Omega 3 fats are essential fats. Essential means that our body can not produce them and we must get them from our diet. Long chain Omega 3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids containing DHA and EPA. These fatty acids are needed for the brain, heart, eyes, joints, digestion, muscle activity, blood clotting, cell division and more. They also contain phospholipids which are building blocks of the cell. Deficiencies in long chain Omega 3s can lead to heart problems, depression, poor memory and inflammation. The best sources of long chain Omega 3s are cold water, fatty fish such as wild salmon, sardines, anchovies and herrings. It is suggested that we have 1 or 2 servings of fresh cold water fish per week. If you don’t eat fish you can also supplement with long chain Omega 3 oils such as wild, cold water salmon oil and antarctic krill oil. 250-500 milligrams (mg) of EPA and DHA are recommended daily.
It is important to note that Omega 3s from plant sources are short chain Omega 3s and do not contain the essential DHA and EPA. Instead plant based Omega 3s, including flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts, are a source of ALA. While ALA is a precursor to DHA and EPA, our bodies do not efficiently make this conversion.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils should be balanced 1:1 but in our modern diet of processed foods and highly processed oils, our typical Omega 6 consumption is ten times higher than our Omega 3 intake. This imbalance inevitably leads to health problems as mentioned above.
The bottom line? Make sure you’re getting your essential Omega 3 in your diet.