What is Omega-3?
Omega-3 is a nutritional oil that improves your health in many different ways. Its distinctive molecular shape is the key to its name, its therapeutic benefits and its unique properties. It’s a delicate oil that’s easily damaged by heat, air and light. If it gets damaged by these elements, it actually changes shape and doesn’t work as a therapeutic agent anymore. In fact, it’s possible that rancid omega-3 oils can have an adverse effect on your health.
So choosing a good quality omega-3 supplement is essential for making sure you get maximum benefit from it. The best omega-3 oils are processed without oxygen, usually in a nitrogen environment. They are manufactured and stored in cool, dark conditions. This retains freshness and they keep their original shape, ensuring that they genuinely improve your health.
How Your Body Uses Omega-3
Each cell in your body has a layer of fat around its surface, that forms a waterproof barrier known as the cell membrane. When you eat oils and fats, they eventually make their way into this cellular barrier. The cell membrane is a very important part of your body. It controls what goes into your cell and what stays out, which in turn directs how your cells behave and, ultimately, whether you live in a state of health or disease.
It’s important that the membrane is made of a mixture of saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats give the membrane stability and strength. This keeps it firm and resistant to invasion or infection. Unsaturated fats give it flexibility and receptivity. This means it can send and receive messages and allow nutrients to pass through them into the center of the cell.
What happens with the modern diet is that it tends to include too many saturated fats and not enough unsaturated fats. This leads to cell membranes that are rigid and unable to respond correctly to their environment.
The cells receive the wrong information and start to behave in a way that pushes your body towards disease rather than health. They produce inflammatory chemicals that damage your healthy cells and increase your risk of developing chronic illnesses. By increasing omega-3 oils in your diet, you correct the balance of fats in your cell membranes and your cells can start to function optimally, calming inflammation and bringing you back to health.
Why Use Omega-3 For Leaky Gut Repair?
In your gut wall, tight junctions between cells make a barrier that keeps your digestive contents inside your intestines. This barrier precisely controls the nutrients, chemicals, and organic particles that pass through your gut and into your bloodstream.
When you have leaky gut, this barrier breaks down and foreign particles enter your bloodstream randomly. The break down is essentially caused by inflammation in your gut wall. Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury or illness and it’s necessary for health as it activates healing and renewal.
This inflammation can be excessive and ongoing at times, which doesn’t contribute to health but can actually cause disease. This is how leaky gut develops. It’s often triggered by nutritional deficiencies, toxicities, infections or a dysfunctional immune response.
Omega-3 oils support in restoring your gut wall and help with leaky gut repair by improving the health of your cells and reducing inflammation. Healthy gut cells are responsive to messages from your brain and your microbiota. They can receive important instructions clearly and carry out necessary tasks accurately. In your gut wall this includes making tight junctions and new digestive cells.
Gut cells that have enough omega-3 oils don’t trigger excessive inflammation. This prevents the whole process that leads to leaky gut and the gut wall can heal. Once the gut wall has healed and the barrier function is functioning again, no more random particles can enter your bloodstream. The gut wall goes back to controlling which nutrients pass through into your blood, and your symptoms start to diminish.
How Much Omega-3 To Take For Leaky Gut
Omega-3 oils include docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) as well as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is not particularly useful for healing because it has to undergo a lot of chemical changes for your body to be able to use it. Basically it has to go through a complex process involving many different steps to become DHA and EPA. So most people just take DHA and EPA because your body can put them to use straight away.
You need at least 250mg daily of combined DHA and EPA to recover from an omega-3 deficiency. You can take two times this amount or even three times this amount if you’re severely deficient in this important nutrient.
But remember that taking it every day for a period of 3-6 months is going to give you the best results regardless of whether you’re taking 250mg daily, 500mg daily, or 750mg daily. Your body needs time to process the omega-3 and gradually restore healthy levels.
