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Omega-3 Supplements Vs. Foods That Have Them

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Omega-3 Supplements Vs. Foods That Have Them
[ Science]

Having trouble getting the kids to sleep?

Surely your first answer isn’t to reach for a bottle of pills when you aren’t sure what’s in them. But, as a new study came out showing evidence of a link between omega-3 fatty acids and sleep in healthy children, it’s worth observing.

So, omega-3 fatty acids are dubbed “essential fatty acids”. That’s great. What does that mean?

Basically this: we all need them to function properly (both adults and kids), we have to get them from our diet, and there’s a few different kinds. According to WebMD, DHA and EPA are the types we can get from fish and fish oil, DHA on its own can be found in algae, and ALA (a precursor to those other two) can be acquired from flaxseed and various plants.

Supplements sometimes seem like a great and quick way to get what we need. But as with anything we put in our bodies (or our kids’), it’s good to do a bit of research.

Thus, Dr. Oz invited Dr. Cooperman of ConsumerLab.com onto his show to see what the results of omega-3 supplement studies yielded. Dr. Cooperman was surprised to learn that many of the claims supplements make are false – that 30% of them failed their test.

“They failed for either containing too little of the omega-3’s – much less than they listed – or for being spoiled even though when we purchased them they were well packaged and we tested them before they even had their expiration date,” he stated.

Rancid fish oil? Gross…

“Things you need to look out for are ‘pharmaceutical grade’,” he said, “There is no such thing as ‘pharmaceutical grade’ – it’s not a defined term.” Why? Because, as he adds, “The FDA doesn’t approve labs for testing fish oil.” Dr. Cooperman went on to say that two products that passed the test were Life Extension’s Super Omega and AdvoCare Omegaplex.

But wait… let’s back up a second. Why doesn’t FDA approve labs for testing fish oil?

While fish oil products raked in $1.2 billion in sales in the United States last year, you might be surprised to learn that they (like many supplements) are largely unregulated. Companies aren’t required to register products with the Food and Drug Administration or provide any proof that their liquids or capsules even have the ingredients in them that are advertised on the labels.

So, they can just lie if they want?

Bummer. I’ve been gobbling down that gunk for years. Maybe I’ll just add in some actual edible foods that have these “essential fatty acids” in them instead. Some foods high omega-3 include: Flax Seeds, Walnuts, Sardines, Salmon, Soybeans, Tofu, Shrimp, Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Spinach, Cauliflower, and Winter Squash.

Dr. Frank Sacks of Harvard, explains, “For good health, you should aim to get at least one rich source of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet every day. This could be through a serving of fatty fish (such as salmon), a tablespoon of canola or soybean oil in salad dressing or in cooking, or a handful of walnuts or ground flaxseed mixed into your morning oatmeal.”

Alright. That’s a lot of info. Some of those don’t sound too great. Others are things I buy and eat sometimes anyway – just not enough. Honestly, it’s a bit inconvenient to nibble on soybeans or walnuts when pills or oils take about half a nanosecond to swallow, but soybean or canola oil isn’t any more of a bother to add into food, really. That’s easy. Plus, it might just beat eating expired mystery-fish-juice – or feeding it to little ones.

If you’ve found a supplement that works for you, that’s great! Some people swear by this stuff. Share your experiences in the comments below.

Image (and recipe) via Youtube.

Omega-3 Supplements Vs. Foods That Have Them
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