The benefits of eating fish are well documented. Besides being a great source of protein, fish can also provide omega-3 fatty acids. There are more than 30,000 studies exploring the various benefits of omega-3, especially for heart and brain health. Seafood is the best natural source of omega-3 due to its high levels of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids.
Do you need an Omega-3 supplement?
Nutritional supplements are aptly named; they are supplements, not replacements. A good supplement regimen should enhance and fill in the gaps of an already intentionally balanced diet. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans clearly outline that the primary source of nutrition should be food. Healthy foods are complex and contain a variety of nutrients your body needs. Learning which foods to select and how to balance your meals and snacks is an important life skill.
When it comes to omega-3 fatty acids, there is vast collection of research highlighting its value in numerous bodily functions including heart and brain health. In fact, there are more than 30,000 studies exploring the various benefits of omega-3. Seafood is the best natural source of omega-3. The most important omega-3 fatty acids are called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA levels are particularly high in cold water fatty fish such as salmon, rainbow trout and herring. While other foods such as flax seeds, walnuts and leafy greens may boast high omega-3 levels, they contain a form called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is not nearly as bioavailable. The body has to convert ALA to EPA in order to use it, but only 5 to 15 percent of ALA is able to make it through the conversion process.
The Truth about Americans and Fish
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, as well as the American Heart Association, recommend eating at least two servings of fish each week. A serving is 3.5 ounces cooked or about ¾ cup of flaked fish. Restaurant portions tend to be closer to 6 ounces (about two decks of cards). Cooper Clinic recommends getting a minimum of 1000 mg omega-3 daily. Most American diets miss this mark. According to GOED, a nonprofit association that advocates getting adequate omega-3 levels and works to ensure quality omega-3 products on the market, reported that in the United States, men usually get half of the omega-3 they need and women only about 40% of the proper amount.
As illustrated in the above omega-3 infographic, it can be very difficult to get enough omega-3 through food alone. Take a moment to examine your fish intake and see if you’re reaching 1200 mg each day. Chances are that unless you go out of your way to add seafood to your day, you aren’t getting enough omega-3 and may want to consider adding two Advanced Omega-3 softgels instead of an extra serving of sardines.
To learn more about omega-3 and its health benefits, check out these articles:
7 Reasons to Get Enough Heart-Healthy Omega-3 in Your Diet
Understanding Omega-3 Sources and Their Benefits in the Body
How to Read a Fishy Label
The Facts About Foods Fortified With Vitamins and Omega-3s
View another great omega-3 infographic on this GOED page.
Article by Karen Perkins, Account Executive, Cooper Healthy Living.