Research increasingly shows the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. However, not all omega-3s are created equal. The three main types of omega-3s are ALA, EPA, and DHA. We will discuss the differences between them below.
ALA is found in plants such as spinach, soybeans, and flaxseed. It’s the most common omega-3 we consume. Despite that, ALA is not an active omega-3 in our bodies and must be converted into either EPA and DHA before we can use it. This conversion process is inefficient in humans.
EPA and DHA are found in animal products, particularly fish. Good examples include salmon and herring. These two omega-3s can be used directly by the body, unlike ALA. EPA is good for fighting inflammation while DHA is good for mental function.
Bottom line, all three are important, but getting more direct EPA and DHA omega-3’s is recommended for optimal health. Usually, just 2-3 servings of fish or fortified food a week is suggested. Talk to your doctor about supplements or other dietary changes if you believe you do not get enough omega-3 in your diet.