Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to human health. Omega-3s are essential fats because the human body cannot synthesize or produce them naturally, thus it must be sourced through the diet. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are considered good fats because it helps in maintaining overall body health and lowers the risks of developing chronic diseases and helps maintain good brain function. Popular sources of omega-3s are cold water fatty fish like salmon, tuna, cod, squids and terrestrial sources like green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits. First world and Western diets tend to be low in omega-3 and rich in omega-6 thus it creates an imbalance in the overall health that can lead to different diseases and ailments.
Experts believe that getting your daily requirement of omega-3 fatty acids from your diet is the best of the additional nutrients and minerals that the body can get. But if you’re keen on taking supplements to enhance your omega-3 intake, then you can follow the tips below in choosing the right omega-3 supplement for you.
- Determine or know the source of omega-3. When looking for a supplement, it is very important to know how to choose the best one for you. With so many omega-3 supplements out in the market today, understanding the differences between the different omega-3 supplements will help you narrow down your choices. Omega-3 polyunsaturated acids ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) can be acquired from different sources and will have different functions and effect to the human body.
- If you are a vegetarian or vegan, supplements containing ALA are for you. ALA are sourced from seeds, nuts, vegetable oil, and berries. ALA is converted to EPA and DHA once ingested although it needs more metabolic work for it to be processed. It has a low conversion rate from 0. 2% to 8% on average and with 21% for women. ALA will still have the same benefits such as anti-inflammation, reducing heart disease and maintaining normal brain function just like EPA and DHA found in animal sources.
- Take algae supplements if you’re not into krill or fish oil. Algae omega-3 supplements will have the same levels as fish oil, krill oil and calamari oil. Although calamari oil, compared to fish oil, has higher levels of EPA and DHA. These two polyunsaturated fatty acids are synthesized naturally by algae. This is also a good source of EPA and DHA for vegan and vegetarians.
- Take fish or calamari oil supplements. These two are the most readily available in the market. Krill oil has been pulled out of the market because of sustainability issues. Calamari oil has higher levels of omega-3 DHA and EPA than fish oil. If you’re not too panicky on eating fish and squid, then it is better to enhance your weekly diet with it.
- Omge-3 supplements will give your required daily allowance of ALA, DHA and EPA which helps in preventing inflammation in the body.
- Supplements high in DHA will improve cognitive function and promote brain health. High DHA intake is linked with lowering the risks of developing depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease and other mental issues. It also alleviates the symptoms of these mental conditions. DHA is also linked in improving school children’s memory and learning abilities.
- Omega-3 supplements are good for pregnant women. Omega-3 is essential in a child’s, brain, eyesight, skin and fetus development.
- Know how much omega-3 you need to take. There are different factors that you need to consider before taking omega-3 fatty acids. Age and gender are some of the factors to be considered. You can ask your trusted physician to check how much you’ll need to get your daily requirement of omega-3.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women will require 400mg/day of DHA and 100mg/day of EPA. Infants and growing babies need omega-3 fatty acids to enhance brain development and nervous system development.
- For kids aging between 2-10 years old, 50mg/day of EPA and 100mg/day of DHA will help in their intelligence and emotional quotient. Kids between 11-18 years old will require 100mg/day of EPA and 200mg/day of DHA. This will help in alleviating moods swings and mood disorders among teenagers.
- For women 500-1000mg/day of DHA and 250-500mg/day EPA is required. Taking omega-3s will lower the risks of developing breast cancer and other types of cancer.
- For men, 100-500mg/day of DHA and 360-800mg/day of EPA. This will help maintain good heart and a healthy cardiovascular system. It also helps prevents stress and depression.
- Omega3 supplements come in different forms. It can be powdered, capsule or as oil. Different brands of omega-3 supplements will differ in quality and the source. Choosing the right one for should depend on how much you need and what form you are comfortable with.
- Preference. It will depend on your preference whether you will go for oil or powder or capsule. Oil tends to have a fishy aftertaste, powder contains additional nutrients and minerals and capsules will dissolve once it reaches the intestines which is right for people with stomach issues.
- Check the label and nutrition facts. Some supplements have additional minerals, herbs and other nutrients.
- Check the purity of the supplement. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration regulates supplements. Most supplement companies will include information on purity testing on their product’s label. Don’t go for products that does not have any information on their label.
Before you take any omega-3 supplements, consult your trusted physician firs to avoid any side effects or conflicts with other medicines or supplements you are taking.