Omega-3s and their Sources
EPA and DHA are found in variable amounts in fish, with the highest amounts being found in fatty, cold-water fish such as sardines, anchovies, mackerel, lake trout, and salmon. Fish ranges from less than 0.5 g of total omega-3 per 100 g serving (cod, haddock, halibut), to 1-1.5 g (e.g. salmon); 1.5-2 g (herring, lake trout) and 2-3.3 g (sardines and mackerel) per 100 g serving of the fish.7 Depending on the source of the fish used, fish oils vary in the amount of EPA and DHA they provide. For instance, tuna oil typically contains 5% EPA and 25% DHA, salmon oil provides 6% EPA and 9% DHA, and the highest natural source of EPA and DHA would come from a blend of sardines, anchovies and mackerel which can yield 18% EPA and 12% DHA.
Concentrated Fish Oil
One of the newest fish oil concentrates to be marketed in Canada is a concentrated fish oil that is produced using sardines, anchovies, and mackerel as the starting material, and the EPA and DHA are concentrated to a level of 30% EPA and 20% DHA for a total of 50% omega-3s. Concentrated fish oils are definitely the future for helping to prevent and treat disease.
Quality of Omega-3 Supplements
Omega-3s have substantial research to prove their efficacy, however, having a quality oil supplement is also important to ensure the highest purity and potency of omega-3s. Some consumers are concerned about contamination by heavy metals and other environmental contaminants like dioxins and PCBs, especially from fish that can accumulate many of these toxins during their life span. This is one of the advantages that choosing a supplement can provide over consuming fish because many fish oil supplements have been purified to remove any contaminants and heavy metals, and have been tested to meet industry standards/levels for these toxins.
Have you had your Omega-3s Today?
With all the substantiated research in the area of omega-3s for health, it is essential that we are filling our plates with fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, as well as consuming flaxseeds, and other nuts and seeds which are vegetarian options of omega-3s. For those who find it difficult to consume omega-3 rich foods, or require dosages that are higher than what traditional foods offer, high quality, omega-3 rich concentrated supplements are a convenient way to ensure we are receiving the omega-3s that our bodies crave.
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