Omega-3 101

Fish oil is a rich source of the two omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). It is found in the body of cold water, oily fish. Sea-licious is made primarily from sardine, mackerel and anchovy.

An essential nutrient is one in which the body cannot make so they must be obtained from the diet. Modern day diets, especially in North America, are unfortunately very low in dietary omega-3s, therefore rendering the majority of the population omega-3 deficient. So, for optimal health and well-being, suppplementation is recommended. A deficiency or imbalance of omega-3 drives inflammation and promotes several disease states.

Omega-3 for everyday health and well-being

Omega-3 fatty acids are integral to our health and well being – and are an important component of every cell in our body. Research has proven that an adequate amount of omega-3 is essential for overall health of brain, skin and joints.

Omegas for healthy mood and brain function

Omega-3 fatty acids help to balance stress hormones while regulating cortisol. New research reveals that people who better resist the effects of physical and emotional stress also show high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood. Chronic stress leads to inflammation.

Omega-3s are crucial components of all cell membranes, including those in the central nervous system. Omegas, therefore play an important role in the development, function and regulation of the brain,neurological processes, cognition and mood.

Consuming plenty of omega-3 fatty acids may offer powerful protection against depression. A large Norwegian study of nearly 22,000 participants revealed that those who regularly took cod liver oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, were about 30% less likely to have symptoms of depression than those who did not. The longer the participants took omega-3, the less likely they were to have high levels of depression.

Other data suggests that boosting omega-3 fatty acid intake increases attention and reduces an aggressive stress response, probably by enhancing cognitive processes. An increased intake of omega-3 has also been associated with a larger volume of grey matter in the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain area controlling emotion and mood and implicated in depression.

In studies, omega-3 supplements have been shown to offer a variety of stress-reducing benefits including easing feelings of distress, depression and anxiety, improving memory happiness, focus and relaxation, and calming inflammation throughout the body, including in the brain. Most busy and active individuals will benefit from at least 1,500 mg of omega 3 to help reduce inflammation, balance hormone and neurotransmitter production (increasing serotonin our “happy” hormone and boost the brain.

Omega-3 for weight loss

Contrary to previous and popular opinion, good fat, will not make you fat. In fact research has found omega-3s to be powerful weight-loss agents, helping overweight individuals shed unwanted pounds.  

Omega-3s help with weight loss by:

  1. Stimulating the secretion of a leptin—a hormone that decreases appetite and promotes the burning of fat.
  2. Allowing fat to be “burned” for energy rather than stored
  3. Reducing inflammation which is known to promote weight gain
  4. Improving blood sugar control by increasing the cell’s sensitivity to sugar
  5. Helping the body shuttle sugar from blood to cells by increasing the fluidity of cell membraines
  6. Exhibiting anti-besity (the opposite of obesity) effects as seen in both Inuit and Japanese populations where intake of EPA and DHA were high and the incidence of obesity and its related diseases low. One twelve-week intervention trial studied the effects of omega-3s from fish oil in combination with aerobic exercise three times a week. Study participants were overweight and had metabolic syndrome. The results showed that the total proportion of fat in the body, particularly in the abdominal region, was reduced significantly in the fish-oil-plus-exercise group, but not by fish oil alone or exercise alone. The researchers concluded that omega-3s in fish oil can switch on enzymes specifically involved in oxidizing or burning fat, but they need a driver (exercise) to increase the metabolic rate to lower body fat.

Omega-3 for pain & inflammation

Inflammation is your body’s systemic response to an injury or stimuli and is a normal reaction that can produce heat, swelling and redness.  

However, when the inflammation turns from acute to chronic, it can start to attack our own cells rather than foreign invaders, turning inflammation from a positive effect to an extremely damaging and debilitating body reaction, resulting in severe pain and often debilitating symptoms.

Inflammation is central to almost every disease condition ranging from heart, joint, skin, gastrointestinal, brain and cancer.

Omega-3s are powerful nutrients in the fight against systemic inflammation as they produce powerful anti-inflammatory hormones.

