Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Dr. Tieraona Low Dog

Omega-3 fatty acids are a very important part of our diet, find out how much you should be getting and the many ways you can include them as a part of your diet.

— Tieraona Low Dog, M.D.

You can’t turn on the news today without hearing about omega‑3 fatty acids. I’m also a fan. I take omega‑3 fatty acids and I include fish in my diet. One of the concerns that people have about eating fish is that they can be high in mercury or other toxins. This is certainly a valid concern, remember to stay away from the large predatory fish like shark, king mackerel, and tilefish. As large fish eat small fish, mercury accumulates. Don’t forget smaller fish like sardines and anchovies are both low in mercury and are also a good source of omega‑3’s. One of my favorite fish to eat is wild Alaskan king salmon, which is very high in omega‑3’s, low in mercury and sustainable. Three things that are all very important to consider when choosing fish. You want to know: 1. Which fish are sustainable? 2. Which are high in omega‑3’s? 3. Which are low in mercury? Go to National Geographic’s sustainable seafood website and you can get all the information that you need. You can also get omega‑3’s from plants. Flaxseed and chia are both rich sources. I like walnuts because they’re easy to add to the diet and only a small handful provides a good daily amount of plant‑based omega‑3’s. Omega‑3’s are so important that if you don’t eat fish on a regular basis, you may want to consider taking fish oil supplements. They come in different forms, including yummy forms for children. Adults need between six and 800 milligrams of EPA and three to 500 milligrams of DHA. Children need mostly DHA, up until the age of about five. According to the Institute of Medicine, all of us, starting at age one, need approximately 1,200 milligrams of omega‑3 fatty acids in our diet on a daily basis. They are important for brain health and eye health. Omega 3s may help protect us against depression, it’s an adjunctive treatment in people who have bipolar, and it is certainly important for our heart health.