Choice abounds when it comes to omega-3 supplements.
Supermarkets and health store aisles are awash with products and it can all be a bit overwhelming. We tend to reach for those favourite or familiar products, without giving a thought to the benefits, disadvantages, or alternatives.
It’s no surprise then that fish oil capsules have become synonymous with healthy omegas. Many of us have likely taken them at some point and assumed them to be an optimal source for our omega-3 intake but actually… is there a better, more sustainable source? We think there is.
So why should we even take Omega Oil Supplements?
Omegas are essential fatty acids, and as the name suggests they are indeed essential for the human body to function optimally. Unfortunately, our bodies are not capable of manufacturing omegas on their own, so we must include them in our diet. Foods high in omega-3 include fish, vegetable oils, nuts, (especially walnuts), hemp seed oil, leafy vegetables, and some animal fat, especially from grass-fed animals. Not always convenient or on hand, we tend to look for easy alternatives to supplement our diets.
A healthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids appears to be between 1:1 – 4:1. Today’s western diet is generally deficient in omega-3 fatty acids but has excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, largely from refined vegetable oils added to processed food. Unfortunately, this imbalance can lead to a range of health conditions including cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases.
Omega-3 fats are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body and affect the function of the cell receptors in these membranes. They provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation. They also bind to receptors in cells that regulate genetic function. Omega-3 fats have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, may help control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, and may play protective roles in cancer and other conditions.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends eating 1-2 portions of fish per week, particularly fatty fish that are richer in EPA and DHA, the highly beneficial long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. If we’re honest, the majority of us probably aren’t doing this, and this is where supplements play a part.
Fish oil is one of the most commonly consumed dietary supplements, but it comes at a price. Every year billions of fish, almost one-fifth of the world’s annual wild catch, are harvested and processed into oil and other fish products, threatening food security and risking a collapse of marine life.
Fish oil is extracted from the liver and skin of oily fish such as herring, tuna, anchovies, and mackerel. These fish do not synthesise omega-3 oil themselves, instead they accumulate them from algae, (microalgae in particular), plankton in their diets, or from eating other fish. The risk here is that in consuming high levels of oily fish we are also exposing ourselves to potential health complications due to contaminants in the fish source. Heavy metals and residual pesticides inevitably leech into water sources and bio-accumulation of mercury for example, presents an increased risk of toxins in larger fish species. Trace contaminants are very likely contained in some/most fish oil supplement products.
Fish oil supplements are generally known to be prone to oxidation and have a few unfortunate side-effects including “fish burps”, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, and diarrhoea.
Hemp Seed Oil
As we mentioned earlier, our bodies cannot make omega 6 (linolenic acid), or omega 3 (alpha linolenic acid), so they need to be obtained from our food or supplement choices. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are essential for human health and hemp seed oil provides them in a pretty perfect balance with a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3.
People who ate a pre-industrial diet had an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of about 4:1 to 1:4, most falling somewhere in between. The ratio today is around 16:1, much higher than what people are genetically adapted to.
Hemp seed oil is unique in that it contains gamma linolenic acid (GLA). a highly anti-inflammatory essential fatty acid.
Hemp seed oil is cold-pressed, potentially retaining more nutrients than heat-treated fish oil product. When packaged and stored appropriately it does not oxidize or spoil easily and is plant-based (vegan-friendly), sustainable and eco-friendly. Not only can hemp seed oil be taken in capsules, it can also be drizzled onto salads, mixed into smoothies, or simply take a tablespoon daily. Unlike fish oil, hemp seed oil has a deliciously nutty and earthy flavour, can be directly applied to the skin and is clinically proven to help with eczema, dermatitis, and other skin conditions.
A tick in the environmental box for hemp is its natural ability for crops to sequester carbon from the atmosphere and to filter toxic chemicals out of polluted soil. This process is called phytoremediation. ‘Phyto’ meaning plants, and ‘remediation’ meaning to heal. We love the restorative nature of the hemp!!
If your goal is to improve and maintain your general health, eating fish rather than taking a fish oil supplement is undeniably the superior option. Better yet, look to vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as hemp seed oil because according to the United Nations, over 70% of the world’s fish are now “fully exploited or depleted” to such an extent that stocks of all species currently fished for food are predicted to collapse by 2048. Not a great scenario for our small planet.
A hemp crop simply needs to be replanted each year to sustainably supply us with food, health, and skincare products from the hemp seed. Whilst no single food source is perfect, hulled hemp seeds (sometimes referred to as hemp hearts), are high in protein, vitamin E, folate, niacin, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, calcium and iron and hempseed oil is one of the best-known sources of the two essential fatty acids we cannot live without.
We choose sustainably grown, healthy hemp seed oil! We hope you will too!!
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Kiwi Friend/ Hemp Protein
I really value this product as a substitute for meat protein. My daughter has also started using it in her smoothies, and even our pooch gets her daily dose of hemp protein goodness!
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Started using hemp seed oil about 2 years ago for shoulder pain. After a fortnight of regular use my shoulder became the best it had been for along time so have used it regularly since.!
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