For a nation that is facing a serious cardio-vascular health concern, the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids in our daily diet needs to be emphasised time and again. Fish oil, which can be obtained from several types of fishes, is a rich source of two vital Omega-3 fatty acids — Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). These acid contents are critical for us to maintain our health and fight against complications, including inflammation, liver fat, depression and so on. The most important fact is that our body cannot produce Omega-3 fatty acids. This is the reason why the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the intake of fish every week.
However, the body’s requirement for Omega-3 fatty acids can also be met through supplements available in the market. But there are some myths around them which increase people’s dilemma. Let’s take a deep dive into myths and reality.
Myth 1: All Omega-3 fatty acid sources are equally important
Reality: Only fatty fish contain all the Omega-3 acids including Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Other sources don’t provide the same value. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), another type of Omega-3, can be obtained through plant sources such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and soybean. ALA is also converted into EPA and DHA by the body but the conversion rate is slow. For this reason, consuming fatty fish or taking a high-quality fish oil supplement is considerably superior to ingesting Omega-3 supplements.
Myth 2: Taking fish oil increases body weight
Reality: The fact is that Omega-3 acids help improve your metabolism, which will help you burn more calories and shed extra pounds. Also, they help in fighting inflammation created by obesity and associated cardiovascular issues. So, due to its anti-inflammatory qualities, Omega-3 can also aid in managing problems brought on by obesity.
Myth 3: Eating fish is the best way to get Omega-3 fatty acids
Reality: Definitely, fish is the best source of Omega-3 acids but not all varieties can provide the required amounts of acids to meet daily requirements. Also, fish is vulnerable to water pollution. Harmful substances like mercury can enter its system, which, when ingested, enter the human body and affect overall health. Hence, Omega-3 supplements can be used to meet daily requirements.
Myth 4: Only a small amount of Omega-3 acids can work
Reality: Omega-3 fatty acids may not be able to carry out their intended tasks if the dose is below the necessary level. According to several research papers, anxiety patients who ingested Omega-3 supplements with more than 2000 mg of EPA/DHA daily saw considerable therapeutic benefits. Similar correlations between Omega-3 dosage and the advantages of its anti-inflammatory characteristics have also emerged.
Myth 5: Fish oil supplements are effective in heart issues only
Reality: This is not true. Fish oil supplements can help you maintain a good condition of joints, eyes, skin and cerebral functions. DHA plays a crucial role in the brain’s growth during infancy. Additionally, it can aid in the prevention of dementia and other cognitive problems like Alzheimer’s disease. Apart from that, Omega-3 helps in reducing inflammation and joint-related issues such as rheumatoid arthritis.
However, when it comes to lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol, there is no evidence that Omega-3 acids reduce it. In fact, a 2013 literature review found that fish oil can actually increase LDL levels in some people.
Myth 6: All fish oil supplements offer the same benefits
Reality: Actually, the benefits of the supplements depend on the sources, the type of Omega-3 (ALA vs EPA/DHA) and their concentration. Hence, it’s important for you to understand the constituents of the supplement you are choosing. You must be cautious about the quality to reap maximum benefits.