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nutrient glossary
Green tea leaves for NUTRILITE vitamin, mineral supplements
How Nutrients Work Vitamin K
Carbohydrates Calcium
Protein Chromium
Fats Iron
Vitamin A Magnesium
Vitamin B Selenium
Vitamin C Omega Fatty Acids
Vitamin D Phytonutrients
Vitamin E


Role of Omega Fatty Acids in Good Nutrition

Omega-3s are termed essential fatty acids (EFAs) because they are critical for good health. Since the body cannot make them on its own, omega-3s must be obtained from food.

Key Functions

  • Reduce hypertension. Studies of large groups of people have found that the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may aid in lowering overall blood pressure level.
  • Improve heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids may play a part in keeping cholesterol levels low, stabilizing irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), and reducing blood pressure.
  • Protecting the heart. Researchers now believe that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), one of the omega-3s, may be particularly beneficial in protecting against heart and blood vessel disease, and for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Food Sources

Key omega-3 fatty acids include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexanoic acid (DHA), and alpha-lineolenic acid (ALA). EPAs and DHAs are found in oily cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel, as well as fresh seaweed. ALAs are found primarily in dark green leafy vegetables, flaxseed oils, and certain vegetable oils.

Usage

There is no established recommended daily intake for omega-3s, but a healthy diet containing significant amounts of foods rich in this essential fatty acid is recommended.

Omega-3 fatty acids are very safe to consume. However, most experts recommend limiting fish consumption to two to three servings weekly because so many fish may be tainted with mercury and other contaminants. Fish oil capsules do not usually present this same risk.

Safety Evidence

There are no known side effects associated with increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids through foods, although fish oil capsules do pose the risk of a "burp" factor – a harmless, sometimes unpleasant, fishy aftertaste that occurs with some brands of fish oil capsules.