Omega 3's best-kept secrets
Posted on September 13 2019
There’s more to omega 3 than meets the eye. It’s no secret that these healthy fats can do your heart some serious good. But you might not know why else you should be upping your intake. There’s plenty of lesser-known reasons to make omega-3s a priority in your diet, from soothing your skin to supporting your sleep. Here are three benefits you should be aware of.
Banish your blues
Omega-3s have some pretty powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Not only do these benefit your body physically, but a good few studies suggest a link between inflammation and depression.1 Omega-3s (we’re talking about EPA and DHA in particular here) can easily travel through the brain cell membrane and interact with mood-related molecules inside the brain. Your favourite fatty acids also reduce cytokine levels, which in turn can help fight mood disorders.2 The good news doesn’t stop there, either. The good news doesn’t stop there, either. Taking an omega 3 supplement could reduce the psychological signs of PMS, and might even help with some of the physical symptoms, from bloating to tenderness.3 A slightly healthier remedy than chocolate (though definitely not as satisfying).
Shield your skin
Omega-3s are needed for basically every cell in your body, so it’s no surprise your skin needs them too. Along with omega-6 fatty acids, they nourish and soothe your skin.4 They basically keep the good stuff in (think moisture) and the bad stuff out (we’re talking pollution, germs and dirt). What’s more, omega-3’s anti-inflammatory properties might calm your skin if you suffer from conditions like acne or eczema.5 If you suffer with sensitive, dry or generally problematic skin, you may be omega-3 deficient. Getting enough fatty acids is vital for healthy, glowing skin.
Support your sleep
If you struggle getting quality sleep, you’ve probably already tried some natural remedies. But have you thought about omega 3? Although you might not think of it as a sleep supplement, a growing body of research shows diets rich in omega-3 are linked to better-quality sleep, in both adults and children.6 Low levels of DHA have been linked with lower levels of melatonin, which plays a key role in sleep.7 These healthy fats also keep your levels of norepinephrine in check, a hormone that impacts your rest and relaxation.8 So, if you struggle getting through the night, try topping up on omega 3 for some quality ZZZs.
What to remember
The well-known benefits of omega-3s on their own make the healthy fats a must in any diet. But there’s plenty of other health benefits to make the most of, too. Not only does omega 3 support your heart, it keeps inflammation in check throughout your body. Add the prospect of healthier mood, skin and sleep into the mix and it’s an even better idea to keep on top of your intake.
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1 Felger J. C. (2018). Imaging the Role of Inflammation in Mood and Anxiety-related Disorders. Current neuropharmacology, 16(5), 533–558.
2 Calder P. C. (2013). Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammatory processes: nutrition or pharmacology?. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 75(3), 645–662.
3 Sohrabi N., Kashanian M., Ghafoori S.S., Malakouti S.K. Evaluation of the effect of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: “A pilot trial” Complement. Ther. Med. 2013;21:141–146.
4 McCusker MM, Grant-Kels JM. Healing fats of the skin: the structural and immunologic roles of the ω-6 and ω-3 fatty acids. Clin Dermatol. 2010;28:440–51
5 Ciaccio, C. E., & Girdhar, M. (2014). Effect of maternal ω3 fatty acid supplementation on infant allergy. Annals of allergy, asthma & immunology : official publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, 112(3), 191–194.
6 Liu, J., Cui, Y., Li, L., Wu, L., Hanlon, A., Pinto-Martin, J., … Hibbeln, J. R. (2017). The mediating role of sleep in the fish consumption - cognitive functioning relationship: a cohort study. Scientific reports, 7(1), 17961.
5 Peuhkuri, K., Sihvola, N., & Korpela, R. (2012). Dietary factors and fluctuating levels of melatonin. Food & nutrition research, 56, 10.3402/fnr.v56i0.17252.
6 Hamazaki K., Itomura M., Huan M., Nishizawa H., Sawazaki S., Tanouchi M., et al. 2005. Effect of omega‐3 fatty acid‐containing phospholipids on blood catecholamine concentrations in healthy volunteers: a randomized, placebo‐controlled, double‐blind trial. Nutrition 21:705–710.