Most of your patients have probably heard about the many benefits of increasing their intake of omega-3s and are coming to you with questions. Omega-3s are being studied for their positive effects in coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis), depression/mood disorders, and cancer. Here’s a quick review that may be helpful when discussing this topic with your patients.Omega-3s are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, meaning we must get them from our diet. The three types are EPA, DHA, and ALA. EPA and DHA are found mainly in oily, cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel. DHA is also found in certain seaweeds and micro algae-fish actually get their DHA by feeding on algae. ALA is found mainly in dark green leafy vegetables, flaxseed, hempseed, walnuts, and certain vegetable oils (canola). Your body can convert ALA into EPA and DHA, but not very efficiently.
According to recent research, inappropriate and low-level inflammation in the body may be the root cause of the chronic diseases of aging. Omega-3s are considered anti-inflammatory. They support joint flexibility, cardiovascular and circulatory health, promotion of a healthy anti-inflammatory response, and proper immune function. EPA and DHA are important for maintaining cell membranes, including those of the brain and eyes. With all these benefits, it’s definitely worth supporting your patients to increase their intake of omega-3′s!