Omega-3 fatty acids, or omega-3 fatty oils, or just omega-3s, are polyunsaturated fatty acids, meaning that, in their chemical structure, they have a double bond that is three atoms apart from the terminal methyl group. They are distributed throughout nature and are vital to the human body and its workings. You can find omega-3s in plant oils (flaxseed oil, hemp oil, clary sage seed oil, walnut…) and marine oils (fish, fish oils, krill oil, certain algae…).
Some potential benefits of including omega-3 in your diet include:
- Taking omega-3 supplements may help to lower elevated triglyceride levels.
- Taking omega-3 supplements may help protect eyes from macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome.
- Taking omega-3 supplements may help avoid dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Taking omega-3 supplements may lower inflammation, alleviate stiffness, and curb joint pain.
- Taking omega-3 supplements may also help with other health issues, such as depression, asthma, and ADHD, but more research is needed.
You can get omega-3 from tuna, mackerel, salmon, sardines, anchovies, herring, marlin, bluefish, sturgeon, lake trout, orange roughy, and more. While fatty fish is great for its omega 3, it is likely to have higher mercury levels, as well, along with PCB, or polychlorinated biphenyls, or other toxins. Plant-based Omegas, such as from algae or kelp, are consumed by fish resulting in Omega retention. Therefore, consumption of plant-based omega-3 can be considered safer as it is a direct source free from toxins and is especially suitable for meat-free diets.
Some non-marine or ALA sources of omega-3s include flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils. These sources can carry higher calorie content and are not as potent as marine omega-3 alternatives, so use care and moderation.
How Much Omega-3 Do You Need per Day?
If you do not eat fatty fish often enough, you may need to take an omega-3 supplement. You will need to be sure it contains DHAs (docosahexaenoic acids) and EPAs (eicosapentaenoic acids), the fatty fish omega-3s, and the most useful kinds. Only a small portion of the ALAs (alpha-linolenic acids), the nut and seed omega-3s, we eat can be turned into DHAs and EPAs in the human body.
Most health organizations recommend a combined DHA-EPA content of 250-500 mg daily for adults who are healthy. Adults who are not healthy will need to use higher doses. For ALAs, the RDA is 1.1 gm daily for women and 1.6 gm daily for men.
The health conditions that follow have responded to omega-3s in studies. These are the recommended daily doses:
- According to the American Heart Association, those with coronary heart disease should take 1,000 mg daily of a DHA and EPA combination.
- According to the American Heart Association, those with high triglycerides should take 2,000-4,000 mg daily of a DHA and EPA combination.
- Those suffering from depression and anxiety should take 200-2,200 mg daily of omega-3s. Those with mood disorders or mental disorders should consider a dose higher than 2,200 mg daily, according to Harvard Medical School .
- While correlation does not mean causation, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has concluded that a reduced risk of colon, prostate, and breast cancers has been linked to a high intake of omega-3 fatty acids and fish.
- According to Healthline, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, add 200 mg of DHA in addition to your normal dosage, as studies show it is vital (infants and children should get between 50-100 mg daily of a DHA and EPA combination).
These are some other things you should consider when taking omega-3s:
- Because omega-3s and omega-6s compete for the same enzymes, it is not necessarily enough to just take them. You should also limit your use of vegetable oils that contain high levels of omega 6.
- While the FDA says over 3,000 mg daily can hurt your body, the EFSA says you can use as much as 5,000 mg daily without problems. As always, consult your doctor for safe upper limits of omega-3 or any other supplement.
Final words on dosage:
- Read the label to see how much ALA, DHA, and EPA is present. This is important.
- Everyone is different. You may need to take more or less than the next person according to your health, weight, diet, etc.
Can I Take Omega-3 with Multivitamins?
It only makes sense that you can take omega-3s with multivitamins.
A multivitamin is made to make up the difference where nutritional gaps have been left from your poor diet. Those on a diet to lose weight or even a kidney or diabetic diet can have nutritional gaps. Multivitamins and omega-3s can fill these holes.
While omega-3s are fats, they are polyunsaturated fats, or healthy fats. They fill in gaps in your diet that nothing else can.
