Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Fat may be a "bad" word, but we can't live without it--more than 2,000 studies have been done on Omega 3 fatty acids and their role in human and animal health. The conclusion is simple: Fat is essential to our health. Why else would essential fatty acids (EFAs) be called essential? Omega 3 fatty acids are one of two classes of these essential fats. They are essential because we need them throughout the entire life cycle. Our bodies cannot manufacture them. We must therefore include them in our, and our pet's, daily diet.

How Do Omega 3 Fatty Acids Help?

Without a steady and balanced (yes, overdoing it is a danger) inflow of essential fatty acids, the body cannot produce what is called prostaglandin. These are compounds, along the lines of hormones, that play a role almost everywhere in our bodies. They regulate pain, help with blood pressure and cholesterol levels, promote the nervous system, and regulate swelling.

A shortage can translate into liver degeneration, arthritis, poor circulation, poor vision, eczema, and kidney degeneration. In short, they're very very important. And without Omega 3 fatty acids, there aren't enough of them.

Fish--especially cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring--are a rich source of EFAs, as is well known. Animals that feed on these fish are also great sources of this nutrient. Omega 3 fatty acids are also found in soybeans, walnuts, and wheat germ. But the richest source, and most easily used, are the fish. Supplements are also a possibility--they are usually derived from the fish and the animals that feed on them.

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