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Top 5 Best Omega-3 Supplements
Omega-3 oils are found in high amounts in fish, krill, algae, flax seed, hemp seed, walnuts, and chia seeds. Eating these foods is certainly helpful in getting omega-3 oils in a natural, easily-absorbed form. But if you’re eating a lot of fish, you may be increasing your heavy metal intake. Fish commonly contain heavy metals, which are toxic to the human body. The diseases that can result from this are serious and include: Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease and chronic fatigue syndrome.
To get enough omega-3 oils from a vegetarian diet, you would need to eat the foods listed above in very large amounts. This is because most vegetarian omega-3 oils are present in small amounts and delivered in the form of ALA. Your body has to convert the ALA to DHA and EPA, which only happens efficiently when you have all the supporting nutrients you need, including high levels of zinc, which is commonly deficient.
The usual form of omega-3 supplementation is fish oil. Many fish oil supplements are the same as fish in the way they’re contaminated with ocean pollutants including plastics, heavy metals, and even radioactivity. If you’re going to use fish oil for omega-3 supplementation, make sure it’s sustainably sourced and tested for purity. Vegan algae-based omega-3 sources are sustainably produced and don’t come with the same risks that fish oils do. That’s why our list of best omega-3 supplements is all vegan.
The following list of top 5 omega-3 supplements is ranked where number one is the best supplement we recommend.
Just one capsule daily of Testa Omega-3 provides you with 250mg DHA and 125mg EPA. This is enough to correct a nutritional deficiency of omega-3 oils, when taken as recommended over a period of months.
Testa Omega-3 is vegan certified and contains absolutely no fish or animal products of any kind. It’s sustainably grown and packed in blister packs so that each capsule stays fresh without exposure to oxygen.
Testa is passionate about conserving ocean life and fish stocks, so choosing their vegan omega-3 oil is a vote for sustainability and cruelty-free living. On Amazon, Testa Omega-3 has been rated 4.4 out of 5 stars from 146 customer reviews.
Customers say it’s well priced and a good alternative to fish oil. Many comments that they like the individual blister packs that keep the oil fresh. One customer stated that she thought it had helped clear her skin and another said the improved concentration and memory were noticeable.
On the negative side, some people have reported stomach upset from these capsules and one even reported “fish burps”, which are unexpected from a vegan product. The capsule itself contains carrageenan which is suspected of causing digestive issues and many people have commented that they’re unhappy with the carrageenan content of this product. Other people note that the blister pack is fiddly and not recyclable, contributing to waste problems.
Nordic Naturals are known for their advanced manufacturing process that keeps the oil fresh by processing it in a nitrogen environment. The oils see absolutely no oxygen during extraction and packaging. Nordic Naturals also use temperature control and protect their oils from UV light, making Nordic Naturals Algae Omega a very pure, high-quality product.
Algae Omega needs to be taken at a dose of two capsules each time, making it one of the more expensive options for vegan omega-3. Two capsules gives you 309mg DHA and 195mg EPA. Nordic Naturals extract this omega-3 oil from sustainably harvested wild ocean algae and test each batch for environmental toxins. If you’re concerned about the sustainability or purity of this product, you can contact the manufacturer directly to find out more about their processes.
This particular product has no reviews on Amazon at time of writing. This could be because it’s a reasonably new release from Nordic Naturals, who are better known for their fish oil extraction. The iHerb website has 50 customer reviews on Algae Omega, with an overall rating of 4.6 stars out of 5.
People say that it helped them with their concentration and brain function. One customer reported that they are allergic to many other brands, but not this one. Algae Omega received a 1-star review because it contains carrageenan, which may cause digestive issues.
This formula contains a mix of different therapeutic oils. It has algal DHA in a decent quantity of 350mg in each capsule. For extra support, it also has 350mg omega-3 oil, 110mg phospholipids from sunflower oil, and 2.5mg astaxanthin. Phospholipids are a part of cell membranes so increasing their intake strengthens cell membranes and astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that protects against cellular damage.
