I have discussed this topic multiple times in the past and believe that there are significant benefits to supplementing with Omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3’s & Fish Oil are some of the most common supplements that I see patients using. The problem is that they aren’t getting the right stuff.
There are 2 fatty acids that are required: Eicosapentanoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexanoic Acid (DHA).
- EPA is a 20 carbon fatty acid with 5 double bonds
- DHA is a 22 carbon fatty acid with 6 double bonds
The problem with supplementation is that there are a lot of fish oil & omega-3 supplements available and they are NOT all the same. It is very important to make sure you know what you are getting. Here are my recommendations for obtaining a good supplement.
I have looked at multiple drug stores and noticed that it is very difficult to find a source with the appropriate amounts of EPA/DHA. The label on the front will say something like “Fish Oil 1000mg” and so patients will assume that they are getting sufficient amounts.
However, a closer look will reveal that they are really only getting about 300mg of EPA & DHA. This is a very misleading topic! You would have to take 7 pills per day in order to get an adequate amount making this bottle a 9 day supply.
I typically recommend that patients take between 1 & 3 grams per day (combined) of EPA & DHA.
Also, these fatty acids are ‘polyunsaturated fatty acids’ or PUFAs. The health benefits are huge but these fats are very sensitive to oxidation. Oxidation is when fats become rancid. This removes much of the protective benefit. I recommend storing these in the refrigerator to optimally protect them.
You can get EPA & DHA in a capsule or liquid form. Many prefer the liquid since you won’t have to take as many pills. Either form is acceptable.
The supplement that I recommend is Super Omega-3 or SO3. You can order it here. It ends up being $0.75 per day if you consume 1 tsp which is 2,700 mg of EPA/DHA per day. Pretty good deal!
Many Omega-3 supplements will state a high amount of Omega-3s but will often supplement with Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA). This is an omega-3 fatty acid but it is an 18 carbon variety and must be converted to EPA in the body. This process is inefficient and time consuming making ALA a sub-optimal method for ensuring EPA amounts in the body.
Look for a source that does not sacrifice EPA/DHA for ALA.