September 26, 2016

388 Omega 3 Sources [26 Sept 2016]

Omega 3s are arguably the most important family of essential fatty acids (EFAs). They are the most studied EFA and play a number of important roles in our health.

There are three different Omega 3s in human physiology: ALA, EPA and DHA. While ALA (alpha linolenic acid) plays a small role in our bodies, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are much more important. I have previously written about the health benefits of Omega 3s for brain development (December 2012), brain healing (August 2015), depression (March 2011) and inflammation (March 2011).

Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) is a relatively short chain EFA with only 18 carbon atoms. It is found in certain nuts and seeds, particularly chia, flax, camelina and hempseed. ALA can be converted into one of the longer carbon chain forms, EPA or DHA, but the enzyme required for this conversion is not very efficient, generally converting less than 1% of the ALA. For this reason, EPA and DHA are best obtained from the diet.

By far the best source of the long chain Omega 3s is fish oil or krill oil (seal and whale blubber is another source but rarely found on supermarket shelves or in supplements for that matter). I previously wrote (June 2011) about the relative benefits of the triglyceride and ethyl ester forms of fish oil supplements.

Krill oil has several benefits over fish oil. The omega 3s from krill oil are in the phospholipid form which is the form used in our cell membranes. It is more readily absorbed so you need less (which is a good thing because it is slightly more expensive). Krill oil also contains astaxanthin, a valuable antioxidant that I discussed in a column in May 2011. And because it is lower in the food chain than fish, krill is much cleaner from toxic metals like mercury. Another excellent source is fish roe (eggs) which, like krill oil, is rich in phospholipid form Omega 3s.

Unless you eat a lot of the right kinds of fish, such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel, and keep your intake of Omega 6 vegetable oils to a minimum, you would likely benefit from an Omega 3 supplement.

Stop in and let us show you the different Omega 3 supplements we carry and help you decide which is best for you. We have fish oil, fish roe oil, and krill oil in liquid, capsules, and chewables for children.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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