One capsule daily provides enough omega-3 and supporting nutrients to raise your omega-3 levels from deficiency to the normal range. Taking two capsules daily is also an option if you want to restore normal levels of omega-3 faster. The ingredients are perfectly safe at this higher dose. The formula is vegan certified and contains absolutely no fish or other animal products.
Omnibiotics Vegan Omega DHAx is a well designed formula with its mix of anti-inflammatories, antioxidants and health-giving oils. Like other algal omega-3 oils, it doesn’t have any of the contamination risks associated with fish oil. It is also grown and harvested sustainably.
From 30 customer reviews on Amazon, Omnibiotics has an overall rating of 4.3 stars out of 5. People like that it contains astaxanthin and there’s a lot of appreciation from vegetarian customers who have been looking for plant-source omega supplements. The negative reviews come from vegan customers who have pointed out that the product isn’t genuinely vegan because it contains beeswax. The capsule itself also contains carrageenan, which is a controversial seaweed extract that may cause digestive upset in sensitive individuals.
Amala Omega-3 is a simple mix of algal omega-3 and vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that’s great for healing, especially where there’s been stress or trauma. The dose of omega-3 in each capsule is 375mg, so taking two capsules per day will give you 240mg DHA and 144mg EPA. This dose will also give you 58% of your daily requirement for vitamin E.
The omega-3 in Amala Vegan Omega-3 DHA + EPA is extracted from algae, so it offers the benefits of sustainability and purity that come from fish-free, plant-extract omega-3 oils. The smaller dose in each capsule is great for people who have trouble swallowing large capsules. Amala make their formula slow release so that your body can get maximum absorption from each capsule.
Amala Vegan Omega-3 has a huge 466 customer reviews on Amazon. People report positive effects on skin and mood and they like that the product is vegan and sustainably sourced. There are comments both good and bad about the smell and taste associated with these capsules. Some describe the taste as fishy while others say it’s seaweed. One person even said they like that it has this flavor because it indicates that it is pretty unprocessed.
The most often mentioned negative points are the taste and smell. Someone also pointed out that it’ not possible to take a very large dose of this particular formula because you’ll end up taking too much vitamin E.
Each Ovega-3 capsule contains 320mg DHA and 130mg EPA from a vegan algal source. So, you can take one capsule daily and you’ll receive enough omega-3 to boost your levels. You could also take two capsules daily and the dose would still be safe and effective. The capsules used for Ovega-3 contain carrageenan, so if you’re sensitive to this seaweed extract you need to be aware that you won’t be able to swallow the capsule. You can still take Ovega-3 by emptying the capsule contents directly into your mouth.
The algae for Ovega-3 grows in an FDA-inspected facility, ensuring that manufacturing standards are of the highest quality. They grow their own patented strain of omega-3 producing algae. Their hypoallergenic formula doesn’t contain any traces of fish, crustacean, soy, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts or wheat.
There are 68 customer reviews on iHerb. The product has 4.4 stars out of 5 and the main positives are that it has no odor and it’s tolerable for people who have sensitive digestion. People also note that it’s good value for money because of the high concentration of DHA and EPA in each capsule. Consumers also commented positiviely on the relatively high proportion of EPA per capsule.
Some people received jars that had less than the listed 60 capsules. It’s likely this was a temporary issue with the manufacturing plant. These reviews all occurred within 6 months of each other, around the start of 2014. A couple of customers complained that the price was too high.
Take Home Message
Increasing omega-3 oils in your diet, your cells start to function optimally, calming inflammation and bringing you back to health. What this means for gut health is that gut cells become more responsive to messages from your brain and your microbiota. They start to receive important instructions clearly and carry out necessary tasks accurately. In your gut wall this includes making tight junctions and new digestive cells. So, choosing a good quality omega-3 supplement is essential to healing your leaky gut.