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What Are Omega-3 Fatty-Acids?

Omega is a Greek word that means “ultimate” or “highest”. Needless to say, it’s a word worth paying attention to when it comes to omega-3 fatty acids. If you have been wondering how to get more healthy fats into your diet and why they are so important, you might want to read closely.

Omega-3s pack a punch in terms of wellness benefits, offering incredible benefits to many body systems. If you want to cover a lot of bases when it comes to your health with the products you choose, omega-3 fatty acids should be on your list.

The human body does not make omega-3 fatty acids and they must be derived from the diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are often referred to as a “healthy fat” due to their anti-inflammatory nature.

There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids:

  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
  • ALA (alpha linoleic acid)

EPA is found in cold water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies. If you are a vegetarian, fortunately EPA can be converted by the body from ALA. Algae oil is a vegetarian source of EPA.

ALA is found abundantly in flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds, and soybeans. An example of what it looks like to get your daily recommended dose of ALA is 1 tablespoon of freshly ground flaxseed daily.

DHA is present in krill oil and seafood. Algae oil also contains DHA. ALA can also be converted to DHA by the body.

Cells are the smallest living units of the body. Every cell has a membrane, similar to a wall, that surrounds it. Cell membranes control what comes in and out of the cell. Omega-3 fatty acids are so important for health because they are integral to the structure of cell membranes.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in the highest concentrations in the human eye and brain. The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids go far beyond just the eye and brain, positively impacting many body systems crucial to your wellness.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Heart Health

Studies show that people who consume fatty fish a couple times per week slash their risk of adverse cardiovascular health outcomes compared to people who do not regularly eat fish. Impressively, risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease was observed to be 31% less in those who consume a serving of fish 2-4 times per week.

Omega-3 fatty acids have also been observed to support healthy blood pressure levels and moderately lower triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood. Triglycerides are important to keep in a healthy range for overall cardiovascular wellness. Omega-3 fatty acids also appear to increase the “good cholesterol” called HDL. HDL is called the good cholesterol because it soaks up bad cholesterols accumulating on the artery walls that contribute to plaques.

Plaques on the artery walls narrow the space within the vessels- called the lumen. Plaquing of arteries increases the risk of clots and blockages, which can be serious.

Omega-3 fatty acids and fish oils have been recommended by the American Heart Association for over 20 years for the beneficial effects on cardiovascular wellness.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids For Brain Health

One simple fact will clarify why omega-3 fatty acids are so important for brain health. The brain is 60% fat by volume!

Within that 60% of fat mass, half is composed of omega-3 fatty acids. As you can recall, the human body cannot synthesize omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, if you are serious about your brain health the the importance of diet cannot be understated.

The brain is teeming with fatty acids. Fats are essential for supporting the structure of brain cells.

Fats insulate brain cells like the plastic sheath on electrical wiring. Fatty acids are promote the transfer of electrical impulses between nerve cells. Since nerve activity is so strong in the brain due to all the information the brain assimilates, fatty acids are critical for a well-functioning brain.

The Mediterranean diet has been extensively studied for it’s health benefits and a noteable fact about this cuisine is that it is abundant in omega-3 fatty acids. Three servings of fish per week is standard in the Mediteranean diet, clearly due to the proximity to the sea. A long study between 1992 to 2006 observed that adherence to the Mediterranean diet reduced risk of cognitive decline. The amount of subjects in this study was nearly 2,000 people.

Frustrated with words on the tip of your tongue that you can’t recall? Do you walk into a room and forget why? Can’t recall the details of something that happened not that long ago?

If you would like to keep sharp into middle age and beyond, consider adding more omega-3 fatty acids into your daily routine.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Vision Support

Why are the eyes so rich in omega-3 fatty acids?

The retina in particular is very high in DHA which supports visual function and integrity of the retina. Photoreceptors are the neuronal cells that make vision possible. These very specialized cells are located within the retina.

Omega-3 fatty acids also show impressive results for assisting in slowing the progression of age-related macular degeneration and improving dry eye syndrome. Macular degeneration affects almost 13% of Americans over 40 years old.

Omega-3 fatty acids are an excellent support for your eyes.

Brighten Your Mood With Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Depression can strike at any age. If you notice your mood is low, in addition to seeking professional care or counseling, consider taking a closer look at nutritional factors.

EPA-rich omega-3 fatty acids have been demonstrated to be effective for lifting mood. While the exact mechanism remains unclear, all the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for brain health could be a factor. Interestingly, some studies point out that cultures that consume several servings of fish a week are less prone to mental health concerns.

Neurotransmitters that maintain a healthy mood, such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, are all produced in large quantities in the brain. We all want to see the bright side of life and maintain a good mood, so consider omega-3 fatty acids as a part of your health maintenance routine.

Omega-3B by Golden After 50

Omega-3B by Golden After 50 is a high-quality seafood based omega-3 fatty acid supplement to consider if you are looking to optimize your. Whether it be brain health, heart health, or mood, our omega-3 fatty acid supplement is available to you to reap all the benefits of healthy fats.

As with any new supplement you are considering adding into your routine, please consult with your primary physician beforehand to ensure you are a healthy candidate for omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.

Dr. Laurel Ash ND, MS

Dr Laurel Ash, ND, MS is an Oregon and Washington board-certified Naturopathic Physician. With a passion for nutritional health, Dr Ash earned her doctorate in Naturopathy from the National University of Natural Medicine while receiving her masters in Integrative Mental Health. Her unique combination of evidence-based research and skilled knowledge in holistic medicine has allowed Dr. Ash to successfully treat many with a wide-range of issues.