The best balance between Omega 3 and Omega 6 is a 1: 4 ratio (more than 1: 6 is not good); many Americans have a ratio of 1: 20 ! The increase of margarine and vegetable oils has dramatically changed this balance over time.
There are many practitioners that advise in taking only one type of omega 3 on a long term basis. Still, one size doesn't fit all and omega 3 oils should be taken considering one's specific health concerns. As a general guideline, it is wise to combine sources of DHA, EPA and ALA and rotate products / brands in order to get a wide range of benefits.
While many of us are most familiar with fish oils, as a source of omega 3, there are some other incredible beneficial sources. Here you can have an overview of the pros and cons for omega 3 sources, that can help you take a better decision while choosing your product :
Animal sources :
Pros : good source of DHA and EPA, promote cardiovascular health, might have a cholesterol lowering effect, supports brain health, is anti-inflammatory and boosts immune system
Cons : damaged through processing, oxidation, chemicals, toxins (especially in cheap brands), also fishy aftertaste, digestive discomfort and eructation with some brands
Pros : Unlike fish oils, pure krill oil carries omega-3s in the form of phospholipids, that deliver the fatty acids directly to your body's cells. Krill oil also contains excellent antioxidants such as astaxanthin and canthaxanthin, plus vitamin A and E, that protect you from damaging free radicals. Together with plankton, krill make up the largest biomass on earth. It is an excellent source of EPA and DHA and provides the same benefits like fish oil, plus the antioxidants.
Cons : It is not suitable for people with allergies to shell fish and some people also report reactions of diarrhea and other digestive issues.
You can find specifically designed Krill oil for Women, Men and Children on www.mercola.com . These high quality krill oil products are even more beneficial since they better address our health needs, according to our body type.
GREENLIP MUSSEL OIL
Pros : another source of DHA and EPA, produced in New Zealand from a unique specie of mussel, increases joint mobility and reduces inflammation associated with arthritic conditions. It is also void of the toxins and heavy metals and utilizes a CO2 extraction process instead of heat or chemicals, yielding a superior product. (www.TakeMoxx.com)
Cons : there are controversial opinions regarding seal oil vs mussel oil vs fish oil that involve the difference in molecular structure of each and so having different effects on our bodies.
Pros : is a whole raw source, mammalian form, closely resembling the natural form of Omega 3 found in breast milk. AUUM formulations provide an essential component of the Omega 3 family that is actually missing in plant and fish oil preparations - DPA (Docosapentanoeic Acid). Omega 3s DPA, DHA and EPA increase blood flow, decrease heart arrhythmia and improve arterial capability, help support the development of the brain, eyes and nerves
Cons : not available yet on the US market, only in Canada. Also, mammal sources are tricky because most farmed animals are fed grains which imbalances the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. It is vital to get a fresh, high quality product.
Plant sources :
FLAX SEED OIL
Pros : highest content of ALA (an omega 3), decreases risk of atherosclerosis, is anti-inflammatory, promotes bone health, protects against heart disease, cancer, diabetes, reduces hot flashes
Cons : ALA is converted in the body into EPA and DHA. This conversion requires good amounts of vitamins B3, B6, C, magnesium and zinc in the body, as well as a well functioning digestive system. Not more than 20% of ALA is converted to the fatty acids EPA and DHA and it can be even less, if the above mentioned factors are missing. Also, daily large amounts of flax are not recommended since it might suppress the effect of estrogen. Flax has a limited shelf life being prone to rancidity.
Pros : Mila is a mixture of Salvia hispanica (chia seed) that has been carefully selected to maximize its nutritional value (www.buychiagrain.com). It has significant amounts of omega3, fiber, phytonutrients, minerals and protein. It is not damaged by heat like other oils, so it can be also used in baking. It claims to be beneficial in conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, mental health.
Cons : being a source of ALA , like flax seed, it has a slow conversion rate into DHA and EPA.
Pros : good source of DHA , suitable for vegetarians that want an alternative to animal sources. It has the same health benefits like the other DHA sources.
Cons : algae-derived omega-3 supplements are produced through a fermentation process that generates DHA but less EPA, being this way unbalanced. To get the full benefits of omega-3s, one could theoretically combine algae (DHA) with plant foods (for their ALA-to-EPA conversion).
HEMP SEED OIL
Pros : The oil is of high nutritional value because its 3:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3, plus GLA, which matches the balance required by the human body. As far as health benefits, they are similar to those of flax oil, plus it makes up for an impaired fatty acid metabolism.
Cons : like flax and mila, it has a slow conversion rate into DHA and EPA.
Gene Smart offers an omega-3 home blood test kit that allows individuals to check both their Omega-3 Index and their Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio. You can learn more about the test and the research that supports these measures at www.GeneSmart.com.