Vitamin D vs Omega 3, The Surprising Benefits You May not be Aware of

Vitamin D vs Omega 3, The Surprising Benefits You May not be Aware of

 

In 1513, the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon and his crew became the first recorded Europeans to reach Florida. According to the story, Ponce de Leon made the discovery while searching for the mythical Fountain of Youth, a magical spring that held the ability to reverse aging and cure sickness and disease.

 

We’ve learned a lot about health and wellness in the last 500 years, but the search for the Fountain of Youth – a cure-all wonder drug that will slow the course of aging – continues. While there is no pill or group of pills that can reverse the course of aging, many debate which vitamin reigns supreme. Two of the most beneficial nutrients are Omega 3 and Vitamin D. While similar in their benefits, each of these supplements has specific capabilities that target different areas of the body and can impact overall health.  

 

 

Vitamin D

Many experts point to Vitamin D as one of the most important nutrients available for overall health. It has the ability to support bone strength and the immune system. You may have heard that our bodies can naturally produce Vitamin D from sunlight thanks to special cells in the skin. While this is true, it can cause many to falsely assume that they’re getting enough Vitamin D from the sun alone. This is particularly true for those who live in areas with less sunlight, or during the darker winter months.

 

The Health Benefits

Vitamin D has also been shown to support a number of other factors that contribute to overall health, such as:  

 

  • Positive effect on respiratory health1

  • Supports cognitive brain function2

  • It's created naturally in the body3

  • Bone health (aids calcium absorption)4

 

How Much Do I Need?

As mentioned above, our bodies can produce Vitamin D through sunlight, but this isn’t always enough. While each person is unique, there are some general rules to consider. Those who are older or bigger tend to need more of the vitamin in their system than younger, smaller individuals. Additionally, those who live in more northern regions with less sunlight and longer winters, along with darker skinned individuals, also need more Vitamin D in their diets.

 

The Sources

There are a number of foods and supplements available to increase your Vitamin D intake. Those looking to include more of it in their diet should look to add the following foods to their meal plan:

 

  • Fish, especially salmon, tuna and halibut

  • Fortified milk or milk alternatives, like soy or almond milk

  • Egg yolks

 

Omega-3s

Omega-3s are often classified as essential fats, which unlike Vitamin D, cannot be made within the body and must come from a healthy diet. The cells in our body require these oils to manufacture healthy membranes.

 

The Health Benefits

Omega-3s have been shown to support a number of functions including:

 

  • Helping support joint health5

  • Eye health6

  • Supports normal cognitive function7

  • Kidney health8

  • Positive contributor in heart health9

 

How Much Do I Need?

Because the body can’t produce Omega-3s naturally, people need to turn to food and supplements in order to achieve their daily intake. While various experts have their own recommendations, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a minimum of two servings10 of fatty fish per week for general health (approx. 500 mg/day of the Omega 3’s EPA/DHA), or recommends more depending on individual needs. This is about the equivalent of two fatty fish meals a week.

 

The Sources

Like Vitamin D, fish is also an excellent source of Omega-3s, and is usually the best option when looking to increase your intake of essential fats. To add some variety to your diet, you may consider incorporating some of the following:  

 

  • Flax seeds and chia seeds

  • Walnuts and butternuts

  • Fresh basil and oregano

 

These two nutrients share many similarities such as supporting heart health. Even their sources are very similar. However, there’s no fountain of youth or magic nutrient for sustained wellness. In order to remain healthy, a proper diet should incorporate a wide-variety of nutrients, including both Vitamin D and Omega-3s. ■

 

Sources:

1)   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19737226

2)   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22536767

3)   http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

4)   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14985208?dopt=Abstract

5)   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12480795

6)   https://www.nei.nih.gov/news/scienceadvances/advances/omega

7)   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22002791

8)   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20041816

9)   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16407732

10) http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/106/21/2747.full

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