What are omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are long chain fatty acids that are important for a wide range of functions in the body. Three types of omega-3 include: alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are included in the category of "essential fatty acids" because the human body is unable to make Omega 3s "from scratch," so they must be consumed in the diet.
Why are they important?
What foods contain omega-3 fatty acids?
Foods highest in omega-3s include cold water, oily fish such as wild salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and krill. Grass fed beef and lamb meats have a relatively higher proportion of omega-3s to other types of fatty acids when compared to the usual grain fed varieties, and even eggs from chickens allowed to eat insects and greens contain higher amounts of omega-3s than their grain fed counterparts. A vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids are flax seeds and walnuts. Although we highly recommend fish oils, the supplements we carry are free of Mercury and dioxins (unlike eating large fish from our polluted sea). Please beware of the dangerous amounts of Mercury and metals in fish if you eat it regularly... especially if you are pregnant or planning to be. Take a look at this chart on "Which Fish Are Safe to Eat Every Month" from OceansAlive.org
Why is it important to supplement or consume more foods with a high ratio of omega-3's?
Omega-3's are best utilized when balanced with other fatty acids, such as omega-6's, which are also critically important to health. The problem is that the American diet has become so overloaded with foods that are high in the omega-6's and low in omega-3's, that many of us have become relatively deficient in the latter. Omega-6's are quite high in grains and vegetable oils, and in the grain feed that we give to farm-raised animals. Too much omega-6 out of balance with omega-3 can lead to problems with inflammation, hormonal disruptions and brain/nervous system deficits.
How to choose the right fish oil supplement:
When choosing a fish oil, you should look for a brand that frequently tests their product for contaminants such as PCB's, dioxins, mercury and other heavy metals. Also, by choosing oils made from smaller fishes that are lower on the food chain (sardines, herring, krill) there is often less contamination.
Another consideration to make is your ability to tolerate the taste of fish. If you do not care for the taste of fish or fish oil, it would be best to choose a supplement in the capsule form so you do not have to take it by the spoonful. Many fish oil supplements also come with lemon or orange essence added to disguise the taste in your mouth should you burp after taking the supplement.
Taking your fish oil supplement
It is generally recommended to take your fish oil along with meals for better absorption and tolerability. You can take the liquid right off the spoon, or mix it into a smoothie or applesauce/yogurt, etc. If you are taking blood thinning medication, or if you will be having surgery- it is best to check with your doctor before beginning/continuing taking fish oil, especially if you are taking a moderate or high dose (more than 2-3 grams per day).