Are You Getting Enough Omega 3?

Are You Getting Enough Omega 3?

Americans have more omega 6 fatty acids circulating their bloodstream than omega 3’s. A fatty acid is a chain of lipids bound to a carboxy backbone. The chain is either saturated or unsaturated because of the types of bonds in the attached triglycerides. Omega 3’s are considered to be polyunsaturated fats and contain at least two bonds. Your average American has an omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of at least 25:1. 1 2

Omega 6 intake is necessary for cell membrane integrity, inflammation, and pain responses, but an excess of omega 6 causes systemic inflammation. Omega 3 intake helps to curb excess inflammation in the body. The optimal ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 is debatable, but I believe a 1(omega 3) : 4(omega 6) ratio is fine for most people.

You can get healthy amounts of omega 3 from eating fish every other day (I recommend eating wild Icelandic cod, wild Atlantic flounder, wild Atlantic tuna, Atlantic non Gulf shrimp, wild Atlantic oysters [also good source of zinc,] wild Atlantic salmon, wild Atlantic calamari, Bar Harbor Wild Atlantic herring, and wild Atlantic sardines[Season is a good brand, certified parasite free.]) It is always best to get Omega 3’s from food sources over supplementation due to the possibility of the oxidation of the fatty acids in supplements. Bake seafood in the oven below 350 F to prevent oxidation of Omega 3 fatty acids. I do not recommend consuming raw seafood unless you deep freeze it and prepare it yourself due to increasing risk of parasite consumption. There are plant-based forms of omega 3, but they are made of longer chains of lipids. The octadecatrienoic acids from plants oxidize quickly and cause additional inflammation. The omega 3’s that are most beneficial to one’s health are long-chained fatty acids like EPA and DHA, which are found in seafood, fish oil, krill oil, and if you use supplemental form preferably calamari oil. 3 4

Main Types of Omega Three Fatty Acids:

Alpha-Linolenic Acid

ALA is a plant-based long chain omega 3 fatty acid. ALA is a carboxylic acid with an 18-carbon chain and three bonds. ALA is an essential fatty acid for the human body, and its intake must be made through the diet. ALA can be synthesized into the other omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA for further use by the body, but sadly, most of it is oxidized in the process. Studies have shown that the body is only able to synthesize less than 5% of total ALA into EPA and DHA. 5 6 The best intake source of ALA in the diet is through the ingestion of chia seeds. 7

Docosahexaenoic Acid

DHA is an animal / algae-based long chain omega 3 fatty acid. DHA is a carboxylic acid with a 22-carbon chain and two bonds. DHA is a big component of the make-up of our brain, skin, testicles, and retina. DHA is also the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid that is found in the brain. DHA supplementation is very important for improving cognitive function and brain health. The body can poorly synthesize DHA from ALA, but it is best to obtain it from the diet either by eating fish or by supplementing it. 8 9

Eicosapentaenoic Acid

EPA is an animal based long chain omega 3 fatty acid. DHA is a carboxylic acid with a 20-carbon chain and two bonds. EPA has been studied for is ability greatly to lower inflammation in the body by the proper formation and use of prostaglandins. EPA also seems to have greater cardiovascular benefits associated with its supplementation than DHA. The body can also poorly synthesize DHA from ALA, but it is best to obtain it from the diet either by eating fish or by supplementing it. 10 11

Supplementation of omega 3 fatty acids or proper intake in diet is important for: 12 13

  • Optimal brain health and function – reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, clinically supplementation has been shown to help with depression
  • Optimal heart function – reduces risk of heart attacks, arrhythmia, or the chances of sudden cardiac death
  • Proper inflammation regulation in the body
  • Optimal vision
  • Optimal nervous system function
  • Proper fetal development if pregnant
  • Lowering the chance of developing diabetes, and helps promote proper blood sugar relation if you are diabetic
  • Reducing asthmatic symptoms
  • Reducing cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.

The average person should supplement or obtain through their diet at least 500 mg of EPA and DHA daily. More can be supplemented if needed for overall improvement of health. For the optimal intake of omega 3 it all depends on your omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. If you were following a 4:1 ratio than ten grams of omega 6 accumulated in the diet throughout the day would require 2.5 grams of omega 3 daily intake. Stick to the 4:1 ratio with omega 3 diet and supplementation for optimal health.

  1. Sears, William, Sears, James. The Omega-3 Effect, Little, Brown and Company, Aug 28, 2012
  2. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/othernuts/omega3fa
  3. Sears, William, Sears, James. The Omega-3 Effect, Little, Brown and Company, Aug 28, 2012
  4. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/othernuts/omega3fa
  5. Sears, William, Sears, James. The Omega-3 Effect, Little, Brown and Company, Aug 28, 2012
  6. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/othernuts/omega3fa
  7. https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/article11.aspx
  8. Sears, William, Sears, James. The Omega-3 Effect, Little, Brown and Company, Aug 28, 2012
  9. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/othernuts/omega3fa
  10. Sears, William, Sears, James. The Omega-3 Effect, Little, Brown and Company, Aug 28, 2012
  11. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/othernuts/omega3fa
  12. Sears, William, Sears, James. The Omega-3 Effect, Little, Brown and Company, Aug 28, 2012
  13. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/othernuts/omega3fa
1 Comment
  1. You say “The optimal ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 is debatable, but I believe a 4:1 ratio is fine for most people.”
    Most researchers in this area are recommending a ratio of 2:1 (omega-6 to omega-3) in the body and a similar ration in the diet. You are suggesting a 1:4 ratio (omega-6 to omega-3).
    Given that most Americans a grossly deficient in omega-3’s I recommend that people start by supplementing 2000-3000mg EPA + DHA daily for about 2 months. Then you can measure your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio to see how close to the optimal blood ratio of 2:1 you are. Alternately, you can have your “Omega Index” measured via a blood spot test (you want an Omega Index of 8-11%).

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