The Importance of Omega-3

The human body can make most fatty acids by itself through its diet. When carbohydrates are eaten in sufficient amounts, the body can use the energy obtained from the breakdown of carbohydrates to produce fats and fatty acids needed in the body. Fats and fatty acids are therefore made when there is too much glucose (energy) in the body. The synthesis of fatty acids takes place in the liver and to a lesser degree, in the fatty tissue.

However, because some fats and fatty acids cannot be produced by the body itself, some of these need to be supplemented into the diet. Such fatty acids are called essential fatty acids, as they play a major role in the human body and for the maintenance of its wellbeing.

Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid, which the body needs for the production of important signal molecules. Alfa-linolenic acid is an example of an omega-3 fatty acid that can be found in seeds, nuts and oils. When omega-3 fatty acids are consumed, the body therefore uses these to synthesise important signal molecules. Some of these fatty acids are important for cell functions such as in the brain and retina of the eye.

Omega-3 can also be found in fish and fish oils. Especially fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is why most doctors and health experts recommend an intake of fish at least twice a week. Moreover, we can also find omega-3 in walnuts, flaxseed oil, and in dried oregano. It is important to keep in mind the benefits of omega-3, as they are many. For example, omega-3 fatty acids can thin the blood and prevent the development of serious heart diseases and moreover, they can reduce high blood pressure and stabilize heart rhythm. Therefore, it is particularly important for patients with heart diseases to consume sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

by Adile Orhan


Ruxton, C. – “Health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids”, Nurs Stand., 2004 Aug 11-17.

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