THE What, Why, and How of Omega 3s.
What is Omega 3?
ALA = Alpha-linolenic Acid (found in Flax, Walnuts, etc.)
EPA = Eicosapentaenoic Acid (found in Fish)
DHA = Docosahexaenoic Acid (found in Fish)
ALA can be converted to DHA and EPA by the body (in a perfect world), however this is a complex process and studies have shown that only about 3-5% of ALA can actually be converted to DHA and EPA successfully.
If you eat eggs, dairy products, and/or fish, you get enough fat.
Plant-based food is thought to be deficient in fats, but actually the richest sources of the fats that are good for you – unsaturated fats and essential fatty acids – are plant foods, such as nuts, seeds, and oils.
There is no essential fatty acid that can only be found in animal-based foods. Yet, strict vegans must guard against deficiency of some fatty acids, especially DHA. Because vegetables provide no pre-formed DHA, some vegans take supplements of DHA, since some people are not able to convert the essential fatty acid ALA in food to DHA in their bodies. Some vegans may have low blood levels of DHA. Seafood is the only food source of pre-formed DHA, which is another reason we believe a seafood plus vegetarian diet is the most healthy for most people.
The only way kids can get adequate amounts of EPA, DHA is from seafood (like fish, algae, krill, etc.) If they are not eating these foods, then a supplement is a good alternative. Nordic Naturals makes a good gummie, but the kids have to eat quite a few of them and they do contain sugar. If the family follows a strict vegetarian diet, and they are willing to take fish oil, that is the best way. Nordic Naturals has an algae omega-3. You will have to look on Nordic Naturals Website to see the source of algae. They are sometimes out of stock, but it is worth checking.
Adults in my program are to consume 1-3 tsp. every day of Flax Oil. The pure and unrefined, freshly cold pressed and Organic version that is found in the cold case of Whole Foods Market is the best – in my opinion and it is easy to use in salad, in my Favorite Fruit Salad recipe, and in Protein Packed Smoothies that I teach!