When it comes to supporting the immune system, lots of us know about the importance of maintaining healthy vitamin C and D levels--but what about Omega-3s? Today, our healthy friends from Nordic Naturals helped us dive into this hot topic!

Immune System Basics

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The body's Immune System is our built-in defense system that protects us from invading pathogens such as viruses or bacteria. Yet, there is nothing simple about it. Aside from the Central Nervous System, the Immune System may be the most complex system of the body. It is a highly elaborate network of cells, tissues, and organs that are in continual communication with one another to defend the body against attacks of foreign invaders.

Influential Factors

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Several factors influence the complex operations of the Immune System, such as age, underlying health conditions, stress, sleep, and last but certainly not least: nutrition. Unquestionably, our immune cells, both innate (body's first line of defense) and adaptive (body's second line of defense, which adapt) depend on many nutrients for proper operation and function.

Today, we're talking about omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA: the fats which are found in cold-water, oily fish and fish oil. Omega-3 fats play incredibly important roles in every system of the body including the immune system.

Omega-3s Balance Omega-6s

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Both omega-6 fats and omega-3 fats are considered essential in the human diet, however, they play opposing roles in our cells. Omega-6s are found in almost everything we eat in the standard American diet: cooking oils like soybean and corn oil, to nuts, grains, seeds, dairy, and meat. All of these common American foods are high in omega-6 fatty acids, and low in omega-3s.

The omega-3s EPA and DHA are exclusively found in marine life such as cold water fatty fish, and algae, which we don’t tend to eat a lot of in comparison to those aforementioned foods. This imbalance is critically important because our cells need equal amounts of both fats to function optimally. And, it's these fats which actually play a huge role in the way our immune cells respond to injury or illness and help us heal! Isn’t that amazing?

Omega-3s and Immune Cells

Omega-3 fats, because of their unique molecular structure, are critically important for every single cell. Once incorporated into our cell membranes, they provide fluidity and flexibility for that cell. This means when omega-3 fats are part of the cell membrane, that cell may be able to perform its functions more efficiently and communicate better with surrounding cells.

Research has shown that omega-3 fats are easily incorporated into the membrane of every single immune cell type! Our immune system may operate best when adequate levels of omega-3 fats are present in each immune cell’s outer membrane. 

Furthermore, EPA and DHA may actually enhance the function of both innate and adaptive immune cells. EPA and DHA accomplish this by supporting activities which influence cell regulation, count, capacity, and growth. 

Omega-3s, Healthy Inflammation Levels and Immune Health

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Besides acting as important components to our cell membranes, when omega-3s are released from our cell membranes, they're radically transformed into powerful signaling molecules called "eicosanoids". Our immune systems use eicosanoids to support healthy inflammation levels.

In general, omega-6 fats, once released from their cell membranes, convert into signaling molecules which promote an inflammatory response. This is important if you are injured or ill, as the inflammatory process within our immune system is normal and critical for healing. However, the problem arises when this becomes chronic or lasts more than 2 weeks. You see, it's omega-3 fats that convert into powerful molecules which resolve and protect. They support "putting out the fire" and healthy inflammation regulation. 

Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Offerings

Nordic's family of Ultimate Omega formulas are perfect for consumers looking to get a meaningful dose of EPA and DHA in a smaller serving size. They are derived from fish coming from the freshest waters on earth, are "Friend of the Sea" certified sustainable, and are in the triglyceride form for optimal absorption. These products support the Immune System as well as every other system in the body, including the Cardiovascular and Central Nervous System.

Ultimate Omega is consistently rated the #1 selling fish oil product in the U.S. Next, Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega 2X Mini provides an ultra-concentrated formula in an easier-to-swallow, smaller soft gel.

Finally, Algae Omega is the #1 selling Vegetarian Omega-3 in the U.S. It provides preformed EPA and DHA in a vegan/vegetarian form. It is microalgae-derived, non-GMO and hexane-free.

Thanks to our friends at Nordic Naturals for providing this informative article! For more Nordic Naturals, you can shop them online or ask about them in our FY stores for more information!