Omega-3 is a staple in many supplements, but what is it? And why is it good? In this article we take a closer look at the most common questions about omega-3.
Compared to PWO’s, fat burners and amino acids, omega-3 is probably not considered to be the most stimulating dietary supplement. It does not give effect directly and it is not marketed as something that will make you look better on the beach. Despite this, omega-3 is a dietary supplement with several health and exercise-related benefits.
What is Omega-3?
Omega-3 is a collective name for a family of polyunsaturated fatty acids, where the individual fatty acids EPA and DHA are the most important. The body cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids themselves, so they must be consumed via food or supplements.
To understand why omega-3 is important, you need to know another family of fatty acids: Omega-6 fatty acids. Like omega-3, omega-6 is a group of fatty acids that the body cannot produce itself and that we must get in our diet. Both have a wide range of vital functions, and the effects of omega-3 fatty acids are generally opposite to those of omega-6 fatty acids.
While omega-3 seems anti-inflammatory, blood vessels relax and inhibit blood from clotting, omega-6 does the opposite. Since omega-6 has opposite effects from omega-3, it is important that the intake of these fatty acids is balanced. If it is not, the balance between the processes becomes uneven. If you eat too much omega-6, for example, there is a risk that the degree of inflammation in the body becomes too high.
Our diet today
Omega-3 is found mainly in oily fish and omega-6 is abundant in vegetable oils, margarine and nuts. Industrially prepared foods often contain some of the above so it is also a great source of omega-6.
Despite the good taste of a grilled salmon, we in the Western world eat significantly less fatty fish than we eat omega-6-containing foods. Humans have developed at an omega-3 / omega-6 ratio of 1: 1–1: 3. Today, in some cases, the same ratio is as high as 1:20 (ie 20 times as much omega-6 as omega-3). The effect of this is believed to be an imbalance in the above mentioned parameters and a suboptimal health as a result.
Supplements with omega-3
“Can’t you just eat more fish?” Is a valid consequence. Absolutely, it had worked well. Unfortunately, for practical, ethical, taste and financial reasons it is not an option for everyone. For those people – who can’t or don’t want to eat the recommended three servings of fish per week – supplements with omega-3 are a good alternative.
So what can you expect for the benefits of increased omega-3 intake? Some of the most relevant are:
Reduced blood pressure
Certainly not a problem area for the majority of the young, exercising population, but still a great and well-regarded health effect of omega-3 supplements.
Better insulin sensitivity
Better insulin sensitivity means less insulin is needed to store carbohydrates in the muscles. In addition to protecting against the development of e.g. diabetes and fatty liver it is also positive for fat burning.
Better blood fats
An important factor in counteracting one of the most common causes of death today: cardiovascular disease.
Omega-3 supplements have also been shown to facilitate weight loss. The reason is believed to be increased fat burning and / or a reduced appetite.
Increased muscle build-up
This is a point that is rarely mentioned when talking about omega-3, probably to a large extent because it is the worst coated benefit. But in any case, it is interesting to know. It is based on a study that found that eight weeks with an omega-3 supplement resulted in greater stimulation of muscle build-up of the same amount of amino acids than before the dietary supplement period.
When using a nutritional supplement with omega-3, there are a couple of rules of thumb you can benefit from:
Aim for 1-2 grams of omega-3 per day. Note that the amount of fish oil is not the same as the amount of omega-3. Is it eg three grams of fish oil per daily dose where a total of one gram is omega-3, then one gram is the relevant figure.
The majority of the omega-3 supplements based on fish oil have similar amounts of EPA and DHA / gram of omega-3, but still ensure that the content is specified. As mentioned earlier, omega-3 is a family of fatty acids. EPA and DHA are the most important, so it is important that you know what percentage of these fatty acids is made up. A daily dose of at least 540 mg of EPA and 360 mg of DHA is appropriate.