How important is it to supplement Omegas?
First of all, what are they?
Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of three essential fats: ALA, EPA, and DHA. By ‘essential’ I mean you need them in your diet; your body can’t produce them naturally. Among the many benefits: Omega-3 fatty acids are powerful anti-inflammatories, lower triglycerides, and contribute to lower levels of depression.
Omega 6, the “sister” fatty acid, is needed in higher amounts. Not much higher, but anywhere from a 4:1 to a 2:1 ratio. The issue, however, is that we get too much of this fatty acid anyway. In process foods or fried foods we get an excess amount of Omega 6, which actually increases inflammation in the body; therefore, it is not likely a good idea to supplement unless you have a very poor calorie deficient diet.
The highest quality Omega comes from fish. This is because it already contains DHA, which your body can readily use. DHA makes up 40% of the fatty acids in your brain. Land animals have Omega 3 as well, but less, and much less if they’re not fed natural diets. The best way to get enough is to eat fish at least three times per week; wild salmon being the best due to the lower levels of mercury. For this reason, keep tuna and larger fish to a minimum.
What if you’re a vegetarian, don’t like fish, workout a lot causing excess inflammation, or are under a lot of stress and burning your precious fats up?
In these cases you should supplement.
Vegetarian sources do contain Omega 3; however, they have to be converted into DHA, which if you’re under stress or not getting enough could be a problem.
If you’re Vegan you need to plan your omegas well. My recommendation would be a teaspoon of flax each morning, crushed before you eat them, a teaspoon of chia seeds at some point later in the day, and try to keep your stress levels low.
Fish oil or the new krill oil are your best bet. Aim for an oil that comes from smaller fish since they have the highest quality Omegas. The serving and ratios on the bottle usually works for the average person in one serving. If you are recovering from a hard workout that day, or are under a lot of stress, another serving may benefit you as well. Check with your doctor or a nutritionist for more information.