Ask Denise: Is Fish or Algal Oil the Greatest Supply of Omega-Three Fat?

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Denise John, our senior science editor, has a BS in biology and a PhD in neuroscience. She learned to juggle in physical education in ninth grade and is still able to do it. She spends a lot of time interpreting research, and you can see what she learns about various health conditions in our growing library of articles called goop PhD. You can send your own questions to Denise at [email protected].

Dear Goop, what’s the best way to get your omega-3s: fish or algae oil? – Gemma L.

Hello Gemma. It sounds like you’re familiar with the omega-3 fatty acids ALA, EPA, and DHA. These are the three most common types of omega-3 fatty acids that we hear about. (There are eleven species in total, but not that much is known about how the others work.) ALA is a plant-based omega-3 found in foods such as flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp, and walnuts. And EPA and DHA are the marine sources found in oily fish like sardines, anchovies, mackerel, salmon, and tuna.

These healthy fats make up the cells of our entire body and support general wellbeing – brain function, mood, focus, eyesight, inflammatory response, immunity, heart function, respiratory health, metabolic health, pregnancy, etc. * The omega-3 fatty acids ALA, EPA and DHA work together to support general wellbeing. Research suggests that EPA primarily supports healthy inflammatory response and immune function, and that DHA primarily supports healthy brain development and function. * Research on ALA is lacking, but it is pretty clear that ALA supports and has a healthy inflammatory response antioxidant effect. Our bodies use ALA to make EPA and DHA, but usually not a lot of ALA is made into EPA and DHA. It varies individually (based on health, diet, etc.), but it is estimated that the conversion of ALA to EPA is around 8 to 12 percent and to DHA 1 percent or less.

Science shows that our body does not function optimally without enough omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. If you’re not getting the amount you need, supplementation can often help.

Omega-3 fats are staple nutrients in a healthy vitamin protocol. Two ways to get the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are from sea sources: fish or algae. Fish oil is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, with high amounts of EPA and DHA per serving (which you can find on the supplement label) to aid overall health and wellbeing. * It is usually obtained from a wide variety of fish; the most common are anchovies, sardines and mackerel.

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All of goop’s five vitamin protocols contain fish oils that have undergone rigorous third-party testing to ensure their purity, potency and freshness, as well as the absence of potentially harmful levels of heavy metals. Four of goop’s vitamin protocols contain a gram of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which new research shows are useful targets. The Mother Load, our pre- and postnatal support protocol, has the highest concentration of 1.47 grams to aid in replenishing critical nutrient building blocks after birth. *

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For vegans and vegetarians algae oil is a great plant source of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. You will find that seaweed oil usually has less EPA and DHA per serving than fish oil and more DHA than EPA per serving. In Simris Algae Omega-3, the algae oil is combined with cold-pressed organic flaxseed oil, a source of ALA, to provide a full spectrum of vegan omega-3 support. Two capsules contain 700 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids: 200 milligrams of DHA, 50 milligrams of EPA and 450 milligrams of ALA.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied on for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article contains the advice of a doctor or alternative practitioner, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of goop.