Your Quick Guide to Omega-3
By now, you know omega-3 is good for you. You may have heard that omega-3 is great for bone health, heart health, and can even help balance mood, but do you know why? Do you know the difference between quality omega-3 and generic omega-3?
In this quick guide to omega-3, you’ll learn:
Most omega-3 supplements on the market make outrageous claims and don’t provide the quality nutrients to be effective. It’s our goal to help you become an educated consumer and understand what to look for in quality omega-3 supplements. Here are some key facts:
Omega-3 is part of a large class of natural fats, polyunsaturated fats known as the “good fats”. The most common omega-3 is α-Linolenic acid (alpha-Linolenic acid or ALA), which you can find in plants. ALA is an essential fatty acid because humans cannot produce it on their own and it must be consumed via food or supplements.
A critical source of omega-3 is eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which gets converted from ALA by only 5-10 percent. The other important source of omega-3, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) only gets converted from EPA by 5 percent or less. The cellular environment of ALA, DHA and EPA is so important that it has played an integral role in human evolution.
EPA and DHA are most commonly found in algae and fish that eat algae such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel. ALA is found in chia seeds, flaxseed oil, olives, seaweed, walnuts and other nuts and plants. If you only consumed plants or nuts, your body would only convert 5 percent of EPA from ALA, and less than 5 percent of DHA from EPA.
Bottom line: To get healthy levels of EPA and DHA, you need omega-3 supplements.
Let’s face it, the average American diet consists of fast food in saturated fats, high sodium, and refined sugar. Most Americans consume grains, corn oils, soy beans, and grain-fed meat with high concentrations of omega-6 fatty acids.
What are omega-6 fatty acids?
Omega-6 fatty acids are in the same class of polyunsaturated fats as omega-3, but they are considered “bad fats”. The most important omega 6 in biological functions is arachidonic acid (AA) which can be metabolized to trigger inflammatory pain responses, and can increase the risk of disease, such as cardiovascular disease or even heart attack.
We need omega-6 in small amounts to sustain our immune system and pain threshold. Contrary to omega 6, omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and provide fuel and function in the brain and body. For this reason, we need to balance omega-6 with omega-3, ideally at a 1:1 ratio. Sadly, the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio for most Americans is 10:1 to 20:1.
Bottom line: Consuming high quality omega-3 supplements are vital to fight disease and achieve optimal health.
The adequate intake of omega-3 is 1.1 g or 1,100 mg per day for women and 1.6 g or 1,600 mg per day for men. The average omega-3 supplement contains 1,000 mg of fish oil, but the concentration of EPA and DHA can vary.
Most generic omega-3 supplements on the market include only 5 to 25 percent of EPA and DHA, which is simply not enough to get any nutritional value. For example, you may see it contains 1,000 mg of fish oil, but only 75 mg of EPA or 50 mg of DHA on the nutrition label.
A quality omega-3 supplement will display “omega-3 EPA – DHA” or detail the amount on the label. It will not display “fish oil” or “omega-3 fish oil”. It’s important to read the nutritional label on supplements. Remember the amount of EPA and DHA will vary per brand.
Ideally, the ratio of EPA to DHA in omega-3 should be at least 2.3:1 and highly concentrated. For example, Ocean blue® Omega-3 2100™ with Olcenic® is highly concentrated with 88 percent EPA and DHA. Olcenic® is a particular blend of omega-3’s EPA and DHA. It is composed of 57 percent EPA and 23 percent DHA; a unique blend of these two potent substances. Olcenic® isn’t “fish oil” but a blend of healthy omega-3s that are pharmaceutical grade.
Bottom line: Omega-3 supplements with more than 80 percent of EPA and DHA with Olcenic® are more effective than generic supplements.
Fish oil and omega-3 are not created equal. Beware the myth of fish oil: All fish are not a good source of omega-3. The best natural source of omega-3 is cold-water, oily fish with zero to low mercury, such as wild-caught salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies and sardines.
Most generic fish oil supplements are sourced from fish high in mercury, purine and fillers. Generic fish oil contains about 20-30 percent of omega-3 and 70-80 percent of filler and “bad fats”. While most fish have some source of omega-3, tuna, tilapia and mahi-mahi have the highest amounts of mercury and other contaminants.
Walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, and grass-fed beef and grass-fed dairy provide a good source of omega-3, but in very low amounts. It simply isn’t enough to fulfill the daily adequate intake.
Bottom line: Omega-3 supplements sourced from wild-caught fish are the best source of omega-3 for nutritional value and safety.
Omega-3 can be considered “nature’s most powerful medication”. Everyday there is a new study regarding the health benefits of Omega-3. Several studies have clinically proven to show that Omega-3:
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves heart health
- Improves brain function and memory in adults
- Increases neurodevelopment in infants
- Supports strong muscles, bone, tooth and joint health
- Boosts energy and a heathy immune system
Health is wealth. While Americans struggle with omega-3 deficiency, taking quality omega-3 supplements daily with a balanced meal and steady exercise routine can help revitalize your overall health and wellness.
If you missed it, here’s why you need omega-3:
- To get healthy levels of EPA and DHA
- Vital to fight disease and achieve optimal health
- Omega-3 with more than 80 percent of EPA and DHA is more effective
- Omega-3 sourced from wild-caught fish is the best source of omega-3
We want our readers to stay healthy and happy. Keep checking our blog for more helpful information, recipes and exercise routines.
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