You've probably heard the following sentence from your grandma or other family members: "You should eat more fish to get enough omega-3 fatty acids!"
Whoever it was, the recommendation is not that far fetched.
In this article, we want to give you a short overview of omega-3 fatty acids and their health benefits.
What are omega 3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are important fats that you must get from your diet.
Unlike saturated fatty acids, your body cannot produce them on its own. Because of their important function, they are also called essential fatty acids.
There are several forms of omega-3 fatty acids. Plant-based foods usually contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which still has to be converted into EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in the human body.
The most important omega-3 fatty acids are
- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are also important omega-3 fatty acids, which are found mainly in fatty fish. Plant-based foods and animal foods contain different omega-3 fatty acids.
What foods are high in omega 3 fatty acids?
Fatty fish such as mackerel, herring, tuna or salmon are considered some of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids.
People on a vegetarian or vegan diet can use DHA-rich oils from various microalgae and vegetable oils, such as rapeseed, walnut, hemp and linseed oil. Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are nuts, and chia seeds.
Why do humans need omega 3 fatty acids?
The benefits of taking omega 3 fatty acids daily not only include supporting brain and heart health, but they are also essential to maintaining healthy vision, hair, skin and nails.
Here are some important benefits at a glance:
- DHA is particularly important for your brain, regardless of age. In fact, 20% of the fatty acids that comprise the brain's cerebral cortex are DHA. Our ability to think and remember is mainly made possible by DHA.
- DHA helps to maintain normal vision. The positive effect is achieved with a daily intake of 250 mg. The mother's intake of DHA [200 mg daily in addition] contributes to the normal development of the brain/eyes in the fetus and the breastfed baby.
- Together, EPA and DHA contribute to normal heart function. The positive effect is achieved with a daily intake of 250 mg EPA and DHA.
What is the daily requirement of omega 3 fatty acids?
The German Nutrition Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung - DGE) recommends that omega 3 intake should account for 0.5% of total energy. With an optimal distribution of nutrients, 30% of the total energy should be provided by fats. What does this mean in concrete terms?
For an adult (2400 kilocalories), this corresponds to about 1.3 grams of ALA contained in one tablespoon of rapeseed oil.
- AAVALABS' Omega-3 fish oil provides 800 mg EPA and 400 mg DHA with each daily dose.
- AAVALABS' Vegan Omega 3of AAVALABS contains 1100 mg Omega 3, of which 600 mg DHA and 300 mg EPA per daily dose (2 capsules)
Plant-based vs. marine sources of omega 3?
People who eat a 100% plant-based diet cannot absorb DHA and EPA directly from food. In this case, the only remaining route is via acid alpha-linolenic acid.
But there´s a catch: The body can convert ALA into the important omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, but the conversion rate into EPA and DHA varies from person to person and is influenced by various factors (such as age, sex, weight, and metabolism). On average, the conversion rate is only about 5 - 10 percent.
We have added vitamin E to our Vegan Omega 3 formula to maximize bioavailability and absorption.
However, researchers suspect that the conversion rate of alpha-linolenic acid to EPA and DHA may increase if the diet contains only small amounts of EPA and DHA in the long term.
It is also worth mentioning:
In order to optimise the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, it is advisable to give preference to rapeseed, linseed or walnut oil more often or to use products containing algae oil.
If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet our Vegan Omega 3 sourced from algae is a great option.