I get this question a lot so here's a little more helpful info:
The three different types of omega-3's are found in specific types of foods.
ALA is found in foods of plant origin. The richest source of ALA is organic flaxseed, but it is also found in hempseed, organic soybeans, organic soybean oil, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil, organic linseeds, walnuts, and walnut oil. Once ingested, the body converts ALA into EPA and DHA, allowing it to be more readily used by the body. However, this conversion isn't very efficient. That's why experts recommend including EPA and DHA sources in your diet as well. *Note: flaxseed oil supplements are available in liquid and capsule form, but always consult your health care provider before taking any supplements.
DHA is found in seafood, algae, and coldwater fish such as wild salmon, sardines and albacore tuna. *Note: Fish oil supplements and vegetarian DHA supplements (containing algae) are also available in liquid and capsule form, but always consult your health care provider before taking any supplements. Only use fish oil supplements that have been certified to be free of heavy metal contaminants like mercury.
EPA is found in many of the same foods as DHA, including cold-water fish such as salmon, and sardines, as well as cod liver, herring, mackerel, and halibut. *Note: Fish oil and vegetarian algae supplements are also good sources of EPA, but always consult your health care provider before taking any supplements. Only use fish oil supplements that have been certified to be free of heavy metal contaminants like mercury. Enriched eggs that contain all three types of omega-3 fatty acids are readily available these days. These eggs are enriched by adding flaxseed or algae to the hens' diets so that they produce eggs that are rich in healthy fats. According to the Flax Council, omega-3-enriched eggs provide almost half of the recommended daily level of ALA and one-quarter of the recommended daily level of EPA and DHA ½ the same amount that can be found in 3 ounces of fish.
To get the recommended levels all types of omega-3's, aim for: 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed (or 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil) daily.
2 to 3 servings of the above-mentioned fish sources per week. In general, fresh fish contain more DHA and EPA than frozen fish. Omega-3's might seem overwhelming at first. But once you understand the types and "mega" health benefits that come with them, you'll be on your way to improving your health.
Mega Health Benefits Extensive research indicates that omega-3 fats reduce inflammation, helping to prevent inflammatory diseases like heart disease, arthritis and menstrual cramps. In addition to warding off inflammation, omega-3's are also essential to the brain, impacting behavior and cognitive function, and are especially necessary during fetal development.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM), omega-3's may also:
-Improve artery health by helping to reduce plaque buildup and blood clots in arteries that lead to the brain.
- Improve cholesterol by lowering triglycerides and elevating HDL (good cholesterol) levels. These benefits come primarily from DHA and EPA.
- Improve joint health by reducing joint tenderness and stiffness associated with arthritis and osteoarthritis.
- Improve bone health by positively impacting the body's calcium levels, reducing the incidence of bone loss.
- Improve mental health by helping to insulate nerve cells in the brain, allowing these nerve cells to better communicate with one another. People who are deficient in omega-3's may suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and ADHD.
-Improve skin health by helping to alleviate symptoms related to skin disorders like acne and psoriasis.
-Improve bowel health by reducing inflammation of the bowels, helping alleviate symptoms of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
-Improve lung health by reducing inflammation in diseases like asthma.
-Improve menstrual health by reducing the pain associated with PMS and menstruation.
- Help prevent cancer. Colon, breast, and prostate cancers have all been correlated with low intakes of omega-3's.
Breastfeeding And Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help New Moms Fight Depression
Science Daily: Breastfeeding and the good fats in Omega-3 fatty acids help new moms fight depression, according to a new article published in the International Breastfeeding Journal by a University of New Hampshire researcher.
"Depression in new mothers is common in many cultures, affecting anywhere from 10 percent to 20 percent of postpartum women. In some high-risk populations, the percentage can even be as high as 40 percent or 50 percent. Since depression has devastating effects on both mother and baby, it's vital that it be identified and treated promptly. Depressed mothers are also more likely to stop breastfeeding with negative health effects for each," Kathleen Kendall-Tackett said.
According to Kendall-Tackett, physical and psychological stressors increase inflammation, which is one of the top contributors to depression in new mothers. Most current treatments for depression, including the long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, are anti-inflammatory.
New mothers experience an increase in inflammation because of increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines. These levels dramatically increase in the last trimester of pregnancy and continue to elevate during the postpartum period. Moreover, common experiences of new motherhood, such as sleep disturbance, postpartum pain, and past or current psychological trauma, act as stressors that cause proinflammatory cytokine levels to rise, according to Kendall-Tackett.
"Breastfeeding protects maternal mood by lowering stress. When stress levels are lower, the mother's inflammatory response system will not be activated, thereby lowering her risk of depression," she said. "However positive these results, I must issue one caveat: they only apply when breastfeeding is going well. As noted earlier, when breastfeeding that is not going well, particularly if there is pain, it becomes a trigger to depression rather than something that lessens the risk. Mothers' mental health is yet another reason to intervene quickly when breastfeeding difficulties arise."
The review was authored by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, a health psychologist and researcher at UNH's Crimes against Children Research Center. Kendall-Tackett presents her findings in the article "A New Paradigm for Depression in New Mothers: The Central Role of Inflammation and How Breastfeeding and Anti-Inflammatory Treatments Protect Maternal Mental Health."
Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of New Hampshire.