March 2, 2024

Why omega-3 is an essential longevity supplement

September 22, 2023

Why omega-3 is an essential longevity supplement

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Omega-3 is perhaps the most well established and widely known longevity supplement available, and for good reason; its health-promoting properties have been studied for decades and there is now a huge bank of evidence - spanning population studies, nutritional studies and randomized controlled trials - showing that omega-3 provides incredible benefits, especially for the cardiovascular, metabolic and nervous systems. Simply put, its effects can help you to feel fit and healthy now, and ensure you stay that way for many years to come.

What is omega-3?

Omega-3 is short for omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. These are involved at nearly every level of your body's function; they form part of the cell membrane, are part of a huge range of metabolic reactions, and help to power neurons. This wide array of functions means omega-3 fatty acids are essential for optimal health and performance. However, your body is unable to produce them on its own, meaning you need to take them in through your diet or as a supplement.

There are different forms of omega-3 fatty acids. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are associated with the most powerful health benefits. EPA and DHA are present in high amounts in fatty fish, and are partly responsible for seafood’s strong association with longevity. ALA, meanwhile, is found in plant-based sources, particularly nuts and seeds. 

Cardiovascular function

Omega-3’s strong positive impact on cardiovascular health has been proven extensively. A huge meta-analysis including over 100,000 people demonstrated that taking omega-3 supplements reduces the risk of heart attack by nearly 10% and the risk of any cardiovascular event by 5%. [1] A separate nutritional study found that eating food rich in ALA lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease and fatal heart disease by 10% and 20%, respectively. [2]

The combined effect of these cardiovascular benefits and a reduction in other chronic diseases has a significant impact on longevity: higher levels of circulating omega-3 acids in the bloodstream are associated with an almost 5-year increase in lifespan. [3]

Cognitive function

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in particularly high concentrations in the brain, where they play a crucial role in strengthening cognitive function, particularly as you grow older. Robust evidence shows that omega-3 supplementation can significantly enhance learning, memory, executive function, and the amount of blood flow to the brain in cognitively healthy adults, [4, 5] and a recent study of UK Biobank data found that people with higher circulating levels of omega-3 had a nearly 30% reduced risk of developing dementia. [6] An earlier meta-analysis found that just 100mg/day of dietary ALA (natural omega-3 from your diet) reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 37%. [7]

The great thing is that it’s never too early or too late - omega-3 can improve the brain at any age. One mechanism by which it does so is stimulating the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a molecule that promotes neurogenesis (the formation of new neurons) and has been shown to enhance learning, memory, cognition and mood. [8] Omega-3 supplementation significantly boosts BDNF levels and the effect seems to be even greater in those under 50. [9]

Mood and behaviour

Omega-3 positively influences emotional activity too. Omega-3 supplements have been shown to significantly improve mood and enhance the treatment of depression. [10, 11, 12] They can also sharpen focus and reduce symptoms of ADHD and borderline personality disorder, [13, 14] and a randomized controlled trial found that they lowered self-reported levels of aggression. [15]

Inflammation and metabolism

Omega-3 fatty acids play a key role in reducing inflammation, which more and more evidence suggests is crucial for healthy aging. Omega-3 supplements can reduce levels of key inflammatory markers including C-reactive protein, TNFα and interleukin 6, [16] and can improve other factors associated with aging, such as cellular stress response. [17]

Omega-3 fatty acids are central to many metabolic processes as well. Taking them as supplements helps maintain healthy levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, and improve measures of glycemic control such as fasting blood glucose and HbA1c. [18] Recent work has also suggested that omega-3 positively influences the gut microbiome, leading to stronger intestinal wall integrity and enhanced immune cell function. [19]

Eye health

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, are integral to the cellular structure of the eye, so are necessary for maintaining proper function. There’s strong evidence that DHA supplements can protect against age-related diseases of the visual system, such as retinopathy, macular degeneration and glaucoma. [20] One study found that people who eat a diet rich in omega-3 are at a 29% lower risk of age-related macular degeneration. [21]

Types of omega-3 supplements

By eating fatty fish, nuts, seeds, flaxseed and other omega-3-rich foods, you can get a fairly good dose of omega-3 through your diet. However, it’s difficult to consistently get the amount and variation that studies show can improve health. Taking supplements allows you to easily maintain the high levels required for optimal function.

Zest’s omega-3 supplements, available with all supplements packs in our newly launched shop, are made with stringent attention to detail and are rigorously tested. They contain pharmacological-grade EPA and DHA - the omega-3 types that are linked to the widest array of benefits and are hardest to get through your diet - and, unlike with many other brands, they are mercury batch-tested and kept refrigerated to prevent oxidation, ensuring that they retain all their health-giving properties.

