What is Omega-3?
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids: They are necessary for human health but the body can’t make them at significant levels needed to obtain optimal health; therefore, it is essential to consume Omega-3s through the diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies and other marine sources including algae and krill, and some plants and nut oils.
Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), Omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, help to support brain function, as well as normal growth and development.
Oily, marine fish are the best source for Omega-3 EPA and DHA – and the only common source that contains both of these key fatty acids in abundance. Some marine algae have DHA and others have EPA and DHA. Studies indicate that EPA and DHA work together to promote optimal health.
What are essential fatty acids (EFAs)?
Fatty acids are a key component of every cells in the body, and certain fatty acids are important to human health because they are used to build and maintain each cell within the body.
What is “good” fat?
“Good,” or healthy fats are fats required by your body for maintaining optimal health. They include the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) Omega-3 and Omega-6, and the monounsaturated fatty acid (MFA) Omega-9.
What is “bad” fat?
“Bad,” or unhealthy fats are fats that can be harmful to your body. These include saturated fatty acids (SFAs) – commonly found in animal fats such as dairy, meat and lard – and certain trans fatty acids (TFAs), found in vegetable shortening, processed foods, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. At high intakes, both saturated and trans fats have been found to increase disease risk.
How much Omega-3 should I get daily?
Eating oily fish twice a week – such as salmon, tuna or sardines – provides a level of Omega-3 EPA and DHA that helps to support the body in meeting basic requirements for health. Not a fish fan? You can choose purified, concentrated Omega-3 EPA and DHA fish oil supplements and enriched foods to make sure you are getting your daily dose.
Can I get too much Omega-3?
This is unlikely as most people are at risk of getting too little Omega-3 in their diet, rather than too much. With regard to supplementation, a 2012 report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), stated that supplemental intakes of EPA and DHA combined at doses up to 5 g per day, and supplemental intakes of EPA alone up to 1.8 g per day, do not raise safety concerns for adults. Supplemental intakes of DHA alone up to about 1 g per day do not raise safety concerns for the general population.
To promote optimal health, consume the amount of Omega-3 recommended by your health care practitioner.
Is fish a better source of Omega-3 than fish oil supplements?
High quality supplements are a safe option as a source of Omega-3 EPA and DHA. For people who don’t like or don’t have access to fish, choosing a purified, concentrated Omega-3 EPA and DHA fish oil supplement, or an enriched food or beverage, will help to ensure that you’re getting a consistent amount.
Do I need to take EPA if I’m taking DHA?
Yes. Both EPA and DHA are required by your body and work together to promote good health.
Do I need EPA and DHA if I’m already taking flax?
Yes. Flax and other plant-based Omega-3 sources contain ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which your body must further convert to EPA and DHA to use. Health benefits are found primarily in the Omega-3s EPA and DHA.
Only marine sources such as fish or algae provide both of the pre-formed EPA and DHA that your body directly uses for optimal health.
Can’t my body make EPA and DHA from ALA?
Yes – but not nearly enough. ALA (flax, hemp and chia) is not considered to be a viable source of EPA and DHA. The conversion rate of ALA to EPA is around 1% in healthy people. So the best source for EPA and DHA – which are ready for immediate use in the body should come from a marine sourced oil such as fish oil,
Is it safe to take Omega-3 while I’m pregnant?
Yes. Omega-3 DHA is essential to the development of the baby’s brain and eyes. It is important that your growing child gets the right amount of DHA during fetal development and throughout the early years of their life.
Research suggests that the Omega-3s EPA and DHA during pregnancy promote optimal fetal health, a healthy pregnancy for mom, better outcomes with delivery and overall health for the newborn.
Are Omega-3s for adults only?
No. Omega-3s promotes good health throughout every life stage – during pregnancy, infancy and childhood through the young adult years and especially for seniors. Learn more by reading Omega-3 Health Benefits.
Is Omega-3 safe for children?
Yes. Studies have shown that Omega-3s are safe for children and are needed to support the development of their brains, eyes and nervous system.