Omega Oils


Omega oils are healthy, unsaturated fats that are essential for our brains, nerves, and immune function. They are also important to reduce inflammation and the risk of heart disease. 

Omega 3, 6 and 9 are the main types of essential fatty acids. The average diet is quite rich in omega 6 and 9 so we usually have more of a need for Omega 3’s. Our bodies can’t make omega 3 fatty acids, so we need to make sure that our diets supply a rich source of these oils.

There are three types og Omega 3 fatty acids: 

  • EPA – eicosapentaenoic acid
  • DHA – docosahexanoic acid
  • ALA – alpha linoleic acid

EPA and DHA are the most important of these as they provide an abundance of health benefits. With regard to heart disease, omega 3’s help to lower triglycerides, prevent blood clots, reduce blood pressure and keep the blood vessels elastic.

Omega 3 also helps to reduce inflammation in the body, and it is vital during pregnancy and early childhood for brain and eye development.

The best sources of omega 3 oils are fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, and sardines. Eating two portions of these foods will go a long way to meeting your EPA/DHA requirements.

Other food sources of EPA and DHA include kelp or seaweed, nuts, eggs, and foods that have been fortified with Omega 3, but these don’t have the same heart health benefits as oily fish does.

Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are rich in omega 3’s, but they only comprise ALA. ALA is not biologically active so it needs to be converted to EPA and DHA and this conversion can be quite poor. Studies show that only 5% gets converted to EPA and less than 0.5% to DHA. 


Since our diets tend to provide high sources of Omega 6 and 9 it’s not necessary to take these in supplemental form. Too much Omega 6 can be pro-inflammatory, meaning that it promotes inflammation rather than reducing it. If you are going to use a supplement, use a pure source of Omega 3 Fish oil. 

An important note though is that not all Omega 3 supplements are equal. Firstly, many have really low amounts of EPA and DHA per capsule. Ideally, we want to find a product that contains at least 400 mg of EPA and 300mg DHA per capsule. If you have lower amounts per capsule you will need to take several to get the benefit and that can become costly.

Secondly, some fish oils can be contaminated with heavy metals or have become rancid making them more detrimental to your health than good. With a fish oil cheaper is never better. Always invest in a good quality product, otherwise rather increase your consumption of fatty fish instead.

Some people complain that they get a fishy aftertaste when taking Omega 3 supplements. This can be due to poor quality fish oils or reflux, which causes the oil to repeat. Try changing brands. Some brands have an enteric coating, which is a thicker coating that dissolves more slowly allowing the oils to be released further down the digestive system. An alternative is to freeze the capsules and use them frozen.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 2 March 2023 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am