It is known as the essential fatty acid that can help with metabolism, energy and the immune system. And the body doesn’t produce it. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered important components for membranes in the body, and a group of polyunsaturated – good fats – that the body simply doesn’t make by itself. Omega-3 fatty acids must be obtained from dietary sources, foods and beverages.
There are three largely known types of these types of acids, such as alpha- linolenic acid (ALA) in plant oils, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a structural component of the brain, skin and retina, often in marine, or fish oils.
Essential Fatty Acid – Fish Oil
Fish oil is found, not surprisingly, in foods such as certain fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, bluefish, herring, mackerel, sturgeon, lake trout, anchovies and nuts. Many people take fish oil as supplements as well as in food with a desire to improve their brain functions, or alleviate conditions like depression or reduce inflammation. It also has been studied for relief of rheumatoid arthritis, and for vision and neurological development in infants.
The omega-3 fatty acids are also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids, the good fats that can reduce “bad” fat or triglyceride levels. For many years, omega-3 fatty-acid was seen as being instrumental and essential fatty acid to improve heart health, but recent studies have resulted in conflicting reports about those impacts.
Scientists are trying to understand how omega-3 fatty acids definitely impacts overall health. People who eat fish and other seafood have a lower risk of several chronic diseases, but it is uncertain the impact of omega-3s themselves.
Types of omega-3 fatty acids
Experts say it’s best for people to obtain good fatty acids from foods, rather than supplements. Some recommend that people should eat fish two to three times a week.
Omega-3 is also found in: flax seeds, canola, soybean, walnuts leafy green vegetables, and krill oil. There are also a few prescription medications that contain omega 3 fatty acids.
The Chinese perspective
From a Chinese medicine perspective, Omega-3 clears heat, removes dampness, calms the spirit, and clears the phlegm.
There are also some surprises when it comes to omega-3 fatty acids.
A study shows that omega-3 fatty acids can play a positive role in alleviating psychiatric and anxiety disorders. Omega-3 has a range of neurobiological activities, according to a study. The report notes that psychiatric disorders are a leading cause of mortality.
Omega-3 fatty acids also can play a role in lowering liver fat. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disease worldwide, and is considered a major global health problem related to obesity and diabetes. There is no registered drug for the treatment of the disease.
In a somewhat conflicting statement, the American Heart Association said last year that omega-3 fish oil supplements could be used for “prevalent coronary heart disease and for patients with prevalent heart failure without preserved left ventricular function” to reduce mortality and hospitalizations.
But it did not recommend treatment for patients with diabetes to prevent coronary heart disease, or for patients who have a high cardiovascular disease risk and want to prevent strokes.
“We cannot make a recommendation to use omega-3 fish oil supplements for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease at this time,” said David Siscovick, MD, MPH, chair of a scientific advisory writing committee.
A deficiency of omega-3 can cause rough, scaly skin and a itchy rash, sometimes swollen. Omega-3 deficiency is rare in the United States.
Su, KP, Matsuoka, Y Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Prevention of Mood and Anxiety Disorders. 2015. Clinical Psyhopharmaology and Neuroscience. Aug: 13 (2). 129-137. Doi: 10.9758/cpn.2015.13.2.129.
Omega-3 fatty acids. Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved from:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from:
The Facts on Omega-3 Fatty Acids. WebMD. Retrieved from:
Fish Oil? Omega 3 Benefits You Should Know! 2018. East West International. Retrieved from: http://eastmeetswest.com/omega-3-benefits-you-should-know/
Acupuncture Wisdom. 2012. Omega 3 and Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture Wisdom. Retrieved: http://acuwisdom.blogspot.com/2012/11/omega-3-and-chinese-medicine.html
Jennifer Moll, PharmD, 2018. Prescription Vs. Supplement Omega-3 Fats: What’s the Difference? Retrieved from: https://www.verywellhealth.com/prescription-and-supplement-omega-3-fatty-acids-698140
Tim Casey. 2017. AHA does not recommend omega-3 fish oil supplements to prevent heart disease. Cardiovascular Business. Retrieved from: https://www.cardiovascularbusiness.com/topics/practice-management/aha-does-not-recommend-omega-3-fish-oil-supplements-prevent-heart