By now you have probably heard about the benefits of having more “Omega-3″ fatty acids in your diet, and if you haven’t, it is time that you looked into it. Even the Food and Drug Administration, not known for being on the cutting edge, has jumped on the bandwagon with their less than stellar endorsement, “Supportive, but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of heart disease.” From any other organization, that might not sound like much of an endorsement, but from the FDA, it’s nearly as good as it gets.

Other research has shown that Omega-3 fatty acids can help support heart and brain health, blood pressure, skin health, joint health and eye health. Another area that has seen benefits is the weight loss arena, and most people in the US and worldwide could use a little help with that.

At this point you might be asking; what is an omega-3 fatty acid, anyway? You aren’t alone in asking this question. There are three acids that are considered to be part of this unique group, ALA or alpha-linolenic acid, DHA or docosahexaenoic acid and EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid. We’ll break these three down a little bit to enhance better understanding.

ALA can be found in a variety of natural sources. These include, but are not limited to, flax, chia, kiwi, hemp and soybeans. ALA, like all the O-3’s, is not produced naturally in the body, but must be introduced through natural foods or supplements. Some studies have found a positive link between ALA and cardiovascular health.

Some fish oils have been found to be rich in DHA. Commercially-manufactured DHA is generally made from microalgae. DHA is metabolized by the body to produce docosenoids, a very potent hormonal family. DHA may also help to combat cardiovascular disease. Some studies also indicate that it may help to combat some neurological diseases such as ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease and others.

EPA can be gotten by eating fish or taking fish oil supplements. Some varieties of fish that contain EPA are cod, mackerel, salmon and sardine. Those fish, in turn, did not produce the EPA through internal processes, but rather through consumption of microalgae. EPA has been found in some studies to combat inflammation and can also help with neurological disorders.

Most people get a good portion of Omega 6 fatty acids in their diets, because that comes from commonly consumed items such as bread, beef, chicken and eggs, but they don’t get the Omega-3’s to balance that out. It is generally recommended to get at least a 3:1 ration of omega-6 to omega-3’s; some experts think there should be a 1:1 ratio. Because most people don’t eat a great deal of fish or consume quantities of olive oil or flax, one alternative is taking Omega-3 supplements.

If you choose to take supplements, I would ensure that the supplements you take have a high degree of bio-availability. Many products on the market, including Omega-3’s, vitamin and mineral supplements have 100% of the recommended daily allowance, but the products are not absorbed by your body and at best produce expensive by-products. Some of the pills and tablets never even dissolve in your system and simply pass right through you, intact.

Not to end this article on a negative note, I will say that we have come a long way in the past ten years. Only a short while ago the FDA didn’t even think that supplementation was needed. Now they have faced up to the reality that the food we consume does not contain the nutrition our bodies so desperately need. This endorsement by the FDA has legitimized many findings and has spurred our research community to find things that can help us with the onslaught of debilitating disease. I highly recommend finding supplements that are backed by scientific testing by independent laboratories and make sure those supplements have a high degree of bioavailability.

Author's Bio: 

Rob does corporate level training on communication and equipment usage. He has a BS in Applied Psychology and Organizational Behavior. He spent 13 years in the military and 14 years in the steel industry before directing his passion toward helping other people attain their goals. He is the author of numerous books, both fiction and non-fiction. He believes the power of transformation starts with a clear vision and can be helped by mentors and personal coaching.