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Nourish Family Nutrition & Therapy

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All About Omega-3’s

Polyunsaturated fats, often referred to as “healthy fats”, are a group of fatty acids that include omega-3 and omega-6 fats. While both have health benefits, we will be focusing on omega-3’s. Lets get into where we can obtain omega-3s in foods, supplements, potential health benefits, and how much you need in a day to fulfill your needs. 

Omega-3 fatty acids are comprised of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA cannot be created within the body, which categorizes this form as an essential fatty acid. Small amounts of EPA and DHA can be synthesized from ALA, but not enough to meet your daily needs. EPA and DHA are mainly found in microalgae and phytoplankton. So, the fish that consume these have a buildup of omega-3s which in turn provide us these healthy fats when we consume them. Ah, yes, the good ole food chain!  

EPA and DHA can be obtained from certain fish and seafood, while ALA can be found in some plants, nuts, and seeds. 

Omega-3 EPA/DHA sources:

  • Salmon, anchovies, tuna, sardines, mackerel, herring, and sea bass 
  • (2) 4-ounce servings of any of these fish weekly is recommended by the American Heart Association
  • Fortified foods: certain brands of eggs, milk, yogurt, and infant formula  
  • Fish oil, algae oil 

Recommended dosage: 500 mg EPA/DHA daily 

Omega-3 ALA sources:

  • Chia seeds, flaxseed, walnuts, spinach, edamame 
  • 5 walnuts, 1 Tbsp chia seeds, or 1 Tbsp flax seeds meets your daily AHA needs 
  • Plant oils: canola oil, soybean oil, flaxseed oil 

Potential benefits of omega-3 fatty acids: 

  • Reduced inflammation 
  • Brain health: improved memory, cognition, and protection against cognitive decline with age 
  • Infant growth and development: important for pregnant and breastfeeding women to get enough in their diet for to support optimal brain development and eye health for the baby 
  • Cardiovascular health: promotes healthy cholesterol levels and reduced risk for heart attack and stroke 

Recommended dosage: 

Population Dosage 
Infants 500 mg omega-3 
Toddlers 1-3 years  700 mg ALA 
Kids 4-8 years 900 mg ALA 
Boys 9-13 years 1.2 g ALA 
Girls 9-13 years 1 g ALA 
Men 14+ 1.4 g ALA 
Women 14+ 1.1 g ALA 
Pregnant/Breastfeeding 1.4 g ALA 

Supplements are also a secondary option if you can’t get enough omega-3s in your diet through the food sources listed. Vegetarians, vegans, dietary restrictions, allergies, and access to food may prevent some from having the opportunity to obtain these through food sources. In the event we turn to supplemental omega-3 fatty acids, there are a few good options to lean on. Krill oil is a great option for those who are able to consume fish; algal oil is great for our vegans and vegetarians out there who do not consume fish products. Be mindful of the supplement facts for their EPA and DHA content. You want it to equal around 500 mg of EPA & DHA combined. Always make sure your supplements are 3rd party tested before buying. 

Omega-3 fatty acids are most beneficial as a preventative measure rather than for treatment of disease. Consuming a variety of sources of omega-3 fatty acids are best for preventing cardiovascular disease, promoting infant growth and development, and supporting optimal brain function. 

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