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Omega 3 Supplements Not Created Equal

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Getting The Most Out Of Your Omega 3

Omega-3 supplementsVirtually every healthcare professional including nutritionists and dietician will tell you this. The best way to get omega-3 fatty acids is by including fish regularly in your diet. Sounds simple enough, but it’s not easy. Most people opt for the easier, quicker route; taking omega-3 supplements. But it can be tricky here too.

You see, there are different forms of omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs). Also, there are animal sources and plant sources of these fats. While vegans and vegetarians typically opt for plant sources, they can lose out on one or two very important forms of EFAs. Back to this in a moment.

Another reason for taking fish oil supplements instead of eating fish is pragmatics. Fresh fatty fish can be pricey, unless you go for the farmed varieties which will not offer you much benefit health-wise and could even harmful due to pesticides and antibiotics used in raising them. Again, omega-3 supplements to the rescue.

While the consumption of oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines may be the best dietary way to get your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, a group of cardiologists say that supplements can offer an alternative, provided consumers check the label.

At a conference hosted by the European Society of Cardiology in Dublin, Ireland, last week, attendees heard that omega-3 supplements can play a role in cardiovascular health, in spite of the controversy surrounding supplements versus dietary intake.

The condition? That patients make sure that the supplements contain adequate concentrations of omega-3 — one gram a day — to achieve any beneficial effects, physicians say.

For those who may not like fish, experts advised taking pharmaceutical grade preparations of omega-3 oil since not all over the counter preparations contain the same doses. See original post

Some of the fish oil supplements, especially the cheaper varieties, will not give you the one gram minimum of omega-3 suggested above. That is, unless you swallow multiple pills per serving. The result can be that you end up ingesting a lot of possibly unhealthy filler. And of course, since you have to take more pills to make the 1 gram, you end up spending more or less the same as you would have had you simply gone for a good quality product.

When you take a good quality omega-3 supplement you avoid ingesting worthless fillers and risking stomach upsets from these fillers. In addition, a good quality product is less likely to be rancid (that is, gone bad) as quality control will be more stringent.

As for vegans and vegetarians, taking omega-3 from plant sources such as flax seeds and walnuts may appear an alternative. However, plant sources offer a form of fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The most important fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA):

Experts say that DHA and EPA — from fish and fish oil — have better established health benefits than ALA. DHA and EPA are found together only in fatty fish and algae. DHA can also be found on its own in algae, while flaxseed and plant sources of omega-3s provide ALA — a precursor to EPA and DHA, and a source of energy. WebMD

While ALA does get converted into EPA and DHA, much of the latter two gets lost in the process. Vegans and vegetarians can get around this by opting for Omega-3 DHA (Amazon) made from algae. DHA is said to be the most important of the fatty acids. Others can simply find a good DHA fish oil supplement.

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