The other day I filmed a short video about the benefits of fish oil …
Today we’re back with more specifics about omega-3 fats – should you take them? What are the recommended doses? How do you know what to look for when buying fish oil?
Here’s the deal:
Under the “umbrella” of omega-3 fats, there are actually 3 different fatty acids.
EPA, DHA, and ALA (those are all acronyms). These are all called essential fats, meaning our bodies can’t make them, so we must get them from the diet.
Where do you get them?
EPA and DHA both come from fish and fish oil. You can get just DHA from algae (for vegetarians).
ALA comes from the plant based sources of omega-3 fats, such as flaxseed, walnuts, and almonds.
All 3 of those unique fatty acids have supportive research and unique health benefits, but today we’re going to focus on EPA and DHA from fish, fish oil, and/algae.
Omega-3 fats are necessary for most major functions in the body – in fact, every single cell in the body requires omega-3 fats to function.
This is the last day of American Heart Month, so fish oil and omega-3’s are very fitting for the last day …
… but they aren’t just useful for heart health.
The fat in brain is 97% DHA. Knowing that you can of course understand how it’s important for mental function. Ella takes them for brain development. They’re also good on the other end of the spectrum, as we age, for maintaining cognitive function.
There’s supportive data for those with depression, bi polar, ADHD, rheumatoid arthritis, high lipids, lowering blood pressure, and much more.
So here are the American Heart Association recommendations.
Eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times (two servings) a week.
Each serving is 3.5 ounce cooked, or about ¾ cup of flaked fish. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Now of course you have to be smart about your fish consumption – some may have mercury and other contaminants. As a general rule of thumb, the bigger the fish, the more likely they are to be contaminated.
- Children and pregnant woman are advised to avoid eating fish with the potential for high mercury levels – shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish – but eat up to 12 oz of a variety of fish and shellfish lower in mercury (canned light tuna, wild salmon, Pollock, catfish).
- Middle-aged men and postmenapausal women – the benefits of eating fish far outweigh the risks when eating within the FDA recommendations.
Should I take a fish oil supplement?
American Heart Association suggests:
- For healthy adults with no history of heart disease: eat fish at least 2 times per week.
- For adults with coronary heart disease: In addition to eating fish 2 times per week, take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement (as fish oils) — 1 gram daily of EPA and DHA – daily.
- For adults with high cholesterol levels: Add an omega-3 fatty acid supplement (as fish oils), 2 – 4 grams daily of EPA and DHA.
MOHR RESULTS NOTE: when it says 1 gram or more of EPA & DHA that is different than 1 gram total omega-3 fats. When you look at the side of your bottle of fish oil, add up how much EPA and how much DHA are in the product and those 2 numbers should add up to 1+ grams.
From all the data we have read and experts we have talked to and worked with, we feel all adults (and kids) could benefit from supplementing with fish oil (or algae oil for vegans). Of course check with your personal health care provider for yourself. But there is a major imbalance of healthy fats to unhealthy fats in the diet of most people … bringing that 'back to a normal balance' is a smart idea in our opinion.
The other key here is not just to ADD an omega-3 supplement, but replace other less healthy fats in the diet. Otherwise it’s like putting a band aid on the problem – it’s just a temporary fix.
At the Mohr House, in addition to eating low mercury fish a few times each week, Kara takes 2.2 grams EPA/DHA daily (since she's nursing, she also gives some of that to Ella through breastmilk). Being predisposed to high triglycerides, I use 3.3 grams EPA/DHA — above what the AHA recommends, yes, but the research we've seen impresses enough to do that… we use Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega + D … (each serving provides 1.1 gram EPA/DHA)
We take Nordic because it's a trusted brand in terms of purity, quality, meeting label claims, its concentration, and freshness. Those all rank high in our books!
We’re all on board here! Even Ella gets a supplement in addition to what she gets through mommy. We feel it's THAT important!