Omega 3s are essential fatty acids and they are one of the best-researched nutrients so far. They are deemed “essential” because we need them given that every cell in our body requires omega-3 to function normally.
We now know that these essential fatty acids not only have incredible cosmetic benefits when it comes to our skin but they also play a vital role in supporting brain, heart, joint and eye health.
My recommendation in terms of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is a ratio of 3:1.
Many believe that eating a healthy diet with some nuts and seeds and maybe the occasional serving of fish is enough to have a good ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3. This is actually not the case when looking at it from a 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3.
The majority of people eating a healthy, clean and predominantly plant-based diet are about a ratio of 7:1. Imagine those that don’t even eat a healthy diet? No wonder there are so many people dealing with chronic inflammation…
If you’re trying to reduce inflammation in the body, I strongly believe that increasing Omega-3s is one of the most important things to effect this.
WHAT EXACTLY ARE OMEGA-3S?
There are only three types of Omega-3 fatty acids namely: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
The first two are found predominantly in oily fish and krill oil. However, when it comes to lab testing, I haven’t seen levels of Omega-3s going up as much in those that consume krill oil as opposed to fish oil.
ALA is converted to EPA and DHA and it is found in plant-based sources such as flaxseeds, walnuts and quinoa. The problem with vegan-based sources is the conversion and less than 5% of ALA is converted to EPA. Less than 0.5% of ALA is converted to DHA. This is why relying on these foods alone will not provide you with enough Omega-3s.
WHAT ABOUT EATING FISH?
You should be eating oily fish at least four times a week if you’re looking to have a 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3.
Fish high in Omega-3:
- Arctic Char
- Black Cod
- Pacific Halibut
- Rainbow Trout
- Wild Salmon
Unfortunately, relying on fish to get our Omega-3s is actually trickier than you think. First of all, the majority of the fish we eat today is farmed and not wild. Second, oily fish contain low levels of pollutants and heavy metals that build up in the body over time.
TEST YOUR OMEGA-3S
The Omega-3 test is one of the labs that I run very often with clients as it is an excellent indicator of their level of inflammation. This test will tell you exactly what your levels of EPA and DHA are, your total Omega-3s as well as your Omega-3s. It is definitely one of the most underrated lab tests out there!
If you want to test your levels, it is a very straightforward finger prick test that you can do right at home. You can find this lab test in the link in my bio.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN OMEGA-3 SUPPLEMENT
Vegan Omega-3 supplements are not as potent as fish oil because they are lower in EPA and DHA. For example, krill oil will not raise your Omega-3 levels as well as a good quality fish oil.
This is why a 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 can be a little challenging for vegans but it is not impossible though! You’d probably need to increase the number of capsules you take on a daily basis as well as eating high Omega-3 foods on a daily basis.
When it comes to choosing a fish oil, please choose wisely:
- Look for a supplement that has at least 1000mg of EPA and DHA combined, as most brands have much less than this.
- Given that most people are actually higher in DHA than EPA it wouldn’t make sense taking a supplement where the EPA and DHA levels are almost equal. Look for a supplement that contains higher levels of EPA than DHA.
- Fish oil is very prone to oxidation and when this happens, it changes the chemical structure of EPA and DHA which in turn causes inflammation. It is also very common to find pollutants and heavy metals in fish oils. Choose a brand that tests every batch independently and publishes full certificate of analysis.
There are numerous companies that claim that their fish oil is pure, fresh and clean but are not actually publishing their certificate of analysis which shows the level of purity, freshness and strength. Choose brands that are transparent and that don’t have anything to hide as you might otherwise be taking a fish oil which is oxidised and contaminated.
Bare Biology tests every batch and is the only company that publishes full certificates of analysis. I only buy my Omega-3 supplements from them and they even have specific products for children and pregnant women!