The jury is out on the Omega 3 debate.
We need Omega 3 for a multitude of healthy bodily functions, and most of Westerners are either deficient or imbalanced when it comes to this essential nutrient.
Omega 3 deficiencies or imbalances are linked with chronic inflammation, and chronic inflammation is linked with almost every chronic degenerative disease in the modern world.
The real solution to the Omega 3 issue is to eat less Omega 6, at least as a starting point. Omega 6 is present in vegetable oils, which are usually one of the main ingredients in almost every processed food.
Since the western diet is typically full of processed food, our bodies are typically full of Omega 6, throwing the healthy ratio of Omega 3 to 6 way out of whack.
Once we transition from a processed food diet to a whole food diet, the major sources of Omega 6 are removed and the body will naturally rebalance the ratio.
Depending on the person, there may still be an imbalance and a need for Omega 3 supplementation.
Fish Oil Supplementation
Fish oil is certainly the most common type of Omega 3 supplement. Fish oil contains high levels of EPA and DHA omega fatty acids that our bodies require to function.
Fish oil also delivers the Omega 3 efficiently because there is little to no conversion the body needs to perform in order to become bioavailable.
Though the supplement contains a potent dosage of Omega 3 fatty acids, there are some major downsides to using it as an everyday supplement.
- It does not solve the Omega imbalance problem! Fish oils increase the omega-3 to 6 ratio by introducing high doses of omega-3 to an omega-6 saturated environment ( our bodies). This is a bandaid on an internal wound. Eating less omega-6 is the solution.
- Most fish oil is full of harmful toxins found in the fish which they absorb from the ocean in general.
- Fish oil goes rancid quickly – meaning it oxidizes after touching the air and goes bad – which is why you may experience those lovely “fish burps” after taking a fish oil pill.
- Producing fish oil is unsustainable. No matter what the bottle says, millions of fish are processed per day to fill those bottles, and many of the species have been reduced to less than 10% of their natural population numbers and will soon be extinct.
- Fish oil is unnecessary if you eat a whole foods diet with limited processed foods and vegetable oils.
Chia Seed Supplementation
Chia seeds are a plant cultivated by the Aztecs and other native people for thousands of years. It was mainly used for energy by runners, warriors and athletes.
The oil from these little seeds contain the highest natural known percentage of Omega 3 fatty acids at about 60%. One ounce of chia seeds contain about 8 times as many essential fatty acids as fresh salmon.
About 2 tablespoons contain the entire recommended amount of Omega 3 for the day.
They are also full of additional nutrients, like protein, fiber, B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, boron, and copper, as well a natural antioxidants.
There is one major downside when using chia as an Omega 3 supplement.
The Omega 3 present in chia seeds is present of the form of alpha-linolenic fatty acid, or ALA. This requires our bodies to convert the ALA in EPH and DHA, which are the types of fatty acids our bodies need most.
This makes it difficult to gauge how much Omega 3 is available for the body to utilize without doing some blood work to measure Omega levels.
Which Is A Better Omega 3 Supplement, Chia Seeds or Fish Oil?
While fish oil offers a more efficient and measurable dose of Omega 3, it comes with a multitude of downsides.
The major downside is the is does not bring people closer to actually solving their Omega 3 or inflammation issues, because if does not address the source of the problem which is almost always our processed food diet.
Though chia seeds may be less potent after ALA is converted to EPA and DHA, they replace a processed food supplement (like fish oil) with a whole food dietary change.
Adding 2 teaspoons of chia into the daily diet and removing another processed food is the type of behavior that actually addresses the underlying cause of the Omega 3 issue, producing sustainable, life long results.