Omega-3 is a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are not reproducible in the body. In case the body lacks them, a variety of biochemical and physiological disorders occur.
In 2017, scientists from the Massachusetts Hospital conducted an experiment in which it was noted that acids by 50% reduce the level of inflammation in the body and oxidative stress caused by the inhalation of polluted air.
Below we will explain, why every runner needs Omega-3 acids, what foods are rich in it, and how to take it correctly to keep the joints healthy.
The ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3
Clinical studies have recently revealed that the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids plays a great role.
Both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are irreplaceable, that is, a person can receive them only from foods (including supplements). Omega-6 can significantly enhance the body's inflammatory responses, in contrast to Omega-3, which stimulates anti-inflammatory reactions. It means that Omega-3 and Omega-6 should be consumed in certain ratio. The recommended ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 ranges from 1:1 to 4:1.
Today, meat of animals grown on farms contains large amounts of Omega-6. In the last 100-150 years, the amount of Omega-6 in the diet has increased significantly, also thanks to the consumption of vegetable oils - such as corn, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed and soy oil. The reason for this was medical recommendation to replace saturated fats with vegetable oils to lower the level of “bad” blood cholesterol.
Consumption of fish and marine products rich in Omega-3 fats has decreased significantly. In the diet of people in developed countries, the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is 10-30:1, instead of the necessary 1-4:1. This fact explains why Omega-3 fatty acids are given special attention. We get Omega-6 in an overabundance. Therefore, in the body of modern people, inflammatory processes predominate; they destroy not only joints.
- α-linolenic acid (ALA) – can be found in plant products;
- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – is contained mainly in fish;
- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – is contained mainly in fish and seaweed.
What kind of Omega-3 do we need?
People usually have no deficit of ALA, as it is found in most of products we consume. Moreover, our body can independently synthesize it in the quantities that prevent its deficiency.
From ALA, the human body can synthesize EPA. But in very small quantities (2-3% of 100%). Again, EPA acid can be transformed by the body in DHA acid, but in an even lesser amount (1-2% of 100% EPA). Moreover, the male body copes with the synthesis worse than the female body and almost doesn’t produce DHA. That's why vegans cannot solve their problems with Omega-3 deficiency only by increased intake of flaxseed oil (ALA).
The main role of EPA in the body is the formation of anti-inflammatory eiczananoids, signaling molecules that play an important physiological role in our body. For athletes, the daily dosage of EPA varies from 1000 mg to 3000 mg.
DHA is an important structural component of the skin and eyes iris. DHA plays a vital role both in the development of the brain in children and in the functioning of the brain in adults. DHA reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease due to reducing triglycerides level and "bad" LDL cholesterol. DHA causes destruction of the so-called lipid rafts in cell membranes, which complicates the survival of cancer cells and the occurrence of inflammation. The recommended dose is 500-1000 mg.
Oily fish is the main source of dietary EPA and DHA. Therefore, absolutely all health organizations of the world in their recommendations advise to increase the consumption of Omega-3 fats, primarily due to proper nutrition, and not due to food supplements.
By eating fatty marine fish at least twice a week, you provide the body with 500 mg of EPA + DHA per day.
When choosing fish, nutritionists recommend buying those grown not at fish farms. For example: cod, saury, herring, pollock, pink salmon. This fish is considered healthier because it didn’t receive GMO-containing feed and/or antibiotics. Wild sea fish contains more Omega-3.
Liver oil or fish body oil?
TRAN or liver oil
As you may have guessed, this type of fish oil is obtained from the cod fish liver. Due to this, it has a very high content of fat-soluble vitamins A and D but is low in Omega-3 fatty acids. You can consume fish liver oil in short courses, mainly in winter, without combining it with other vitamin supplements.
The purpose of receiving fish liver oil is vitamin A and D vitamin deficiency treatment and rickets prevention. In addition to low Omega-3 content, the lack of fish liver oil is probability to take a dose of heavy metals, since liver filters harmful substances passing through the digestive system of fish.
Fish body oil
Fish oil is obtained from muscles and subcutaneous fat of salmonids, namely salmon. Fish liver is not used for production. As a result, fish body oil contains a small amount of vitamins A and D, but the maximum concentration of Omega-3 fatty acids, which reaches 30%. If you eat fish irregularly or less than 2 times a week, then you supplement EPA + DHA.
What supplements to choose?
When choosing an Omega-3 supplement, you can ignore the total amount of Omega-3 fats in the product. Pay attention only to the amounts of EPA and DHA (total or only one of them, depending on what you need more). Pay attention to the percentage of EPA and DHA to the total amount of the product. The higher, the better - you consume less harmful fats and more EPA and DHA.