Omega 3 Supplements:
Which Type is the Best?

The most popular omega 3 supplements are made from fish oil, krill oil, and hemp or flaxseed oil. They're a great way to get all the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids while avoiding the problems of toxicity with most seafood. Just a few capsules a day can give you as much omega 3 as a serving of any fish.

Currently, the most popular supplemental sources of omega 3 are fish oil supplements. Another animal-based source of omega 3 DHA and EPA is omega 3 krill oil. Krill oil is not as well known as fish oil, but it may have significant advantages.

Among the many plant-based supplements, the most widely used are flax seeds and the oil made from them. Hemp seeds and chia seeds may be better vegetarian sources, however. There is also some debate over whether or not the omega 3 in plant-based oils are as beneficial as that in fish oil supplements. I'll discuss all the pros and cons of each type later.

Why Do You Need Omega 3 Supplements?

Cold-water fish are, by far, the richest dietary source of omega 3 fats. Unfortunately, much of the seafood today is contaminated with dangerous toxins like mercury, dioxins and PCBs, antibiotics and hormones. Farm-raised fish are considerably more toxic than wild-caught varieties. The FDA has even warned consumers not to eat fish too often due to the levels of mercury present.

In many cases,
consumption of more than one
farmed salmon meal per month could pose
unacceptable cancer risks!

That's why omega 3 supplements are so valuable. They provide the same benefits as fresh fish with none of the toxicity.

Omega 3 fatty acids are probably the most important fats for your health. A major reason for this is because they help suppress inflammation, a primary cause of many of the degenerative diseases so common today — heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimers, arthritis, and more.

Omega 3 supplements have been shown to be beneficial for a wide range of health issues, including:

  • improved brain function
  • improved blood sugar health
  • increase in joint comfort
  • lowers LDL, raises HDL cholesterol

  • lowers inflammation
  • relief of normal PMS symptoms
  • boosts your immune system
  • offers healthy mood support
  • improves skin, hair and nails

Types of Omega 3 Fats

There are many types of essential fatty acids; the ones most well-known are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); these are all categorized as polyunsaturated fatty acids.

There is substantial evidence that omega 3 fatty acids are vital to your health. The EPA and DHA in fish oil are the subject of thousands of studies that clearly demonstrate cardiovascular benefits and reduced mortality from consuming them regularly.

Typical modern-day diets are usually lacking in omega 3 fats. Today, we're consuming lots of omega 6 fats, largely through vegetable oils like corn and soy. An imbalance of omega 3 and omega 6 in the diet leads to inflammation, which contributes to the onset of degenerative diseases. Omega 3 supplements can help to restore the balance.

Discover More Omega 3 Benefits

Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplements

Omega 3 fish oil supplements are made from various species of cold-water fish, such as anchovies, herring, cod and salmon. There's no distinct advantage to one over the other. What's more important is the care that's taken through the distillation and purification process of the oil.

One exception is cod liver oil; many cod liver oil products have a poor balance of vitamin A vs. vitamin D, which could potentially cause problems.

Omega 3 Supplement Survey Demonstrates the Safety of Fish Oils. The Environmental Defense Fund, an environmental group, examined products from 75 different omega 3-producing companies. They found that almost all of them are purified well enough to meet stringent safety standards for contaminants like mercury and dioxins. Stay away from cheap store brands and you should be safe.

Read the full report and look for your brand of omega 3 supplement at the EDF Fish Oil Supplement Survey.

How to Choose Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplements

Omega 3 Krill Oil Supplements

What are krill? They're tiny marine animals that are one of the best sources for omega 3 essential fatty acids. Krill oil supplements include the same well-known essential fatty acids that you get from fish, EPA and DHA, as well as other antioxidants you don't get from seafood.

Together with plankton, krill make up the largest biomass on earth — one of the most easily renewable food resources available. Krill oil supplements are promoted as having several advantages over fish oil:

  • better absorption than fish oil means a lower dose
  • additional antioxidants, including astaxanthin
  • more stable and resistant to rancidity
  • no fishy aftertaste or belching problems

How to Choose Omega 3 Krill Oil Supplements

Omega 3 Flax Oil Supplements

Flax oil is the oil obtained from flaxseeds. Flax oil supplements are very rich in the omega 3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). For vegetarians who want to obtain their omega 3 from plant-based sources, flax seeds or flax oil supplements are one option, although they are probably not as beneficial as chia seeds, hemp seeds, or marine-based omega 3 supplements.

Most of the research demonstrating the benefits of omega 3's has focused on animal-based fats DHA and EPA. We do know that ALA can be converted into EPA and DHA in your body, but only in very small amounts (about 10 percent). For this reason, I would not recommend vegetarian sources of omega 3's unless you're committed to being a strict vegetarian — it's better to rely on marine sources of omega 3 fats.

How to Choose Omega 3 Flax Oil Supplements

How Do You Choose
the Best Omega 3 Supplement?

Based on all the evidence, it certainly makes sense to supplement your diet with omega 3. But how can you be sure that your supplement is any good?

When you're looking for the best omega 3 supplement, make your choice based on the following criteria:

• Use marine-based supplements rather than vegetable sources.

• Choose name-brand products from reputable manufacturers. Avoid cheap drug store and generic brands! Many of them have unknown levels of toxins and contaminants.

• With animal-based supplements, look for oils that have been purified by molecular distillation, to ensure the product is free of mercury and other contaminants.

• Look for added antioxidants (such as vitamin E or astaxanthin) that will protect the oil from oxidation.

• Always use before the expiration date.

• Remember that these oils are highly sensitive to damage from heat, light and oxygen. Choose a certified organic product that is packaged in a dark brown or green glass jar and be sure to store the product in your refrigerator or freezer.

If you want to discover more about omega 3 supplements, visit any of the following pages:

Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplements

Omega 3 Krill Oil Supplements

Omega 3 Flax Oil Supplements

Main Omega 3 page

Antioxidants Home Page from Omega 3 Supplements


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