Is Omega 3 the Same as Fish Oil?
Omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil are often used synonymously. But are they the same thing? The short answer is no. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, but so do other foods like dark green leafy vegetables, walnuts, and flaxseed. The difference is that fish oil produced by the fish’s tissue contains a variety of omega-3 fatty acids like EPA (eicosatetraenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3s come in many forms and are a type of polyunsaturated fats. Some types of omega-3 fatty acids are in fish oil, but not all of them. However, fish oil can be obtained from various kinds of fish and it contains other beneficial elements besides just omega-3 fatty acids. When it comes to human physiology, there are three types of omega-3s that are important. These polyunsaturated fatty acids are made up of a chemical structure comprised of several bonds so that they are more stable. They are found widely in nature including both plants and animals.
Three Main Types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
DHA and EPA are found in fish and other marine oils like phytoplankton and algae. But they are also present in meats, eggs, and grass-fed dairy animal products. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), the third type of omega-3s are found in plant oils like flaxseed oil. It’s also present in plant-based foods like walnuts and soybean products. So, not all omega-3s are found in fish oil.
Are there Health Benefits from Omega-3s?
Scientists have been able to link omega-3s to several health conditions. There are numerous potential health benefits associated with consuming fatty acids. They are incredibly important to the body. This makes them a highly studied nutrient. Here are some of the many health benefits they have to offer.
- Help Reduce Risk Factors for Heart Disease. Omega-3s are linked to many heart health benefits. They can help reduce high blood pressure, raise “good” cholesterol levels, and help keep arteries free from plaque.
- Fight Inflammation. Inflammation is important to your health as it is a natural response to damage. But if it becomes chronic, it can cause other issues including cancer and heart disease. Omega-3s can help reduce inflammation.
- Help Prevent Cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids may be able to reduce the risk of developing some types of cancer. Studies indicate that people who consume omega-3s have over a 50% lower risk of developing colon cancer. It’s also been linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer.
- Reduce Fat in the Liver. Fatty liver disease is more common than most people think. As obesity has increased, chronic liver disease has escalated. Omega-3 supplements help reduce inflammation and liver fat.
- Aids Bone and Joint Health. Arthritis and osteoporosis are common skeletal system disorders. Omega-3s may help improve bone strength by boosting calcium in the bones. This can help reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. Omega-3 supplements have also been linked to reduced joint pain and improved grip strength in people with arthritis.
- Improve Skin Health. DHA is found in the structure of your skin. It is what helps protect cell membrane’s health. Healthy cell membranes result in soft, moist, wrinkle-free skin. EPA also helps your skin stay hydrated, reduces premature aging, and helps reduce the risk of acne.
- Combat Age-Related Mental Decline. As we age, a decline in brain function is often inevitable. Omega-3s may be beneficial for helping to decrease mental decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Fight Autoimmune Disease. An autoimmune disease mistakes healthy cells for intruders and begins to attack them. One example is Type 1 diabetes where the immune system attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Omega-3s are able to help combat diseases like lupus, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, and other types of autoimmune diseases.
- May Support Eye Health. There is evidence to support the thought that people who do not consume enough omega-3s are at a higher risk for eye disease. Additionally, as the body ages, eye health declines. Consuming fish oil or omega-3s may be helpful for improving vision and reducing age-related macular degeneration.
- Might Help with Weight Loss. Obesity is linked to heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Omega-3s can help improve your body composition and reduce the risk factors for heart disease in overweight or obese people. Combining fish oil supplements with improved diet and an exercise regimen can be helpful for losing weight.
How Much Omega-3 Fatty Acids Should You Take?
There isn’t just a single dosage of omega-3s that is right for everyone. Some health care professionals suggest that people who have heart disease should take an omega-3 supplement. However, those who take it for high cholesterol may need a higher dosage.
What is fish oil?
Fish oil is oil or fat extracted from fish tissue. Most of the time it is sourced from oily fish like tuna, mackerel, herring, or anchovies. Cod liver oil, however, is taken from the liver of other types of fish. The World Health Organization recommends eating one to two portions of fish each week. This helps you get the omega-3 fatty acids you need and the related health benefits. If you do not like the taste of fish, or cannot eat two servings of fish each week, a fish oil supplements can help you get an adequate amount of omega-3s.
Fish oil is comprised of about 30% omega-3s. The other 70% contains other fats. On top of omega-3s, fish oil also contains Vitamins A and D. The omega-3s in fish oil provide greater health benefits than the ones found in plant sources. Fish oil contains mostly EPA and DHA which offers a wider variety of health benefits than ALA which is the essential fatty acid found in plants.
Do I need to take fish oil?
The health benefits of fish oil are wide ranged. Fish oils contain a large amount of omega-3s. Eating fish is the most effective way to get these important omega-3 fatty acids but taking supplements are be helpful if you don't eat fish regularly. Fish oil supplements from Envura Health are a premium quality and will help ensure you get the health benefits you desire.