Omega-3 Explained: The Fish Oil Supplement
Omega-3 Explained: The Fish Oil Supplement
If you've ever been to a health food store, you may have seen the endless array of fish oil supplements available. With all of these options, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. What are Omega-3s? And why do they matter? In this blog post, we'll break it all down for you. We'll explain what Omega-3s are, and we'll tell you why they're important for your health. Plus, we'll give you a few tips on how to choose the right fish oil supplement for you. So read on to learn more!
What is Omega-3?
Fish oil supplements contain a fatty acid called Omega-3. So what does that mean? Well, 'fatty acids' are simply a type of fat. And Omega-3s have been linked to a number of health benefits – from lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and arthritis, to promoting healthy ageing.
THE OMEGA 3 FAMILY
Here are the three members of omega 3s, which, alarmingly, are usually out of balance in our bodies due to lack of supply from our diets. The family of omega 3 consists of:
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
To avoid having our tongues twisted, I think we should stick to the acronyms for these lipids.
ALA is the first fatty acid that we will talk about in the omega-3 family. It is also known as alpha-linolenic acid.
ALA (sometimes written as α-Linolenic acid) is a fatty acid that is derived from plants and comes from the same family of eicosanoids as other Omega-6 fats like linoleic acid.
It might be derived from a large number of plant seeds, such as canola, flaxseed (linseed), perilla, rapeseed, soy, or walnut oil. It's also found in the green and leafy tissues of plants, where it serves as part of the chloroplast, which is where photosynthesis takes place. However, do not be misled by the term "green." When we referred to green plants, it was merely an example. You can get ALA from just certain types of green leafy vegetables. Keep in mind that they're only found in the green tissue portion of plants, not all green leafy veggies are good sources of α-Linolenic acid.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
In contrast, Docosahexaenoic acid is a kind of omega 3 fatty acid that may be manufactured from cold-water fish oils such as anchovies, cod liver, halibut, herring, mackerel, salmon, tuna, and more.
According to a recent study, DHA may aid in the treatment of a variety of health issues, including brain and heart diseases. The following are some of the health advantages of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) that have been scientifically proven: improved learning ability, maintenance of adult brain function, and prevention of several impairments and disorders, including adrenoleukodystrophy, Alzheimer disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cystic fibrosis, fetal alcohol syndrome, phenylketonuria. There is also evidence that it can help prevent aggressive hostility and unipolar depression.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
The EPA, usually known as Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or icosapentaenoic acid, is a polyunsaturated omega 3 fat that frequently works in tandem with DHA.
The majority of EPA and DHA are derived from fish. EPA, or eicosapentaenoic acid, is a fatty acid present in many species of fish and other animals. Eels, herring, salmon, and sturgeon are just a few examples of fish that contain the highest levels of EPA. Shrimp and certain grass-fed animal products are also good sources of EPA.
Why do we need Omega-3?
The Omega-3 family includes three specific fatty acids: ALA, EPA, and DHA. Most people already get plenty of ALA in their diets. And most experts recommend getting most of your Omega-3s from EPA and DHA.
(1). This is because these two are more readily available for the body to use.
(2). So it's particularly important for vegans (and vegetarians) to make sure they're getting enough EPA and DHA – since they won't be able to get this essential nutrient from any type of animal source.
(3) Omega-3s are also necessary for our cells to function properly. And they're especially important for the brain and nervous system to operate well. We know that DHA is an essential nutrient for our brains – because it makes up 40% of the fatty acids found in the brain. It's also important for eye health because it helps protect against vision problems like macular degeneration and cataracts. Plus, DHA has been studied for its ability to lower your risk of heart disease! Read a more detailed review of the benefits at the end of this article.
How do I know if I need an Omega-3 supplement?
If you want to take a fish oil supplement, you probably already know it! But just in case you're wondering...
Omega-3s have so many important benefits because they help support your overall balance of good fats. In fact, most people think about "good" and "bad" fats as being separate. But the truth is, we need a balance of both. And we especially need Omega-3s, because it's an important part of that good fat profile.
What Foods Contain Omega-3?
There are plenty of foods out there with Omega-3 and if you eat these regularly, you probably don't even need to take a supplement! The seafood with the highest levels of Omega-3s include:
Fish (such as salmon, tuna, or halibut)
Fish such as halibut, salmon, sardines, and tuna contain the highest levels of Omega-3. In fact, salmon contains 4,023 mg per serving of EPA and DHA. Halibut contains 1,073 mg per serving. And sardines contain 947 mg per serving!
Shellfish (such as crab or lobster)
Shellfish such as crab or lobster also contain high levels of Omega-3. They are also a great source of lean protein.
