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Omega 3, the fatty acids that control your health status

Omega 3 meal plate

No single element alone maintains the health of our body but it can be essential for the functioning of the organism. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of them. Do you want to know why?

If there is an element that takes care of our body-mind structure, that is Omega-3.. These fatty acids are just that, healthy fats contained in some foods that we should include in our diet.

Behind this sci-fi movie name we find some of the most famous polyunsaturated fats which can be alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). If we go to the nomenclature of organic chemistry we would be talking, for example, about linolenic acid, which has traditionally been called 9,12,15-octadecatrienoic acid. Difficult and not very memorable names which, due to marketing strategies, have been renamed Omega-3.

Having revealed the first and most superficial of Omega-3's secrets, we have to mention the most natural and healthy key to achieving adequate levels of this element: the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil, broccoli, sardines, tuna and anchovies are some of the foods that contain Omega-3.. Although we all know the benefits of one of the healthiest diets in the world, we are increasingly moving away from it. Fashion, food prices or lifestyle lead us to another type of diet.

How can you tell if you have low levels of Omega-3?

In a blood test we can extract the levels of the two most important Omega-3 acids: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). If both are at a level above 7.5% for all fatty acids present in the blood, we are considered to be at acceptable levels. Below that, it increases the risk of everything from sleep deprivation to cardiovascular disease.

In addition to the analysis, there are other signs that indicate low levels of Omega-3 such as the dry skin, weak hair or brittle and fragile nails. Without these fatty acids, our skin does not absorb some of the nutrients that help to keep it lustrous. The same is true for the hair follicles, which take up these fatty acids and strengthen the hair. In addition, Omega-3 helps to reduce inflammation of the skin and scalp and prevents hair loss.

The sleep problemsIn addition, lack of concentration and tiredness can also be symptoms of low omega-3 levels, as well as joint pain because, as mentioned above, these fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties.

There are on the market specific fatty acid analysis such as those of Biosalud Day Hospital. This test, which you can do at home, can measure the way you metabolise food and find the cause of deficiencies of vitamins and other components necessary for the proper functioning of the body.

What are the health consequences of a diet low in fatty acids?

The best-known health risk associated with Omega-3 is that of cardiovascular disease. In other words, Omega-3 in adequate levels helps to prevent heart attacks or blood pressure, but only in healthy people. People with coronary heart disease will not recover thanks to Omega-3, but require other types of treatment. The same applies to people at risk of cardiovascular disease for other reasons.

In addition, fatty acids protect against atherosclerosis and lower "bad" cholesterol levels we may have in our bodies. Omega-3 also helps to lower blood pressure.

About Low levels of EPA and DHA also affect our cognitive ability.. In older people with adequate levels of Omega-3, the loss of brain volume and therefore brain ageing and cognitive deterioration is slowed down. It is estimated that we can maintain our memory and reasoning capacity for two years. Studies have also shown a relationship between the volume of Omega-3 in the blood and the volume of the hippocampus area, a key part of the brain in the development of Alzheimer's disease.

The anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to be associated with a lower incidence of rheumatoid arthritis, as explained in this article.

Pregnant women should also pay attention to their omega-3 levels. This fatty acid has benefits for the pregnant mother and the baby. For the former, it helps prevent postpartum depression. It also reduces the risk of premature birth and promotes the baby's development: its central peripheral nervous system, its visual system and even its immune system, with the prevention of allergies or pathologies and symptoms of inflammatory origin.

Mariano Bueno

Dr. Mariano Bueno and his team

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