Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids *Really* That Important To My Overall Health?
Sure, you hear that fatty fish like salmon, anchovies, sardines, and mackerel are good for you (especially your heart and brain1!) because they contain marine omega-3 fatty acids, but what does that even mean?* As it turns out, there's a slew of reasons adding omega-3s to your diet is such a wise move for your well-being.
What are omega-3 fatty acids anyway?
Omega-3 fats are a family of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (aka PUFAs), which are distinguished from saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids because they contain two or more double carbon-carbon bonds within the fatty acid chain. There are three main types of omega-3s: ALA, DHA, and EPA.
Your body is able to make certain fats (lipids) from other fats, but omega-3s are essential fats that your body is unable to make (ALA) or very inefficient (EPA and DHA) at making itself, so you must consume them instead. Omega-3 fatty acids are important to heart2, brain3, joint4, eye5, and overall health6—in other words, they're not worth skimping on or skipping when it comes to meeting daily nutritional needs or supporting current and future health goals.*
Why Americans are short on omega-3s.
Omega-3s, particularly EPA and DHA, primarily come from fish with higher fat content. Unlike other in countries where fish is a main food staple, like Japan and Korea, the average American falls way short on recommended weekly fish consumption7 and is therefore short on omega-3 fatty acid intake as well.
Let's back it up for a second and speak to that weekly fish recommendation. In 2000, the American Heart Association (AHA) published a formal dietary recommendation of two servings of (ideally fatty) fish per week in the journal Circulation. This is the starting point for the general population, and that amount of fish intake comes out to approximately 500 milligrams of EPA and DHA per day to support overall and heart health.*
Starting points are good places to begin, but the AHA goes on to recommend a higher marine omega-3 intake (1 gram and up of EPA and DHA daily) for focused cardioprotective and cardiovascular benefits.* These higher amounts of omega-3 fats optimally support your body's need for omega-3s, which are used for critical cell membrane functions8 throughout the body, among all the other incredible health benefits omega-3s provide.*
Unfortunately, achieving 1 gram and up of EPA and DHA would be the omega-3 equivalent of eating a serving of fish a day, which comes with its obvious challenges (cost, heavy metals, practicality, etc.).
So, what can we do about it?
Sure, we can (and should) eat more fatty fish to ensure we're getting these healthy omega-3s that our bodies need. This, of course, isn't feasible for everyone—especially those who live far from the coast and don't always have access to fresh fish.
Even if you do live close to the Pacific or Atlantic, unless you plan on packing your diet with grilled salmon, tinned anchovies and sardines, and tuna fish sandwiches multiple times a week, it might be time to consider a high-quality fish oil supplement.
A robustly formulated, high-potency omega-3 supplement is a targeted and prudent strategy to achieve daily omega-3 needs throughout life. Each serving of mindbodygreen's omega-3 potency+ provides 1,500 milligrams of DHA and EPA daily. That's the omega-3 equivalent of approximately one serving of fatty fish (e.g., anchovies) per day.†
Our fish oil comes from sustainably sourced, 100% wild-caught, cold-water anchovies from the South Pacific, so you're getting the purest, highest-quality fish possible. With organic lemon oil and rosemary for fresh taste (and no fishy aftertaste), plus ORIVO certification for evidence-based transparency, this is the new school of fish oil.
Yes, you really do need omega-3 fatty acids. And yes, it can be difficult to get enough fish in your diet to ensure your body is getting all the EPA and DHA it needs—but it doesn't have to be!
Fish oil supplements boast a number of wonderful health benefits, all while helping you meet the ideal EPA and DHA levels.* That's why a daily fish oil supplement is a quick, easy way to get your recommended serving of omega-3s in, no matter what's on your plate.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.