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Omega-3: EPA and DHA, which sources to choose?


EPA and DHA are 2 fatty acids (= lipids) belonging to the omega-3 lineage. They are essential to your health, because they allow you to have a fluid cell membrane and therefore optimal exchanges of vitamins and minerals with the external environment. These exchanges are essential to have a good metabolism. In addition, they are said to be “anti-inflammatory”. Indeed, they can be transformed into anti-inflammatory molecules (prostaglandins, thromboxane, leukotrienes, resolvins, protectins, etc.).

Sufficient intake of omega-3 can be obtained through diet. Several sources exist but not all are equal. If dietary intake is not possible or insufficient, supplementation can be used. But again, be careful to make the right choice.

Here are some explanations to find you there ;-)



Oils rich in omega-3 (rapeseed, flax, walnut, camelina), seeds and oilseeds


Oils said to be rich in omega-3 (flax, camelina, rapeseed, nuts), seeds and oilseeds (= nuts) are actually rich in α-linolenic acid. It is the first fatty acid in the omega-3 chain. It is transformed into DHA and EPA following enzymatic reactions. These reactions are possible thanks to certain enzymes (Delta-6-desaturase, elongase, delta-5-desaturase) and cofactors (zinc, iron, magnesium, vitamin B6 and B3). This therefore assumes that, on the one hand, your enzymes are effective and, on the other hand, that you have the necessary cofactors in sufficient quantity in your body.

The oils mentioned above are very sensitive to oxidation: they must therefore be stored away from light and heat. They cannot be used for cooking.

Seeds and oilseeds are also high in fiber. However, fibers are known to limit the absorption of sugars and fats, including α-linolenic acid.


Small oily fish: sardines, mackerel, herring


Organically farmed small oily fish are the best way to get EPA and DHA. Indeed, they are directly available in this form and can integrate cell membranes quickly. In addition, they are protected from oxidation by the natural matrix of the fish. Obviously, we avoid grilled sardines on the barbecue…Certainly very good, but this cooking oxidizes the fatty acids and therefore, EPA and DHA lose their benefits.

NB: salmon is a fatty fish but larger and therefore richer in heavy metals, particularly mercury. Fortunately it also contains a good rate of selenium which absorbs the latter. To consume from time to time and coming from biological breeding.


Supplements


Supplements are a good alternative when the intake of EPA and DHA through food is not sufficient. Be careful, if you opt for this option, make sure you have enough antioxidants (fruits, vegetables, spices, etc.) to avoid their oxidation.

Choose a supplement from krill oil, with the addition of vitamin E or asthaxanthin (anti-oxidant) and in an opaque bottle. Check the source and extraction process of omega-3s.

The cost of good supplements is unfortunately often high. Beware of promotions on omega-3s: this often means that they are reaching their expiry date and therefore more likely to be already oxidized.


Others


Egg yolks and meat from the flax industry. It is generally highlighted on the product packaging. What the animal eats ends up on your plate. It is therefore essential that the lipids that the animal consumes are of high quality. Flax, as mentioned above, is rich in α-linolenic acid.


Conclusion


It is important to vary the sources of omega-3 intake to optimize the chances of having an adequate intake without resorting to supplementation.



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