Good question. We need to get a little technical here to understand the definition of an essential nutrient. An essential nutrient is a nutrient that the body cannot synthesize on its own and must be provided from the diet. These nutrients are necessary for the body to function properly. The six essential nutrients include carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water.
Omega-3’s are the good fats
You may think that omega-3’s are not in this list but in fact they are. Omega-3’s are fatty acids (a type of fat). They are the building blocks of our cells and we don’t produce them ourselves. We must get these from our diet to survive. Some people do extremely well on the omega-3 front. Innuit Eskimos, Japanese and Icelandic people are good examples. They eat oily fish on a daily basis. They have well nourished cells and very low heart disease. Unfortunately most Western people are not as well disciplined at consuming the right fish to get the necessary levels of omega-3’s. Often we don’t eat fish even on a weekly basis and when we do we prefer the white fleshed fish that has lower levels of those precious omega-3’s
Are all omega-3’s the same?
The answer seems to be to eat more omega-3’s. Well yes that is correct but it’s not quite as simple as that. You need to eat the right omega-3’s. A technical warning again – there are short chain omega-3’s and, funnily enough, long chain omega-3’s. Short chain omega-3’s, found mainly in plants, are useful to our body but they are only about 10% as effective as long chain omega-3’s found in oily fish and krill. The best way to get enough essential omega-3’s is to eat oily fish.
What will omega-3’s do for me?
Ok so you have decided to eat more oily fish but what will this do for you? Will you live a longer and healthier life? The answer is probably yes. Between 80 and 90% of people in the Western World have low levels of omega-3’s. Heart disease, memory loss, inflammatory diseases like arthritis are all becoming more common. If your omega-3 level is too low then you will benefit from increasing your omega-3 intake through your diet and by supplementing with fish or krill oil.
Do you know your omega-3 level?
I hear you asking “How do we know if we have low omega-3 levels?” Well happily due to the very smart people at OmegaQuant you can do a simple finger prick test that measures your omega-3 level. You will get a report back within 2 weeks with dietary recommendations specific to your result that tells you what you need to do.