Mollusks (such as mussels and oysters)
Other fish and shellfish, such as tilapia and calamari, can still be a good source, but they don't offer quite as high of levels. You can also find Omega-3s in flaxseeds and walnuts. However, the body doesn't absorb these sources as well as it does from fish sources.
Eggs that come from organic sources (or free-range chickens) will naturally contain some Omega-3s. However, this amount can vary. So you might want to include egg in your diet to be sure you're getting enough.
Nuts like walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc. These nuts also contain healthy fats like monounsaturated fatty acids. They're good for heart health and digestion! They'll help keep your cholesterol levels in balance, which might reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Flax Seeds and Walnuts
Flaxseeds and walnuts are also excellent plant-based sources of Omega-3. They also contain iron, magnesium, fibre, and zinc!
What's the ideal amount of Omega-3?
So how much Omega-3 do you actually need per day? For adults between 19-70 years old, experts recommend anywhere from 250mg to 1000mg. So it really depends on your diet, your health concerns, your lifestyle, etc. Here are some guidelines that may be helpful:
- A general healthy adult should have at least 2 servings of fish a week (2)
- Easily obtainable serving sizes for women = 1/4 lb serving size of fish or 1 cup cooked shellfish daily (2)
- If pregnant, omega-3 supplements are recommended to provide an additional 200mg per day(2).
The following people should probably take an Omega-3 supplement:
- People with heart disease - 300mg per day
- Women who plan on becoming pregnant within the next six months - 200 mg/day
- Women who are breastfeeding - 250mg/day
- People with high blood pressure or high cholesterol - 500mg per day
- People with type 2 diabetes - 500mg per day
- People with arthritis - 300mg per day
- People with depression - 200mg
- People without access to fresh fish - 1000 mg per day
The doses (milligrams per day stated above are not for everyone. These are just averages and it depends on your age, diet, health concerns, etc. to determine if you need an Omega-3 supplement.
If you think that you could benefit from a fish oil supplement, then talk to your doctor about what dosage you should take. It is always best to be under the care of a doctor when taking supplements.
How Much Omega-3 is Too Much?
Most people can take fish oil supplements without a problem. But if you're considering taking a lot of the fatty acids for a long period of time, make sure to talk with your doctor first. They might want to monitor your levels more closely – especially if you have any pre-existing conditions or take other medications. You should also double-check that the supplement doesn't contain too much Vitamin A. This will be listed on the label as 'retinol activity equivalents (RAE) – and it's important not to go over 800 mcg per day!
Are There Any Side Effects To Taking Fish Oil Supplements?
As always, we recommend talking to your doctor before starting any new supplements. Although the benefits of Omega-3 seem to outweigh the risk, there are still some side effects to be aware of:
Belching – this is a common complaint and may decrease over time as your body gets used to it
Burping up a fishy taste in your mouth- this will lessen after you've taken it for several weeks
Other side effects include:
- Intestinal gas
- Nausea Vomiting
The risks associated with not getting enough omega 3s in your diets?
So what happens if I'm not including enough of those foods in my diet?
If you don't eat foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids, you will not have enough in your body to function properly. You can take Omega-3 supplements or you can eat certain types of fish or seafood that are high in this fatty acid.
If you don't want to do either, you're going to have to suffer from some unpleasant symptoms like dry skin, extreme fatigue, poor memory and low attention span.
So consult with your doctor first, especially if you take other medications or have other pre-existing conditions (such as diabetes) since these supplements can interact with other prescriptions. Your doctor will also be able to tell you how much you need based on age, weight, and health history.
What are the benefits of taking omega-3 supplements?
The benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids are so numerous, that it is hard to determine which one is the best benefit. But, here are some:
Omega-three fatty acids help with brain function.
Omega-three fatty acids assist with memory and cognitive function. This includes help with memory, concentration, and learning abilities. Omega-three fatty acids can also help reduce the risk of age-related cognitive disorders like Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
It can help with depression
Omega-3 fatty acids are an effective treatment for depression. How? They work on the brain chemicals that are responsible for mood. In fact, research shows that having a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce feelings of depression.
It improves vision and eye health
The Omega-3 fatty acids keep eye tissues healthy by increasing the amount of moisture, which reduces irritation. This will also prevent dry eyes and other serious conditions like macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness), glaucoma, and cataracts.
It can help reduce the risk for certain types of cancer
Studies show that people who eat more fish are less likely to develop certain types of cancer like colorectal, prostate, or breast cancers. This is because Omega-three fatty acids act as an anti-inflammatory agent against many different forms of cancer cells.
