What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3s play an essential role in our bodies and can be useful in the prevention and management of several common health disorders. 

Katie McTaggart | Jul 30, 2019

What is Omega-3?

Omega-3s are part of the family of “healthy” fats. There are many different types of Omega-3s; however, the two that seem to have the most significant impact on human health are DHA and EPA. Omega-3s play a key role in many body functions. They are needed to make certain hormones that are involved in processes such as blood clotting, vascular function, and inflammation. They are also a significant component of our cell membranes and help in the process of gene regulation.

Omega-3s are considered an essential nutrient because we cannot make them in our body, so we must include them in our diet. If you are not consuming enough Omega-3s, the body will not work as efficiently as they should, and you may start to experience adverse health effects.

Health Benefits of Omega-3

Omega-3s play an essential role in our bodies and can be useful in the prevention and management of several common health disorders.

Heart Health
Research shows that Omega-3s have a positive impact on cardiovascular health. Omega-3s can help lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides, decrease blood pressure, and help keep your heartbeat regular. They also help reduce inflammation, which can prevent damage to blood vessels. These effects on the cardiovascular system help prevent or slow the progression of heart disease.

Brain Health
Another health benefits of Omega-3s include improved brain function. EPA and DHA seem to play an essential role in maintaining healthy brain function as they are a significant component of brain cell membranes. Consuming enough Omega-3s, specifically, DHA can help slow age-related decreases in brain function and memory loss. Research also indicates that Omega-3 supplements high in EPA may be beneficial in reducing symptoms of depression.

Arthritis Pain
The term arthritis means inflammation of the joints, and the anti-inflammatory properties of Omega-3s may help reduce arthritis related-joint pain. It has become relatively common for individuals with arthritis to take an Omega-3 supplement to help manage their pain and reduce the number of NSAIDs they need.

Sources of Omega-3

The best source of Omega-3s is fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, oysters, and sardines. Fish sources are very high in EPA and DHA, which are the two types of Omega-3s that are most useful in the body. You should consume two servings of fatty fish per week to get the amount of Omega-3s that your body needs.

Non-fish sources of Omega-3s include walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, soybeans, and canola oil. Plant sources of Omega-3 do not contain any EPA or DHA. Instead, they are high in other types of Omega-3 called ALA, which is not an active form in the human body. For ALA to be beneficial in the body, it must first be converted to EPA or DHA, which is a process that our body is not very efficient. To get enough Omega-3s from purely plant sources, you would have to eat a considerable amount of these sources, which is not realistic for most people.

The standard North American diet is not high in seafood or plant sources of Omega-3s, making it difficult to get enough Omega-3s through dietary sources alone. For many people, adding an Omega-3 supplement to your daily routine may be a simple solution to overcoming the lack of Omega-3s in the diet.

Fish oil supplements have become very popular and can be a great source of Omega-3s. When selecting a supplement, ensure that it is a combination of both EPA and DHA as they both provide different and essential benefits to the body. It is also imperative to ensure that you are getting a high-quality supplement that has been tested and certified. There is currently no set guideline for how much Omega-3 you should consume each day; however, for most people, a 1g dose seems to be sufficient. If you are someone with a health condition that can be impacted by Omega 3 supplementation, talk to your doctor about what dosage may be right for you.

It’s always good practice to make sure your supplements are third-party certified so you know they are safe, effective and made with quality ingredients. IFOS lets companies test their products to the highest quality, safety, and purity standards across the globe. Then, they showcase their full testing results online for the world to see. Learn more about IFOS (International Fish Oil Standard).

Certifications by Nutrasource does not give medical advice of any kind, including what supplements to take, dosing, and information on specific health conditions. Instead, we encourage you to contact your healthcare provider directly.

Looking for lab-tested, third-party-certified supplements? Explore certified products now.