Omega-3 fatty acids are fats that perform a number of very important functions in your body. You can get them by eating foods like fish and nuts, and you can get even more by taking omega-3 supplements.
Find out if these supps are right for you and where to find them.
Best Omega 3 Supplements
Are you looking for the best nutritional supplements to get more omega-3 fatty acids? These are our top tips:
Omega-3 fatty acids are types of polyunsaturated fats that your body needs to function optimally.
There are three main types of omega-3 fats:
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA)
Foods like herring, sardines, salmon, and seaweed are high in DHA and EPA. ALA is concentrated in plant foods like vegetable oil, walnuts, chia seeds, and flax seeds.
ALA can be used unchanged for energy. However, your body needs to convert it to DHA and EPA before it can be helpful for other important functions.
DHA and EPA have many other important tasks to do, including:
For your information, although your body can convert ALA into DHA and EPA, the conversion rate is very low. Only 0.5 to 5 percent of ALA converts to DHA, and 5 to 8 percent converts to EPA.
Try to get enough DHA and EPA straight from your diet or with a supplement.
How many omega-3 fatty acids do you need each day?
Most people can aim to get around 200 to 500 milligrams of EPA and DHA per day. Eating a few servings of fatty fish or taking an omega-3 supplement every week will get you there.
Some experts recommend consuming 2 to 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Studies have shown that DHA and EPA supplements can benefit your health in many ways.
1. Can reduce inflammation
Not all inflammation is bad. Some inflammation is actually important to your health. However, chronic inflammation is a major cause of illness.
Research suggests that taking omega-3 supplements may help lower markers of inflammation such as interleukin-6, C-reactive protein, and tumor necrosis factor α in some people. This could help reduce the risk of illness and improve overall health.
2. Might reduce your risk of heart disease
Omega-3 fatty acids are strongly linked to heart health. Research suggests that taking omega-3 supplements may help lower risk factors for heart disease like high triglyceride levels.
Research has found that omega-3 supplements can lower triglyceride levels both in general and in people at increased risk of heart disease.
Additionally, omega-3s appear to have even more heart health benefits, including:
These effects can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Remember, the omega-3 supplements you can find in the store are not the same as prescription omega-3 products. These must come from a doctor.
3. Might be beneficial for brain health
Omega-3 fatty acids support brain health in a number of ways.
Studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids can help protect against mental decline and improve brain function later in life.
Omega-3 fatty acids also play an important role in brain development. This is why doctors recommend that you take an omega-3 supplement during pregnancy.
4. That’s not all, folks
Omega-3s can benefit your health in many other ways.
Taking omega-3 supplements can help improve symptoms of depression, reduce pregnancy complications, improve insulin resistance, and much more.
OK, so omega-3s are critical to health. But do you have to take them as a supplement?
If you eat at least two servings of omega-3-rich seafood (like sardines, salmon, mackerel, or herring) per week, you may not need an omega-3 supplement.
However, if you’re not a seafood lover or if you don’t eat fish for ethical reasons, consider a supplement.
There are several risk factors for developing low levels of DHA and EPA, including:
- following a vegan diet
- to be assigned female at birth
- with certain diseases (such as cystic fibrosis)
Your doctor may recommend high-dose fish oil supplement if you are at risk of developing heart disease or if you have an inflammatory condition such as rheumatoid arthritis.
If you are unsure about whether to take an omega-3 supplement, contact a doctor or registered nutritionist for personal advice.
If you are interested in an omega-3 supplement, it is important to choose the right strain for you.
There are several types of omega-3 supplements:
- Fish oil is obtained from fatty fish. Processed fish oils (which are purified and concentrated to increase their EPA and DHA levels) are the most common type.
- Cod liver oil is high in DHA and EPA and contains vitamin D and vitamin A. Note that the DHA and EPA levels of cod liver oil supplements vary.
- Krill oil is made from tiny, shrimp-like creatures (krill) that are filled with DHA and EPA.
- Algae oil is a plant-based alternative to fish and krill oil that is safe for people on a vegan diet. It is effective in increasing DHA and EPA levels.
DHA and EPA levels can vary between supplements, but most contain 500 to 1,200 mg per serving. Talk to your doctor if you need dosage advice.
Always choose omega-3 supplements from trusted brands.
Pro tip: Store your omega-3 fatty acids in a cool, dark place. Some manufacturers even recommend keeping them in the refrigerator. Omega-3s are fats and can go rancid if they get too hot.
There are tons of omega-3 supplements on the market. Here are some great options for fish and seaweed supplements:
Omega-3 supplements are safe for most people. According to the National Institutes of Health, even high doses of up to 5 grams per day have no apparent negative health effects.
Most people don’t experience any side effects when taking omega-3 supplements. But you can experience a fishy aftertaste or a bit of indigestion after popped a fish oil pill.
Keep in mind that omega-3 supplements can interact with blood-thinning drugs. High doses of food supplements can impair blood clotting.
If you are taking blood-thinning medications, speak to your doctor before taking omega-3 supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids are very important to your health. While you can get these helpful fats from food, omega-3 supplements have been linked to some formidable benefits.
If you don’t eat a lot of seafood (or lots of omega-3-rich foods in general), talk to a doctor about omega-3 supplements. A supplement could be a great way to ensure that you have enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.