General Health

Omega-3 Supplement Guide: What To Buy And When

Minerals and vitamins most often get an emphasis when looking at living a healthier life.

These nutrients are found in many foods that we consume on a daily basis. They can also be obtained through supplements. Other nutrients are also important for the body. One of these that need emphasis would be omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids belong to a family of nutrients known as polyunsaturated fats. These fatty acids are found in various areas of the body. They provide several important health benefits.

An appropriate intake of omega-3 fatty acids can also reduce the risk of some diseases.

This article takes a closer look at omega-3 fatty acids. We consider why it is essential for people to get enough of these fatty acids each day.

We look at what they do to the body. The article also considers the different sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

What Is Omega 3?

Before looking at what supplements are best, it is important first to consider what exactly omega-three fatty acids are.

This is a nutrient often advised, but many people are not entirely sure what these fatty acids are. Omega 3 fatty acids are essentially specific types of polyunsaturated fats.

They are linked to omega-six fatty acids. A combined intake of both is needed. Omega 3 fatty acids, however, needs to be consumed in larger amounts. High consumption of omega-six fatty acids might reduce the effectiveness of omega-three fatty acids in the body.

In Western Countries, most people do consume too much omega-six fatty acids. There is also a common concern regarding a lack of omega-three fatty acids. Many people do not eat enough foods with these fatty acids.

A study1 in the Nutrition Journal explains that most adults in the U.S. are not consuming enough omega-three fatty acids. This data was compared to the official dietary intake recommendations.

Several medical fields also consider omega 3 fatty acid content important. One study2 explains that levels of these fatty acids are to be taken into account in psychiatric practice too.

Omega 3 deficiency may lead to a worsening of certain mental disorders. These include schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder.

Omega 3 fatty acids are found in all cells within the human body. They are considered especially important for specific areas. These generally include the brain. High concentrations of these fatty acids can also be found in the retinas.

There are three major types of omega 3 fatty acids. A person needs to understand the difference between these. They include:

  • ALA: Also called Alpha-linolenic acid. This is a very common form of omega 3. It is primarily used for the production of energy. Some APA is also converted into DHA and EPA. APA is readily available in plant-based products.

  • EPA: An active form of omega 3 and also called Eicosapentaenoic acid. EPA plays several critical roles in the body. A small amount of EPA can be converted to DHA.

  • DHA: The most important form of omega-3 fatty acids. DHA is also known as Docosahexaenoic acid. This is an active form of these fatty acids. It plays a crucial role in retina and brain health. Many other parts of the body also rely on DHA. This form of omega-3 fatty acids can generally be found in animal products.

Why Is Omega 3 Important For Health?

Many studies have focused on determining how omega 3 fatty acids affect human health. These studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids play several critical roles in our bodies.

It is important to understand the health benefits offered by these fatty acids. This helps a person understand why it is important to increase the intake of these polyunsaturated fats.

Below is an overview of some studies that have shown the health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids.

Eye Health

There is a rich concentration of omega 3 fatty acids in the retinas. The retinas help a person see clearly. In particular, a very specific type of omega 3 fatty acid seems to play an important role in the retinas. This type is called DHA, also known as Docosahexaenoic acid.

Studies have found that DHA is actually a critical structural component of the retinas3. Some studies show a deficiency of DHA may cause new vision-related problems4.

Increased intake of omega 3 fatty acids has also been linked to improved eye health. There is also a reduced risk of a condition known as macular degeneration5. This benefit becomes more prominent when increasing the intake of DHA.

Reduced Risk Of Heart Disease

Omega-3 essential fatty acids also play a role in heart health. It was previously found that people who ate more fish had a lower chance of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Omega 3 fatty acids can provide several benefits that reduce the risk of heart disease and a reduction in the risks of heart attack and coronary heart disease.

These fatty acids may help to reduce triglyceride concentrations in the blood6. Blood pressure regulation is also significantly improved with a healthy intake of omega-3 fatty acids. This is beneficial for people with hypertension. High blood pressure is a serious contributing factor to heart disease.

