Fast Facts on Omega 3s
Posted by: Jackie McKenzie, RD, Posted Date: February 22, 2012
If you ask people what foods to avoid, many are careful of their fat intake. However Omega 3 fats are one type of fat Canadian families are not getting enough of. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that are essential nutrients for health. Essential means that our body can’t produce this important nutrient on its own. We must get omega 3 fatty acids from food or supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for normal body functions. In infants, omega 3 fats help with brain, nerve and eye development. They are also associated with many health benefits including protection against heart disease, reducing symptoms of hypertension, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dementia, joint pain, other rheumatoid problems and immune boosting. New research continues to show us the vast potential of this key nutrient.
Learn The Omega’s
There are 3 types of omega 3 fatty acids:
1. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
2. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
3. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
EPA and DHA are long-chain forms of omega-3 and are found in fish, fish oil supplements, and algae extract. ALA, the short-chain form, is found in plant sources like walnuts, flax seed, canola and soybean oil, and to a lesser degree, green leafy vegetables. ALA must be converted to EPA and DHA in our body to be used. Unfortunately, our body is not very good at this and only a small amount is converted.
Dr Bruce Holub, who researches omega 3 fatty acids at the University of Guelph, has found that most of the favourable effects of DHA/EPA intake on risk factors for heart disease have not been matched by equivalent intakes of ALA. He encourages a higher intake of DHA and EPA for their health benefits.
Fatty fish are our best source of DHA/EPA. Try for a fish meal 2 x per week to help to improve your omega 3 fat intake. If there are no fish fans at your house, consider an omega 3 supplement such as IronKids Gummy Vitamins to meet your family’s omega 3 intake needs. While there are no formal recommended intake levels for DHA and EPA, experts recommend 500-1000 mg/day for adults to guard against heart disease. Ensure that it is a good source of EPA and DHA and that it is a purified form. IronKids and Adult Essential omega 3 gummies are a pure source triple distilled fish oil made with DHA and EPA that both young and young at heart love.
For more information on recommended intakes: