Omega-3 fatty acids are among the most important nutrients for your body and brain. They have numerous benefits for your heart, brain, eyes, joints, and overall well-being. In this article, you will learn what omega-3 fatty acids are, why they are essential for your health, how to get enough of them from your diet, and what are the best omega-3 supplements in Singapore.
TL;DR: Omega-3 fatty acids, renowned for their diverse health benefits, have become a cornerstone of modern nutrition. These essential nutrients play a crucial role in maintaining overall well-being, supporting heart health, enhancing brain function, and reducing inflammation. Embark on a journey of discovery as we delve into the world of omega-3s, exploring their sources, recommended intake guidelines, and the best omega-3 supplements in Singapore.
What are omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that your body cannot produce on its own. They are called essential fatty acids because you need to get them from your diet or supplements. There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). EPA and DHA are mainly found in fish and seafood, while ALA is mainly found in plant-based sources such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. EPA and DHA are the most biologically active forms of omega-3 fatty acids, meaning they can be used by your body directly without conversion. ALA, on the other hand, needs to be converted into EPA and DHA by your body, but this process is inefficient and depends on several factors such as your age, gender, and health status.
Common Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The best way to get enough omega-3 fatty acids is to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods that contain them. The most common sources of omega-3 fatty acids are:
Fatty fish and seafood: These are the richest sources of EPA and DHA, the most beneficial forms of omega-3 fatty acids. Some examples of fatty fish and seafood that are high in omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, anchovies, tuna, trout, oysters, mussels, and shrimp. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eating at least two servings of fatty fish per week, each serving being about 150 grams or half a cup.
Plant-based sources: These are the main sources of ALA, the plant-based form of omega-3 fatty acids. Some examples of plant-based sources that are high in ALA are flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, soybeans, tofu, edamame, and Brussels sprouts. However, as mentioned earlier, ALA needs to be converted into EPA and DHA by your body, and this conversion is limited and variable. Therefore, plant-based sources alone may not provide enough omega-3 fatty acids for your optimal health, especially if you are vegan or vegetarian. In that case, you may need to consider taking an omega-3 supplement that contains EPA and DHA from algae or other sources.
Omega-3 supplements: These are products that contain concentrated amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, usually in the form of capsules, softgels, liquids, or powders. Omega-3 supplements can help you meet your omega-3 needs if you are not able to get enough from your diet, or if you have a higher demand for them due to your age, health condition, or lifestyle. Omega-3 supplements can vary in their quality, purity, potency, and safety, so you need to be careful when choosing one. We will discuss more about omega-3 supplements and their considerations later in this article.
Exploring the Diverse Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have been extensively researched for their potential benefits for various aspects of your health and well-being. Here are some of the most notable benefits of omega-3 fatty acids that have been supported by scientific evidence:
Omega-3s and Heart Health
One of the most well-known benefits of omega-3 fatty acids is their positive effect on your heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids can help lower your blood triglyceride levels, which are a type of fat that can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help lower your blood pressure, prevent the formation of blood clots, reduce inflammation in your blood vessels, and improve the function of your endothelium, which is the inner lining of your blood vessels. By doing so, omega-3 fatty acids can lower your risk of developing or worsening heart disease, such as coronary artery disease, angina, heart attack, and heart failure. Several studies have shown that people who consume more omega-3 fatty acids from fish or supplements have a lower risk of dying from heart disease than those who consume less.
Omega-3s and Brain Function
Another major benefit of omega-3 fatty acids is their positive effect on your brain function. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the development and maintenance of your brain cells, especially the ones that are responsible for learning, memory, and communication. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help protect your brain cells from oxidative stress, inflammation, and aging, which can impair your cognitive performance and increase your risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Several studies have shown that people who consume more omega-3 fatty acids from fish or supplements have better cognitive function, memory, and mood than those who consume less. Omega-3 fatty acids may also help prevent or treat some mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and autism, by modulating the levels and activity of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are involved in regulating your emotions, attention, and behavior.
