I’m sure that you’ve heard the word omega-3 before, but what it is?
Omega 3 is a type of healthy fat that can have many health benefits including lowing cholesterol levels, improving good cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart issues. Ongoing research is occurring to see if omega 3 plays a role in preventing some types of cancer, inflammatory diseases, and dementia.
Omega 3 is made up of several fatty acids:
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
ALA is found in foods like flax flour, nuts, soy and enriched products like eggs and milk.
DHA and EPA are found in fish like salmon, anchovies, sardines, trout, herring and mackerel. In order to get the right amount of omega 3, Health Canada recommends that you have at least two servings of fish per week.
Everyone must be cautious however about eating certain types of fish because of the risk of higher mercury levels. Fish with higher mercury levels should not be eaten by pregnant women and children and intake should be limited for the rest of the population.
Higher mercury levels have been found in fresh/frozen:
- Tuna (and canned white tuna)
- Orange roughy
Do I need an omega 3 supplement?
It’s always important to speak with your nurse practitioner before starting any supplement. Some people may benefit from a supplement such as vegetarians/vegans. It’s important not to take too high of a dose of an omega 3 supplement as it may lead to increased thinning of the blood which may be a problem for people already on blood thinners. Remember that it’s usually best to get the nutrients you need from your diet rather than from a supplement.
Eat Right Ontario. (2017). Omega-3 fats deliver Oh mega benefits. Retrieved from
Dietitians of Canada. (2017). Food sources of omega-3. Retrieved from
Uptodate. (2017). Fish oil and marine omega-3 fatty acids.