Omega-3: A Fatty Acid for Future Health

Omega-3 is a versatile fatty acid that is an essential component a healthy diet and lifestyle. Well-known for its role in elevating mood mood, omega 3 also supports healthy weight loss and maintains cardiovascular health.

Fatty acids are derived from animal and vegetable fats and oils. They are used as lubricants, in cooking, and in the production of soaps, detergents and cosmetics. But fatty acids play their most important roles within the human body, where they produce potentially major health benefits.

This article will discuss:

Omega-3 at Work

Although omega-3 is essential, the human body cannot produce it. Therefore, it is imperative to incorporates foods rich in omega-3 into the diet.

There are three major types of omega-3 fatty acids found in food that the body needs:

  1. Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) – for cardiovascular health
  2. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – reduces inflammation
  3. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – possible role in Alzheimer’s treatment

After ingestion, the body converts ALA into EPA and DHA, the two most useful types of omega-3 fatty acids.

Why are they helpful?

  • Omega-3s are highly concentrated in the brain and are extremely important for brain function and memory.
  • Infants who do not receive appropriate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy can be at a greater risk of developing vision and nerve problems.
  • Research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and play a role in preventing heart disease, arthritis and even cancer.

Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids can result in fatigue, poor circulation, extreme changes in mood and memory, and even heart problems. Omega-3′s important relationship to heart health is widely accepted, but the fatty acid also has the potential to be an effective treatment for other conditions including:

  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Weight Loss
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Eating Disorders
  • Asthma

Face skin care experts like Perricone MD are particularly interested the use of omega-3 as a treatment for skin ailments, and have begun using them in their products. Some products even come with a Perricone discount. Clinical studies have shown that people who suffer from sun sensitivity or photoallergies showed more tolerance for sunlight after taking omega-3 supplements. Further studies indicate that people with psoriasis, an inflammatory skin disorder, also have improvement when taking omega-3. Additionally, many researchers believe that flaxseed, another source of omega-3 fatty acids, is helpful for treating acne.

Watch this video for more benefits of omega-3:

Dietary Sources of Omega-3

While fish, plant and nut oils are primary sources of omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed, canola, pumpkin seed, walnut and soybean oils are also particularly rich vegetarian sources of omega-3.

Cold-water fish are among the best sources of EPA and DHA. This includes fish such as:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Halibut
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Tuna

A Balancing Act: Omega-3 and Omega-6

For optimum health, it isn’t enough to eat sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. It is crucial to maintain the correct balance of omega-3 and another essential fatty acid, omega-6, because these two substances work together. As with its partner omega-3, the body can’t produce omega-6 fatty acids. However, they can be easily incorporated into the diet through eggs, poultry, and certain fruits, nuts and oils. The American Heart Association recommends that at least 10% of a person’s daily caloric intake come from omega-6 fatty acids. Although proposed daily servings of omega-6 depend on a person’s level of physical activity, age, and gender, the appropriate range is between 12 and 22 grams per day.

Why is maintaining the correct balance between omega-3 and omega-6 important? While omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of the anti-inflammatory diet, which is vital to skin care, most omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation. Since few individuals have an omega-6 deficiency, it is rarely necessary to supplement your diet with them.

Experts believe it is much more important to supplement the diet with omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and prevent heart disease. To keep inflammatory problems to a minimum, diets should consist of only twice as much omega-6 as omega-3. However, studies have shown that the average American diet contains up to 25 times more omega-6 than omega-3, which contributes to the rise of inflammatory problems.


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9 Comments • Please comment below


  1. Yes, it’s OK. I don’t think you really need them, but you never meonitned why you take them. A 16-year-old usually does not have this as a concern.According to my doctor (who has been taking care of me for 17+ years) the over-the-counter ones are not strong enough to have much of a health benefit. The best thing to do is modify you diet. There is a prescription-strength medication that is primarily Omega3 fatty acids (I forget the name) specifically for cholesterol, that actually target high cholesterol levels.Seeing that you are only 16, I can only guess that you are interested in the skin-and-hair benefits. I had taken these supplements without any recognizable differences in either.Which brings me back around to my original query: why do you take them?

  2. [...] is omega 3 important? Dr. Perricone explains [...]

  3. [...] Omega 3, an essential fatty acid, is available as a supplement. It has many health benefits and supports cardiovascular health. Omega 3 can also be found in salmon and other fish. [...]

  4. I’ve watched several of Dr. Perricone’s presentations on PBS, I’ve been taking Omega 3,6 & 9 plus having salmon 6 days a week, I feel better, I don’t have wrinkles but the elasticity around my eyes is declining. I would be very interested in learning more about this delicate part of our skin.

  5. Omega III’s are not only great for the skin, but have many numerous health benefits. I recommend it to anyone wanting to improve their lipid profile (choles./trig/LDL), improve arrhythmias, as well as antiaging.

  6. I want to start increasing my omega-3 intake, so I can enjoy all the benefits associated with it. I want my skin to be more healthy. I would love to try out new products that may help me to tame my skin. :)

  7. I think the connection between Omega-3 and skin is very valid. I’m currently taking an extremely high-quality fish oil by Dr. Barry Sears (the Zone Diet guy) and have definitely seen a change in the smoothness and luminosity of my sking since first starting it about four months ago. I’m also trying to eat a lot of salmon, but it’s expensive because I prefer the wild-caught salmon to the color-added farmed kind. Trader Joe’s has great prices on frozen wild-caught salmon, though, and it’s very good. I read once about a family of salmon fisherfolk in Alaska and the reporter commented on what great skin they all had, even the fisherman dad, who should by all rights have been weather-beaten and crinkly! Turned out they all ate salmon about 5 to 6 times per week!

  8. Perricone’s book discusses the importance of Omega-3 and 6 in our everyday diet in detail with some of his case studies. Of course, the diet he proposes is rich in natural sources of Omega and is very easy to follow because the food is so appealing. I followed the diet in conjunction with his supplements (which were high quality) and experienced clearly noticeable benefits. I would recommend this protocol to anyone as a significant step in anti-aging.

  9. [...] not produce naturally; so, they must be included as part of the diet. They come in two categories: Omega-3 and Omega-6. What is phosphatidyl used for? Phosphatidyl/phosphatidylcholine is used as both an [...]