognitive potential.
10. What the American Heart Association Recommends
A few negative health consequences can result from excessive consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. These include elevated risks for developing atrial fibrillation and high-grade prostate cancer, according to “Long chain omega-3 fatty acid immunomodulation and the potential for adverse health outcomes,” a paper published in a 2013 issue of the journal, Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids (PLEFA).
The American Heart Association is clear on the use of supplements for people at a high risk of developing coronary artery disease: they should consult with their doctor first before ingesting supplements. Meanwhile, the existing dietary suggestion regarding omega-3 fatty acids is to eat–at least twice a week!