Why do I need Omega-3 and can I get enough from my diet?
Published February 3, 2015
Omega-3 are essential fatty acids that are required for normal growth and development, and play important roles in vital body functions. Our bodies cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, they therefore must be consumed through food or supplementation.
Omega-3 can be found in fish and other marine sources such as krill and calamari as well as some plant oils. The two main types of omega-3 fatty acids found in foods are:
- Long chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) – These are plentiful in fish, krill and calamari oil, and have been found to have numerous benefits for the body. They help regulate inflammation, support heart and cardiovascular health, maintain joint health and mobility, and support brain structure and function.
- A shorter chain omega-3 fatty acid known as ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) – This is found in canola oil, flaxseed oil, chia seeds and walnuts.1 Although beneficial for health, ALA doesn’t appear to be as potent or have the same benefits as EPA and DHA. The body can partially transform ALA to EPA and DHA, but conversion is limited and it’s therefore recommended to consume EPA and DHA from additional sources.1
Are you getting the omega-3 your body needs?
The suggested daily target of omega-3 for general health and well-being can be achieved by eating around two to three serves of oily fish each week, such as salmon, sardines or mackerel 2,3. Consuming a variety of plant-based or omega-enriched sources such as eggs also provides an added boost. For specific health concerns much higher amounts are required.
If it’s not possible for you to meet your daily omega-3 needs through your diet alone or you need larger amounts to help manage a health condition, then an omega-3 supplement should be considered as an important source of these essential nutrients.
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