Omega 3 is one of the most popular dietary supplements and is often referred to as fish oil, but that is not completely correct. Find out why you should know it and how you should take it for the best effects.
What is omega 3?
Omega 3s are fatty acids with some special properties. They are polyunsaturated fatty acids (just like omega 6), which means they have more than one free bond between carbon atoms and the first of these is on the third Omega carbon (meaning counted from the tail). This is how they get their name, which may not mean much to you. What is important is that they have specific properties that are beneficial to health.
Omega 3 fats contain one of the two essential fatty acids, which means that the body cannot make them on its own and we must consume them with diet or supplements.
This specific fatty acid is called Alpha Lipoic Acid or ALA. The body can also make other omega 3 fatty acids from it, the most important of which are:
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and
- DHA (docosapentaenoic acid)
How does omega 3 affect your health?
Omega fatty acids in the body serve not only as a source of energy but also as structural molecules (for example, cell membranes are made of them) and as signaling molecules through their metabolites (eg various prostaglandins affect the functioning of the immune system and thus also the inflammatory processes that underlie all modern chronic diseases).
Omega 3 thus:
- take care of good intercellular communication
- lower body inflammation
- reduce pain
- prevents too much blood clothing
- helps with burning off fat
- and more and more.
Omega 3 affects just about every cell in the body and takes care of the health of individual cells as well as the balance of the organism as a whole.
Why is omega 3 so important?
Given that omega 3 is essential for life, it’s probably self-evident that it’s important, but why is there so much talk and writing about it?
The latter most likely stems from an extensive set of studies that have shown positive effects on the body and health with the additional intake of omega 3 fats. Taking Omega 3 improves indicators of cardiovascular disease, inflammatory processes, cognitive functions, the immune system and raises the IQ in children.
All in all, however, it is probably due to the large deviation of the modern diet from what is optimal for our body. Through the processes of replacing animal products (especially fats) with plants, reducing fat content in foods, food processing, food storage and preservation, livestock farming and the like,omega 3 fatty acid levels in our diet has greatly reduced and replaced with omega 6 fats.
I have already mentioned that all omega fatty acids have more than just an energy function in the body. The same goes also for omega 6. The problem, however, is that there must be a balance between omega 3 and 6, as they have opposing effects. For example, omega 3 reduces inflammation omega 6 increases them and so on.
It is estimated that the optimal ratio between Omega 3 and Omega 6 is somewhere between 1:1 to 1:3, but with the modern diet, we have pushed this ratio to the range of 1:15 or even higher, which greatly affects our health.
Can I get enough omega 3 from food?
The primary source of omega 3 fatty acids in nature are algae and plankton, meaning it will be present throughout the marine food chain. Fish and seafood are therefore the primary source of quality omega 3 for humans.
Some omega 3 is also found in other foods, such as whole milk from grass fed livestock, quality eggs, walnuts and flaxseed. The problem with these sources is that they also contain large amounts of omega 6 fatty acids, so we cannot count on them from the point of view of improving the balance of fatty acids in the body.
Plant omega 3s further do not contain EPA and DHA, and their conversion in the human body is, although theoretically possible, often very slow.
If you want to consume enough omega 3 fats, you must first reduce your intake of omega 6 fats (vegetable fats). With a very high intake of omega 6, you will not be able to consume enough omega 3 from your food to be able to restore balance.
If you do not eat a lot of vegetable fats, your balance will be maintained with about three meals of quality fish (eg wild salmon) per week. Canned tuna does not contribute to omega 3’s due to the canning process.
You will also have additional needs for omega 3’s if you are overweight. More body fat means more inflammatory factors in the body and thus a greater need for omega 3.
Additional omega 3 is also recommended for pregnant women, nursing mothers and babies, and children.
Omega 3 and dietary supplements
The highest quality omega 3 supplements are quality fish oils because they contain high amounts of anti-inflammatory EPA and DHA for the brain. In addition, cod liver oil has a high amount of natural vitamin A and some vitamin D, which is a very welcome addition.
If you can not take fish oil, the next best are omega 3 algae supplements. These will contain some EPA and a lot of DHA.
Other vegetable omega 3 oils are not of the same quality and will not have the same effects on the body.
Sometimes it surprises me how we treat fish oil as a dietary supplement, and hemp or flaxseed is food…
How to take omega 3
The usual dose of omega 3 is between 3 and 5g daily, best taken with one of the meals. If you are taking omega 3 capsules, check the label and if you have the oil take 1 teaspoon a day.
If you are in the higher risk population, you can also increase this dose a little.
If you want to quickly quench some increased inflammatory processes, you can take up to 20g per day, but only short term for up to about 14 days.
Too much omega 3 fats can also be harmful because they are fats that, due to their chemical structure, oxidize the fastest, meaning they get rancid.
That is why it is important that you store omega 3 correctly and choose only the highest quality products.
Omega 3 supplements quality
With omega 3 supplements, pay special attention to quality, as bad oils can even have a negative effect on health. For example, any oxidized fatty acids in the body will trigger a wave of protective processes that will in turn raise inflammatory processes in the body, even if these oxidized fats are from omega 3. And omega 3’s oxidize the fastest.
So choose only quality manufacturers who regularly test their products at independent laboratories. Omega 3 must be fresh, free of solvents, heavy metals and other chemicals from poor fish sources or poor production methods.
Also pay attention to storage, even if this is not explicitly required on the packaging. It will extend the life of the product. Always store fish oils in a cool (refrigerator) and dark place in airtight packaging. Factors that accelerate oxidation are the presence of oxygen, heat and sunlight.
We recommend that you purchase only verified brands from suppliers who properly test, transport and store fish oil.
At Fmed, we are absolutely committed to the highest possible quality and we have chosen the world number 1 in the production of cod liver oil, Rosita. Our transport is always refrigerated, all our oils are always stored in the refrigerator and at your request we send you the oil in a special package that we protect from heat.