Here’s What Omega-3s Do For Your Body.
A well-balanced diet is an essential part of a healthy body. But what happens when you can’t get enough vital nutrients? Many people are surprised to find out their diet doesn’t provide them with enough Omega-3s. These elusive fatty acids are vital for many different aspects of your overall health. How can you maximize your fatty acid intake to get the benefits of what Omega-3s do for your body?
What are Omega-3s?
Omega-3s are a family of fatty acids. These hard-working acids play a vital role in the overall health of your body. The three most important types of Omega-3 fatty acids are:
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
But here’s the thing: our bodies can’t produce Omega-3s. In fact, the only way to get these essential nutrients is through diet. EPA and DHA Omega-3s can only be found in fish and some algae while ALA is primarily found in plant-based foods like nuts and seeds. Not to mention, ALA needs to be converted into EPA or DHA in order to be used. Typical western diets only convert about 5 to 8 percent of ALA into usable EPA. That number is even less for DHA, falling between 0.5 and 5 percent.
What Omega-3s Do for Your Body
There are several different things Omega-3s do for your body, including supporting a healthy brain and vision function. That’s why women who are pregnant are advised to take a prenatal vitamin rich in Omega-3s since DHA and EPA work hard to promote healthy brain development of the fetus.
Longer chain Omega-3s - DHA and EPA - provide the most health benefits. Although studies are ongoing research suggests that these Omega-3s also contribute to:
- Heart health
- Regulating inflammation
- Vision health
- Healthy skin
- Brain health, including attention spans in children, brain development throughout life, and mental health for all ages
- Joint health
How Do I Get Enough Omega-3s?
When you know what Omega-3s do for your body, you’ll want to make sure you get enough of these fatty acids to support a healthy lifestyle. Since your body doesn’t produce Omega-3s, this means you’ll have to turn to your diet and supplements to ensure you’re getting enough fatty acids. Fatty fish like salmon is the best source of Omega-3s. For many Americans, eating more fish is tough. In fact, a study found that Americans tend to eat less than half of the 26 pounds of annual fish consumption per year recommended by experts. In other words, you should get between 250 to 500 mg of DHA and EPA per day, but the average American only gets about 90 mg per day.
Which Foods Contain Omega-3s?
You should be regularly eating foods high in Omega-3s. Fish are the obvious choice, with salmon having the highest Omega-3 content. While it can’t hurt to include plant-based foods too, just remember it is hard to rely on those exclusively. That’s because ALA (the vegetarian Omega-3) needs to be converted into DHA or EPA to be useful and that conversion rate is very low.
Foods that are contain Omega-3s include:
- Fish such as mackerel, salmon, seabass, trout, tuna, herring, and sardines
- Shellfish like oysters and shrimp
- Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed, and soybeans
- Nut oils like flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil
- Some fortified foods like eggs, yogurt, juices, soy beverages, and milk - check labels since different fortified foods have different amounts, usually well below the recommended daily levels.
Why Do People Take Fish Oil?
Most people take fish oil because they need a supplement to get the right amount of Omega-3s in their diet. If you don’t eat fish or you’re a vegetarian, you should consider a supplement in order to ensure your body has enough Omega-3s. Most people opt for a fish oil supplement since it’s more widely known than other options.
However, krill oil is becoming an increasingly popular choice when it comes to supplementing Omega-3s. Instead of being made from fish, krill oil comes from krill - tiny crustaceans found in the Antarctic ocean. Krill oil pills are often smaller and easier to swallow. Plus, they don’t cause the unpleasant fishy burps that many people experience with fish oil.
The Difference Between Fish Oil and Krill Oil?
Both fish oil and krill oil contain those vital DHA and EPA Omega-3s, but krill oil delivers them in their most natural form, meaning there may be a beneficial change to the way your body uses them.
Early research suggests that within a 72-hour period, people absorbed more krill oil than fish oil. In other words, your body can absorb krill oil more easily.
Krill oil also contains more nutrients, specifically choline, which supports brain and nervous system health.
If you’re looking for a supplement that has all of the benefits of what Omega-3s can do for your body, then krill oil is an excellent option. Since most people need to supplement their diet in order to get enough Omega-3s, krill oil enables you to get the EPA and DHA your body needs to sustain a healthy lifestyle.
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