Where Should I Get My Omega–3s?
EPA and DHA are omega–3 fatty acids found in fish and other marine sources. If you aren’t familiar with omegas, discover what they are and why you need them here.
ALA is also an omega–3, but it’s easily found in plant sources.
There are important differences between EPA/DHA and ALA. Understanding those differences will help you to decide where to get them from and how much you need.
EPA and DHA: Fishy Fats
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is found in most fish. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is also found in fish, as well as in seaweed (including that dark green stuff wrapped around your sushi roll).
EPA and DHA are extremely important for good overall health. Make no mistake — everyone needs omega–3s. If you’re confused about low-fat diets and the recent buzz around “healthy fats”, we have a really informative post about that that you can read here.
Briefly, AlwaysOmega3s.com explains which parts of your body need omega–3s most: ““The long-chain omega-3s EPA and DHA are known for supporting heart, brain and eye health at all stages of life. In fact, our heart, brain and eyes contain the highest omega-3 content compared to other parts of the human body.”
Your body does not produce these important omega–3 fatty acids, that’s why you may hear them referred to as “essential”. To get them you have to eat foods containing them or depend on your body to convert ALA into EPA and/or DHA.
Experts typically recommend that you get about 500 mg of EPA and DHA (combined) a day.
With heart disease at an all-time high, it’s no surprise that the health industry is putting a major stress on protecting your heart. When you go grocery shopping, you’ve probably noticed many products touting heart healthy labels or claiming to be good sources of omega 3 fatty acids. It’s important to be aware that usually the omega 3 present in these products is ALA.
What is ALA?
Its full name is alpha-linolenic acid. It’s found in seeds and nuts, such as flax, chia, hemp, pumpkin, walnuts and soybeans. It is also found in tofu and in smaller amounts in organ meats.
Like EPA and DHA, your body can’t make ALA, so it’s an “essential” nutrient too. If you are conscious of your meal choices though, it’s not difficult to ensure that your body is getting enough of this fatty acid.
The main uses for ALA are energy production, healing and conversion to EPA and DHA. The folks at FatsforLife.com explain in more detail:
“Humans can convert alpha-linolenic acid to EPA and to a lesser extent, DHA, but they do so very inefficiently. The most recent estimates of how much is converted range from less than 1% to about 5%. The amount converted is influenced by sex, age, and background diet, particularly the intake of other polyunsaturated fatty acids. Women appear to be somewhat better converters than men.”
The small scale of this conversion tends to get ALA a bad rap. While it’s true that it won’t go very far towards your EPA and DHA needs, you do still need ALA for good overall health.
Daily intake of ALA should be about 1,100 mg for women and 1,600 mg for men.
Getting your EPA, your DHA and your ALA
Many people supplement with fish oil to get their EPA and DHA. This is a very effective and easy way to get your daily requirement.
Unfortunately, this is not a vegetarian option, which is a barrier for some people. Plus, even for people who enjoy eating fish, swallowing a spoonful of fishy-tasting oil every morning can be extremely off-putting. There are capsules as well, but many people find that taking fish oil in capsule form leads to fishy tasting burps all day long.
It’s also very easy to get the ALA you need by taking flax oil. Fortunately, this oil has a much more pleasant flavor than fish oil and it’s one that is easily hidden in a smoothie or juice if the oily texture is too much to bear.
So what to do if you’re still stuck on how to get the EPA and DHA you need?
We have learned of some exciting new research that turns everything on its head. There is now an easy way to make your body convert the ALA in your flax oil into useful amounts of EPA and DHA.
In the fish farming industry, fish are routinely fed fish oils to increase the amount of EPA and DHA in their systems. However, fish oil is getting more and more expensive and harder to come by all the time. Fish farmers were looking for an alternative.
“In a paper just published in the Canadian Journal of Animal Science, authors investigated strategies to increase long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in rainbow trout. They looked at the addition of coriander oil to vegetable oil-based diets to increase the bioconversion of alpha-linolenic acid to EPA and DHA.
Their research showed that coriander-fed fish had increased concentrations of EPA and DHA in the whole fillet. They also found that there were no negative effects on the health or growth of the fish.“
The coriander oil allowed the fish to convert more of the ALA from the vegetable oil they were fed into EPA and DHA!
A health tonic in its own right
Coriander is a very healthy oil aside from its omega-boosting benefit. In fact, we have a whole post that outlines our top 20 reasons to take coriander oil.
It’s great for digestive health and helps to encourage a healthy gut. It has antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal properties, and encourages your body to detox naturally. It helps to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It can even prevent food poisoning.
Panaseeda Coriander seed oil is Perfectly Pressed using organic, non-GMO seeds. Discover the secrets of coriander oil. Buy yours today!