3 Steps to Choosing the Best Omega 3 Supplements
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for good health and are important structural components of the brain and the retina. Modern diets are very low in omega 3s relative to omega 6, and therefore omega 3 supplementation is beneficial to optimize the ratio of these fatty acids in the body. An increased omega 3 intake has been associated with several health benefits, including protection from heart disease and cancer, and prevention of age-related cognitive decline.
Which Omega 3 Supplements Are Best?
There are hundreds of different omega 3 supplements on the market, and with all the marketing and advertising campaigns, it is often hard for the consumer to make an informed choice. Choosing the right omega 3 supplements is crucial as low quality ones may be useless and even harmful to the body. You too, can make an informed choice. Just follow the 3 steps below:
What is the source of the omega 3s in the supplement? Is it a terrestrial source (e.g. flaxseed) or a marine source (e.g. fish oil)? You should choice a marine sourced omega 3 supplement over a terrestrial sourced one. This is because terrestrial sourced omega 3 contain ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which the body needs to convert into EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) – it is EPA and DHA that bring about the health benefits associated with omega 3 intake, and not ALA. Unfortunately, conversion rates of ALA into EPA and DHA is very low. On the other hand, marine sourced omega 3 contain EPA and DHA directly.
There are two types of marine source omega 3s – those obtained from fish and those obtained from algae. If you are vegan, vegetarian or allergic to fish protein, then algae based omega 3s are the obvious choice. In addition, some non-vegetarians prefer algae based supplements because they are more environmentally friendly. On the other hand, algae based omega 3s tend to be more expensive than fish oil based ones.
If you decide to choose a fish oil based omega 3 supplement, your priority should be choosing a supplement that is free from toxins and contaminants. This tends to be an issue with the cheaper brands. To make sure the fish oil you are purchasing it contaminant-free, you should choose one that is certified by the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS). For a product to be IFOS certified, it needs to pass very strict tests for purity and quality. In addition, IFOS certified products will make their certificate of analysis available online – this is the test results for purity and quality. If you want more specific recommendations on the best omega 3 supplements currently on the market, check out the Best Omega 3 Supplements Review page.