Omega-3 fatty acids may also help to increase HDL cholesterol. This is a good kind of cholesterol. It helps to keep the blood clean. HDL cholesterol is also able to remove some LDL cholesterol from blood vessels. These fatty acids can also help to remove a build-up of plaque in arteries further. This helps to reduce the risk of arteries hardening.

Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids have also been linked to a reduction in inflammation. Inflammatory responses in the body can contribute to the development of heart-related diseases.

Brain health

Both EPA and DHA are essential for basic brain functions. The powerful antioxidant astaxanthin can also be found in krill oil. It helps reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain.

Most conditions that involve degeneration of the nervous system demonstrate either pre-existing or ongoing inflammation. This includes conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Krill oil can also help to slow the aging of your brain. One study found that krill oil treatment decreased the expression of dopamine-regulated proteins. This led to higher concentrations of dopamine in the blood as well as in the brain.

Other Benefits

There are many more health benefits linked to omega 3 fatty acids. Some of these include:

  • Reduction in symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

  • Reduction in symptoms linked to metabolic syndrome.

  • Helps to fight against inflammation rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Beneficial for people with autoimmune diseases.

  • Improvement in certain mental disorders, including depression.

Types Of Omega 3

Different types of omega 3 fatty acids exist. Some are more effective than others. When looking at these, it is always important to consider the forms of omega 3 that they possess.

Many supplements offer a high dose of APA. The EPA omega 3 fatty acid is also readily available in many supplements. DHA, however, is rare to find in high concentrations.

Fish Oil

This is the supplement closes to what real fish can offer a person. Up to 31% of fish oil can consist of DHA and EPA. It depends on the species of fish used in the production of the supplement. Fish oil also generally contain additional nutrients. These usually include vitamin D, as well as vitamin A.

Processed Fish Oil

Sometimes, fish oil is processed. This allows the concentration of DHA and EPA to be modified by chemists. Either triglycerides or ethyl esters are used to make these adjustments. Up to 90% of processed fish oil supplements may consist of EPA and DHA. In some cases, these supplements only focus on one specific form of omega 3 fatty acid.

Krill Oil

Krill oil is an extract from a sea animal known as the Antarctic krill. It is exceptionally high in omega 3 fatty acids. It also absorbs more easily compared to other sources of omega 3 fatty acids. This is also a powerful antioxidant due to the presence of astaxanthin. Due to the short lifespan of krill, contaminants in krill oil is generally not a problem. The oil is also high in DHA, one of the most important omega 3 fatty acids.

Green-Lipped Mussel Oil

Native to the New Zealand region, Green-Lipped Mussel Oil is also a popular supplement. It uses free fatty acids and triglycerides. This type of oil generally contains DHA and EPA. There is also some ETA (Eicosatetraenoic acid) in Green-Lipped Mussel Oil. This is an environmentally friendly form of omega 3 fatty acids.

Alpha-Linolenic Acid

ALA oil is the plant-based form of omega 3 fatty acids. The body can convert APA to both DHA and EPA, but only in very small concentrations. ALA oil is generally not recommended as a good source of omega 3 fatty acids.

Algal Oil

Algal oil is extracted from marine algae. It uses triglycerides to deliver omega 3 fatty acids. These supplements are generally high in both DHA and EPA. It has been found that the DHA concentration in Algal oil is better compared to natural fish oil.

What To Look For When Buying Supplements

There is quite a large variety of omega-3 supplements currently on the market. The process of buying a supplement can be difficult. The large variety makes it hard for a person to know which one they can trust. It is important to know what to look for. This can make the process easier. It can also ensure a person gets the right supplement.

One of the first things to look at is the source of the omega-3 fatty acids in the supplement. Some sources offer higher quality omega 3 fatty acids. Others may have limited amounts of these fatty acids.

Looking at the specific types of Omega-3 fatty acids is also important. It is critical for a person to obtain an adequate amount of DHA in their diet. When their diet does not offer enough DHA, the supplement should have this form of omega-3 fatty acids.

Considering the dose per serving is important too. There is no use in buying an omega-3 fatty acid supplement if its dosage is insufficient. There are different recommendations for how much omega-3 fatty acids should be consumed every day. This is a little confusing. It can make the process of finding the right supplement even more difficult.

Generally, healthy adults should consume a supplement with a good balance between EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. The standard recommendation is between 250mg and 500mg. This is a combined value for EPA and DHA. The recommendations for APA is different. Men should take about 1.6 grams of APA each day. Women require about 1.1 grams of APA.

Individuals with specific health conditions may require a higher dose. People with high triglyceride levels may need to take up to four grams of EPA and DHA daily. Those with coronary artery disease may benefit from up to one gram of DHA and EPA each day.

With depression, anxiety, and other mental conditions, a person is advised to opt for a supplement with a higher concentration of EPA. Up to 2.2 grams of EPA and DHA is advisable for these conditions.

This means that the need differs from one person to another. It is important to consider why the omega-3 supplement will be taken. This helps a person determine how much EPA, DHA, and APA they need on a day-to-day basis for optimal results.

The reputation of the brand needs to be considered too. Many brands manufacture omega-3 supplements. A person needs to do research on these brands.

A look at reviews can help. This gives the individual an idea of how other people have found these supplements to be. A brand with negative reviews should be avoided. The individual should prefer to buy from a brand with a positive reputation.

Which Omega-3 Supplements Are The Best?

We have taken a closer look at the various types of omega 3 fatty acid supplements that exist today. The variety makes things complicated when looking at these different sources.

It is important for a person to consider their own needs when determining what the best supplement would be for them.

While there are many sources, not all provide the most essential forms of Omega 3 fatty acids.

Krill oil is often considered the best omega-3 supplement. This is due to the balance of specific omega 3 fatty acids contained in krill oil.

The oil can provide a person with all the most essential types of omega 3s. This includes a higher concentration of DHA than most alternative supplements. The DHA is essential for a healthy brain and also offers benefits for the person’s retinas.

Other sources of Omega-3s include:

  • Flaxseed oil/ ground flaxseeds

  • Chia seeds

  • Oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon, and herrings

Conclusion

Omega 3 fatty acids are types of polyunsaturated fats that are essential for a person’s health. These fatty acids play an especially important role in the retinas of the eyes, as well as the brain.

They are also found in other areas of the body. Increased intake of omega 3 fatty acids may help to reduce the risk of certain diseases linked to inflammation.

There are other health benefits too. Various sources offer omega 3 fatty acids, but they are not all equal.

It is important to consider opting for a higher quality supplement that can provide a richer concentration of DHA, one of the most important forms of omega 3 fatty acids. When it comes to taking a supplement, it is essential to do your homework.

Ben’s Wild Antarctic Krill Oil is sourced from the clean, pure and unpolluted waters of the Antarctic, and is more easily absorbed, more productive, and requires a much lower dose than fish oil to have the same effect.

Taking a high quality, 100% natural, and krill oil supplement have the potential to relieve you of joint pain, improve your mobility, improve your memory and focus, and help improve your overall quality of life.

Sources

  1. Nutrition Journal. (2014) U.S. adults are not meeting recommended levels for fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake: results of an analysis using observational data from NHANES 2003-2008. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3992162/
  2.  BMC: Lipids in Health and Disease. (2016). Detection and treatment of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency in psychiatric practice: Rationale and implementation. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4748485/
  3. Journal of Pediatric Research. (1990) Docosahexaenoic acid is the preferred dietary n-3 fatty acid for the development of the brain and retina. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2136947
  4.  Indian Journal of Pediatrics. (2005) Essential fatty acids, DHA, and the human brain. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15812120
  5.  Journal of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. (2014) Circulating omega-3 Fatty acids and neovascular age-related macular degeneration. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24557349
  6.  Journal of Atherosclerosis. (2007) Age- and dose-dependent effects of an eicosapentaenoic acid-rich oil on cardiovascular risk factors in healthy male subjects. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16879829

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