Omega-3 – what’s the buzz all about? You may have heard that they are important for your health, but have you ever wondered what they do specifically?
Truth is, securing your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids can do your body some serious good. DHA and EPA Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the smooth functioning of the body as they support the normal heart and brain functions. You could also say that they help your body run like a well-oiled machine. So don’t be afraid of some serious commitment! With these fatty acids, it’s not a short fling, it’s a relationship for life. We all need them, starting at six months BEFORE birth, and all the way up to an old age. They are particularly important for children, pregnant women, and elderly people.
But with everyday stress and a fast-paced lifestyle, securing the daily supply of important nutrients, including Omega-3s, can be challenging. It’s particularly tough if eating fish doesn’t float your boat, as oily ocean fish are major sources of the important DHA and EPA fatty acids.
However, with a little dedication, securing sufficient levels is a breeze. Let’s take a closer look at what Omega-3s are, where we can find them, and what they can do for us:
 DHA and EPA contribute to the normal function of the heart from just 2 portions a day, DHA contributes to maintenance of normal brain function from just 2 portions a day.
1. Groundbreaking research from the North
It all started with two Danes, a couple of dogsleds, and a trip to the Arctic in 1970. Jørn Dyerberg, a young doctor with a sense of adventure, wanted to find out if there was a possible relation between the Greenland Inuit’s high fat diet and low incidence of heart disease. Back then, the Inuit were still a fisherman and hunter society and lived mostly on fish and seal meat. Could that be the secret to their health?
Dr. Dyerberg convinced fellow scientist Dr. Hans Olaf Bang to trek to the north-west coast of Greenland to study Inuit eating habits. 130 blood samples and two years later back at their lab in Denmark, the team discovered two fatty acids – EPA and DHA. From that moment, awareness and understanding of Omega-3 and its importance in human health have skyrocketed, with more than 20,000 scientific papers published so far.
2. Same, same but different
Just like Omega-6 and Omega-9, Omega-3 fatty acids belong to the family of polyunsaturated fats – those are the “good” fats.
Three Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important: Alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA), and the eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids. ALA can be found in a variety of plant-based sources, like spinach, brussels sprouts, chia seeds, ground flaxseed, or pumpkin seeds.
DHA and EPA Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily ocean fish like salmon, mackerel, or tuna. The human body can also convert some ALA into the other two types of Omega-3s. However, the efficiency of this process is rather low, and the bioavailability of plant-based ALA sources is even lower. The most reliable way to get enough EPA and DHA is to consume them directly and not rely on the body converting them from ALA.
3. You don’t eat fish?
Many people don’t eat fish – because of its taste, food allergies, or to fight against the overfishing of oceans. There are also nutritional supplements containing Omega-3 fatty acids. However, most of these Omega-3 supplements are made from fish or krill oil. Yes, they’re bursting with valuable Omega-3s, but those capsules raise the same environmental issues your fish dish might. Overfishing the oceans is a serious problem and whales and penguins rely on the tiny crustacean krill as a primary food source.
So, is there a way to skip the mackerel and still get the benefits? Yes! Ocean fish do not generate their own DHA and EPA either. They obtain them from algae, the only plant-based source of DHA and EPA. Through fermentation, a specific type of microalgae produces an oil which is very rich in DHA. It’s a sustainable source of Omega-3 fatty acids, without fishy taste or the risk of ocean-borne pollutants. This microalgae oil is also used in the new FitLine Omega 3 Vegan. Combined with the unique microSolve® technology in the FitLine NTC® (Nutrient Transport Concept), a water-soluble transport form of DHA and EPA is created. The liquid supplement is the first 100 % plant-based Omega 3 product on the market that uses this technology.
Vegetarian or not, incorporating Omega-3s in your daily routine through supplements and Omega-3 rich foods is always a good idea. Looking for inspiration in the kitchen? Why not try our sheet pan salmon with veggies, spinach & tuna salad, or overnight oats with blueberries and flaxseed?
What’s your favorite way to secure your Omega-3 intake? Tell us in the comment section!