Omega-3 is the nutrient we get from food or supplements. They help build and maintain a healthy body. They are also an energy source and help keep our heart, lungs, blood vessels, and immune system working properly.
Omega-3’s are very important for overall health, So you are advised to take omega-3 supplements if you are not getting enough omega-3 from your diet.
Health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids:
- Fish oil can lower triglyceride levels, which in turn reduce the risk of heart disease.
- They may reduce stiffness and joint pain, and acts as an anti-inflammatory drug.
- Fish oil may Lower the level of depression.
- DHA is helpful for visual and neurological development in infants.
- Some studies show that fish oil reduces the symptoms of ADHD in children and helps in mental skills.
- Other research suggests that omega-3 may protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Commercially there are many supplements available but not all of them have the same health benefits.
Fish oil comes basically in two forms, natural and processed form.
Natural forms include fatty fish found in water.
In fishes, omega-3 fatty acids are present as phospholipids, triglycerides and fatty acids.
Apart from having omega-3, they do contain vitamins A and D.
Different fishes contain different amounts of fish oil content in them.
Salmon, herring, and sardines are some of the best sources of omega-3, the oils from these fishes are used in commercially available supplements.
Here the companies make capsules by purifying the oil from fish tissues or make capsules from the concentrated oil. Mostly these have triglycerides or ethyl esters.
In the process of purification, companies get rid of heavy metals like mercury and PCB present in them.
Generally ethyl esters do not easily get absorbed by our bodies, so manufacturers process them even further to convert them into triglyceride form which can be absorbed well. But this process becomes costly and these capsules are seen in very little quantity in the market.
Some studies have shown that both of these are well absorbed by our body even if they are not further processed to convert into triglyceride. This is the main reason as most of the fish oil capsules available in the market are purified for mercury and PCB content. So the cost becomes cheaper to buy them.
They manufacture this oil from seal blubber, which occurs naturally in the form of triglycerides
They are high in EPA, DHA and DPA. Mammalian oil is very low in omega-6.
Alpha Linolenic Acid(ALA)
These are plant sources of omega-3s. They are found in seeds like- flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.
Most of the plant oils are high in omega-6 compared to omega-3.
some other sources of ALA are walnuts, canola oil, soybean oil.
They extract this oil from Antarctic krill. Kril oil contains omega-3 in both triglyceride and phospholipid forms.
Krill oil is highly resistant to oxidation. Antarctic krill are small shrimp-like animals with short lifespans, so they don’t contain many contaminants. Therefore, their oil doesn’t need to be purified.
They are a good source of omega-3 for vegetarians and vegans. Studies have shown that algal oil is more concentrated in DHA than fish oil.
They do not contain heavy metals, which makes them a healthy option.
Things to consider while buying fish oil supplements from the market:
- The amount of EPA and DHA quantity in one capsule. Most of the capsules have very less of these.
- Look for free fatty acids, triglycerides and reformed triglycerides rather than ethyl esters for better absorption.
- Check for purity certification to be on the safer side.
- Look for brands that contain omega-3 as free fatty acids.
- Look for higher concentrations of omega-3s EPA and DHA.
- For most people, the regular fish oil supplement is enough for better health.
For best results, take these supplements with a meal that contains fat. Fat increases the absorption of omega-3 in our body.