Omega 3 Fatty Acid Supplements
As we have learnt elsewhere in this site, omega-3 fatty acids can provide us with a range of health benefits, such as raising HDL cholesterol (the 'good' cholesterol), decreasing triglyceride levels, reducing inflammation and helping to protect against a range of brain conditions, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and depression. Omega 3 fatty acids are critical for proper bodily function, and can only be synthesised by the human body in small amounts (or in the case of alpha-linolenic acid, not at all), and so it is essential that we obtain them through our diet. However, today's busy lifestyle means that many of us do not manage to eat enough of the right types of food to meet the body's requirements - especially vegetarians who cannot get their omega 3 from oily fish.
Omega 3 supplements can therefore be of great benefit, allowing us to enhance our diets and reach our recommended daily intake. The most commonly-used omega 3 supplements are fish oil capsules, although plant-based bottled liquids (such as flax seed oil) are also popular.
Animal-Based Omega 3 Supplements
Animal-based omega 3 supplements, such as fish oil, krill oil and green-lipped mussel oil, typically come in the form of soft capsules. These supplements are an excellent source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). However, it should be noted that care must be taken when taking fish oil supplements, as high levels of EPA and DHA can cause excessive bleeding in some people.
Plant-Based Omega 3 Supplements
One of the best plant-based sources of omega 3 fatty acids is flaxseeds, the oil of which is typically produced in a liquid form, although soft capsules may also be available. The liquid-form should be kept in an opaque bottle and stored in a refrigerator to prevent it from becoming rancid. Plant-based omega 3 is primarily alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which must be converted by the body to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) to provide the maximum health benefit.