What it does… omega 3
What is it?
Omega-3 belongs to a family of essential fatty acids, essential because we cannot make them in the body. Omega-3 contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is converted in the body to EPA and DHA. These two substances produce prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that are involved with preventing inflammation and regulating the immune system. Other essential fatty acids include omega-6 and omega-7.
What does it do?
Lowers the risk of heart disease: Numerous studies show that omega-3 can lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and help to prevent arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm).
Boosts brain power: There is evidence to support omega-3 protects against cognitive decline as we age and may even be protective against dementia.
Anti-ageing: Omega-3 protects against dryness of skin and mucous membranes keeping you looking younger for longer.
When do I need it?
At every stage of your life. There is a current debate about the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6, with concern that we’re consuming too much of the latter and should increase omega-3 intake.
How do I get it?
Eat: The best source is oily fish (try to eat at least two portions a week). Other good sources include nuts and seeds, linseed and rapeseed oils, soya and green leafy vegetables. Omega-6 tends to come from sunflower and corn oils. The richest source of omega-7 is sea buckthorn oil which can be effective at post-menopausal vaginal dryness as well as lowering insulin resistance.
Take: Choose an omega-3 supplement rather than a fish liver oil or, for vegetarians or vegans, choose linseed oil capsules. Or go for a combination supplement such as omega-7, which also supplies the other two fatty acids.
Be careful if…
Avoid supplements containing vitamin A if you’re pregnant or planning a baby.