When it comes to deciding what to include in your diet, there are some nutrients and food stuffs that rise above the rest, bringing with them a whole raft of health benefits. One that you certainly don’t want to miss out on is omega-3 fatty acids. While you may shy away from the word ‘fatty’, omega-3 plays a hugely important role in keeping our bodies functioning properly.
Described as essential fats, omega-3 fats are a substance that your body needs to survive, but isn’t capable of producing on its own. One of the sources of omega-3 comes from fish and krill, however, we at Uira are determined to provide people with a more sustainable, vegan-friendly option through using micro-algae.
Why is omega-3 important?
Omega-3 plays a crucial role in the functioning of our cells, as it effects the receptors in the cell membrane, explains the Harvard School of Public Health. As such, they assist in the production of regulatory hormones involved in inflammation, blood clotting and the artery wall activity.
Taking this into account, omega-3 is renowned for helping to lower triglyceride levels in our blood, in turn reducing our risk of heart disease, notes WebMD. Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, they are also used to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, including morning stiffness, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
What are the other benefits of omega-3?
Some of the perhaps lesser-known benefits of this fatty acid include aiding in alleviating depression.
In a 2006 study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh, it was found that adult participants with lower omega-3 fatty acids in their blood were more likely to admit a negative outlook on life and impulsivity, as well as mild to moderate depressive symptoms.
Dr Sarah Conklin, from the university’s Department of Psychology noted that while studies in the past had identified links between low omega-3 levels and clinical conditions from bipolar and major depressive disorders to schizophrenia, the correlation had rarely been noted in otherwise healthy adults.
“This study opens the door for future research looking at what effect increasing omega-3 intake, whether by eating omega-3 rich foods like salmon, or taking fish-oil supplements, has on people’s mood,” she said.
Could Omega-3 help us sleep better?
Another more recent study has found that omega-3 could also aid in that elusive better night’s sleep. Researchers at the University of Oxford conducted a trial involving over 300 primary school children, prescribing them a 600 milligram dose of algae-sourced, DHA omega-3 fatty acid supplement for 16 weeks.
At the onset of the exploratory pilot study, the parents of 4 in 10 children reported their child having trouble sleeping.
The findings revealed that, when compared to placebo groups, those children who took the supplement had almost a whole extra hour of sleep each night, as well as fewer waking episodes.
“Various substances made within the body from omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have long been known to play key roles in the regulation of sleep,” said the study’s lead author Professor Paul Montgomery.
“Lower ratios of DHA have been linked with lower levels of melatonin, and that would fit with our finding that sleep problems are greater in children with lower levels of DHA in their blood.”
Another member of the Oxford research team, Dr Alex Richardson, noted that while larger-scale trials would be necessary to fully comprehend the extent of this field of study, it demonstrated “yet another benefit of higher levels of omega-3 in the diet.”