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Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Fish Oil

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are essential fatty acids that cannot be produced by the human body and must be obtained through food or dietary supplements. There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). In general, omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, halibut, etc. They have a number of health benefits and play a crucial role in the maintenance of brain functions; reduction of inflammation; as well as normal growth and development.

Recent research has found that while most North Americans consume plenty of omega-6 oils found in meats and vegetable oil, they often suffer from a deficiency in omega-3 oils found in many fish. The lack of these essential fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, results in altered cell membranes. Without a healthy membrane, cells lose their ability to hold water, vital nutrients, and electrolytes. They also lose their ability to communicate with other cells and regulating hormones. Simply put, they do not function properly and this in turn will become the critical factor in the development of virtually every chronic disease, including cancer, arthritis, stroke, high blood pressure, skin diseases, and diabetes.

According to Health Canada, fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DPA) for the maintenance of good health. Specifically, it helps to maintain and support cardiovascular health; reduce serum triglycerides and triacylglycerol level; reduce the pain of rheumatoid arthritis in adults when used in conjunction with conventional therapy; support cognitive health and brain function; promote healthy mood balance and most importantly, help support the development of the brain, eyes and nerves in children up to 12 years of age. Recent research has also found that taking fish oil seems to improve thinking skills and behavior in 8 to 12 year-old children with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

In general, fish oil supplements are recommended for the healthy development of children, especially if parents are concerned about cooking fish that could potentially be high in mercury content. Most fish oil supplements on the market today are virtually mercury-free. Manufacturers usually use fish that are low in mercury and the fish oil is distilled to remove contaminants.

There are no documented negative effects from taking fish oil, and with a plethora of beneficial health benefits, more and more parents are turning to fish oil supplements to boost the health of their children as well as themselves.