Omega-3s and Inflammation
Another important benefit of omega-3 fatty acids is their anti-inflammatory effect. Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce the production and release of pro-inflammatory molecules, such as cytokines, prostaglandins, and leukotrienes, which can trigger or worsen inflammation in your body. Inflammation is a natural and necessary response of your immune system to fight infections and injuries, but when it becomes chronic or excessive, it can cause damage to your tissues and organs, and contribute to various diseases, such as arthritis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, and cancer. Several studies have shown that people who consume more omega-3 fatty acids from fish or supplements have lower levels of inflammation markers, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), than those who consume less. Omega-3 fatty acids may also help relieve the symptoms and improve the outcomes of some inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, by reducing joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.
Omega-3s and Overall Well-being
Besides the specific benefits mentioned above, omega-3 fatty acids may also have a positive impact on your overall well-being, by supporting various aspects of your health that are essential for your quality of life. Some of these aspects include:
Eye health: Omega-3 fatty acids are important for the development and function of your retina, which is the part of your eye that converts light into nerve signals. Omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent or delay the onset of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults, by protecting your retina from oxidative stress and inflammation.
Joint health: Omega-3 fatty acids can help lubricate your joints and reduce the friction and wear and tear that can lead to joint degeneration and osteoarthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help prevent or reduce the cartilage loss and bone erosion that can occur in rheumatoid arthritis, by inhibiting the activity of enzymes and cells that are involved in the breakdown of your joint tissues.
Mental health: Omega-3 fatty acids can help improve your mental health by enhancing your mood, reducing your stress, and increasing your resilience. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help prevent or treat some mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, by influencing the levels and function of serotonin and dopamine, which are the key neurotransmitters that regulate your emotions.
Omega-3 Intake Requirements and Considerations
Now that you know the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, you may wonder how much omega-3 fatty acids you need to consume to enjoy these benefits, and how to achieve that through your diet or supplements. Here are some guidelines and tips to help you address your omega-3 intake requirements and considerations:
Recommended Omega-3 Intake Guidelines
There is no universal consensus on the optimal intake of omega-3 fatty acids, as different organizations and authorities may have different recommendations based on different criteria and evidence. However, here are some general guidelines that you can follow, depending on your age, gender, and health status:
For healthy adults: The WHO recommends consuming 0.3-0.5 grams of EPA and DHA per day, or at least two servings of fatty fish per week. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends consuming 1 gram of EPA and DHA per day for people with coronary heart disease, and 2-4 grams of EPA and DHA per day for people with high triglycerides, under a physician’s care. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that healthy adults consume 1.1-1.6 grams of ALA per day, depending on their gender.
For pregnant and lactating women: The WHO recommends consuming 0.2 grams of DHA per day, in addition to the regular intake of EPA and DHA, to support the development of the fetus and the infant. The AHA recommends consuming 8-12 ounces of low-mercury fish per week, or taking a fish oil supplement that provides 0.3-0.5 grams of EPA and DHA per day, under a physician’s care. The NIH suggests that pregnant and lactating women consume 1.4 and 1.3 grams of ALA per day, respectively.
For children and adolescents: The WHO recommends consuming 0.1-0.2 grams of EPA and DHA per day, depending on their age, or at least one serving of fatty fish per week. The AHA recommends consuming 0.5-1 gram of EPA and DHA per day for children and adolescents with high triglycerides, under a physician’s care. The NIH suggests that children and adolescents consume 0.5-1.2 grams of ALA per day, depending on their age and gender.
These are only general guidelines, and your individual omega-3 intake may vary depending on your specific needs and goals. You should consult your doctor or a registered dietitian before taking any omega-3 supplements or making any significant changes to your diet.
