Question: I read a very interesting news article that David Beckham, an English soccer player, is taking Omega-3 but his wife does not like his halitosis, a kind of mouth odor, by taking the Omega-3. Likewise, many people take Omega-3 regularly for their health. What is Omega-3 and what does it do in our body?
Answer: Omega-3 is one type of fatty acid. As our body is made of many cells, they require nutrients to maintain health (Simopoulos, 2002). Omega-3, an essential nutrient, cannot be produced independently inside our body so people have to take this from foods or outside sources. In fatty acid nomenclature, the number 3 denotes a double bond at the 3rd carbon in the fatty acid chain (Figure 1).
Most importantly, Omega-6 promotes inflammation and Omega-3 counteracts the effects of inflammation caused by Omega-6. According to the research by Heller et al. (2006), maintaining a balance is significantly important in our body’s organs and organ systems such as musculoskeletal system, brain, and eyes. There are 2 types of Omega-3 : DHA and EPA. DHA is an integral building block of nerve cells and EPA replaces some of the Omega-6s in the membranes of cells, and in doing so reduces the production of inflammatory cytokines and increases inflammation-resolving cytokines (Omex, 2012). A cytokine is a substance that is involved in cell signaling to control immune system. Western diets are deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids, and have excessive amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids (Simopoulos, 2002) . This unbalanced diet causes inflammation and further extreme disorders of autoimmune system. In order to balance these two, knowing which foods contain many Omega-3 and consuming them is crucial. One representative example is Salmon. People can eat salmon or otherwise take an Omega-3 supplement, like David Beckham did (Figure 2). It is important to have a well-balanced diet; while we know that Omega-3 is good for our health, taking too much may throw off the balance. I would say “Scientia est potential!; Knowing is a power!”
Figure 2. Sundown Salmon Oil with Omega-3 (URL: http://www.familyotc.com/Sundown-Salmon-Oil-1000mg-Omega-3-120-Softgels-p/cd4257580.htm)
- Deok Yong K.
- Heller, Axel R. MD, PhD, DEAA; Rössler, Susann Cand Med; Litz, Rainer J. MD; Stehr, Sebastian N. MD; Heller, Susanne C. MD; Koch, Rainer PhD; Koch, Thea MD, PhD (2006) Omega-3 fatty acids improve the diagnosis-related clinical outcome, Critical Care Medicine, 34(4): 972-979.
- Simopoulos, Artemis (2007) Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Inflammation and Autoimmune Diseases, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 21(6): 495-505.
- Simopoulos, Artemis (2002) The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids, Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 56(6): 365-379
- Why Omega-3 essential for your health? (2012) Omex advertisement, Web: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b46yLkYOO4
- Figure 1. (URL: http://www.eufic.org/article/en/artid/The-importance-of-omega-3-and-omega-6-fatty-acids/)