Should you Take Omega-3 Supplements?

Should you Take Omega-3 Supplements?

Omega-3 (ω-3) supplements have gained attention for their importance for everyone, including vegans. However, the question remains: do these supplements really deliver on their promised benefits, or are they just an expense with potential downsides? And is it crucial to maintain the right balance between omega-6 (ω-6) and omega-3 (ω-3) in your diet? Continue reading to explore whether adding an ω-3 supplement to your daily routine is necessary.

So, what exactly is omega-3?

ω-3s, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids. The body doesn't produce them internally, so they must come from dietary sources. EPA and DHA are mainly found in cold-water fish and algae, while plant-based sources provide ALA. While ALA can be converted into EPA and DHA to some extent, ALA-containing foods offer substantial benefits on their own. (9,2,1).

When it comes to sources of ω-3, you have various options:

  • Oily Fish and Other Seafood: Look for salmon, halibut, tuna, trout, herring, oysters, mussels, and sardines.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Consider flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts.
  • Plant Oils: Utilize flaxseed oil, walnut oil, soybean oil, and canola oil.
  • Vegetables: Include spinach, kale, purslane, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts in your diet.
  • Fortified Foods: Check product packaging for fortified options like eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, and soy beverages.
  • Supplements: Explore supplements such as fish oil, krill oil, cod liver oil, and algal oil.

By understanding these aspects of Omega 3, you can make informed choices about incorporating it into your daily nutrition.

What is ω-6

Omega-6 (ω-6) fatty acids are essential polyunsaturated fats that we need to get from our diet. Omega-6s include linoleic acid (LA), conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), arachidonic acid (ARA), and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).

Linoleic acid (LA) is mainly present in plant-based foods, as well as in animal meats and eggs. CLA is found in meat and dairy products. ARA is primarily located in meat, while GLA is derived from oils like primrose, borage, and black currant seed oils.

Here are sources of Omega-6:

  • Baked goods: cookies, cakes, crackers
  • Meats: chicken wings, cured meats, hot dogs, and other meats (especially grain-fed fatty meat)
  • Nuts and seeds: sunflower seeds, walnuts, peanuts, pine nuts, pecans, cashews, and pumpkin seeds
  • Plant oils: soybean, corn, sunflower, peanut oil, sesame seed oil, primrose, borage, and black currant seed
  • Other: Fast food, fried foods
  • Legumes: Soybeans and fatty soy products like tofu

Benefits of omega 3 and omega 6 

While you might have heard that Omega 3 is often considered "good" and Omega 6 is sometimes labeled "bad," it's important to understand that neither is entirely positive or negative. The fact is, any nutrient, be it Omega-3 (ω-3) or Omega-6 (ω-6), can present challenges when consumed excessively or inadequately. Both of these essential fatty acids, ω-3 and ω-6, play crucial roles in supporting various metabolic functions.

Balanced ω-3 offers several key benefits:

  • It can boost your mood (11,8)
  • It is linked to heart health benefits (9,10,1).
  • It enhances cognitive function (6,5,3,4,7).
  • It aids in maintaining a healthy weight (17).
  • It promotes healthy skin (16).
  • It helps stabilize blood sugar levels (15).

On the flip side, keeping ω-6 intake in balance is linked to lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), CVD mortality, and ischemic stroke (12). Furthermore, specific ω-6 fatty acids found in oils like primrose, borage, and black currant seed oil can transform into gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties. This implies that ω-6 fatty acids might provide benefits akin to ω-3 (14).

Balancing ω-3 and ω-6

Balancing ω-3 and ω-6 fatty acids is crucial. Ideally, you should aim for a 1:1 ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6. Consuming too much Omega-6 can lower Omega-3 levels, causing inflammation and contributing to problems like depression (18), arthritis (17), and heart disease (16). On the other hand, having too much Omega-3 can upset the balance and lead to issues like low blood pressure. When it comes to nutrients, it's not always better to have more; what matters is maintaining the right balance to get the full health benefits.

Many people consume too much ω-6, especially in the Western diet. For instance, a study in Singapore found that their fatty acid profile was similar to that of overweight North American groups. This is because Singaporeans are eating more energy-dense foods, like fast food and restaurant meals (14).

Fast food, fried dishes, and processed foods, including snacks, baked goods, cured meats, and mayonnaise/dressings, contribute to a high ω-6 to ω-3 ratio. You can enjoy healthy ω-6-rich foods like sunflower seeds, peanuts, and pumpkin seeds; they provide nutrients like vitamin E. Just make sure to eat more whole plant-based foods like walnuts, flaxseeds, and lots of green vegetables while cutting down on processed and fried foods.

In conclusion, avoid excessive worry about perfectly balancing fatty acids or eliminating specific foods. Omega-3 supplements are most beneficial when addressing deficiencies, especially in an unhealthy, high-ω-6 diet. Excessive consumption of either ω-6 or ω-3 can lead to negative effects. Focus on prioritizing a diet rich in healthy whole foods, as they provide essential nutrients and contribute significantly to overall well-being.

Boost your Omega-3 intake with GFP products! Here's how:

  • Superfood Cookie: Treat yourself to delicious cookies filled with chia seeds, flaxseeds, and ground flaxseed. Ground flaxseeds are your best choice for ω-3 absorption.
  • Edamame Avocado Dip: Delight in a flavorful homemade dip crafted from whole foods like avocado, edamame, cilantro, and lime juice. Edamame not only offers ω-3 but also provides calcium.
  • Good Catch Tuna Pie: Dive into the goodness of Good Catch tuna, featuring algae oil rich in DHA, a crucial ω-3 fatty acid.
  • Brussels Sprouts: Enjoy Brussels sprouts, bursting with ω-3 goodness and high in vitamin C.

Make Omega-3 a part of your daily routine with these GFP products!

Peanuts - omega-3                                     


Edamame - omega-6 

Peanuts - omega-6