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Oscar Allan

SCIENTIFIC CONTENT WRITER & RESEARCHER

Oscar is a science writer and e-learning developer with a master's degree in longevity-related topics

Omega-3 is perhaps the most well established and widely known longevity supplement available, and for good reason; its health-promoting properties have been studied for decades and there is now a huge bank of evidence - spanning population studies, nutritional studies and randomized controlled trials - showing that omega-3 provides incredible benefits, especially for the cardiovascular, metabolic and nervous systems. Simply put, its effects can help you to feel fit and healthy now, and ensure you stay that way for many years to come.

What is omega-3?

Omega-3 is short for omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. These are involved at nearly every level of your body's function; they form part of the cell membrane, are part of a huge range of metabolic reactions, and help to power neurons. This wide array of functions means omega-3 fatty acids are essential for optimal health and performance. However, your body is unable to produce them on its own, meaning you need to take them in through your diet or as a supplement.

There are different forms of omega-3 fatty acids. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are associated with the most powerful health benefits. EPA and DHA are present in high amounts in fatty fish, and are partly responsible for seafood’s strong association with longevity. ALA, meanwhile, is found in plant-based sources, particularly nuts and seeds. 

Cardiovascular function

Omega-3’s strong positive impact on cardiovascular health has been proven extensively. A huge meta-analysis including over 100,000 people demonstrated that taking omega-3 supplements reduces the risk of heart attack by nearly 10% and the risk of any cardiovascular event by 5%. [1] A separate nutritional study found that eating food rich in ALA lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease and fatal heart disease by 10% and 20%, respectively. [2]

The combined effect of these cardiovascular benefits and a reduction in other chronic diseases has a significant impact on longevity: higher levels of circulating omega-3 acids in the bloodstream are associated with an almost 5-year increase in lifespan. [3]

Cognitive function

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in particularly high concentrations in the brain, where they play a crucial role in strengthening cognitive function, particularly as you grow older. Robust evidence shows that omega-3 supplementation can significantly enhance learning, memory, executive function, and the amount of blood flow to the brain in cognitively healthy adults, [4, 5] and a recent study of UK Biobank data found that people with higher circulating levels of omega-3 had a nearly 30% reduced risk of developing dementia. [6] An earlier meta-analysis found that just 100mg/day of dietary ALA (natural omega-3 from your diet) reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 37%. [7]

The great thing is that it’s never too early or too late - omega-3 can improve the brain at any age. One mechanism by which it does so is stimulating the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a molecule that promotes neurogenesis (the formation of new neurons) and has been shown to enhance learning, memory, cognition and mood. [8] Omega-3 supplementation significantly boosts BDNF levels and the effect seems to be even greater in those under 50. [9]

Mood and behaviour

Omega-3 positively influences emotional activity too. Omega-3 supplements have been shown to significantly improve mood and enhance the treatment of depression. [10, 11, 12] They can also sharpen focus and reduce symptoms of ADHD and borderline personality disorder, [13, 14] and a randomized controlled trial found that they lowered self-reported levels of aggression. [15]

Inflammation and metabolism

Omega-3 fatty acids play a key role in reducing inflammation, which more and more evidence suggests is crucial for healthy aging. Omega-3 supplements can reduce levels of key inflammatory markers including C-reactive protein, TNFα and interleukin 6, [16] and can improve other factors associated with aging, such as cellular stress response. [17]

Omega-3 fatty acids are central to many metabolic processes as well. Taking them as supplements helps maintain healthy levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, and improve measures of glycemic control such as fasting blood glucose and HbA1c. [18] Recent work has also suggested that omega-3 positively influences the gut microbiome, leading to stronger intestinal wall integrity and enhanced immune cell function. [19]

Eye health

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, are integral to the cellular structure of the eye, so are necessary for maintaining proper function. There’s strong evidence that DHA supplements can protect against age-related diseases of the visual system, such as retinopathy, macular degeneration and glaucoma. [20] One study found that people who eat a diet rich in omega-3 are at a 29% lower risk of age-related macular degeneration. [21]

Types of omega-3 supplements

By eating fatty fish, nuts, seeds, flaxseed and other omega-3-rich foods, you can get a fairly good dose of omega-3 through your diet. However, it’s difficult to consistently get the amount and variation that studies show can improve health. Taking supplements allows you to easily maintain the high levels required for optimal function.

Zest’s omega-3 supplements, available with all supplements packs in our newly launched shop, are made with stringent attention to detail and are rigorously tested. They contain pharmacological-grade EPA and DHA - the omega-3 types that are linked to the widest array of benefits and are hardest to get through your diet - and, unlike with many other brands, they are mercury batch-tested and kept refrigerated to prevent oxidation, ensuring that they retain all their health-giving properties.

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Oscar Allan

Oscar is a science writer and e-learning developer with a master's degree in longevity-related topics