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The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids

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Omega-3 has been in the spotlight these past few years, but what exactly is it? We find it in our food, but also in the form of dietary supplements. Let’s take a look at whether you should be taking your fish in pill form!

Les bienfaits des acides gras oméga-3

Omega-3 on the menu

The Inuit of Greenland appear to have learned about the secret to a long life and a healthy heart long before North Americans. In fact, we discovered that in spite of a diet rich in fat, there was a very low rate of cardiovascular disease among these Inuit. So what is their secret? Fish of course, a food loaded with omega-3!

Omega-3 fatty acids are called “essential,” meaning that our body cannot manufacture them by itself. So we must get them from foods. They must be consumed on a regular basis, but where can we find them? They are present in a variety of foods, including:

  • fatty fish: salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, tuna, trout, etc.;
  • vegetable oils: linseed, canola, nut;
  • walnuts;
  • soybean;
  • seeds: linseed, hempseed, chia.

The best way to consume omega-3 is without question the “natural” method, which means adopting a balanced diet. It is recommended that we eat two or three meals containing fish, preferably fatty varieties, each week. 

Omega-3 in pill form, is it worth it?

Omega-3 supplements are available at pharmacies. A useful supplement when we can’t get a sufficient supply of these good fats in our regular diet, they help to maintain overall good health. As well, they have proven their effectiveness in the prevention and treatment of various illnesses that must be diagnosed and evaluated on a regular basis by a doctor. Thus, omega-3 supplements must be used with the approval of your doctor, and will in no way replace your regular medication. Below is a list of health problems for which omega-3 has been effective:   

  • various cardiovascular diseases;
  • hypertension;
  • increased serum triglycerides (type of “fat” in the blood);
  • Alzheimer’s disease;
  • depression;
  • rheumatoid arthritis;
  • certain cancers.

Several weeks of regular use may pass before the positive effects of omega-e intake can be measured.

Are there any secondary effects?

Omega-3 supplements are normally very well tolerated by the body. Secondary effects are often of a digestive nature: burping, bad breath, nausea, heartburn, etc. Here are a few tips to help prevent them:

  • Start by taking one capsule daily, and then gradually increase the number of capsules until the recommended dose.
  • Take your omega-3 supplement when you eat a meal.
  • Choose enteric-coated capsules, which are easier to digest.
  • Avoid taking your supplements with foods or drinks that are irritating, such as coffee, citrus juices, tomato juice, etc.  

How to choose the right product?

  • Ask your pharmacist to explain the different formulas, keeping in mind the proportions, for example, of omega-3 and omega-6. Your pharmacist can also tell you about the different types of omega-3 contained in the supplements. Sometimes the slight differences in the list of ingredients can be confusing, so ask the pharmacist to shed some light on the technical aspects and help you make the right decision according to your needs.
  • Keep in mind that omega-3 capsules are often very large in size. If you have difficulty swallowing them, you may want to opt for the liquid form or chewable capsules.
  • Avoid taking cod liver oil: although it used to be quite fashionable, it contains way too much vitamin A, which accumulates in our fat and can become toxic.
  • The recommended dose of omega-3 can be different depending on the reason you are taking a supplement. Consult with your pharmacist or doctor to find out the proper dosage.
  • Choose a known brand from a manufacturer who has a reputation for quality products, integrity and professional ethics. Ask your pharmacist for advice on this matter.

It’s true; omega-3 is good for your health! The best way to absorb enough omega-3 is to eat fatty fish two or three times a week, and consume oils and grains that contain it. Omega-3 supplements are effective against certain health issues, but do not replace a healthy diet. So, fire up that oven! Are you ready to take up the challenge of introducing new fish recipes to your menu?

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