Enough Omegas?

After much discussion some weeks ago about the importance of omegas, we thought it was time to get down and detailed. How exactly can you get enough omega-3s in your diet? We have some answers. As we mentioned earlier, the balance of omega-6 and omega-3 should partly determine your omega-3 needs, but we recommend 1-3 grams of omega-3 a day.

A big part of the nutritional breakdown relates to the type of omega-3. We’ll look at the three prominent members of the omega-3 group: EPA, DHA, ALA. Many of the food sources we’ve included are what we’d consider good or best sources, but we threw some commonly eaten but less beneficial sources in for comparison sake. The amounts are listed in grams per 100 grams (about 3.5 oz.) of food serving. You can find the full list of omega-3 content on the National Library of Medicine site.

Another source of omega-3s is eggs from chickens that are fed omega-3 fortified meal. The omega-3 content varies considerably depending on brand. (We’ve seen everywhere from 30 mg to 175 mg per egg.) Keep in mind that the fortified meal is usually flax fortified, which adds ALA omega-3s but does nothing in terms of EPA and DHA. You can occasionally find eggs from chickens that are fed meal fortified with beneficial algae (the initial source for fish EPA and DHA content) or fish itself. If you’re lucky enough to find them, we’re all jealous.

In terms of daily dose for omega-3s, consider the breakdown of EPA, DHA and ALA in your omega-3 sources. Definitely prioritize DHA and EPA. They are the most beneficial, and your body cannot efficiently convert enough ALA to compensate for a deficiency of DHA/EPA.

What does this mean for your daily diet? Considering a very minimum recommendation of 1 gram of omega-3 per day (more if you consume grain-fed meats and dairy), a good helping of mackerel or salmon certainly gives you a boost, but it likely doesn’t cover your daily needs. Most of us, while we don’t mind fish, aren’t about to eat it at every meal. (And with pollution concerns, it might not be a good idea anyway.) Ultimately, it makes sense for the majority of us to consider fish oil, which means a good, purified supplement of your choosing.

Feedback? Questions? Recipes to share? Let us know how you get your daily omega-3s.

Eva the Weaver Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

How to Eat More Fat

Dear Mark: Saturated Fat

fitsugar – Omega-3 Competition: Fish Oil vs. Flax Seed Oil

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