What are Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is an important element of halal living. A balanced diet should include all the nutrients that our bodies need such as carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Fats or fatty acids fall into two categories – saturated and unsaturated – based on their structure. Unsaturated fatty acids can be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. There are three major classes of unsaturated fatty acids: omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated and are called essential fatty acids or EFAs, because they are necessary for life, but we must obtain them from diet because our bodies can’t make them. Omega-9 fatty acids are monounsaturated fatty acids and are not essential because our bodies can make them from other fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids include alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) and its derivatives, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA can be found in flaxseed, while EPA and DHA can be found in fish. Omega-6 fatty acids include linoleic acid (LA), and it is derivatives, gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) and arachidonic acid (AA). Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in vegetable oils such as palm, soybean, rapeseed and sunflower oils.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for structure and function of all cells in our bodies, while omega -6 fatty acids are usually used as a fuel source. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, while omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory, which is important for immune system to function. A good ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is 4:1. However, a typical western diet contains a much higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which can reach 10:1 or 16:1. Excess intake of omega-6 fatty acid my lead to an increased pro-inflammatory effects, which can be detrimental to our health.
Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial components of cell membranes.. They also play an important role in numerous physiological functions necessary to maintain life. Omega-3 fatty acids deficiency can lead to multiple chronic diseases and may ultimately lead to death. Some of the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Fighting depression and anxiety
- Improving cardiovascular health and decreasing risk of heart disease
- Promoting brain development during pregnancy and early life
- Reducing symptoms of ADHD in children
- Decreasing obesity and reducing symptoms of metabolic syndrome
- Decreasing inflammation, which can help fight some autoimmune diseases
- Reducing mood swings and improving some mental disorders
- Fighting age-related mental decline and Alzheimer disease
- Decreasing risk of some types of cancer such as colon, prostate and breast cancer
- Reducing asthma in children
- Reducing fat in liver and protecting against fatty liver disease
- Improving bone and joint health
- Alleviating menstrual pain
- Improving sleep
- Lastly, omega-3 fatty acids are good for you skin
How Much Omega-3 Fatty Acids Does Your Body Need?
Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend eating at least two portions of oily fish per week. Examples include Salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, lake trout and tuna. For people who can’t get fish or who don’t like eating fish, fish oil supplements are good alternatives. The AHA states that taking up to 3 grams of fish oily daily, as a dietary supplement, is considered safe. Don’t take more than 3 grams of fish oil per day before discussing it with your primary care physician.
Side effects of omega-3 fatty acids include a fishy taste in the mouth, a fishy breath, stomach upset, loose stool and nausea. Taking more than 3 grams of fish oil per day may increase risk of bleeding. Please consult you primary care physician if you have chronic health conditions or if you are taking other medications that may interact with fish oil supplements before you start taking them.
Is Your Fish Oil Supplement Halal?
The most common formulation of fish oil supplements is capsules. Capsules are generally made from gelatin, and unless otherwise specified, it is most likely made partially or entirely from porcine (pigs) gelatin. One way to avoid gelatin in your capsules is to use liquid fish oil, but the taste of such preparations can be quite bad and many people complain of heartburn when drinking liquid forms. Another way is to buy fish oil packaged in vegetarian capsules, which is available in some countries, but most preparations contain capsules made from animal gelatin.
The best way to ensure that your fish oil supplement is halal is by using a halal-certified formulation. Halal-certified products are certified halal by a reputable authority to make sure that every single ingredient is halal and that the entire manufacturing process follows stringent requirement to avoid contamination with any non-halal ingredients such as pork or alcohol. The halal certificates are renewed annually to make sure that manufacturers continue to adhere to the strict requirements set forth by the halal-certifying authority.
Our Mission at Halal living SPC
At Halal Living SPC, our mission is to empower you to embrace halal living as complete way of life, while striking a balance between nourishing your body and purifying your soul. Using a halal-certified fish oil supplement is a great way of getting the amazing health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, while adhering to the beautiful teachings of our faith.