Omega-3 contains fatty acids which are active in all cells and tissues in the body. They help the body to function optimally. We depend on the food we eat to take in these fatty acids. Scientific research has shown that 9 of 10 people have a deficit of Omega-3. There is even a severe shortage of Omega-3 in 45% of the population.
Omega-3: You already know the name
Omega-3 is hip. In the supermarket and at the drugstore you can choose from various brands of capsules containing Omega-3. For just a few euros, you can buy a jar that will last for months. The package label promises you the world if you reliably swallow one or more capsules per day. The capsules are supposed to have all sorts of advantages: from a better memory and better mood to an improvement of the cognitive development of unborn and breastfed children. In this article we would like to give you honest answers to questions such as: What is Omega-3? What are its advantages? Which foods contain Omega-3? Am I taking enough in?
What is Omega-3?
Omega-3 consists of polyunsaturated fatty acids which are essential for our body. These substances have various positive effects on the body.
What are the advantages of Omega-3?
Because of the popularity of Omega-3, a lot of information can be found about the positive effects which DHA and EPA are purported to have on your body. The fatty acids EPA and DHA are active in all body cells and tissues and contribute to the optimal functioning of the body.
There are many health claims that emphasise the positive effect of Omega-3. However, many of these claims are not based on scientific research. Therefore, we will describe only the positive effects of Omega-3 which have been scientifically proven.
Research has shown that the fatty acids EPA and DHA have a positive effect on many different parts of our body and on our bodily functions. For example, we need these acids for the normal working of our heart and our brains. Our nervous system is also benefited by DHA, as well as our eyes. Furthermore, fatty acid has a positive influence on the maintenance of a normal blood pressure level.
Essential fatty acids
We have mentioned above the advantages which Omega-3 offers. The fats in Omega-3 which provide these positive effects for your body are essential fatty acids. This means that your body cannot create these fatty acids itself.
Which foods contain Omega-3?
To nevertheless take in enough of these important Omega-3 fatty acids, you will therefore have to ingest them in the form of food. Fatty acids are found in various natural foods, such as:
- Linseed (oil)
- Hemp seed (oil)
- Chia seed
- Rapeseed oil
- Various vegetables, for example purslane and watercress
- Fatty fish, such as herring, tuna, mackerel, sardines and eel
Am I taking in enough Omega-3?
On the question of whether you need more Omega-3, we can be very brief: The chance that you are currently taking in enough Omega-3 is only 1 in 10.
Scientific research has specifically shown that no less than 90% of the population has a shortage of Omega-3. Of this 90%, half even has a severe shortage of Omega-3.
Recommended daily allowance of Omega-3
The key fatty acids in Omega-3 are essential fatty acids, so we must take in these fatty acids by coordinating our food intake with our body's Omega-3 requirement.
Different health organizations provide different answers to the question of how much Omega-3 fatty acid you need to ingest on a daily basis. The recommended daily allowance of DHA and EPA they recommend varies from some 200 to 500 mg per day for a healthy adult. The Dutch Nutrition Centre advises adults to ingest 200 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids per day, for example. Our standard diet, however, is often not able to provide this quantity of Omega-3.
If you want to come close to obtaining the recommended daily amount of DHA and EPA through your food intake, you can best eat one portion of (fatty) fish per week, according to the Nutrition Centre. The World Gastroenterology Organisation even recommends 3 to 5 portions of fish per week in order to take in sufficient quantities of DHA and EPA.
However, fish is not a part of the weekly diet for many of us, otherwise 90% of the population would not be faced with a shortage of Omega-3.
To be able to supplement this shortage, many people use nutritional supplements. This explains the popularity of fish oil capsules, the most common Omega-3 nutritional supplement on the market.
Fish oil as 'easy' solution
Fish oil is available in capsules and contains a lot of DHA and EPA. The popularity of fish oil capsules is evident from the fact that these capsules can be found on virtually every street corner. The oil in these capsules is – as the name says – obtained from fish.
Sustainable alternative for fish oil capsules
The only reason that fish contain Omega-3 is that fish eat algae. Therefore, the good fatty acids which we need originate in algae and not in fish.
So why should we swallow fish oil capsules? We can very easily remove this extra step in our Omega-3 food chain and obtain the fatty acids directly from algae instead of from fish.
Algae oil capsules have the following advantages compared to fish oil capsules:
- Sustainable choice: you are not contributing to over-fishing and unnecessary by-catch;
- 100% vegetable capsules, so also suitable for vegetarians and vegans;
- Where fish oil must be cleaned of harmful substances, algae oil is pure in and of itself.
If you choose algae oil capsules, you are not only opting for your own health but also for a healthy fish population and a healthy environment.