Omega-3 Fatty Acids

I went on Omega-3 fatty acid supplements a few months ago. The reason I started taking them was bifold.:

  • I had continuing shortness of breath during the slightest exertion - emptying the dishwasher, walking up the stairs, speaking even. I had had extensive respiratory investigations but I was still concerned that microvascular thromboemboli ( lots of minute blood clots in the lungs) may have been missed as my oxygen saturations were still plummeting to 90% on exertion.

  • I had also had been given a diagnosis of post acute Covid Microvascular Angina. I didn't really want to be on aspirin long term so looked to an alternative.

Omega -3 fatty acids were the answer to both these worries but I did not appreciate until doing further research the benefits for #longcovid too.

Omega 3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. It comes in the form of ALA, EPA or DHA.

Our own bodies cannot make ALA so we need to get this from our diet. Our bodies can then use the ALA to make EPA/DHA.

Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

The recommended daily amounts of ALA are 1.6 g/day in men and 1.1 g/day in women.

ALA sources are:

Flax seed - 2tbsp a day

Flax seed oil - 2tsp a day

Walnuts - a small handful a day

Cooked spinach - 27 cups a day!

Avocados - 26 medium a day!

The recommended daily intake for EPA/ DHA are 2-3 g a day. DO NOT exceed 4 g/day in men as this has an increased risk of prostate cancer.

EPA/DHA sources are:

SMASH fish - Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines and Herring (2 portions a week)

Fish oil capsules - better in pregnancy as harmful heavy metals purified out

Vegan capsules - containing DHA from micro algae

Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Support heart health

Help with certain mental disorders

Support eye health

Support healthy skin

Support pregnancy and developing fetus

Reduce liver fat

Improve attention in ADHD

Help prevent cognitive decline

Help with asthma and allergies

Benefits of Omega - 3 Fatty Acids in Long Covid:

  • Reduce production of cholesterol in the liver which leads to an anti-inflammatory effect

  • Increase fatty acid uptake and oxidation in the heart and skeletal tissues which leads to an anti-inflammatory effect

  • Reduce cell membrane stiffness in our cells which means our cells work better

  • Reduce production of IL-2 an inflammatory protein

  • Improves sodium channel function in the heart cells which helps a anti-arrhythmic effect

  • In a stressed cell - such as one invaded by SARS-CoV-2 prevents cytokine production so reduces the hyper inflammatory response

  • Increases Vitamin D production

  • In macrophages (cells of the innate immune system) blocks the production of IL-1, IL-6, IL-8 and TNF all pro inflammatory proteins

  • Increases Nitric Oxide production which has a cardio-protective effect

  • Helps reduce insulin resistance - especially important as Diabetes can be a result of prolonged chronic illness such as Long Covid

  • Omega-3 replaces Omega-6 in the cell membranes causing less potent inflammatory protein production. Some of these proteins have anti-platelet functions and reduce platelet aggregation which like Aspirin reduces the formation of thromboses.

  • Produces Resolvin and Protectin which are anti inflammatory proteins.

So in summary Omega-3 Fatty Acids have numerous potential benefits for the long hauler; in protecting our hearts and reducing inflammation. They may even prevent the hyper inflammatory response to the SARS- CoV- 2 virus reducing the severity of the initial disease and possibly reducing a Long Covid sequelae. As Omega-3 Fatty Acids can be easily included in our diet by plant, fish or supplement sources it would make sense if everyone started taking them!

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