The name omega-3 covers a range of fatty acids, three of which are particularly important for our health: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)—both found in oily fish—and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in plant sources. These fatty acids form part of the membrane around every cell in our bodies. They control what substances pass in and out of the cells, as well as how cells communicate with each other.
There are two forms of omega-3: Triglyceride (TG) and Ethyl Ester (EE). These omega-3s are considered essential fatty acids. They are called “essential” because they are necessary for human health but the body can’t make them on its own. You must consume omega-3s in your diet.
What is the difference between the two forms of omega-3?
Omega-3 is available in both a Triglyceride (TG) form and an Ethyl Ester (EE) form. There are various arguments about their relative superiority for bioavailability, efficacy and stability, but both show health benefits.
How much omega-3 should I get daily?
Eating oily fish twice a week provides a beneficial level of omega-3 EPA/ DHA. But taking an IVO certified concentrated omega-3 supplement ensures you are getting your recommended daily dose.
Can I get too much omega-3?
This is very unlikely. You would have to eat excessive amounts of foods with omega-3 before to do that. When taking any supplement to promote optimal health, consume only the amount of omega-3s recommended by your doctor or other qualified health professional.
What foods have omega-3s?
Omega-3s can be found in oily fish, such as salmon, anchovies, sardines, herring and mackerel, and other marine sources. It is also found in some plant sources such as algae; certain seeds like flax, hemp and chia; leafy green vegetables; and some nut oils such as walnut and pecan. However it is important to be aware that the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 can vary greatly depending on the source of the essential fatty acids, and marine oils (fish and krill) have these important fatty acids in the right ratio.
Is omega-3 from fish and plants the same?
No. The omega-3 derived from marine sources provides both EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid). On the other hand, omega-3 from plants such as flax, hemp and borage seeds provides ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid).
Are TG or EE form omega-3s used in products certified by IVO?
Both are acceptable. The key similarity of all products certified by IVO™, whether EE or TG form omega-3, is they must represent the highest quality and potency for their type and intended use.
What is the best source of omega-3?
The health benefits attributed to omega-3s are based on research into how EPA/DHA is metabolized and utilized in the body. So, oily marine fish are considered the best source for omega-3 EPA/DHA which work together to promote good health.
Do I need to take EPA if I’m taking DHA?
Yes. DHA and EPA work together, and both are required by your body to promote good health.
Is vegetarian omega-3 as healthy as marine sources?
The problem with plant source omega-3 is the restricted utilization of ALA. Studies have shown the human body typically converts only 0.3 to 21% of ALA into EPA, and 0 to 9% into DHA. So, some 70 to 90% of ALA is eliminated unused.
Do I need EPA and DHA if I’m already taking flax?
Probably. Flax seeds and other plant-based omega-3 sources contain ALA that your body must convert to EPA and DHA to use. And the conversion is very inefficient.
What are the health benefits of omega-3s?
The health benefits of omega-3s are very well established, based on thousands of clinical studies. Omega-3s offer heart health benefits and play a crucial role in brain function, as well as offering general support for our joints, circulation and cognition.
Is omega-3 safe for children?
Yes. Numerous studies have shown that omega-3 is essential for children and helps support the development of healthy brains, eyes and nerves.
Is it safe to take omega-3 while I’m pregnant?
Yes. It is both safe and recommended by health professionals during pregnancy. DHA has been shown as essential to the growing fetus’ development.