Omega 3 and Supplementation

Omega 3 y Suplementación

The importance of Omega 3 as micronutrients in supplementation.

  1. What are Omega 3?
    1. What are the functions of Omega 3 in the body?
    2. What are the types of Omega 3 that exist?
  2. Omega 3 and sports performance.
  3. How do you know when to take Omega 3?
  4. Bibliography

01 | What are Omega 3?

Omega 3 fatty acids are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that have the first chemical double bond on the third carbon atom. This is the main characteristic that differentiates them from others such as Omega 6, with which they compete in cellular processes.

Omega 3 are present in cold water fish (EPA and DHA) and in some terrestrial vegetables (ALA). We can also find them in some seaweed.

Its importance in human health began to be appreciated in studies around 1950, where it was seen that in certain populations, such as the Inuit, the prevalence of cardiovascular and degenerative diseases had a much lower incidence than in other populations industrialized. It has been determined with many subsequent studies that the low levels of consumption of Omega 3, together with the consumption of refined sugars, canned products, etc., raise in a very noticeable way the prevalence of coronary problems, metabolic syndrome, degenerative diseases, and others derived from an inflammatory state of the body.

Likewise, it is widely accepted that a minimum weekly consumption of Omega 3 will help a multitude of cellular functions work more effectively. This may come from the fish or supplementation.

The recommendations to opt for good sources of fatty acids with supplementation are due to the frequent findings of heavy metals in fish, such as mercury. This phenomenon is due to the pollution of the oceans by human beings.

01.01 | What are the functions of Omega 3 in the body?

The functions of OMEGA 3 in the body are many, since they are involved in numerous metabolic pathways. Even so, it is thought that there are still many more undiscovered.

Now we know that the intake of Omega 3 is even involved in the activation of some genes responsible for proinflammatory markers, but in this article we will address more studied and less complicated functions.

  • They improve the elasticity of the cell membrane - their incorporation in the phospholipids of the membrane favor that some receptors improve their sensitivity and facilitate intracellular exchange.
  • Improve insulin sensitivity – by improving the quality of the membrane, they favor the entry of glucose into the cell by increasing the insulin sensitivity.
  • Improves the inflammatory state – the basic inflammatory processes produce prostaglandins, leukotrienes and pro-inflammatory cytokines and the Omega 3 carry out their anti-inflammatory effect from the production of substances called protectins and resolvins.

Other :

  • Improvement of cognitive and visual functions.
  • It favors sports or injury recovery processes.
  • Helps improve inflammation of the intestinal mucosa, improving digestive symptoms.

All these functions and many other well-known ones derive from very complex and extensively studied cellular processes that would be of little use to most readers of this article. That is why we list them here in their applicable and known result for anyone interested in learning more about its benefits.

01.02 | What are the types of Omega 3 that exist?

Omega 3 y Suplementación Deportiva

The different types of Omega 3 are:

  • EPA - Eicosapentaenoic acid - closely related to all the anti-inflammatory functions that we have listed.
  • DHA - docosahexaenoic acid - closely related to cognitive, visual, developmental and prevention.
  • ALA - alpha linolenic acid – is of terrestrial (vegetable) origin and is sometimes attributed less capacity for action in the body than the previous two of animal origin (in fish and shellfish).

02 | Omega 3 and sports performance.

In the field of sports performance, supplements with Omega 3 are widely used, due to the multiple benefits they provide to the athlete.

Taking into consideration all the physiological functions that we have listed in the previous section, each of them is related to aspects that have to do with the quality of energy intake during sports practice, as well as the recovery capacity directly related to anti-inflammatory processes that must be optimized in the body.

The improvement provided by Omega 3 in the quality of the cell membrane will allow, among other things, that the entry into the cell of the glucose that is in the blood is much more effective, by increasing the sensitivity to insulin.

That means that the energy that our muscle cells are going to produce, for example, is going to be of higher quality and very likely we are going to to need less intake of carbohydrates and glucose to obtain the same energy.

In parallel, a non-inflamed state of the intestinal wall will optimize the entry of the different types of sugars and salts to rehydrate us (in the SGLT and GLUT transporters present in the enterocytes). This will allow us to improve performance during sports practice and also in our day to day.

In therecovery processes, whether to return to training or to gain muscle mass, Omega 3 will play a crucial role in favoring anti-inflammatory processes. We know that sport produces, from the outset, pro-inflammatory processes and substances, but that these processes train the body to have a better anti-inflammatory capacity.

However, very often, other external stimuli that are also pro-inflammatory do not allow our body to recover well. At this point , supplementation with Omega 3 helps our body to counteract this possible sustained low-grade inflammation.

Observing all the benefits of supplementation with Omega 3 regarding sports but also in terms of general health, it is accepted by the scientific community that the intake of between 400mg and 1 gr of EPA and DHA daily produces , in a global way, numerous benefits and very few contraindications. Even so, before starting to take them, we recommend visiting a qualified professional.

03 | How to know when to take Omega 3?

Omega 3 y Deporte

Once the main benefits of Omega 3 supplementation are known, it is normal that we are interested in them The first thing to do is to make sure that the laboratory that produces them is of quality and certifies that they are free of heavy metals, and of marine origin.

The amounts contained in each of them is important, and that they contain EPA and DHA together as well, unless the intake of only one is sought for specific reasons.

Those people who find it difficult to recover after a workout, or have decreased ability to concentrate, for example, are target subjects for taking these beneficial fatty acids.

People with insulin resistance, obesity or a high propensity to accumulate fat very commonly improve these conditions with optimal intake of Omega 3.

And in general, any person who is an athlete or not, who is exposed in their day to day to pro-inflammatory factors such as stress, environmental pollution, few hours of sleep, smoking, poor food quality...they are people who most likely benefit from taking Omega 3.

04 | Bibliography.

Castellanos, Lyssia, and Mauricio Rodriguez. "The effect of omega 3 on human health and intake considerations." Chilean journal of nutrition 42.1 (2015): 90-95.

Castro-González, María Isabel. "Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Benefits and Sources." Interscience 27.3 (2002): 128-136.

Gómez Candela, C., L. M. Bermejo López, and V. Loria Kohen. "Importance of the omega-6/omega-3 index balance in maintaining good health: Nutritional recommendations." Hospital Nutrition 26.2 (2011): 323-329.

Harris, William S. "Omega-3 fatty acids." Encyclopedia of dietary supplements. CRC Press, 2004. 493-504.

Smith, Gordon I., et al. "Dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older adults: a randomized controlled trial." The American journal of clinical nutrition 93.2 (2011): 402-412.


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