Omega-3 Fatty Acids
by Dr. Matthew  Schmitz  14-Jun-2014

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Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish oil, plant oil and nut oils. In fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids are present in the form of two acids, namely docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Some plant and nut oils that contain omega-3 fatty acids are in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This ALA is converted to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in the body.

 

Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

 

Macular degeneration

 

Omega-3 fatty acids are very beneficial for those with degenerative vision. Macular degeneration is a condition in which retina of affected persons eye degrades slowly and causes loss of vision of the eye. The loss of vision is due to degeneration of the central part of the retina called macula. This macula is responsible for colored vision. The macula has photoreceptors or light sensing cells. These light sensing cells are stimulated by light falling on them and generate electrical impulse, which is sent to the brain. These electrical impulses are converted and we can see colored objects with details.

 

Macular degeneration is degeneration of these photoreceptors. Degeneration of photoreceptors means that any light entering patients’ eye is not sent to brain for processing and results in loss of vision. MACULAR DEGENERATION is normally found in people over the age of sixty. Loss of vision in people in their sixties and seventies is mainly due to macular degeneration.

 

Recent researches have concluded that high dose of omega-3 fatty acid is beneficial for people with macular degeneration. People with whom the researches were carried out reported improvement in their vision in less than six months. Some people who were suffering from dry AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration) experienced significant improvement in their eyesight in just four and a half months with a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

 

In this study, participants were given a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acid for six months after which their visual health was assessed.

 

Brain Aging

Omega-3 fatty acid not only has benefits in AMD but also reduces brain aging a recent study has revealed. In a recent study conducted on 1,111 postmenopausal women, aging of the brain was evaluated with help of different methods including calculation of brain volume.

 

The study concluded that the higher omega-3 levels might be associated with increased brain volume and thus lesser brain aging.

 

Schizophrenia

Omega-3 fatty acid has also been found beneficial in Schizophrenia. To test this, researchers observed lipid lowering properties of omega-3 in twenty-eight Schizophrenic patients. These patients were given omega-3 supplements for 28 days. The result showed lowered lipid serum levels in patients by an average of 22 percent. An increase in cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein was also reported.

 

References

1.      Caniato RN, Alvarenga ME, Garcia-Alcaraz MA. The effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the lipid profile of patients taking clozapine. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2006 Aug; 40 (8): 691-7.

2.      Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. www.naturalstandard.com

3.    Pottala JV, Yaffe K, Robinson JG, et al. Higher RBC EPA + DHA corresponds with larger total brain and hippocampal volumes: WHIMS-MRI Study. Neurology. 2014 Jan 22.

4.    Georgioua T, Neokleousa A, Nikolaou D, et al. Pilot Study for Treating Dry Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) with High-Dose Omega-3 Fatty Acids. PharmaNutrition. 18 October 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.phanu.2013.10.001


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