The Arthritis Society of Canada recommends omega-3 as beneficial for people who suffer from arthritis caused by inflammation. The organization recommends adding fatty acids to your diet through fish and seeds.

Omegas for heart health

Impressive clinical trials have shown the benefit of increasing omega-3 consumption in the diet as well as supplementing in the prevention and treatment of heart disease related risks and symptoms. Fish oils shine in their ability to reduce elevated triglycerides by 30 to 40% are significantly with up to 4 grams of omega-3 EPA and DHA.  

  A dose-dependent relationship exists with omega-3 and triglycerides; the higher the dose the greater reduction.

The Mayo Clinic reports that omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation throughout the body, including in your blood vessels. Because inflammation in the blood vessels can cause damage that leads to heart disease, taking omega-3s can help keep your heart healthy and is particularly beneficial for people who are managing heart disease. An

Italian study (GISSI) 7 of 11,324 heart attack survivors found that patients supplementing with fish oils markedly reduced their risk of another heart attack, stroke, or death. In a separate study, 8 American medical researchers reported that men who consumed fish once or more every week had a 50 percent lower risk of dying from a sudden cardiac event than do men who eat fish less than once a month.

Omega-3 for expecting moms

“Eating for two” should be the mantra with regard to consuming healthful fats, not only during pregnancy but also if you are trying to get pregnant.

Pregnant women need adequate omega-3s for their own needs as well as for the growing baby (although the mother’s requirements for her own body tend to decrease during pregnancy, which is nature’s way of allowing the growing fetus to have sufficient supply). Omega-3 fatty acids are transported across the placenta, which is how all nutrients are supplied to the fetus, supporting the growth of your baby’s brain and tissues.

If the pregnant woman is depleted of omega-3s before pregnancy, neither the mother nor the baby will have an adequate quantity of healthful fats for brain, retina, immune system, and nervous system development.

DHA is crucial during pregnancy, because women deficient in DHA may deliver preterm as well as low-birth-weight babies or experience postpartum depression.

Omega-3 for kids

In an Oxford University study, researchers tested the total blood concentrations of Omega-3 (DHA and EPA) fatty acids among school children, ages 7 to 9. Among 493 test subjects, their Omega-3 concentrations of 2.45% were associated with below-average reading ability, poor memory and higher levels of behavioural issues. The measurements, which placed the children below the minimum recommended Omega-3 levels of 4% and well under the optimal levels of 8% to 12%, prompted the Oxford researchers to declare a “robust” association between reading proficiency and adequate DHA.

Though the bulk of a child’s neurological connections and pathways are laid down by age 3, the brain remains a work in progress until late adolescence. Throughout those critical years of development, Omega-3 fatty acids are important ingredients that feed brain function and improve learning, memory, focus and concentration, in addition to boosting heart, joint and skin health.

Omega-3 for hair, skin and nails

Along with a diet rich in antioxidants and probiotics, omega-3 supplementation will act as a natural moisturizer from the inside out, reducing water loss through the skin (improving overall hydration and moisture retention).

Because the cell membrane is what influences the cells ability to hold water, having a cell membrane structure rich in omega-3s will yield moister, softer, and wrinkle-free skin. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the body’s production of inflammatory compounds — natural chemicals involved in the aging process, that affect how healthy the skin looks and feels. Omega-3s effectively help to reduce overall inflammation of the facial skin and the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone and sun damage. 


A study conducted in Greenland with the Inuit population found a lower incidence of psoriasis, a skin disease that causes painful inflammation, redness and scales.Laboratory studies have found that omega-3s suppress the hyperproliferation of skin cells, which causes psoriasis to spread. When researchers tested the impact of omega-3s on people with psoriasis, after 10 weeks, 60 percent of subjects experienced a decrease in the area of skin affected by the condition and a decrease in cell proliferation and skin inflammation.

Omega-3s help to nourish the hair follicles for healthier, stronger and shinier hair while decreasing a dry and flaky scalp.

For overall gorgeous skin, shiny, lustrous hair and strong nails, omega-3s are your go-to beauty nutrient.