Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of essential fats. That bass-ically means you need to get them from food since your body can’t make them on its own.

Here’s your oppor-tuna­-ty to learn all about the best omega-3 benefits, sources, and doses.

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Omega-3 fatty acids are part of the essential polyunsaturated fat group. They help keep your heart healthy, boost brain power, and prevent inflammation.

There are three main types of omega-3s:

  • alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
  • eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

Your body can convert ALA into EPA and again into DHA. But it doesn’t add up to much — the conversion rate is about 15 percent.

The best way to keep your omega-3 quota on fleek is to maintain a nutritious, balanced diet. ALA is found in plant oils (like flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils). EPA and DHA are found in fish and other seafood.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for a reason. You know those cells that make up, like, every part of your body? Omega-3s are an important part of the membrane that surrounds them.

They also help out your body in lots of different ways:

  • Reduced inflammation. A 2019 review found that omega-3s are part of a group of lipids that can keep inflammation under control. This might reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
  • Heart health. Another review found that omega-3 supplements may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. But we need more research to prove these perks.
  • Cancer prevention. Omega-3s have natural anti-inflammatory effects and may reduce the growth of cancer cells. This might lower your risk for certain cancers like breast and colorectal.
  • Brain function. DHA is an essential component in your brain. Some research suggests it may protect against brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases. It’s also an important nutrient for brain development in babies 👶.

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to adding omega-3 fatty acid foods to your grocery list. These foods will give you the most omega-3 bang for your buck:

FoodALADHAEPA
flaxseed oil
(1 Tbsp)
7.26 g
chia seeds
(1 oz)
5.06 g
whole flaxseed
(1 Tbsp)
2.35 g
canola oil
(1 Tbsp)
1.28 g
walnuts
(1 oz)
2.57 g
wild Atlantic salmon
(3 oz, cooked)
1.22 g0.35 g
sardines
(3 oz)
0.74 g0.45 g
mackerel
(3 oz, cooked)
0.59 g0.43 g
wild rainbow trout
(3 oz, cooked)
0.44 g0.40 g
wild oysters
(3 oz, cooked)
0.14 g0.23 g0.30 g

Here’s how much you need

Here’s how much ALA you need on the daily, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

AgeWomenMen
birth to 12 months0.5 g0.5 g
1–3 years0.7 g0.7 g
4–8 years0.9 g0.9 g
9–13 years1.0 g1.2 g
14 and up1.1 g1.6 g

Omega-3 deficiencies are pretty rare in the United States. Most folks get enough from their diet. But just in case, here are some signs to look out for:

If you have any of these symptoms, check in with a medical professional. They can give you a fatty acid analysis test. It will determine your percentages of the different fatty acids (including EPA and DHA).

Your doc might suggest an omega-3 supplement if you don’t get enough from your food. The most popular form is fish oil.

Not a fish fan? No prob. Opt for a veggie version that uses algal oil.

How much should I take?

Experts haven’t set an exact daily recommendation for omega-3 supplements. It all depends on the type of supplement you’re taking and your unique health sitch.

But we do know you have to keep your doses in check. Taking more than 900 milligrams of EPA and 600 milligrams of DHA per day could reduce immune function.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of polyunsaturated fats that boast a ton of health benefits. Your body can’t create them, so you need to get them from your diet.

Most adults in the United States get enough omega-3s from their diet. But your doc might suggest a supplement if you have a deficiency.

If you do go with a supplement, make sure you stick to the good stuff. Opt for brands that use high quality ingredients and are third-party tested for purity.