Are You Getting Enough Omega-3s?
A diet rich in omega-3s is important because our bodies don’t produce these fatty acids on their own. But most of us don’t consume enough in our diet. Here’s what you need to know about omega-3s and how to ensure you’re getting what you need.
What Are Omega-3s?
Omega-3s are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids. There are three kinds of omega-3s: ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). ALA is an “essential” fatty acid, which means we have to get it from food or supplements because our bodies can’t make it. ALA is found in foods like walnuts, flaxseed, soy products, certain vegetable oils, and omega-3 enriched products like eggs, milk, and enriched margarine. Our bodies can make EPA and DHA from ALA, but only small amounts, so it’s important to eat DHA- and EPA-rich foods such as fish, seafood, and fish oils.
The Health Benefits of Omega-3s
Omega-3s have many healthy benefits. According to the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, a large body of evidence suggests that eating fish, particularly oily fish, reduces the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association says that EPA and DHA may lower blood pressure and decrease fat buildup in the arteries. Studies show that consumption of omega-3s, fish, and fish oil may reduce heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrest. Omega-3s may also reduce inflammation and help with brain, eye, and nerve development in infants.
How Much Omega-3 Do You Need?
Dietitians of Canada and Canada’s Food Guide recommend eating at least two servings of fish per week (especially oily fish like salmon, char, sardines, and trout). One serving is 75 grams-about the size of a deck of cards. Two weekly servings provide about 300 to 450 mg of EPA and DHA per day. In addition, women 19 and older should aim for 1,100 mg of ALA per day-more if you’re pregnant (1,400 mg) or breastfeeding (1,300 mg).
Choosing An Omega-3 Supplement
If you’re not getting enough omega-3s in your diet, you may benefit from a supplement. Look for a Natural Product Number (NPN) on the label, which means it has met Health Canada’s standards and has been purified and tested for heavy metals, pesticides, and contaminants like mercury, lead, cadmium, and PCBs. MegaRed® Omega-3 Krill Oil contains omega-3s from tiny shrimp-like crustaceans in the Antarctic. One small softgel provides an optimal combination of omega-3s and the powerful antioxidant astaxanthanin-heart-healthy benefits that are easy to absorb.