Omega -3: What’s all the hype about?
Omega-3: What’s all the hype about?
by Danielle Van Schaick, R.D.
What are Omega-3 fatty acids and why do we need them in our diet?
• Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fat, considered vital for good health.
• They are found in 3 main forms, LNA, EPA & DHA.
• Although LNA can be converted in our bodies to EPA and DHA, that conversion is not very efficient (only about 4% to 10%).
Therefore, we want to be getting more EPA and DHA in our diets.
Extensive research suggests that higher intakes of EPA and DHA offers considerable protection against heart disease and reduce the risk of death from a heart attack.
Population studies have shown that higher intakes of fish (rich in EPA and DHA) are associated with lower rates of some types of cancer.
DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the grey matter of the brain. Research suggests that increasing daily omega-3 intakes, specifically DHA, may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and mental disorders.
Pregnancy & Lactation
Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA, are vital for the early development of the brain, nerves and visual acuity. It’s very important that pregnant women receive sufficient DHA before and during pregnancy.
Many studies have found that increasing EPA and DHA intakes improved symptoms in patients with inflammatory conditions like arthritis, psoriasis, asthma, gingivitis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
How much Omega 3’s (EPA/DHA) do we need each day?
Male : 25-49 yrs = 1500; 50-74 yrs = 1300; 50-74 yrs = 1100
Female 25-49 yrs = 1100; 50-74 yrs = 1100; 50-74 yrs = 1100
What foods contain EPA and DHA omega-3?
• EPA and DHA are primarily found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, swordfish, mackerel, and sardines.
• Fish oil supplements, Omega-3 enhanced eggs are good alternatives to fish.
• Common plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids provide no EPA or DHA, only LNA.
Fish/Seafood (100g = 3-4oz) : Mackerel 3000mg; Herring 2100mg; Salmon 1600mg; Halibut 400mg
Eggs (100g=2 eggs): Omega-3 500mg; Omega Pro 800mg; Regular egg 80mg
Plant Foods (no EPA/DHA): Flaxseed (75g) 17,000; Walnuts (50g) 3,000; Canola Oil (14g) 1,400; 400mg Olive Oil (14g) Trace
Danielle Van Schaick BASc, RD, CPT
Registered Dietitian, Lead Dietitian
Danielle is a private practice dietitian with a strong background in health, nutrition and fitness. She holds an Applied Human Nutrition Degree from the University of Guelph and successfully completed a Dietetic Internship with Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA).
Registered as a Dietitian (RD), Danielle has studied the human body and is considered one of Canada’s leading experts in food and nutrition. She offers one-on-one nutrition counseling to individuals, families, and groups.