Everything You Need To Know About Omega-3

You may have heard that omega-3 is a healthy fatty acid. But how does it help you? Read on to know more

July 8, 2022

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Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that play various important roles in your body. They are known as essential fatty acids as your body cannot produce them and thus needs to be obtained through diet.

Three main types of omega-3 fatty acids are:

ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)

Let’s understand more about them.

ALA

This is the most common omega-3 fatty acid present in your diet. A small percentage of ALA gets converted to DHA and EPA. The remaining ALA is used as an energy source by your body.

EPA

Eicosapentaenoic acid is mainly present in fish oil and fatty fish. It is also present in some micro-algae. Some parts of EPA can be converted into DHA.

DHA

It is the most important type of omega-3 fatty acid for your body. DHA is an essential part of your brain, retina of the eyes, and other parts of the body.

Like EPA, it is present in animal food and algae. Thus, vegans and vegetarians do not get enough DHA and may need to take microalgae supplements.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Benefits

As it is an important part of the brain and eyes, it plays a vital role in maintaining your health. Some other omega-3 fatty acid uses are:

  • Fights brain health and anxiety

  • Reduce the symptoms of ADHD in kids

  • Protects against heart disorders

  • Fights inflammation and auto-immune disorders

  • May improve joint and bone health

  • Promotes skin health

Recommended Daily Allowance

For EPA and DHA, it is recommended to include two fatty fish in a week or 250–500 mg of combined EPA and DHA supplements.

For ALA, the recommended dose is 1.6 and 1.1 grams per day for men and women, respectively.

Omega-6 and Omega-3 ratio

Both omega-3 and omega-6 play various roles in your body. However, it is seen that omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that may be counteracted by omega-6. So, it is important to take them in adequate amounts.

The recommended ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet is 4:1

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Omega-3 Fatty Acid Sources

Main sources containing EPA and DHA (per 100 g) are:

  • Indian Salmon / Rawas: 1598 mg

  • Sankata Paarai: 1232 mg

  • Hilsa: 1157 mg

  • Seer Fish / Vanjaram / Surmai: 1048 mg

  • Vela Meen / Green Jobfish: 897 mg

  • Kadali: 856 mg

  • Rani / Pink Perch: 811 mg

  • Cod liver oil supplements: Variable

Sources of ALA (per 100 g) are

  • Flax seeds / Linseeds / Alsi: 12956 mg

  • Walnuts: 8710 mg

  • Garden Cress Seeds / Aserio / Halim: 7484

  • Chia seeds: 4,915 mg

  • Mustard seeds: 3341

  • Soybeans: 1310 mg

  • Methi Seeds / Fenugreek Seeds: 1082 mg

  • Black Gram, whole: 601 mg

Interesting fact:

DHA accounts for 40% of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in your brain and 60% in the retina of your eye.

We have started an A-Z, blog-series on nutrients, covering all your vitals in one place! Write to us at info@labelblind.com if you would like a specific nutrient of interest to be covered, we would love to keep that as our priority!

Also Read - Understand Everything About Food Labels In 9 Minutes

References:

National Institute of Nutrition. Indian food composition tables

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6357022/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1780156/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30019766/

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Rashida Vapiwala (Founder at LabelBlind®, Food Label Specialist, Ph.D (Food Science and Nutrition))

Rashida is passionate about solving problems for the food industry using technology. She loves creating tech-led solutions in the space of Nutrition.

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