What’s the Deal with Omega-3s?

It’s become common knowledge that Omega-3s are some of the healthiest fats you can have, especially for your heart. But how much do you really know about them? Do you know the types, what they can do for you, and where to find them? 

Here’s everything you need to know about omega-3s.* As with any supplement, be sure to check with your doctor before taking.

What Are Omega-3s?

The simple answer: Omega-3s are a group of fatty acids. In your body, they form parts of your cell membranes and brain cells, among other things. 

Alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, is one type of omega-3. It is considered an essential fatty acid because your body needs it for optimal health. That being said, your body cannot produce it—it must be obtained from the diet.

Eicosapentaneoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, are also omega-3 fatty acids. They’re not considered essential because your body can make them from ALA. However, getting some in your diet or from supplements is helpful because your body can only produce a limited amount.

Benefits of Omega-3s*

Research has shown that omega-3s are extremely beneficial to the human body. Some of the many benefits include:

  • Decreased risk of heart disease.
  • Elevation of “good” HDL cholesterol.
  • Lowering of triglycerides.
  • Reduced blood pressure.
  • Support of normal brain development in infants.
  • Protection against cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease during aging.
  • Stabilization of mood.
  • Reduced inflammation.

Food Sources of Omega-3s

You can get ALA from plant-based sources such as flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts, and chia seeds. Soybeans and soybean oil also have some ALA. 

Animal-based products are the only natural sources of EPA and DHA. Seafood is by far the greatest source, with fatty fish being the highest in EPA and DHA. Salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, anchovies, and sardines are great sources. Shrimp, tilapia, oysters, and other fish and shellfish also have some EPA and DHA. Most people don’t get the recommended amounts of fish or seafood needed to get the full benefit, and many people are concerned with the amount of mercury present in some fatty fish.

Omega-3s versus Omega-6s and Omega-9s

Now that you know what the deal is with omega-3s, what’s the deal with omega-6s and omega-9s? They’re both healthy fats when taken in the right amounts.

Omega-6s are common, and found in plant-based oils, avocados, nuts, peanuts, and seeds. 

Omega-9s are also known as monounsaturated fats, and are high in a Mediterranean-style diet. You’re right if you thought about olive oil when you saw “monounsaturated fat” or “Mediterranean diet,” but omega-9s are also in avocados, peanuts, almonds, and seeds. They are known to have many heart-healthy benefits. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements

You can get more omega-3s from dietary supplements if you are one of the majority of people not getting enough from your diet. As with any new supplement, be sure to ask your healthcare provider about it before beginning.

Omega-3 supplements come in a variety of forms, including cod liver oil and capsules. Cod liver oil can be very high in a form of vitamin A that can lead to toxicity, so be sure to check with a provider before taking it. Many omega-3 supplements with DHA or EPA have fish oil or krill or algal oils. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you should know that krill and fish oil are not vegetarian. For a vegetarian option, you can find omega-3 supplements with DHA and EPA from algal sources.

When looking for a supplement, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy to swallow and digest. It’s also good to look for a brand that you trust, and purchase it from a reputable source. That way you can be confident that it’s not high in potentially dangerous heavy metals such as mercury. It’s also good to look for a product that doesn’t have a fishy aftertaste. You don’t want to be burping up fish flavor for hours after taking your supplement!

There’s no need to worry about taking omega-3s at certain times of the day or with any particular nutrients. They can be absorbed well as long as you are well-nourished. It’s good to have adequate amounts of vitamin E and other antioxidants.

Omega-3 Supplements at Netrition

Netrition has a variety of omega-3 fatty acid supplements including a variety of omega-3 capsules in easier-to-swallow softgels or capsules from NOW Foods. These supplements are molecularly distilled to avoid high levels of heavy metals or other contaminants that could be harmful and are of concern in fatty fish or fish oil.  

NOW Foods Ultra-Omega-3 comes in bottles with 90 or 180 enteric coated softgels that have 500 mg of EPA and 250 mg of DHA in each pill. They are odor-controlled and easy to digest, and they don’t have a fishy flavor.

Netrition also carries Nordic Naturals, which produces Ultimate Omega softgels in bottles with 60, 120, or 180 softgels containing EPA and DHA. They have a pleasant lemon flavor, so you don’t have to worry about a fishy flavor or burps. They’re also gluten-free, dairy-free, and free from artificial colors and flavors.

Omega-3’s are linked to heart health and all kinds of benefits, and most people don’t get the recommended amounts from dietary sources. Netrition has a variety of omega-3 options that can give you long-chain and short-chain omega-3s without a fishy odor. Just talk to your doctor before taking any dietary supplement, especially if you have health concerns or are taking any medications. 

*The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements. Netrition products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Anyone with a medical condition should seek the advice of a licensed medical practitioner. Individual results may vary.