Sources Of Omega 3 Fatty Acids And Their Health Benefits

Bindu Naik, Dept. of food tech Uttaranchal University, Dehradun

2019-03-18 09:47:28



Omega-3 fatty acids are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Body can’t synthesize it; therefore it must be supplemented from food source. The three important omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are major components of cell membrane, neuronal membranes of the brain and retina of eye. Deficiency of omega 3 fatty acids leads to performance deficits in learning and other chronic diseases.

Omega-3 is beneficial for people with metabolic syndrome like central obesity, insulin resistance, fight inflammation, cancer and other diseases. It helps in fighting several autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis. Intake of omega-3 fatty acids control the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine (hormone associated with happiness), serotonin and reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Therefore is used for the management of depression and anxiety. Fish cod liver oil is the important source of omega-3 fatty acids. Its intake boosts the synthesis of dopamine in the body. Intake of DHA improves the length and quality of sleep.


The major source of ALA is plant oils and nuts such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils, olive oil, walnut, almond and cashew. DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood. Body can convert some ALA into EPA and then to DHA in very small amounts. Therefore, getting EPA and DHA from dietary supplements is the only practical way to increase levels of these omega-3 fatty acids in body. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, oysters, anchovies are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts contains omega-3 fatty acids magnesium, biotin, and vitamin E. Flaxseeds is also the source omega-3 and alfa lenolenic acid (ALA). Basil, a seasoning agent is also a source of omega-3 fatty acids. Tailor made egg are also source of this. Brussels sprouts. Seaweed EPA and DHA vitamin K and C, folate, niacin and choline. Soyabean, spinach, canola oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil olive oil and cashew are the good source of omega-3 fatty acids which can easily consumed in form of cooking oil. Broccoli is known as a good neutraceutical due to presence of nutrients like omega-3, zinc, fiber and protein important for ADHD brain.

Health benefits

Brain and eye sight

Omega-3s are important for a healthy eye as well as for growth and developments of brain in infants. Getting enough omega-3s during pregnancy is associated with higher intelligence of children, better communication and social skills, lesser behavioral problems, decreased risk of developmental delay and risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism and cerebral palsy. Omega-3 rich diet intake improves inattention and task completion. They also decrease hyperactivity, impulsiveness, restlessness and aggression.

DHA is the major structural components of eye’s retinas and brain. It accounts for the 60% of the total polyunsaturated fatty acid present in retina and 40% in brain. Intake of DHA rich food like fish oil helps in preventing the muscular degeneration of eye, which can cause vision impairment and blindness. Therefore, infants that fed with DHA-fortified food have better intelligence and eyesight.

Healthy heart

Intake of omega-3s reduces the risk factors associated with the heart disease. Omega-3s helps in reducing triglycerides, blood pressure, inflammation and rise good HDL cholesterol level, prevent formation of harmful blood clots and plaque that restrict and harden arteries. It improves several heart disease risk factors as well as helps in reducing chronic inflammation, which contribute to heart disease.

Chronic diseases

Omega-3 fatty acids lower the risks of several chronic diseases. It provides energy and helps in functioning of heart, lungs, endocrine system and enhances immunity. Intake of Omega-3s helps in decreasing the risk of colon, prostate and breast cancer. It lowers the risk of asthma in both children and young adults. Asthma is a chronic lung disease with symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing. Omega-3s intake reduces the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), osteoporosis, arthritis, joint pain and increase the grip strength. It reduces menstrual pain in women.

Healthy Skin

Omega-3s is an important component of cell membrane. It is responsible for the health of cell membranes, and provides a healthy cell. A healthy cell membrane results in soft, moist, supple and wrinkle-free skin. Higher sun exposure damages collagen fibers in skin and speed up the process of aging which may leads to skin cancer. Omega-3s protects skin from sun damage. EPA is also beneficial for skin in several ways. It helps in managing oil production and hydration of skin, prevent hyperkeratinization of hair follicles, and reduce premature aging of skin and the risk of acne.

Mental disorder

DHA and EPA play an important role in managing diseases related to the central nervous system such as depression and schizophrenia known as psychiatric disorders, decrease violent behavior, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, and acute brain injury such as ischemia. It is used for the management of therapeutic strategy of post traumatic brain injury (TBI). Omega-3 supplements can reduce the frequency of mood swings and relapses in people with both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.