There is a wide variety of Omega 3 supplements on the market. How to find the best one for you? What should you be looking for to make the right choice for your health?
Omega 3s are "essential" fatty acids, meaning they are a necessary part of our diet as they are indispensable to a good health. Our body cannot produce them. The main marine sources of Omega 3 are from fish oil, krill oil, herring roe, and certain microalgae. The main plant source of Omega 3 oils is derived from flax seed, hemp, chia and pumpkin seeds.
Marine sources of Omega 3 are composed of long chain molecules EPA and DHA, while those from plant sources are made of molecules with shorter chains, including ALA (alpha linolenic acid).
It is important to read labels to differentiate the amount of oil proportions of Omega 3. For example, a capsule can contain 1000 mg of oil and provide only 300 mg of Omega 3 (180 EPA and 120 DHA), while another also containing 1000 mg will provide 600 mg of Omega 3 (400 EPA and 200 DHA).
Balancing between "EPA" and "DHA":
• For mood swings and depression, it is recommended to choose a formula rich in EPA, with little or no DHA. About 1000 mg of EPA per day.
• For inflammatory problems, we also opt for a formula that is richer in EPA. One can increase its consumption up to 2000 or even 3000 mg of Omega 3 daily.
• During pregnancy and breastfeeding, and for infants and children all the way to adolescence, choose a formula that is rich in DHA, with little or no EPA. DHA is important for brain development.
• For general health, there is no particular indication other than consuming Omega 3s daily.
• For cognitive health, it is by taking Omega 3s high in DHA on a regular basis that there will be protective benefits in the long run.
• For cardiovascular support and to help increase HDL (good cholesterol), combine EPA and DHA, around 1000 mg of Omega 3 daily.
• In presence of high triglycerides, you should increase your consumption of EPA and DHA to 2500-3000mg per day.
Krill oil and herring roe
These products provide Omega 3s that are naturally associated with phospholipids, thus increasing their bioavailability. Phospholipids are guardians of all our cell membranes and contribute to the assimilation and effects of Omega 3s. Even if the amount of EPA and DHA in krill oil capsule or herring roe is lower than that of fish oils, phospholipids offer particular advantages. They aid digestion, absorption and allow better use of Omega 3.
In addition, these products are rich in astaxanthin, an antioxidant of great value to protect nerve tissue, eye (macula) and skin.
Herring eggs also provide choline, an essential nutrient needed for cognitive health and proper functioning of the liver. Choline is a nutrient precursor of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter for memory and learning.
Suitable for vegetarians and vegans, this is the only plant source of long chain Omega 3s. The benefits of Omega 3s in seaweed are essentially the same as those from fish according to some researches.
Note that Omega 3 in marine algae naturally provides more DHA than EPA.
Flax, hemp, chia and pumpkin (in form of seed or oil)
All these seeds and oils provide short-chain Omega 3s (ALA) that the body must convert in order to use as DHA or EPA. Unfortunately, this conversion process is rather low. These products are an excellent source of essential fatty acids that should be considered in our daily diet. However, we cannot consider them a high source of concentrated Omega 3s.
Omega 3s are among the most important nutrients for health. Their benefits are undeniable and they deserve a place in your daily life in whatever form you chose.