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Omega-3: The “expert’s” supplement of choice

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times: “Experts say if you only take one supplement, it should be Omega-3.” Supplement sources of Omega-3 include fish oil, krill oil, and flax oil. Krill oil is my favorite because of its higher absorption rates. I’m not the biggest fan of flax oil because it is less stable and easily oxidized by light or temperature. But I digress. Who are these experts anyway? And why are they touting Omega-3?

If you’re roaming the Internet, there are lots of supposed “experts” who may or may not offer value. I’m interested in what physicians and biomedical scientists have to say. If anything, I’m most interested in what the biomedical scientists say, as they sometimes have a deeper understanding of nutrition.

From a biomedical perspective, the experts tout Omega-3 supplements because of two main ingredients: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). DHA and EPA offer powerful anti-oxidation and anti-inflammatory benefits. Oxidation and inflammation are two of the worst things for your body. They are the precursors of pain and disease, including cancer. In my opinion, this is why the experts tout Omega-3s, and rightfully so. The majority of people do not get adequate amounts of these fatty acids in their diet. And if you aren’t getting enough from your diet, supplementation makes sense.

There are other benefits to Omega-3 supplementation, including improved insulin uptake and muscle protein synthesis, which could equate to less body fat and more muscle. For many years Omega-3 consumption has also been linked to lower risk of heart attack and stroke, two of the biggest causes of death in the western world. Further research needs to be done to determine the exact linkage and what quantities are truly necessary to elicit them, but Omega-3 supplementation does seem to benefit lower triglyceride levels and improved blood circulation, which could help fight atherosclerotic plaque build (aka clogged arteries).

In closing, keep in mind that not all Omega-3 supplements are created equal. FDA regulation isn’t all that strict. You want to make sure your supplement comes from a trusted source so you are getting a pure Omega-3 that doesn’t contain fillers and has been lab tested to ensure heavy metals like mercury have been removed.