Many of us know about the importance of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly for brain and heart health, but what you may not know is that omega-3 is derived entirely from what we eat. Like other essential nutrients, our bodies don’t produce them, so it’s important to include omega-3-rich foods or supplements in our diets.
What types of omega-3 are there?
There are three key omega-3 fatty acids that stand out. The first is known as ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which is found in leafy greens and high-fat plant foods like flax seeds and walnuts. The other two, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), can be found in foods like cold-water fatty fish, seafood and algae.
Many of the health benefits associated with omega-3 are attributed to EPA and DHA. Because our bodies must first convert ALA into EPA and DHA, ALA is a less-efficient way to reap all of the benefits omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA have to offer. In fact, studies show that we convert ALA into EPA and DHA at a rate of about five per cent.1 Consuming a direct source of EPA and DHA requires no conversion.
What do EPA and DHA do?
EPA and DHA are particularly important when it comes to maintaining and supporting cardiovascular health by helping lower triglycerides, the levels of blood fats that are linked to heart disease. Omega-3s EPA and DHA also help support cognitive health and brain function. They are crucial to nerve, eye and brain development and DHA makes up more than 90 per cent of the omega-3 content in the brain.2,3
How to supplement your diet with omega-3 fatty acids
The key to enriching your diet with omega-3s is ensuring you choose foods and supplements with EPA and DHA. Seafood is a great source of both EPA and DHA and if you’re vegan, try seaweed salads and nori. Some supplements may have high omega-3 content, but low EPA and DHA. And it’s the EPA and DHA that matter. For instance, a product might say it has 1,000mg of fish oil per capsule. But of that 1,000mg, only 300mg might be EPA and DHA. Look on the medicinal ingredient panel to determine if the product has the amount of EPA and DHA you are looking for. Consider, too, the serving size to compare potencies of EPA and DHA between products.
It is also important to look for products that are third-party tested. Purity and freshness is important as omega-3s are prone to oxidation. Third-party testing will not only validate the potency of a product, but will also show results on label claims, oxidation, environmental contaminants and heavy metals.
Whichever omega-3 EPA and DHA sources you choose, know that adding these rich fatty acids can help with the maintenance of good health, especially cardiovascular health and cognitive and brain function.
NutraSea’s line of omega-3 products come in softgel and liquid forms in a variety of great-tasting flavours like fresh mint, lemon, citrus and bubblegum for the kids—all without any fishy taste. Choose from a range of balanced omega-3 options or try a targeted omega-3 product for prenatal needs, dry eye, arthritis and ADHD. All NutraSea products are excellent sources of EPA and DHA for the maintenance and support of good health, particularly cardiovascular health, brain function and eye health.
All of NutraSea’s omega-3 products are third-party tested for purity and potency. The PureCheck program posts all results online, so you can check the results for the product in your bottle and feel confident that you are taking a pure and effective fish oil. For those who prefer a plant-based option, NutraVege products offer all the same health benefits through an algal-oil sourced omega-3.
- Plourde, M. and S.C. Cunnane, Extremely limited synthesis of long chain polyunsaturates in adults: implications for their dietary essentiality and use as supplements. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, 2007. 32(4): p. 619-34.
- Sugasini D, Yalagala PCR, Subbaiah PV. Efficient Enrichment of Retinal DHA with Dietary Lysophosphatidylcholine-DHA: Potential Application for Retinopathies [published correction appears in Nutrients. 2021 Jun 24;13(7):]. Nutrients. 2020;12(10):3114. Published 2020 Oct 12. doi:10.3390/nu12103114
- Weiser MJ, Butt CM, Mohajeri MH. Docosahexaenoic Acid and Cognition throughout the Lifespan. Nutrients. 2016;8(2):99. Published 2016 Feb 17. doi:10.3390/nu8020099