Omega-3 in Fish Oil Supplements and Seafood: What’s the Difference and How to Choose?

As healthy, balanced diet is one of the keys to long and prosperous life, choosing what to eat and how to meet demands for various elements’ supply for our body is a challenge for all the people, especially considering enormous quantity of everything the market now has to offer.

As healthy, balanced diet is one of the keys to long and prosperous life, choosing what to eat and how to meet demands for various elements’ supply for our body is a challenge for all the people, especially considering enormous quantity of everything the market now has to offer.

Omega-3 fatty acids that play, among many other nutrients, a very important part in our general well-being, are also a bit confusing when it comes to what amount of these we are supposed to take daily, what’s their difference from fish oil and how to choose a proper supplement in case satiety of an organism in a natural way is for some reason not possible.

Facts

Omega-3 fatty acids belong to the group of elements our body cannot produce on its own. Still, they are extremely important due to a number of body functions they support. Therefore, it is necessary to include foods that contain these into one’s diet.

As 2012 National Health Interview Survey has shown, fish oil supplements are the most common supplements taken by both adults and children, with 7.8 percent of adults (18.8 million) and 1.1 percent of children age 4 to 17 (664,000) who have consumed it within t30 days prior to the survey conduct.

Among three primary omega-3 acids are ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). While the first one is normally obtained through vegetable oils in the U.S., the last two can be found in seafood (such as tuna, mackerel, salmon) and shellfish (oysters, crab etc.) and special food (fish oil) supplements only.

Recommendations

American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating fish twice a week, but, obviously, not every American is able to maintain this as part of their weekly diet.

Mayo Clinic says that an average adult American consumes about 1.6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids every day, with 1.4 of these being ALA, and about 0.1-0.2 grams being EPA and DHA. Children and youngsters under 18, however, should be limited in fresh fish intake because of higher risk of exposure to harmful environmental toxins, and fish oil supplements are recommended to be given to them in cases of proven necessity of treatment with fish oil and under professional supervision only.

World Health Organization states that daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids for an adult should be between 0.8-1.1 grams of ALA and 0.3-0.5 grams of EPA and DHA. And this is where fish oil food supplements come to help.

Usually coming in soft gels or capsules, supplements contain a certain amount of DHA and EPA that Americans often lack because of low fish consumption. In order to define which one would be best for you, consider such factors as

  • Freshness (old ones normally go rancid and smell respectively);
  • Authenticity (reliable supplements will be stamped with either the GOED standard for purity or a “third party tested” stamp that proves their purity and compliance of actual contents with what is written on the pack);
  • Type and amount of Omega-3 acids (make sure the product you pick contains EPA and DHA in amount of about 30% of the whole capsule contents);
  • Form of Omega-3 (better ones also have FFA (free fatty acids), TG, rTG (triglycerides and reformed triglycerides), and PLs (phospholipids) to improve absorption as well as an antioxidant (like vitamin E) to prevent rancidity);
  • Sustainability (the product should be certified by an authority organization –  MSC, the Environmental Defense Fund etc.).

It is extremely important not to overdose when taking fish oil supplements. According to AHA, up to 3 grams of fish oil supplements daily is a safe dosage, however, it is always beneficial to discuss the exact amount with a professional. In case of such symptoms as ‘fishy’ odor and taste, bleeding, nausea, loose stools, unstable blood sugar levels, high cholesterol levels stop taking supplement and consult a doctor immediately.

Also, people who have coronary heart disease, diabetes of are taking meds that affect blood clotting should visit a specialist before starting fish oil supplements intake.

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