Omega-3 fatty acids have been all the rave for quite some time; actually, ever since the health benefits of these fatty acids have been discovered. These fatty acids are essential to take in through the diet because the body cannot make them on its own. The fact that they are essential stems from their importance in brain function, normal growth and development, and in reducing the risk of chronic diseases, including arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. There is no messing around when it comes to these areas of concern. To solve the problem of lacking omega-3’s in the diet, supplements have been developed based off two of the main fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, more commonly known as EPA and DHA, respectively. They are found in fish oil supplements that can be bought over-the-counter.
EPA and DHA
Both EPA and DHA of these are long-chain forms of omega-3 fatty acids. They are found in fish, algae extract, and fish oil supplements. Since the long-chain version is the form that the body utilizes, these supplements are ideal. There are short-chain omega-3 fatty acids, but the body has to convert them to long-chain. This is a very time-consuming process.
Benefits of EPA/DHA
It is clear that all these benefits are worth taking the supplement. However, it is important to remember that taking a pill should not be a substitute for other important food sources; mainly because food contains a lot of other important nutrients, vitamins and minerals. It is not a wise choice to completely live off of supplements. Food sources of omega-3 fatty acids (including EPA and DHA) include any fish and algae products. The fish oil supplement can also be beneficial because in order to get ALL of the necessary amounts of omega-3’s every day, a lot of fish would need to be consumed. This is a much lower-calorie and less contaminated source of these fatty acids that your body desperately needs to get ahold of.
Recommended Amount of EPA/DHA Supplementation
Taking EPA and DHA supplements together will give the best results. In fact, they are generally combined into one pill. Some products have a higher ratio of EPA to DHA, and some products have the exact opposite. The actual dosage varies in each individual, and a doctor is the best person to tell you what your dosage should be: it could range from 1,000 milligrams daily to 5,000 milligrams a day. It is better to not take the whole dosage all at once; the pill is absorbed the best with a meal and tends to not upset the stomach when taken in this fashion.
Who Shouldn’t Take Fish Oil Supplements?
Always consult your physician, and he or she will let you know if it is safe for you to take a fish oil supplement. The physician will also give the dosage that would suit your needs.
If you’re worried about your breath (and burps) smelling fishy, chill the pills in the refrigerator or freezer right before taking them.
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