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The role of Omega 3’s


When it comes to Omega 3’s, it’s important to understand the different types. There are short chain Omega 3’s (ALA) and long chain Omega 3’s (DHA & EPA) - all of which our body cannot make and must therefore be sourced through food. Omega 3’s found in plant-based foods such as flaxseeds and chia seeds are in the ALA form - which is then partially converted into DHA & EPA by our body - while Omega 3’s in animal-based foods like fish are already in the DHA & EPA form. [1] 

DHA & EPA play a key role in healthy cell membrane function and the development of the brain and eyes. [2] Research also suggests that they have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and may lower risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and arthritis. [3] These fatty acids may also help weight management, reduce depression, improve skin, regulate blood pressure and have been linked to healthy ageing. [4, 5]

Not consuming enough Omega 3’s has been linked to rough, scaly skin and a red, swollen, itchy rash, although deficiency is rare. [6] 

How much Omega 3’s do we need?

The Australian Nutrient Reference Values indicate that the adequate intake (AI) of Total Omega 3’s vary depending on age, sex and life stage. [7] The adequate intake level for adult women is 90 mg/day of total Omega 3’s (EPA/DHA), while men’s AI is 160 mg/day. However, it’s worth noting that while the adequate intake (AI) is based on values found in a population with no apparent essential fatty acid deficiency, these figures do not necessarily reflect optimal intakes. [8] In fact, for optimal health, the NHMRC Dietary Guidelines for Australians recommend increasing total Omega-3 intake to 400 mg/day. [9] 

Given lack of evidence of adverse effects associated with excess vitamin Omega 3’s, no upper limit has been set. [10]

Omega 3’s in a plant focussed diet

To ensure our body has adequate levels of Omega 3’s we can either: 

  1.  consume ALA from plant-based foodssuch as hemp seeds, chia seeds or flaxseeds, which is then converted into DHA & EPA. Unfortunately, however, the body isn’t very efficient at converting Omega 3 from plants into the longer chain fatty acids, at a rate of less than 5-10% for EPA and 2-5% for DHA.[11] In addition, the conversion of ALA into DHA/EPA can be affected by life cycle, gender and diet.
  2. or consume DHA & EPA directly from fish. However, it’s worth noting that these days, seafood is well-known to contain a high level of contaminants and pollutants known to negatively affect one’s health, such as PBDEs, POPs, heavy metals and microplastics. [12,13]   

For these reasons, for those who want to ensure adequate Omega 3 intake without risking exposure to contaminants and pollutants, it is possible to go straight to the source and cut out the middle-man (the fish) to get DHA & EPA directly from microalgae in the convenient form of a supplement that provides at least 250mg of combined DHA/EPA . [14] Research has concluded that the DHA/EPA present in Marine Algae oil are just as bioavailable as those found in fish, with researchers concluding that such supplements “represent a safe and convenient source of non–fish-derived DHA”. [15,16] 

Our Essential 3 contains a combined total of 400mg of EPA/DHA per capsule, making it the perfect choice for those wishing to ensure adequate intake of Omega 3’s without consuming animal based foods. 

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