Where Can I Get High Quality Omega-3s?
With strong evidence supporting the positive effects of omega-3s EPA and DHA on the brain, heart and entire body, taking a fish oil supplement daily can have a significant impact on individual wellness.
EPA and DHA
The omega-3 essential fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are called essential for a reason – our brains need these specific omega-3 essential fatty acids to function optimally. They’re practically vitamins because we have to get most of our daily allowance of them from our diet. Both are fundamental to the structure and functioning of all our cells, particularly our 200 billion brain cells.
In a 2017 study, the Amen group and other researchers reported that individuals with higher EPA and DHA levels tended to have higher blood flow to the brain, as measured from SPECT scans. The heart and circulation followed a similar scenario: higher levels of EPA and DHA translated to better overall health.
Omega-3 EPA and DHA and certain omega-6 fatty acids are essential for our health, but the modern diet gives us too little of the former and too much of the latter. Most Americans eat a diet light on omega-3 rich foods (fatty cold-water fish, grass-fed meats, and to a lesser extent walnuts and oils of canola and soybeans); and heavy on omega-6 foods (feedlot meats, farmed fish, oils of corn, safflower, sunflower, cottonseed, and peanuts). Even with the most carefully selected diet, it’s difficult to have a healthy balance of omega-3s to omega-6s.
Numerous scientific surveys have reported that most American adults aren’t getting enough EPA and DHA in their diet. The daily average runs around 100 mg for kids and 140 mg for adults. The minimum intake recommendations are 500 mg per day, and recent research suggests they should be even higher.
Many packaged foods that claim to contain omega-3s may only offer a marginal health benefit. In addition to concerns over the quality of their ingredients, many of these processed foods have minimal amounts of omega-3s. Read the label carefully. Unless it specifically states EPA or DHA, you’re unlikely to get any omega-3 benefit from these foods.
Though plant oils are being promoted as omega-3 sources, land plants don’t make EPA or DHA. The only way for us to get enough of them is through foods or supplements.
A few plant foods have omega-3 alpha linolenic acid (ALA), but this has practically no function in our cells and is hard for the body to convert into EPA and DHA. Best estimates are that only about 5 mg of DHA can be made from 1000 mg of ALA. Some people have enzyme mutations that make this conversion process complicated, if not impossible.
Commercially available cold-water fish, such as salmon, tuna, and sardines, are sources of actual, preformed EPA and DHA. Avoid farmed salmon (which are much higher in omega-6s and often carry toxins) and try to get cold-water fish from Alaska or close to the Antarctic, where the ocean waters are the least contaminated. Vegans and vegetarians can take algae-sourced supplements that provide EPA and/or DHA, but these can be expensive.
High-quality Fish Oil Supplements
We all have nutrition gaps. That’s where dietary supplements come in. They’re called supplements because they supplement our diet with the nutrients we might be deficient in. If getting enough EPA and DHA from foods has become a challenge, consider taking a highly concentrated, thoroughly purified fish oil supplement.
Omega-3 Power is a potent fish oil concentrate that supplies substantial allowances of EPA and DHA.
- EPA- Each 2-softgel serving of Omega-3 Power delivers 860 mg of this long-chain omega-3 fatty acid. Clinical trials established EPA’s importance for attention in children and adults. Its necessity for heart and blood vessel health is undisputed.
- DHA- Each 2-softgel serving of Omega-3 Power delivers 580 mg of this long-chain omega-3. DHA is structurally essential for the nerve cells to make their functional connections and supports healthy memory, mood and overall cognition.
EPA and DHA are required for our brain’s nerve cells to make energy and to use that energy for their growth, maintenance, and repair. Since neither of these omega-3s can be efficiently made by the body, optimal intakes must come from foods and supplements.
Ultra-pure Fish Oil
Sourced from pelagic (not bottom-feeders) fish species with short lifespans (so that they don’t accumulate as many toxins), the fish oil in Omega-3 Power undergoes the most advanced purification process in the supplement industry.
Omega-3 Power is tested by independent labs to ensure freshness (lack of rancidity) and for over 250 potential environmental contaminants, including mercury, lead and other heavy metals, PCBs, PBBs, dioxins, furans, and a diverse range of other organic pollutants. The oil in Omega-3 Power is also recognized by several international organizations as a sustainably managed ingredient.
For more information about Omega-3 Power and our full catalog of brain healthy products, please visit us online at BrainMD.
Amen, DG, Harris WS, Kidd PM, others, 2017. Quantitative erythrocyte omega-3 EPA + DHA levels are related to higher regional cerebral blood flow on brain SPECT. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 58, 1189-1199.
Harris WS, Mozaffarian D, Lefevre M, others, 2009. Towards establishing dietary reference intakes for eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids. Journal of Nutrition 139, 804S-819S.
Tan ZS, Harris WS, Beiser AS, others, 2012. Red blood cell omega-3 fatty acid levels and markers of accelerated brain aging. Neurology 78, 658-664.
Messamore E, McNamara RK, 2016. Detection and treatment of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency in psychiatric practice: Rationale and implementation. Lipids in Health and Disease 15:25 (13 pages).
Keith is grateful to have the opportunity to write about supplements since many of them have made a dramatic difference in his life. He is often heard around the office saying, “We have supplements for that.”
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