Omega-3 Supplements and Their Considerations
Another way to increase your omega-3 intake is to take an omega-3 supplement, especially if you are not able to get enough from your diet, or if you have a higher demand for them due to your age, health condition, or lifestyle. Omega-3 supplements can provide a convenient and concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids, usually in the form of capsules, softgels, liquids, or powders. However, not all omega-3 supplements are created equal, and there are some factors that you need to consider when choosing an omega-3 supplement, such as:
Dosage: The dosage of omega-3 fatty acids in a supplement can vary widely, depending on the type, source, and quality of the supplement. You should check the label to see how much EPA and DHA are in each serving of the supplement, and how many servings you need to take to meet your omega-3 needs. You should also consult your doctor or a registered dietitian before taking any omega-3 supplements, as they can advise you on the appropriate dosage for your specific needs and goals.
Purity: The purity of omega-3 fatty acids in a supplement can affect its safety and effectiveness. Some omega-3 supplements may contain contaminants, such as mercury, PCBs, dioxins, or other toxins, that can harm your health. You should look for omega-3 supplements that have been tested and certified by third-party organizations, such as NSF International, USP, or IFOS, to ensure that they meet the standards for purity and quality.
Source: The source of omega-3 fatty acids in a supplement can affect its bioavailability and sustainability. Most omega-3 supplements are derived from fish oil, which is extracted from the tissues of fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, or anchovies. However, some fish oil supplements may come from fish that are overfished, endangered, or farmed in unsustainable ways, which can have negative impacts on the environment and the marine ecosystem. You should look for omega-3 supplements that are made from fish that are wild-caught, sustainably sourced, or certified by organizations, such as MSC, ASC, or Friend of the Sea, to ensure that they are environmentally friendly and socially responsible. Alternatively, you can choose omega-3 supplements that are derived from algae, which are plant-based sources of EPA and DHA that are grown in controlled conditions, without the risk of contamination or overexploitation. Algae-based omega-3 supplements are also suitable for vegans and vegetarians, who may not consume fish or fish oil.
Best Omega-3 Supplements in Singapore
If you are looking for a high-quality omega-3 supplement in Singapore, you may want to consider one of the following products, which are among the best-selling and most-reviewed omega-3 supplements on Ultimate Sup, the most prestigious fitness nutrition brand in Singapore:
Now Foods Omega 3 Fish Oil, 200-500 Softgels: This is a popular and affordable omega-3 supplement that provides 180 mg of EPA and 120 mg of DHA per softgel, from fish oil that is molecularly distilled and tested for purity and potency. This supplement can help support your heart health, brain function, and overall well-being, with a serving size of 2 softgels per day. This supplement is also free of gluten, soy, dairy, and GMOs, and is manufactured in a GMP-certified facility.
California Gold Nutrition, Omega-3, 100-240 Fish Gelatin Softgels: This is a premium omega-3 supplement that provides 360 mg of EPA and 240 mg of DHA per softgel, from fish oil that is sourced from wild-caught anchovies, sardines, and mackerel, and is processed in Norway using advanced molecular distillation. This supplement can help support your heart health, brain function, and overall well-being, with a serving size of 1 softgel per day. This supplement is also free of gluten, soy, dairy, and GMOs, and is encapsulated in fish gelatin, making it suitable for pescatarians.
Sports Research, Omega-3 Fish Oil, 1250 mg, 30-180 Softgels: This is a premium omega-3 supplement that provides 1250 mg of EPA and DHA per softgel, from fish oil that is sourced from wild-caught Alaska pollock, and is certified by MSC for sustainability. This supplement can help support your heart health, brain function, and overall well-being, with a serving size of 1 softgel per day. This supplement is also free of gluten, soy, dairy, and GMOs, and is verified by IFOS for purity and potency.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients for your body and brain, and have numerous benefits for your health and well-being. You can get enough omega-3 fatty acids from your diet by eating more fatty fish, plant-based sources, and omega-3-fortified foods, or by taking an omega-3 supplement that meets your needs and preferences. For more information on supplements that can complement your diet and fitness goals, you can also explore articles like Vegan alternatives to fish oils which provide valuable insights into plant-based sources of essential nutrients.