The main issue that many people looking to take both run into is that omega 3 oils are most effective and potent when they are in their liquid form, while multivitamins are provided in powder, and often pressed into a single multi-vitamin. Our revolutionary liquid capsules utilize beadlets to suspend the multi-vitamin powder within the liquid, so that they are separate and distinct. As your stomach breaks down the capsule, the omega 3 rich oil is released and immediately processed, and the suspended beadlets can begin to break down, releasing the essential vitamins and minerals for your body. This allows you to get all these nutrients in their most effective forms.
Can You Take Too Much Omega-3?
The RDI, or recommended daily intake, of ALA is 1.1gm daily for women and 1.6 gm daily for men.
No official guidelines exist for DHAs and EPAs, but it is recommended by most health entities that you take between 250 mg and 3,000 mg daily of a DHA and EPA combination. Follow your physician’s instructions if they say otherwise.
Omega-3s can act as a blood thinner causing excessive bleeding in certain people, so if you are planning surgery, quit taking omega-3s 1-2 weeks earlier.
Toxicity can occur with vitamin A in high doses. Cod liver oil is one of the omega-3 supplements that is high in this vitamin.
How do Vegans Get Omega-3?
Vegans have many good sources of omega-3s. While they are ALAs and it is not so easy for your body to convert them to DHAs and EPAs, that just means you need to eat more ALA-rich foods. Yes, less than 0.5% of ALA converts to DHA, while 5% of ALA converts to EPA.
Many vegans get Omega-3 from algae oil, the same oil that we use to produce our plant-based supplements, and this has actually proven to be the best source of omega 3 oils, because this is where omega-3 rich fish are getting the oils that they need as well. When fish oil is consumed, it has been partially broken down by the fish, as well as diluted with any other materials present within the fish.
Algae oil meanwhile is the primary source of omega oils, and is therefore not diluted by any inert materials, and does not produce the fishy aftertaste or other side-effects associated with fish oil supplements.
The best places for a vegan to get their RDI of omega-3 are:
- Algal oil: varying across brands, algal oil contains 400-500 mg of omega-3 in the form of EPA and DHA combined, between 44 and 167% of the RDI. This is often the preferred method to ensure that the necessary amounts are being received, due to the ease of use. Provided in a liquid capsule taken once daily, algal oil does not require larger adjustments of daily meals to hit the daily recommended intake.
- Chia seeds: 1 oz of chia seeds provides almost 5,000 mg of ALA, roughly 300-500% of the RDI.
- Brussels sprouts: 1/2 c of Brussels sprouts provides 135 mg of ALA, over 10% of the RDI.
- Hemp seeds: 1 oz of hemp seeds provides 6,000 mg of ALA or 375-545% of the RDI.
- Walnuts: 1 oz of walnuts provides 2,542 mg of ALA, roughly 160-230% of the RDI.
- Flaxseeds: 1 oz of flaxseeds provides 6,388 mg of ALA or 400-580% of the RDI.
- Perilla oil: Each Tbsp of perilla oil provides 9,000 mg of ALA, between 563 and 818% of the RDI.
Additional sources of omega-3 are:
- Flaxseed oil
- Canola oil
- Hemp seed oil
- Green, leafy vegetables
Get More from Your Omega-3 Supplements
As more effective methods of nutrient delivery and supplements have been produced, people have had an increasing number of daily supplements that they consume. Rather than increase the number of vitamins and daily supplements you are taking; you should be consolidating your nutrients. This is where the AdvaLife plant-based omega-3 + Men’s Multivitamin and plant-based omega-3 + Women’s Multivitamin come in.
American innovators of the liquid capsule formulations, AdvaLife is a worldwide leader in the manufacture and supply of nutraceutical products. Through our groundbreaking Adva-Sphera liquid capsules, hard shell capsules are filled omega 3 oils in liquid form, and beadlets containing powdered minerals and vitamins are suspended within the liquid. This means that you are consuming these nutrients in their most effective form, as the liquid is immediately absorbed by the stomach, and the nutrients slowly break down to provide you with their benefits at the best possible rate.