Often no distinction is made between the terms fish oil and Omega 3. Fish oil contains a large amount of Omega 3. Fish oil is often used in capsules and tablets that are used as a supplement to get extra Omega 3. Omega 3 is also called fish fatty acid and this type of substance is good for the heart, among other things. Omega 3 is also found in other products besides fish oil and other fatty acids are also important for your health.

What do good fatty acids contain?

Apart from the omega 3 fish fatty acid, there are also vegetable fatty acids that have beneficial health effects. This is called alpha linolenic acid or ALA. This substance cannot be produced by the body, but is necessary to keep the cholesterol level in your blood at a healthy level. ALA is found in flaxseed oil, soybean oil, walnuts, margarine and low-fat margarine of vegetable origin. On the label, the fatty acid is often referred to as Omega 3. Just swallowing capsules or tablets of fish oil is not enough to get all the fatty acids your body needs. The Health Council of the Netherlands therefore recommends a varied diet in order to get enough fatty acids, also known as unsaturated fats. A varied diet means not only eating fatty fish regularly, but also enough low-fat margarine to realise the need for ALA.

What is fish oil good for?
Apart from the fact that the Omega 3 is good for the heart and the blood vessels, it also has a beneficial effect on brain functions and vision. For babies it is extra important to get enough Omega 3. The normal development of the eyes and brain in infants is promoted by a sufficient amount of Omega 3. If the mother eats a healthy and varied diet, the child will also receive sufficient Omega 3 during breastfeeding. If the mother does not breastfeed, it is possible to use Omega 3 as a supplement to the diet.

Besides oily fish, Omega 3 also contains shellfish and crustaceans, but the largest concentration is found in fish. Recommendation is therefore to eat oily fish at least once a week. The fish species that fall under this category have more than 10% body weight fat. These include mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring and trout.

Read also: How to calculate your daily energy needs

Which capsules and tablets are good?
The Health Council recommends an amount of 200 milligrams of fatty acid per day. If you eat a portion of oily fish once a week, you will get this dose. You can also get this amount by taking capsules or tablets containing Omega 3. The amount of Omega 3 in these supplements is usually indicated in EPA and DHA. Which are good, you can judge by the amount of Omega 3 they contain in relation to the amount needed. Although there is no scientific evidence, there are also indications that the positive effects of eating oily fish are based on more than just fatty acids. It is therefore wise to eat fish regularly and not to rely solely on capsules and tablets containing fish oil.

Health effects
Cardiovascular diseases
Research shows that a sufficient amount of Omega 3 reduces the risk of death by 10% in people who have a high risk of cardiovascular disease. By the way, you have to take both the recommended amount of fish fatty acid and ALA as a starting point.

Blood pressure
People who are not taking any medication in connection with high blood pressure can count on an average blood pressure reduction of 4.5 mm Hg. This is the case when using the recommended amounts of Omega 3.

Cholesterol
Sufficient ALA has a positive influence on the amount of cholesterol in the body. Although it is proven that oily fish is good for the heart and blood vessels, a normal amount of this will increase the cholesterol level. This mechanism is not fully understood by science. The extra LDL cholesterol is not good for the blood vessels.

Pregnancy
Both during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, it is very important that the (future) mother gets enough fish fatty acid. This is positive for the development of the child’s brain and retina. This effect is achieved not only by swallowing capsules or tablets with fish oil, but also by eating oily fish. The reasons for this are still unknown. However, science believes that this is due to other substances in oily fish. If the mother eats a varied diet according to the five-digit diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding, the baby will also be given sufficient amounts of fish fatty acid and ALA.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator