You can’t toss a sushi roll without hitting someone who’s extolling the virtues of Omega-3 fatty acids — and they’re praised with good reason. Omega-3’s, which are one of two major types of polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega-6, being the other) are important for the health of your brain, heart, eyes, skin and can even improve the quality of your sleep. What’s more, Omega-3’s have been shown to help prevent — or at least assuage — depression.
There are a few different omega-3s, but the bulk of the scientific research focuses alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in plant sources, and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is found in mainly in fatty fish.
You absolutely need to ingest omega-3’s for good health, but this doesn’t answer the question posed by this article. Namely, do you need to take omega-3 supplements?
The answer? Probably not. If you eat a healthy, balanced diet with variety, you likely don’t need to pop a pill to get enough of this essential fatty acid.
How do you know if your enough is enough?
Omega-3 is in good supply in these food sources:
- Plant oils, like canola oil and soybean oil
- Chia seeds
Eating fatty fish a couple times a week is enough to get adequate intake. If you don't eat fatty fish, then you're going to have to work harder to get your omega 3, sprinkling flax and chia and the like into your diet almost daily.
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While there is no conclusive recommendation for daily intake, most experts agree a minimum of 250-500 mg of EPA and DHA combined each day is a good start. If you have a heart condition or are looking to bolster your mental health, talk to your health care professional to get an exact recommendation. In fact, you should talk to your health care professional before taking any new supplement in general. If you don’t eat these foods, or you don’t eat them often, then you may need a supplement.
Signs of omega-3 deficiency include:
- Poor focus
- Joint pain
- Poor sleep
- Dry skin
- Brittle nails
- Dull hair
When in doubt, don’t let Dr. Google guide your health decisions. You’re reading this article for an answer, and we gave it to you: if you’re eating the right foods you don’t need an omega 3 supplement, but if you’re diet is limited (by necessity or choice), you could benefit from one. Talk to your health care professional.
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When is the best time to take an Omega Supplement if you choose to add it into your diet?