Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for many aspects of health, and many of us are not getting enough of them.
The University of Maryland Medical Center explains that Omega-3 fatty acids may be useful for:
- Reducing the risk of heart disease and causes of death associated with heart disease
- Reducing severity of symptoms associated with diabetes
- Reducing pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis
- Reducing risk of osteoporosis and bone loss
- Improving health and reducing symptoms for those with autoimmune disease
- Helping those with anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder
- Reducing risk of various types of cancers
- Improving cognitive function
As I explained before, there are two main types of Omega-3s:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in certain vegetable oils, walnuts, and some green vegetables.
- The other type, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is found in fatty fish.
The body can convert some ALA to EPA & DHA but is not very efficient at this process, so it is important to also consume sources of EPA/DHA. These nutrients are especially recommended during pregnancy and nursing (and are in most prenatal vitamins) because only certain forms of DHA are transferred across the placenta.
Omega-3s are important, but what is even more important, is consuming a healthy ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats. Both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats are considered polyunsaturated fats because they have many double bonds. In general, we need much smaller amounts of these polyunsaturated fats than we do of healthy forms of saturated fats, but they are still vitally important. Our bodies aren’t able to produce polyunsaturated fats so we must get them from diet (this is the reason they are called “essential fatty acids”).
Omega-6 fats are found in many processed foods, vegetable oils, processed grains and soy. Omega-6 fats increase inflammation (source) while Omega-3 fats can help reduce inflammation.
The ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats is 1:1 (and not higher than 4:1) but most people are consuming much higher amounts of Omega-6 fats (up to 30:1) . Higher amounts of Omega-6 can contribute to inflammation within the body and to disease.
Omega-3s (like all nutrients) are best obtained from food, but with environmental toxins and sourcing concerns, it isn’t always possible or feasible to consume enough real food sources of Omega-3s.
The Devil in the Details
All fish oil supplements are not created equal. Certain forms of fish oil contain altered forms of Omega-3s and can actually contribute to inflammation.
Many Omega-3 supplements are in ethyl ester form, which is an altered form created when ethanol is fused with the fish oil. This creates an extremely pure fish oil concentrate, but not one that is very bioavailable. These types of fish oils are often hard to digest and can oxidize easily. The real difference, however, is in the digestion of these different types of fish oils. The natural triglyceride form breaks down easily in the small intestine and can be absorbed (source). Fish oils in the ethyl ester form are much more difficult for the body to break down and are not absorbed as easily once broken down.
The natural triglyceride (TG) form is purified but still in a form that the body recognizes and can easily digest. It can be taken without food and doesn’t go rancid or smell strongly.
I wanted to find an Omega-3 supplement that would meet the following criteria:
- Natural Triglyceride form of Omega-3
- Concentrated doses of EPA and DHA
- Sustainably sourced (krill oil populations are declining and I wanted sources like anchovy or sardine which are considered sustainable)
- Free of contaminants and heavy metals
- At least 2 grams of concentrated Omega-3s without having to swallow a handful of pills
What I Take
I finally found an Omega-3 supplement that met all of my stringent criteria. I still take Fermented Cod Liver Oil, which is an excellent source of fat-soluble vitamins not present in many Omega-3 supplements but is not a great source of Omega-3s.
I’m working on healing my gut and thyroid after finding out that I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and needed the extra boost of Omega-3s to reduce inflammation and speed this process.
The Omega-3 supplement I take now is called RealDose Omega-3 TG. I had the opportunity to speak with one of the company’s founders and verify the quality of their Omega-3 TG supplement and I have tried it myself for several months.
This Omega-3 supplement has 2.4 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids in natural triglyceride form. Of that, 1.2 grams are EPA and 750 mg are DHA. I liked that each batch of Omega-3 TG is third party tested and pharmaceutical grade. Omega-3 TG also has an Enteric coating, which is designed to help it break down in the small intestine (rather than the stomach), making it even more absorbable. (Bonus: no fishy aftertaste).
Here is a link to learn more abut Omega-3 TG… check out the video from Dr. Steve Sisskind at the bottom of the page.
Another thing I like about the company, RealDose Nutrition, is that they are very customer centric. I don’t know of any other company that gives a full one year guarantee on fish oil, and that provides free shipping on US orders.
Since I take my recommendations very seriously, if you decide to try Real Dose’s Omega 3, please let me know about your experience with them, and how you liked the supplement.
Do you take supplemental Omega-3s? Have they helped you? Share below!