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Omega Three Fatty Acid Sources?

Updated on May 10, 2011

There is much confusion about Omega Three, and in particular what food sources are better.

The sources of omega three fatty acids range from spinach to tuna. However, the quantity of omega three and the types of fatty acids couldn't be more different between them.

Yes, I'm afraid there are 'types' of omega three.

It's not that complicated, but we do need to know more about those types to understand why some foods are better than others.

Types Of Fatty Acid

Omega three is actually made up of lots of different 'Essential Fatty Acids', some of which have been extensively studied.

They are called 'essential' because the body requires them, but cannot make them. It can only gain them from the food we eat.

The main ones which we are interested in, and which have research behind them, are ALA, EPA and DHA.

(Studies have shown specific benefits from all three of these but each deserves a hub to itself)

Yes, they do also have longer complicated sounding names like 'Alpha-linolenic acid' but most normal people just refer to the nice short names such as ALA.

Which Fatty Acids Are Most Important?

The majority of the benefits shown from clinical research actually come from DHA.

Now our bodies can actually convert some ALA into DHA and EPA. But it is really poor at doing it (only around 5% efficient).

And whilst you do find omega three in some nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables - you won't find any DHA in those sources.

Getting Back To Omega Three Sources

So, you can find omega three in varying amounts in foods such as fish, dark leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds and increasingly in foods artificially boosted with omega three like 'omega three eggs'.

And particularly good sources generally are cold water oily fish, flax seeds (linseed), hemp seed and walnuts. As well as some less common sources in Western countries such as lingonberry, chia seed, perilla and butternuts.

The most convenient food sources that are also high in DHA however, are those cold water oily fish.

Which means fish such as salmon, trout, anchovies, mackerel, tuna and herring. (Read more about fish sources in hub Why Do We Need Omega Three Fish Oil?)

Now there are also some more unusual foods that are high in DHA too, such as krill oil (small shrimp-like creature), seal oil and a couple of types of algae (the only vegan source of DHA).

Clearly these are most likely to be found in supplements rather than be something you will be buying in your local supermarket.

Pierce Holman is a health and wellness fan, and runs the website 'Omega Three Benefits'. It deserves a site all of it's own because omega three is simply one of the most exciting nutritional discoveries of modern times.

Don't miss my guide to the dangers of Mercury In Fish Oil Capsules for more information on gaining the good stuff from omega three without risking the potential bad stuff.

Which 'omega three' foods do you prefer to eat?

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    • whoisbid profile image

      whoisbid 6 years ago

      I did not know there were 3 types of Omega 3. Guess you left an impression on me

    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Very good hub. Very helpful to our health. GBY.