Different omega 3 supplements

Different Omega-3 Supplements – Which one is the best?

Omega-3 fatty acids are an important component of our diets. However, only 2% of the population show adequate levels of Omega-3.

Because of the limited content of Omega-3 in our diet, supplementation is more than a real option. But there's a long list of different forms of Omega-3 supplemens. In this post, we'll review all the different omega-3 supplements to tell you which one is the best.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 are a series of polyunsaturated fatty acids with an unsaturation on its last third carbon, also called carbon ω-3. Of all omega-3 fatty acids, we are most interested on EPA and DHA.

These can be synthesized from ALA in our body, but the conversion is so low (study), that EPA and DHA are considered essential. We need them through diet, or if not possible, supplementation.

Omega 3 fatty acids

Ratio Omega 6/3

Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are two compounds present in our diets. However, different from omega-3, omega-6 is more than usual in our nutritional habits. And that leads to disbalanced ratios omega 6/3 of 20:1 or even higher (study)

Lower ratios show to improve our cardiovascular system, inflammation state and cell health (study). Because both series of Omega Fatty acids compete for the same enzymes, the abundance of one will lead to the scarceness of the other (study)

ratio omega 3-6

Benefits of Omega-3

Omega-3 Fatty acids are an important component for our health and metabolism. The metabolites derived from Omega-3 are antiinflamatory, or less pro-inflammatory than the ones derived from Omega-6. An adequate Omega-3 intake could therefore improve the chronic inflammation state and our cell's health (study)

But that's not all. Omega-3 have also shown to protect us from cardiovascular events (meta-analysis), improve the brain function (study), shape our gut microbiota composition (study), and improve our inmune response (study).

Recommended Intake

Dose and usage of omega 3

Recommened intake of Omega-3 vary from person to person, depending on their needs and situation. For general population, the recommended intake of Omega-3 is stated as 250-500 mg/week. If you have health issues and require o more Omega-3 to prevent from health consequences, the recommended intake may go up to 4000 mg/week.

Forms of Omega-3 Supplements

Omega-3 can be obtained from both diet and supplementation. Through diet, 2-3 intakes of fatty fish per week should be enough to reach the recommended intake. But not everyone likes fish, or it may not be available at your location. In those cases, supplementing with omega-3 is more than recommended.

However, there are different forms of omega-3 supplements, and not all are the same. Depending on the product, the bioavailability and properties of the product will differ.

Which one is the best? Keep reading!

Triglycerides Omega-3

Omega-3 supplements mainly come formulated as a triglyceride. Three omega-3 fatty acids are attached to a glycerol backbone (study). This is the form omega-3 are found in nature. When consuming fatty fish, or a supplement of fish oil, it will come on its triglyceride form.

Around 98% of all dietary fats are consumed as triglycerides, and our digestive tract is designed to optimally absorb these molecules. In fact, the glycerol backbone is essential for the transport of omega-3 through the blood to its final destination (study).

Capture

Omega-3 in its triglyceride form shows a very high bioavailability compared to ethyl ester (study). This is because ethyl ester needs to be converted to a triglyceride before being absorbed by the gut enterocytes (study)

Derived from triglycerides we also have monoglycerides, which claim to have a higher bioavailability than triglycerides (study). Although we need more research to backup this claim, it may be due to the smaller structure of monoglycerides compared to triglycerides.

Monoglycerides Omega-3

Derived from triglycerides we also have monoglycerides, which claim to have a higher bioavailability than triglycerides (study). Although we need more research to backup this claim, it may be due to the smaller structure of monoglycerides compared to triglycerides.

But the promising and novel evidence is there (study), and it seems like the bioavailability of omega-3 does improve in this form when compared to other forms.

Phospholipids

Omega-3 fatty acids may also be found in their phospholipid form. This is, as shown in the picture, with a fatty head attaching two fatty acids; one saturated and the other unsaturated (omega-3).

