Published on 03/01/2018
Health Benefits of Omega-3
Omega-3: Fatty Acids Essential for Health
Omega-3 fatty acids receive a lot of attention from the scientific community on a regular basis, and with good reason. These fats have been found to have a positive impact on our overall health as they are found in the membranes of the cells in the body where they positively impact signal pathways, as well as overall cellular health. Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids can positively impact many aspects of our physical and mental health, some of these benefits include:
- The maintenance of good health
- Help to support and maintain cardiovascular health
- Help to reduce serum triglycerides
- In conjunction with conventional therapy, help to reduce the pain in rheumatoid arthritis in adults
- Help to support the development of the brain, eyes and nerves in children up to 12 years of age
So, what are omega-3 fatty acids and where are they found?
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid, meaning we have to get them from the diet for good health, as our body can’t produce them. Of the omega-3 essential fatty acids there are 3 that stand out1. They are:
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid),
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
ALA is found in greater quantities in green leafy vegetables, plant oils, including nuts and seeds such as walnuts and flaxseeds1. While ALA is an omega-3, to provide the health benefits associated with omega-3 it must be converted into the longer-chain EPA or DHA omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, the human body isn't great at converting ALA2. Studies show that we convert ALA into EPA and DHA at a rate of about 5%2,3. This means that while foods like green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds are healthy foods to get in the diet and sources of ALA, they are not very efficient at providing EPA and DHA due to this limited conversion2,3.
Direct sources of the omega-3 EPA and DHA are marine oils, such as fish oils and algal oils1.
What about supplementation?
Many people choose to supplement their diet with a fish or algal oil as a direct source of the health promoting omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
When selecting a supplement, choosing a product that has been third party tested by a program like PureCheck is a great way to ensure the product is high quality. With PureCheck you can access the third-party test results for potency, purity and oxidation tests of each lot of product online (www.purecheck.net) 24/7 to provide assurance you are getting a product that is potent, pure and tastes great.
1. Health Canada NHPD Monographs: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=fish.oil.huile.poisson&lang=eng [accessed 10-14-2021]
- Harris WS. Omega-3 fatty acids. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. London and New York: Informa Healthcare; 2010:577-86.
4. Brenna, J.T., Efficiency of conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to long chain n-3 fatty acids in man. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 2002. 5(2): p. 127-32.