What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3: Food, Effect & Deficiency

Is fat unhealthy? On the contrary: “Good” fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, are essential for life. They are indispensable and play a decisive role in numerous metabolic processes. Why are omega-3 fatty acids so important? Which foods are particularly high in Omega 3? And how is a deficiency expressed? We'll show you everything you need to know.

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a special group within the polyunsaturated Fatty acids. You are one of the essential fatty acids and are therefore vital for our body. The most biologically active forms of omega-3 fatty acids are EPA (eicopentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Furthermore, there is also the so-called in this group Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) - this form is converted into EPA and DHA by the body. So this is a Prepress, in the herbal products (for example linseed oil) occurs.

The conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to EPA and DHA is inhibited by the presence of omega-6 linoleic acid.

What are essential fatty acids?

Our body cannot produce essential fatty acids by itself and must therefore ingest through diet.

In short, if you don't get enough omega-3 fatty acids through your diet, it can affect your physical and mental wellbeing to have.

When should you take Omega 3 capsules?

Omega 3 capsules are useful if you Cannot fully meet your needs through diet or are at it to train hard - In this phase your body is more dependent on nutrients.

The heart and brain are perhaps the most important human organs. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential and contribute to the normal function of these organs. The more harmonious the organism and the fitter the heart, the better your body can deal with stress. So omega 3 capsules are the perfect companion after an intense workout.

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Omega-3 daily requirement

The intake recommendation of the German Nutrition Society states that the Omega 3 intake 0.5% of the total energy should matter. It should be with an optimal nutrient distribution overall 30% of the total energy from fats to be provided.

What does that mean exactly?

For example, if you have an energy requirement of 2000 kcal, about 10 kcal of it should be covered by essential fatty acids (≙ 0.5% of the total energy). Since 1 gram of fat equals 9.3 kcal, that would mean that you would have to consume 1.075 g of fat. That is, for example, about 100 g of salmon.

The remaining 70% of the total energy is ideally divided as follows: 55% carbohydrates and 15% proteins.

Omega 3 and vegan diet

Since EPA and DHA are mainly found in fish oil, the body does not get enough of these fatty acids in a vegan diet. In addition, the conversion of alpha-linolenic acid from vegetable oils to EPA and DHA is limited by an enzyme, which is also required for the omega 6 metabolic pathway. Therefore it is necessary to take in EPA and DHA separately. A good vegan source is the microalgae or vegan omega 3 capsules based on algae.

Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids

Did you know that too Ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids is very important? Omega-6 fatty acids are also essential, but are often consumed in larger quantities than omega-3 fatty acids. This is because omega 6 foods such as meat, sunflower oil or walnuts are more frequently on the menu.

The problem? Too much omega-6 fatty acids can lead to omega-3 fatty acids being blocked because both fatty acids use the same metabolic pathways. Hence, it is important to have omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids ideally in a ratio of 5: 1. In this way they do not compete and can fully fulfill their functions.

Omega-3 foods

Here we will show you which foods are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Since you can only get essential fatty acids through your diet, it is important that you incorporate these foods into your eating plan.

Vegetable and animal foods have different omega-3 fatty acids, so you can find our table here, broken down according to the individual fatty acids ALA, DHA and EPA.

Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA)

g per 100 g
Chia seeds19.0 g
Walnuts7.50 g
Walnut oil12.90 g
linseed16.70 g
linseed oil54 g

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)

g per 100 g
Redfish0.50 g
mackerel1.00 g
salmon1.20 g
herring2.30 g

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

g per 100 g
Halibut0.40 g
salmon1.90 g
sprat1.90 g
tuna2.10 g

Vegan omega-3 from algae

Fish have always known - algae are healthy. They have been feeding on aquatic plants for millions of years. Why? Because they provide valuable omega-3s. Microalgae are not only the well-known Spirulina and Chlorella algae, but also those Schizochytrium alga. It gets by without any light and feeds on plant residues. In order for it to grow anyway, the alga synthesizes on its own large amounts of the vegetable omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.

The advantage of omega 3 from algae: Omega 3 from algae is environmentally friendly and vegan. The value chain is effectively shortened by the intermediate step “fish”. Therefore, capsules made from algae oil are the most sustainable form of consuming DHA and EPA.

Find out more about omega 3 and algae here

Omega-3 effect

The omega-3 fatty acids ALA, DHA and EPA take different forms important functions in metabolism. You can find the most important ones listed here:

  • ALA helps maintain normal blood cholesterol levels
  • DHA helps maintain normal triglyceride levels (blood lipid levels)
  • DHA contributes to normal brain function
  • DHA contributes to normal eyesight
  • EPA and DHA contribute to normal heart function
  • EPA and DHA help maintain normal blood pressure

Omega-3 deficiency

Unfortunately, it has been difficult to diagnose an omega 3 deficiency so far, as the symptoms can be very different and do not necessarily have to occur at the same time. However, a blood test by your family doctor can provide clarity.

Possible symptoms of an omega 3 deficiency:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor eyesight
  • Feeling restless
  • fatigue
  • Skin problems


The most common reasons for an omega 3 deficiency are on the one hand insufficient intake through diet, but also a imbalance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Often too many foods containing omega 6 are consumed and too few omega 3 products. This imbalance leads to Omega 3 cannot be fully utilized or. blocked.

Omega 3 side effects

As always, the dose makes the poison. According to the Federal Ministry for Risk Assessment, there are no undesirable side effects with a daily intake of 3 grams of longer-chain omega-3 fatty acids.

The following side effects have been observed with very high doses taken for a long time:

  • Extension of the bleeding time
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Susceptibility to infection
  • Cardiac arrhythmias

Whether omega 3 fatty acids, minerals or trace elements, before you resort to dietary supplements, you should definitely have a thorough check-up carried out by your family doctor.

Our conclusion

Not all fat is the same. In order to stay mentally and physically fit, it is important that you have a Ensure adequate omega-3 intake. Omega 3 takes on vital functions in the metabolism and is therefore indispensable. Essential fatty acids play a crucial role, especially for your physical fitness during training. For optimal utilization of the omega-3 fatty acids, it is also important that you are on one Pay attention to the balance between omega 6 and omega-3 fatty acids (5: 1). Particularly good sources of omega 3 are fish, algae, but also vegetable products such as linseed oil or chia seeds.

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  • Regulation (EU) No. 432/2012

  • BfR (2006): Do fish consumers have to supplement their diet with fish oil capsules ?, https://www.bfr.bund.de/cm/343/muessen_fischverzehrer_ihre_ernaehrung_durch_fischoel_kapseln_ergaenzen.pdf [11/06/2020].