The importance of Omega 3 as micronutrients in supplementation.
- What are Omega 3?
- What are the functions of Omega 3 in the body?
- What are the types of Omega 3 that exist?
- Omega 3 and sports performance.
- How to know when to take Omega 3?
01 | What are Omega 3?
Omega 3 fatty acids are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that have the first double chemical 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 marine algae.
Its importance in human health began to be assessed in studies around 1950, where it was seen that in certain populations, such as the Inuit, the prevalence of cardiovascular and degenerative diseases presented a much lower incidence than in other populations industrialized. It has been determined with many subsequent studies that low levels of Omega 3 consumption, together with the consumption of refined sugars, canned products, etc., significantly increase the prevalence of coronary problems, metabolic syndrome, degenerative diseases, and other derivatives of an inflammatory state of the organism.
It is also widely accepted that a minimum weekly intake of Omega 3 will help a multitude of cellular functions work more effectively. This can come from 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 humans.
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 pro-inflammatory markers, introduced in the innovative formula of Immunosport Inflarelief, but in this article we will address more studied and less complicated functions.
- They improve the elasticity of the cell membrane - their incorporation into membrane phospholipids favors some receptors to improve their sensitivity and facilitate intracellular exchange.
- They 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 underlying inflammatory processes produce prostaglandins, leukotrienes and pro-inflammatory cytokines and Omega 3 perform their anti-inflammatory effect from the production of substances called protectins and resolvins.
- Improvement of cognitive and visual functions.
- Favours sports or injury recovery processes.
- Helps to improve inflammation of the intestinal mucosa, improving digestive symptoms.
All of these functions and many other known ones derive from very complex and widely 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 outcome for anyone interested in learning more about their benefits.
01. 02 | What are the types of Omega 3 that exist?
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 ability to act 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, Omega 3 supplements are widely used, due to the multiple benefits they bring to the athlete.
Taking into consideration all the physiological functions that we have listed in the previous section, each one of them is related to aspects that have to do with the quality of energy intake during sports , 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, the entry of glucose from the blood into the cell to be much more effective, by increasing sensitivity to insulin.
That means that the energy that our muscle cells are going to produce, for example, is going to be of a higher quality and most probably we will to need less input of carbohydrates and glucose to obtain equal 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 enterocytes). This will allow us to improve performance during sports practice and also in our day to day.
In the recovery processes, whether to return to training or to gain muscle mass, Omega 3 will play a crucial role in promoting anti-inflammatory processes
However, very often, other external stimuli that are also pro-inflammatory do not allow our body to recover well. At this point Omega 3 supplementation helps our body to counteract this possible sustained low-grade inflammation.
Observing all the benefits of Omega 3 supplementation regarding sports but also in terms of general health, it is accepted by the scientific community that the intake of between 400mg and 1g of EPA and DHA daily produce Overall, 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?
Once the main benefits of Omega 3 supplementation are known, it is normal for us to become 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 that they are of marine origin.
The amounts contained in each one 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 training, or who have reduced 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 states with optimal intake of Omega 3.
And in general, any 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 quality food... are people to which most likely the intake of Omega 3 can benefit them.
04 | Bibliography.
Castellanos, Lyssia, and Mauricio Rodriguez. "The effect of omega 3 on human health and intake considerations. "Chilean nutrition magazine 42. 1 (2015): 90-95.
Castro-Gonzalez, Maria Isabel. "Omega 3 fatty acids: benefits and sources. "Interscience 27. 3 (2002): 128-136.
Gómez Candela, C. , L m Bermejo Lopez, and V. Loria Kohen. "Importance of the balance of the omega-6/omega-3 ratio in maintaining a good state of 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.