Omega 3 and vitamin D Why you need to supplement

omega 3

Widely known but hard to get, omega 3 and vitamin D are key for optimal health. Find out why you’re probably not getting enough and why you need to pay special attention to these important nutrients if you want to feel your best.

Modern lifestyles and diets haven’t allowed us to get these key nutrients in enough quantities to contribute positively to our physical and emotional wellbeing. The VITL Nutrition Team explores omega-3 and vitamin D, and how supplementation can conveniently fill in the gaps left by modern living.

 

Omega 3

What does it do? 

Omega 3 is a type of essential fat. Essential nutrients are nutrients that the body can’t make on its own from more basic units, and therefore we have to consume them in our diets. The benefits of omega 3 for our health is wide-reaching. One its most well-known benefits is for heart health. Omega-3 fats have been shown to be useful for reducing a number of risk factors for a heart attack including reducing blood pressure, blood triglyceride levels, and preventing the plaque from building up in arteries. 

Omega 3 has also been found to be useful in helping alleviate symptoms of mental health conditions (such as depression), help prevent age-related mental decline and protect against Alzheimer’s Disease. As if that wasn’t enough, omega 3 fats have also been associated with reducing inflammation, reducing insulin resistance (a gateway symptom to type 2 diabetes), and can improve skin, joint and bone health. Phew!  

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Where can I get it from? 

Oily fish (i.e. mackerel, salmon, herring and trout) is a great source of omega 3, but you need to be eating it 2-5 times a week to be getting enough. If you are vegetarian or vegan, look to flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts as a source of omega 3.  

How much do I need? 

There is no set minimum requirement for omega 3 fats. The American Heart Association, however, recommends at least 2 servings of oily fish a week. It is estimated that up to 3g a day is safe.

Why supplement? 

Not everyone enjoys eating oily fish and many find it tricky to get the suggested servings each week. Furthermore, concerns have been raised about the amount of heavy metals in certain larger oily fish (i.e. tuna) and their impact on our long-term health. Lastly, although there’s a variety of vegetarian and vegan sources of omega 3, only a small percentage of what you consume is converted into the omega 3s EPA and DHA we need to reap their benefits, so you need to be more conscious about your consumption in order to meet your requirements. This is where supplementation comes in handy to help you bridge this gap.

Vitamin D 

What does it do? 

Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol) helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphorus in your body and how it’s used. It’s therefore also involved in the maintenance of normal bones and teeth, normal muscle function, and a normal immune system. Research has suggested that vitamin D can be useful for those who suffer from depression.

Where can I get it from?

Dubbed the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D is made internally when our skin is directly exposed to UVB sunrays from the sun, which is why an estimated 60% to 90% of us are deficient. There are limited food sources of vitamin D, including red meat, liver, egg yolks, oily fish and fortified foods (i.e. cereals).

How much do I need? 

According to Public Health England, 10µg (or 400IU) daily. However, the Vitamin D council suggests this is hugely underestimated.   

Why supplement? 

The amount of sunshine required in order to make sufficient vitamin D depends on many different variables. For example, your skin needs to be left unprotected in order to allow some of the UV rays to make vitamin D (i.e, without sunscreen). Throughout the northern hemisphere (and especially in the UK), there’s only enough of the right type of UV rays in the middle of summer. Furthermore, the darker your skin tone, the longer you need to expose your skin to the sun in order to make sufficient vitamin D. Those at risk of vitamin D deficiency include those who don’t spend a lot of time outdoors or who tend to wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when you are outdoors. This is why vitamin D supplementation is crucial. 

The VITL Nutrition Team