These days everyone is talking about fish oil supplements and the benefits of omega-3’s. Omega 3’s are essential fatty acids that the body is unable to produce on its own and therefore we must supplement our diet. There are three types of omega 3’s: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alphalinolenic acid (ALA), all of which assist in neurological development and reducing inflammation. These forms of omega 3’s are found in fish, fish oil supplements and plant sources.
Omega 3’s have been linked to heart health showing significant signs of reducing the risk of cardiovascular deaths. Within the past couple of years, DHA has been added to baby formula and infant foods due to studies evidencing a link between DHA and cognitive development in infancy and early childhood. Additional studies have proven that omega 3’s have aided in the preservation of cognitive abilities in aging adults. Recent investigations discovered that mother’s who took fish oil supplements during pregnancy and continued while breastfeeding were less likely to have children with eczema or food allergies.
Getting omega 3’s naturally through fish is preferable, but unfortunately due to the pollutants in our environment, not to mention the recent BP oil spill, several types of fish contain high levels of toxins. Children and pregnant women need to be especially careful in limiting their intake of fish contaminated with higher levels of mercury. For an up to date list, please refer to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. In addition, wild caught versus farm-raised fish is always preferable. For those at risk of heart disease and for pregnant women and children, fish oil supplements are a great option.