Omega 3 is a fatty acid that is an essential nutrient.
It is comprised of 3 individuals fatty acids, which include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Each of these fatty acids can be separated from the other and sold individually as omega 3.
It is important to know that DHA and EPA are essential fatty acid components of omega 3.
They are the two components that offer the most benefits to the human body when separated.
While ALA is also an essential fatty acid, its benefits are not yet known.
Although it is possible that ALA could also provide a health benefit, it hasn’t been as extensively studied and recognized as DHA and EPA.
Omega 3 is most recognized for its benefits for the heart. It has been shown in studies to lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of stroke and help keep arteries clear of plaque. There have also been studies in the linkage between depression and omega 3.
However, despite the strong evidence supporting the use of omega 3 for these things, there is no long term conclusive data as to the absolute benefits of omega 3.
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What Is Eicosapentaenoic Acid in Omega 3 Good For?
According to WebMD, eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA is a fatty acid that you will find in the flesh of coldwater fish. Typically, EPA is called omega 3. However, omega 3 is comprised of several fatty acids, not just EPA.
EPA has an important role in the human body. Eicosanoids are a derivative of EPA and are responsible for keeping the blood pressure at normal levels as well as maintaining general health.
Eicosanoids can be derived from other fatty acids as well. When they are derived from EPA, they stimulate a better immune response and also act as an anti-inflammatory.
It is also EPA that is given credit when it comes to reducing depression in people. However, this is not supported enough to substitute antidepressants with an EPA supplement. According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, study results are too different to come to a good conclusion about EPA for depression.
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What Is Docosahexaenoic Acid in Omega 3 Good For?
It is docosahexaenoic acid or DHA that seems to be the most problematic when it comes to maintaining the necessary amounts in the human body. This could be because oily fish seems to be the main food from which DHA is obtained. You can get about 1 gram of DHA per 3 ounces of oily fish.
Studies show that DHA has been shown to reduce heart disease risk, reduce inflammation, and support muscle recovery among other benefits.
Should I Be Taking a Supplement with Just DHA or EPA?
Actually, any supplement that you take should have both DHA and EPA in order to get the maximum benefit. There doesn’t seem to be any clear data as to whether a supplement needs to contain ALA in order to be beneficial. In most cases, an omega 3 supplement will exclude the ALA component.
This doesn’t mean that if you find a quality supplement that contains ALA that you should give it a pass. There doesn’t seem to be any downside to taking ALA either, so it won’t hurt you if a supplement includes it as well.
If you do take a supplement that contains just DHA and EPA, you need to select one that has at least a 2 to 1 ratio of DHA to EPA. DHA offers the most benefit and the body needs more of it, so a higher ratio is warranted. The amount of omega 3 supplements one should take is important as well.
And remember to keep in mind that supplementation of any kind is not enough for your overall health and fitness needs. Exercise is important. Go PRO today for access to certified personal trainers, workout plans, goal trackers, and more!