Should you take Omega-3 Supplements? How to Choose The Right One For You

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that everyone needs as part of essential dietary requirements. There are two other Omega fatty acids - Omega-6 and Omega-9, however we can easily obtain this from food sources or through production in our bodies, with most people lacking enough Omega-3s in their diet. 

There are 3 types of omega-3 fatty acids: Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). EPA and DHA are usually found in fish and other sources, like salmon, sardines and cod liver oil. ALA can be found in plant oils like flaxseed, soybean and canola oils. While ALA can be converted into EPA and DHA the rate of conversion is low, and the effectiveness of EPA and DHA acids tend to be higher than ALA.

Since most of these omega-3 essential fatty acids cannot be produced by the body, thus the way to obtain them is to consume more foods or supplements for nutritional support. It is recommended for adults to consume about 250mg to 500mg of EPA and DHA per day, which is the equivalent of 2 to 3 servings of oily fish per week or via supplementation with daily Omega-3 supplements.

You can find Omega-3s in these food sources: 
  • Oily fish, eg. salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and sardines
  • Nuts and seeds, eg. flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts
  • Seaweed and algae
  • Plant oils, eg. soybean oil and flaxseed oil

Benefits of Omega-3 supplements

Omega-3 fatty acids are needed as an essential part of supporting the heart, brain and vision. Some of the benefits include:

Heart health: Omega-3s help to maintain healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems and regulate blood pressure.

Anti-Inflammatory: It is thought that Omega-3s reduce inflammatory reactions, thus leading to lower cardiovascular disease, reducing the rate of arthritis, auto-immune conditions and even joint and muscle pain. They can also help to repair cells and reduce swelling, thus improving skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. 

Memory and Cognitive Health: Omega-3s are essential building blocks of the brain, which is made up of 60% fat. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, Omega-3s can help improve cognitive function and memory. 

Fetal Development: DHA, one of the Omega-3 fatty acids, plays an important function during pregnancy to boost development for the fetus, especially for the healthy growth of the baby’s brain, eyesight and nervous system.

Eye Health: DHA also plays an important structural role in your retina, which is required for visual recognition and may contribute to maintaining your vision. Lower levels of DHA may also affect age-related macular degeneration (AMD), creating even more of a need to consume sufficient Omega-3s. 

Side effects of taking Omega-3 supplements

Omega-3 supplements are generally safe to be taken according to the recommended dosages instructed on the bottles. According to the European Food Safety Association, the maximum dosage should not be more than 5000mg per day. Omega-3s may also cause some discomfort like acid reflux, with belching, nausea and stomach upset due to the high fat content of fish oils. Consuming more than the required amounts of Omega-3s may also increase the risk of bleeding. Do consult your healthcare professional if you have any questions regarding taking any supplements.

What to look out for when choosing Omega-3 supplements

There are a wide variety of Omega-3 supplements out there and selecting the right ones for you is important. Some factors to take note are:

Type of Omega-3s: Do the Omega-3s supplements contain EPA, DHA or ALAs? 

For example, Omega Nutrition Hi-Lignan Flax Oil is rich in ALAs from both the flaxseed oil and lignans from the seeds, while Eskimo 3 Fish Oil on the other hand contains both EPA and DHA. 

Amount of Omega-3s: What is the amount of Omega-3s in each supplement?

Eskimo 3 Fish Oil supplement contains Omega 3 fatty acids 500mg, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) 240mg and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) 160mg per 3 capsules.

Form of supplement: Is the supplement dispensed in gel capsules or in liquid form? 

For instance, our Eskimo Kids supplement is produced in liquid form to make it easier for kids to consume. 

Origin and production: How is the Omega-3 extracted to produce the supplement? 

Our Omega Nutrition Cold Milled Flax Seed is extracted without any heat used on the milling blades, ensuring that the fatty acids are kept intact.

As can be seen, Omega-3 fatty acids have a myriad of benefits for the human body and is utilised in essential development in parts of the brain, eye and heart. While you can consume some amounts through your daily diet, most people may require additional support in the form of Omega-3 supplementation, and educating yourself about the different types and benefits can help with finding the right type of supplement for you.
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