The phospholipid strcture of omega-3 is mostly found in krill oil. It's attached to a choline molecule, one of the main neurotransmitter in our body (study)

omega 3 phospholipids

Ethyl Ester

Last, but not least, we can find omega-3 in its ethyl ester form. This, different from the other forms of omega-3, it's a synthetic product.

It's produced by re-esterifying the triglycerides. By adding ethanol, the glycerol backbone is released, and each of the fatty acids is converted into an ethly ester.

Ethly Ester Omega 3

Compared with other forms of omega-3, ethyl ester shows lower bioavailability and worse pharmacokinetics (study). However, the synthetic structure of ethly ester improves the chemical properties of the products (stability, shelf life, oxidation,...)

Different Omega-3 Supplements

Omega-3 is found in a wide spectrum of marine sources, and some plant sources as well. But they are not the same. The composition and form of omega-3 may vary slightly.

In the next 3min, we compare the different omega-3 supplements!

different omega 3 supplements

Fish Oil

The most popular and consumed Omega-3 supplement. As a natural marine source, fish oil contains omega-3 maily in its triglyceride form.

Fish oil Omega-3 Supplements is the closest you can get to real fish consumption. Its content in EPA and DHA ranks between 18-31% (study)

Fish oil naturally contains vitamin A and D as well, acting as antioxidant and preventing the fatty acids to oxidize and go rancid.

There are fish oils available from different sources. Salmon, herring, pollock, sardines... They can be available on liquid or gel capsules form.

Green-lipped mussel oil

The green-lipped mussel is a bivalve found in the coasts of New Zealand. It contains Omega-3 fatty acids in its triglyceride and free fatty acids. Thus, supplements of green-lipped mussel oil have a great bioavailability profile.

Omega-3 supplements from green-lipped mussel also contains ETA (eicosatetraenoic acid), a rare Omega-3 fatty acid that may be even better at solving the inflammation state than EPA or DHA (study)

Krill Oil

Krill Oil is an Omega-3 supplement obtained from the Krill, a small crustacean found in the Nordic Sea (study).

This omega-3 supplement contains omega-3 mainly in its triglyceride and phospholipid form (study)

Krill Oil also contains antioxidant components such as astaxhantins. This compound, from the family of carotenoids, show to have strong benefits in our organism (study)

Krill

Compared to fish oil, taking omega-3 in the form of krill oil may improve your cognitive and training performance (Study). Phospholipids found in krill oil contain a choline molecule attached, one of our main neurotransmitters (study)

Processed Fish Oils

Often fish oils need to be purified and/or concentrated to improve the properties of the product (stability, shelf-life,...). To achieve this, the natural fish oil is synthetically esterified, forming an omega-3 supplement in its ethyl ester form.

Bioavailability of ethyl esters is lower compared to triglycerides or monoglyerols (study). Ethyl Esters also seem to be more prone to oxidation (study).

Algal Oil

Algal Oil is a marine vegan source of omega-3. In fact, it's the primest and most natural source of omega-3. Fish obtain their omega-3 from the consumption of algae.

Algal Oil shows higher concentrations of DHA than fish oil (study). It also contains some Omega-9 fatty acids, and other minerals like iodine. So, in general, the nutritional matrix of algal oil is one of the most complete and interesting of all the different omega-3 supplements.

Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseed is the main plant source of Omega-3 (study). It contains around 1.8g of omega-3 for 100g of flaxseed. However, the fatty acid present in plantsource is ALA, rather than EPA and DHA.

The conversion from ALA to EPA and DHA is considerable low in our organism (study). To obtain the required amounts of EPA and DHA from flaxseed oil, we'd need to take larger amounts of the supplement.

These plant sources not only contain Omega-3 fatty acids. Rather, some contain large amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids as well, in a ratio Omega 6/3 of 4:1.

Conclusion

Omega-3 are a series of polyunsaturated fatty acids that show health benefits, including lower risk of cardiovascular disease, antiinflamatory effect, muscle recovery or improved composition of the gut microbiota.

These fatty acids may come in different forms and from different sources. In this post, we reviewed the different omega-3 supplements available, with their 'pros' and 'cons'.

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