Many people take fish oil supplements as a way to boost their intake of omega fatty acids, but you might still have questions about what these fats actually do, and how to ensure you’re getting the best quality. Here are some common questions about fish oils, and the evidence behind their use.
What is omega-3?
Omega-3 fatty acids are a family of polyunsaturated fats. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is linked to a reduced risk of inflammatory diseases and depression. Omega-3 is what’s known as an essential fatty acid — meaning the body does not make it itself. This means we must get enough omega-3 through diet or by supplementation.
There are three main omega-3s:
- Eicosapentaenoic acid, also known as EPA, found mainly in fish,
- Docosahexaenoic acid, also known as DHA, found mainly in fish, and
- Alpha-linolenic acid, also known as ALA, found in vegetable oils and nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds and flaxseed oil, and leafy vegetables.
What is fish oil good for?
Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil, are associated with several health benefits, including reducing exercise-induced muscle soreness and stiffness, healthy eye function, improved memory and cognitive function, and improved mood. Studies have also shown that a diet rich in omega-3 is linked to a reduced risk of inflammatory diseases and depression.
They’re also an integral part of cell membranes, and provide the starting point for making hormones which regulate many of the body’s systems. According to researchers from Harvard University, “Omega-3 fats have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, may help control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, and may play protective roles in cancer and other conditions.”
In addition, there is plenty of research showing the link between increased omega-3 intake and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, including strokes, heart attacks, and healthy cholesterol levels.
How much omega-3 per day do you need?
Most health organizations recommend getting omega-3s through your diet — just two servings (6-8 ounces) of fish a week is all it takes.
Those with heart disease or who cannot get enough food sources of omega-3s are often advised to supplement with about one gram of EPA + DHA every day. Those with high triglyceride levels may be advised to consume 2-4 grams of EPA + DHA daily.
It’s important to speak with your doctor or another health care professional about the right amount of omega-3 for your needs, as too high levels could cause bleeding issues.
How common is omega-3 deficiency?
True omega-3 deficiency is rare, rather, a large number of people have what’s known as omega-3 inadequacy. This is because most people aren’t getting the recommended two weekly servings of fatty fish, instead consuming a diet high in refined vegetable oils that are high in omega-6 fatty acids.
Additionally, the body releases essential fatty acids like omega-3 from fat reserves in times of need, so most people are rarely ever truly deficient.
There seems to be some problems associated with an imbalance in the ratio of omega 3 fatty acids to omega 6 fatty acids. Generally speaking, you want a ratio of about 4:1 to 1:1 of omega 6 to omega 3, but most people have a much higher intake of omega-6 fatty acids. This may cause increased inflammation in the body, leading to increased risk of various diseases.
What are the best sources of omega-3?
There are very few rich natural sources of omega-3, and most people don’t consume enough of them to meet their daily needs. Some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish oil, fatty fish such as salmon, flax and flaxseed oil, leafy vegetables, and nuts — especially walnuts.
If you cannot consume enough omega-3 fatty acids through diet alone, there are a number of supplements available that can help you meet your daily requirements. Fish oil supplements are generally well tolerated by most people, but it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider before taking fish oils or any other supplement.
What should I look for in a fish oil supplement?
When it comes to choosing the best fish oil supplement, there are a number of things to keep in mind. The most important factor is purity testing. Look for those which have purity testing for the presence of environmental toxins and industrial chemicals. You also want a fish oil that has been tested for potency, so that you know you’re getting an accurate dose of omega-3s.
Look for products that have been tested by a reputable third-party laboratory, and feature a quality guarantee with verified testing information. This will help to ensure you’re getting the highest level of purity possible.
Nurture by Metagenics Fish Oil is ideal for both adults and kids wanting to support cognitive and cardiovascular health. Each lemon-lime flavoured softgel contains a blend of EPA and DHA to help support healthy development of the brain, eyes, and nerves, while also reducing serum triglyceride levels. All of our products, including our fish oils, are made with premium, ethically, and sustainably sourced ingredients. And, every batch we make is triple tested in house and by third party labs for quality and purity.