The two main omega-3 fatty acids are known as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Scientists and researchers know the most about these two omega-3-fatty-acids and they have been studied extensively for their health properties.
Most omega-3 supplements contain DHA and EPA, though there’s also another type of omega-3 fatty acid known as ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which is a plant source that converts to omega-3 in the body.
Official recommendations suggest eating oily fish 2-3 times a week, yet many people find it difficult to achieve this. As a result, those who consume Western diets tend to be deficient in omega-3 - which is why supplementation is a popular choice. People with specific health conditions - in particular heart disease risk - can be advised to take omega-3 supplements by their healthcare professionals.
Which omega 3 supplement is the best?
In our opinion, the omega 3 supplement that you take regularly every day is the best. That means an Omega 3 product that is good for you and is well tolerated by you is the best for you personally - because only if you take it daily, can Omega 3 actually unfold its wonderful effect.
When buying Omega 3 you should note the following:
- Omega 3 source
- Purity and freshness
- Amount of EPA and DHA Omega 3
- Absorption (bioavailability)
- Dosage form
- Dosage and application
- Price-performance ratio
1. Omega 3 sources of nutritional supplements
Omega 3 fatty acids are mainly obtained from marine animals such as fish and krill. These provide the two most important omega 3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega 3 fatty acids from seaweed oil are offered as a vegetable alternative.
Flax seeds, linseed oil, rapeseed oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and some other foods are good sources of the plant-based omega 3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
But keep in mind that the health benefits are mainly due to the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, and not the vegetable ALA fatty acid. The reason for this is that ALA in the body must first be converted into EPA and DHA in order to be effective.
Unfortunately, only a very small amount is converted and only if enough enzymes are available for it. This conversion is disturbed in some people, which is why they rely on the animal Omega 3 sources.
Only the intake of fish oil, krill oil or vegetable algae oil guarantees the supply of the healthy omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Therefore, the first step in buying an Omega 3 supplement is to choose one of these Omega 3 sources.
2. Omega 3 purity and freshness
Although fish would actually be one of the healthiest foods, many nutritionists today advise against eating fish regularly. The reason for this is the pollution of the world's oceans with pollutants such as mercury, arsenic, cadmium, pesticides, lead, PCBs and much more.
When buying Omega 3 fish oil capsules, it is therefore absolutely crucial to choose a product in which these pollutants and impurities have been filtered out as far as possible. Only then is it suitable for long-term daily use.
Omega 3 fish oil oxidizes when it comes into contact with oxygen and thus quickly becomes rancid. When extracting high-quality fish oil, it is therefore important to keep the oxidation as low as possible at every production step.
The finished product should also contain antioxidants such as natural vitamin E or rosemary extract to minimize the oxidation of the omega 3 fatty acids in the capsule.
3. Amount of EPA and DHA Omega 3
After purity and freshness, the EPA and DHA content is the most important. Therefore, make sure that the exact amount of EPA and DHA is stated on the package and avoid products that do not contain this information.
Do not be fooled. 1000mg of fish oil doesn't correspond to 1000mg omega 3 fatty acids. Therefore, ignore the total amount of fish oil per capsule and only pay attention to the content of EPA and DHA. The higher the better, provided that the price/performance ratio is right.
4. Absorption (bioavailability)
Studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids in triglyceride form are absorbed 70% better than in ethyl ester form. That means you're wasting 70% of your money buying Omega 3 fish oil in ethyl ester form.
Krill oil does have lower EPA and DHA content. But by binding omega 3 fatty acids to phospholipids, it has the highest bioavailability of all omega 3 sources. Therefore, krill oil can't be compared directly to fish oil.
Many people combine fish oil with krill oil or take them alternately to benefit from the effects of both variants. It is also quite possible that either fish oil or krill oil is better tolerated by some people or that it works better in certain areas. You can only find out by trying it out.
The vegan omega 3 algae oil should also be in triglyceride form so that the bioavailability corresponds to that of high-quality fish oil.
Small cold-water fish such as anchovies, mackerel or sardines are best suited for the extraction of omega 3 fatty acids. These species of fish reproduce very quickly and occur in huge shoals. If fishing is done under controlled conditions, this has no impact on the fish population. Omega 3 fatty acids should never be obtained from fish species that are threatened.
Krill is the main food of many sea creatures, especially whales and penguins. It is the largest mass of living things on earth. The extraction of krill oil as a dietary supplement, therefore, has no effect on the ecological balance in the Antarctic. The annual catch is only about 0.03% of the estimated krill stock.
This is also checked and confirmed by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and the International Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Habitats (CCAMLR).
6. Dosage form
- Fish oil capsules
- Fish oil liquid
Fish oil is mainly taken in capsules. The fish oil capsules are easy to swallow for most people due to their oval/round shape. Another decisive advantage is that the fish oil in the capsules is largely protected against oxidation by oxygen. They are also ideal for people who want to take Omega 3 on the go.
Fish oil is also offered in liquid form in bottles. This dosage form is ideal for people who do not want to swallow capsules. But it is not for everyone to take fish oil with a spoon.
It is important that liquid fish oil is kept in the refrigerator after opening. It is therefore not suitable for on the go.
7. Dosage and application
Depending on the area of application, the recommended dose of EPA and DHA varies between 500mg to 10,000mg or more per day. To promote health, most experts recommend 500mg to 2,000mg daily. A higher dose is recommended almost exclusively for the treatment of certain diseases or disorders.
Always follow the recommended intake on the label or product description, unless your therapist recommends another dose.
Experts recommend taking omega 3 fatty acids, krill oil and algae oil with a meal. It doesn't matter whether you eat them before, during or after a meal.
We recommend taking it before a meal because a possible belching is largely avoided. However, you can adjust this as you wish.
If you take several omega 3 capsules a day, you should spread them over the day. This could further increase bioavailability.
8. Price/Performance ratio
The higher the quality of the fish oil and the content of omega 3 fatty acids, the better the price/performance ratio of the product. The filtering out of the pollutants and a high EPA and DHA content justify a slightly higher price due to the additional effort in production.
What makes a high-quality omega 3 preparation?
A good Omega 3 preparation can be recognized by the fact that it is free of from pollutants and has a high content of EPA and/or DHA.
Furthermore, it should have a high bioavailability and the sensitive fatty acids should be protected with natural antioxidants. It should also be perfectly tolerated and have a good price/performance ratio.
Now you know what is important when you want to buy high quality, effective Omega 3 product.
Who can benefit from taking an omega-3 supplement?
An omega-3 supplement may be beneficial for you if you’re someone who is looking to:
- Reduce your risk of heart disease
- Lower your triglyceride levels
- Improve your mental performance
- Manage your arthritic pain
- Want to relieve existing inflammation
- Promote optimal health and wellbeing
Why take omega-3 capsules?
An omega-3 supplement could be beneficial for you if:
- You struggle to consume 2-3 servings of oily fish each week
- You have a risk factor for heart disease
- You want to maintain your heart health
- You suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and are looking for a natural pain reliever
- You want to support your brain health as you age
- You want to maintain optimal health and wellbeing
Three important benefits when taking omega 3 in capsules as a dietary supplement:
Experts recommend taking supplements as a safe and effective way to increase your daily intake of Omega 3. This has three key advantages overeating fish:
- a higher, concentrated dose per dose
- constant daily intake of an effective dose
- no risk of mercury or PCB contamination if the Omega 3 oil has been molecularly distilled