The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). While ALA is found mainly in plant oils such as flaxseed and soybean, DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood.
See also 5 Supplements for Total Body Health.
ALA is referred to as an essential fatty acid because your body can’t make it, and it must be consumed in the diet. To some extent, your body can convert ALA into DHA and then EPA, but only in small amounts.
What Science Says
Current research proves that omega-3s are important to include in your diet throughout all stages of life. While these fatty acids are primarily known for their heart-health benefits, there is strong science to suggest benefits to brain health, eye health and more.
A study published in the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology found that omega-3 fatty acids were effective in preventing early and preterm delivery.
What’s more, results from a Pennsylvania State University study found that omega-3 fatty acids could lower the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women who were classified as obese.
Yet another study found benefits for patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) who supplemented with omega-3s.
It is recognized that omega-3s are deficient in the Average American diet, and most physicians recommend that their healthy patients consume between 250-500 milligrams per day. This dosage can be obtained by eating at least two servings of fatty fish per week or by taking a daily omega-3 supplement.
Your doctor may recommend a higher daily dose of omega-3s if you have heart disease and other chronic health conditions.
Here are a few products to consider when shopping for omega-3s for you and your family.
Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil Beginner’s DHA is a concentrated omega-3 fish oil supplement for toddlers with 650 milligrams of EPA and DHA per serving, as well as other key nutrients like vitamin K2 for bone health. This product is certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.
For ages 4 and up, Wiley’s Finest Elementary EPA delivers essential fatty acids as well as vitamins A, E, D3 and carotenoids for eye health.
Getting enough EPA is critical as we age, which makes Elite EPA Gems® from Carson Labs a great choice for adults for supporting heart health, as well as supporting the immune system, mood health and maintaining healthy joints. Each soft gel contains 1,000 milligrams of EPA.
For powerful antioxidant benefits in addition to omega-3s, Omega Curcumin from Nordic Naturals contains 1,000 mg of omega-3s along with a highly-absorbable form of curcumin, NAC [N-Acetylcysteine] and L-glutathione. The nutrients work together to reduce oxidative stress and promote a healthy inflammatory response.
Karen Morse, MPH, is a freelance health and nutrition writer. In her free time, she enjoys Pilates, exploring nearby hiking trails and cooking up fresh, seasonal eats in the kitchen. Her work has appeared in Clean Eating, Weight Watchers, YouBeauty.com and others.