Omega-3 fatty acids are classed as essential as they cannot be produced within the body. They must therefore be obtained via food sources such as oily fish, nuts and seeds, or through supplementation.
Omega 3 is referred to as an 'essential fatty acid' because it is needed by the body, but is not produced naturally by it. This means that we need to consume Omega 3 regularly in our diets in order to maintain good health.
Omega 3 Rich Foods
Fresh cold water fish is an excellent source of Omega 3. Cod, Halibut and Tuna (not tinned) for example, all have a high content of the stuff. But there's good news for non-fish eaters too because seeds such as Flaxseed (also known as Linseed) also contain some Omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 Benefits
Omega 3 contains the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA which are vital for a number of bodily functions. Studies have demonstrated that when taken in sufficient amounts, both EPA and DHA have been shown to contribute towards the maintenance of healthy blood pressure, as well as helping to maintain normal levels of triglycerides (a type of fat which is essential for health, but has been linked with heart problems when present in excessive amounts).
According to the Food Standards Agency, Omega 3 is very good for the health of the heart and may even help to prevent heart disease. For this reason, they recommend that you eat:
- A maximum of 2 portions of oily fish per week (girls and women who may one day have children, pregnant women).
- A maximum of 4 portions of oily fish per week (for boys, men and women not wishing to have children).
Omega 3 Supplements
For those who don't eat fish, or are unable to get the recommended portions into their diet, Omega 3 supplements may be a suitable alternative.
If you take Omega 3 fish oil supplements please ensure that you are not consuming more than 1.5mg of Vitamin A in your daily diet, as this could be harmful over a long period of time.
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