Omega 3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids. Omega 3 fish oil is essential to human health but isn’t naturally present in the body and must be obtained from food such as certain types of fish and leafy vegetables or from nutritional supplements. If you are like most Americans, you are probably not getting enough omega 3 fatty acids.
Two of the most beneficial omega 3 fatty acids that are easily absorbed and utilized by the body are Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA).
Numerous clinical studies have suggested that EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids may be helpful in treating a variety of health conditions. The evidence is strongest for heart disease and problems that contribute to heart disease, but the list of possible benefits of taking omega 3 fatty acids is long.
Back in 2004, the U.S. FDA gave a qualified health claim status claiming that omega fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. In addition, there is strong scientific evidence that regular intake of omega 3 fatty acids reduces the risk of secondary and primary heart attack, improves survival after heart attacks, and can reduce fatal heart rhythms.
In the largest study of omega 3 fatty acids, Italian researchers from the Gissi Group gave 11,000 patients one gram of prescription fish oil a day after heart attacks. After three years, the study found that the number of deaths was reduced by 20 percent and that the number of sudden deaths by 40 percent, compared with a control group.
The American College of Cardiology recently strengthened its position on the medical benefit of omega 3 fatty acids and now advises patients with coronary artery disease to increase their consumption to one gram a day.
High Blood Pressure
Several clinical studies suggest that diets or supplements rich in omega-3 fatty acids lower blood pressure significantly in individuals with hypertension. An analysis of 17 clinical studies using fish oil supplements found that supplementation with 3 or more grams of fish oil daily can lead to significant reductions in blood pressure in individuals with untreated hypertension.
Those who follow a Mediterranean-style diet (which is often high in the consumption of fish and omega-3 acids) tend to have higher HDL (or “good”) cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements containing EPA and DHA have been reported in several large clinical studies to reduce low density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
People who do not get enough omega 3 fatty acids or do not maintain a healthy balance of omega 3 fatty acids in their diet may be at an increased risk for depression. The omega 3 fatty acids are important components of nerve cell membranes. They help nerve cells communicate with each other, which is an essential step in maintaining good mental health. In particular, DHA (found in omega 3 fatty acids) is involved in a variety of nerve cell processes.
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