It's good for heart health
As mentioned, Omega-3 fatty acids have a positive impact on the cardiovascular system by reducing blood triglycerides and high total cholesterol levels. This in turn reduces the risk of coronary artery disease, stroke, and chronic heart failure. It attracts calcium to your bones making them strong. In fact, studies show that people with higher amounts of fish consumption tend to have better bone density because it helps increase bone mineral content. The overall benefits from taking omega three supplements are numerous which is why they are so important to include in your diet for healthy living.
It helps pregnant women get through pregnancy easier
Some research shows that taking omega three fatty acids during pregnancy reduces gestational hypertension, preterm birth rates, and depression among pregnant women. It also benefits both mother and child by helping with infant growth, cognitive function in childhood, preventing allergies or asthma in infancy, etc.
Omega-3 fatty acids help lower your triglyceride levels.
High triglycerides have been linked to heart disease. Eating omega 3 fatty acids has been shown to decrease the risk of coronary heart disease by 35%. Research shows that people who have elevated triglyceride levels and eat more fatty fish, which contain omega-3s than those who don't.
It helps with the function of your arteries.
It's also helpful for reducing cholesterol levels which play a role in the formation of clogged arteries and atherosclerosis. This means that blood flow throughout the body can be improved with Omega-3 fatty acids.
It helps with immune function.
Omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to increases in immune function because of their anti-inflammatory properties. Some research has shown that people with higher blood concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids have lower incidence rates for inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, lupus erythematosus, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, etc.
It protects against inflammation
It protects against inflammation, which is commonly associated with autoimmune disorders such as inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, psoriasis, and even asthma. Omega-three fatty acids also boost your immunity by protecting white blood cells from free radicals that damage them and keep you healthy all year long. The benefits of taking omega 3 supplements in adults are truly amazing and numerous which is why it is important to add this nutrient into your daily diet however possible.
Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce your risk of diabetes.
Omega-three fatty acids can improve insulin resistance which helps control blood sugar levels. It has also been shown to reduce diabetic neuropathy pain and lower fasting glucose levels in type 2 diabetics!
It can help control arthritis.
Omega-3s have strong anti-inflammatory properties which can reduce or prevent inflammation throughout your body, especially in your joints and muscles where you feel arthritis pain.
Taking Omega-3 supplements has been shown to reduce the pain and stiffness in people suffering from arthritis. These supplements can be very helpful even if you do not suffer from severe cases of arthritis. This benefit is most effective when paired with regular physical exercise.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help with allergies.
There has been some promising research in studies that omega-3 can also help people with allergies. Now we're not saying fish oil cures allergies; however, we've seen some pretty amazing results. But, we recommend talking to your doctor before trying any supplement or dietary change if you'd like to alleviate allergies (especially if you take other medications regularly).
What are some important things to consider?
It's also important to remember that Omega-3s are delicate! They're very sensitive to heat, light, and air. This means that if your supplement isn't fully sealed or contains "expired" oils then it could lose its power. Some manufacturers will even use terms like "molecularly distilled" or "ultra-pure" on their labels – which can be misleading since there's no official definition for these terms.
Also, keep in mind that not all supplements are created equally! Make sure you have a reputable brand so you actually get what you pay for.
How to find an Omega-3 supplement?
Here are some tips on choosing the right supplement for your needs:
Look out for the dose: Make sure your supplement contains at least 500-1000 mg of EPA and DHA per capsule (you can also look for 'total EPA+DHA content' on the label).
Check out the ingredients: The product should be made of 100% fish oil. It should contain high amounts of DHA and EPA, but it should not include additional vitamins or minerals that are not part of omega-3s.
Be wary of costs: A quality supplement will cost you more than $20 dollars – but if you're really trying to save money then just keep in mind that you get what you pay for! Less expensive supplements may be good, but they may also have lower concentrations or less purity.
Finally, take a close look at the expiration date. They should last about two years if unopened and one year if opened.
Where to buy Omega-3 supplements?
There are many brands that you can find in drugstores and grocery stores, but we recommend going with a trusted supplement company that you've heard of. A good brand will contain the right combination and quantity of DHA and EPA at the correct levels (at least 500-1000 mg per dose).
Applied Science Nutrition's Omega-3 Supplement
Applied Science Nutrition's Omega-3 is a great-tasting, liquid pill omega 3 that is essential for the maintenance of good health. The fatty acids found in Omega-3 are important in preventing and managing heart disease, on top of many other health concerns. There is also substantial evidence that omega-3 aids in brain health, weight loss, eye health, and skin health. It is key to get high-quality omega 3 in order to get the most benefits possible. Our omega 3 comes from wild-caught fish such as Salmon, Mackerel, Herring and other plant-based sources. It contains a balance of high potency Omega 3 containing EPA, DHA and DPA in a pill form.
We hope this article was helpful! If you have any additional questions or comments please feel free to contact us! We'd love to reply as soon as possible. And don't forget to check out other articles on our blog about omega 3s!