Chances are you’ve heard a lot about how healthy omega 3’s are but you may not know what they are or foods that are rich in this super nutrient. If that is the case, stay tuned for how omega sources can benefit your pet!
Omega 3 fatty acids come from a class of polyunsaturated lipids that are extremely important for metabolism and daily physiological processes. There are 3 different types of omega 3 fatty acids; alpha linoleic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Alpha linoleic acid (ALA)
ALA is the omega 3 most commonly present in seeds. This essential fatty acid is a component of cell membranes, which is the part of the cell that is responsible for protection and regulation. According to one 2012 study, ALA consumption may actually be linked to decreases in cardiovascular disease in humans. This is most likely due to its antioxidant properties.
Other studies have touched on the potential of ALA to lower the risk of diabetes, improve cognitive function, accelerate weight loss and improve nerve function. However, more studies are still needed to confirm these findings.
Dietary sources of ALA:
- Chia seeds
- Kiwi seeds
- Flax seeds
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid DHA
Found most commonly in marine oils, EPA and DHA are most notably involved with lowering inflammation and playing a role in the structure of cell membranes. Unfortunately, dogs, cats, humans and other animals cannot naturally produce a significant amount of this fatty acid and it must be supplemented in the diet.
EPA and DHA have been shown to improve cognitive function, especially in association with conditions like alzhimers and depression. These fatty acids are also involved in maintaining general cardiovascular function and are also important for proper fetal development, including neuronal, retinal, and immune function.
Dietary sources of EPA and DHA:
- Fish oil (various types including salmon oil, herring oil, sardine oil, etc.)
- Some variations of edible algae
Ultimately, omega 3 fatty acids show potential for improving the health status of pets. It may be a good idea to seek omega 3 dietary sources for pets, whether in the diet or as a supplement. This would especially be beneficial in senior and young pets.