Part 2: Omega-3 Supplements

Michael Walters asks:  Just wondering what your feelings are on Omega-3 supplements?  I’m taking a generic fish oil just now (612 mg daily). My thinking was that I don’t eat seafood but want the benefits.

Kudos for taking omega-3 supplements, especially since you are not eating fish.  As you might recall in yesterday’s post, there are numerous benefits in consuming omega-3s, such as promoting heart health, reducing inflammation, and preserving cognition.

The most absorptive form of omega-3s comes from fish and fish oil supplements.  This is because fish oil has two omega-3 fatty acids that are essential to the body, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  Walnuts, flax seeds, omega-3 fortified eggs and Brussels sprouts are also good sources; however, the type of omega-3 fatty acids, called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), takes one extra step to be converted to EPA and DHA in the body.

Since the 1970s, both omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, have been studied rigorously and recognized for their heart-health benefits, especially when studies discovered that there was a low rate of cardiovascular mortality (death) among Eskimos who consumed a lot of fatty fish.1  Additionally, heart disease rates were shown to be about one half of Western countries in Japan (Japan is another culture where fish is a staple-food).2

Your dose of 612 mg is fine – I would go so far as recommending one gram (1000 mg) per day, since you do not eat omega-3s in the form of fish.  Omega-3s are very important for optimal brain, heart and muscle function — you’re doing the right thing by taking supplements.

Tomorrow’s post will offer omega-3 meal and snack ideas, including recipe ideas.


1. Studies find new omega-3 benefits: But are you getting the right healthy fats? (special report) Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter. 2007;25(5):4-5.

2. Iso H, Kobayashi M, Ishihara J, et al. Intake of fish and n3 fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease among Japanese: The Japan Public Health Center-Based (JPHC) Study Cohort I. Circulation. 2006;113:195-202.


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