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Is Omega-3 a Vitamin? A Guide to Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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Omega-3s are a member of the essential fatty acid family. Did you know they were originally called Vitamin F and were discovered by George and Mildred Burr, a husband-and-wife attending the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1929? Since that time, research on Omega-3s has matured greatly.

Omega-3s are essential for human health and cannot be created or stored by the body. They MUST be consumed through the diet. A recent study reported that two-thirds of adults and 95% of children don’t get enough omega-3s, EPA and DHA, in their diets. This is because there are different forms of Omega-3s, which many people don’t know. Let’s break it down. 

The most common Omega-3s are called Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). ALA is the plant source Omega-3 found in green leafy vegetables and seeds, like flax. ALA is the most abundant Omega-3 in nature. Unfortunately, ALA is not a preformed omega-3 fatty acid and must be biochemically converted in the body to EPA and DHA for the nutrients to be useful. EPA and DHA are known as “preformed” Omega-3s, which means that the nutrients can be immediately beneficial when consumed.

In very simple terms, plant source Omega-3s are tasty, but not beneficial to replenish Omega-3’s EPA and DHA, which are the ONLY Omega-3s that are useful in the body. EPA and DHA help organs, the immune system, and hormone systems function at their best. 

So, is omega-3 a vitamin? No, but they are the superheroes of healthy fats! Omega-3 fatty acids can also contain vitamins A and D.

Healthy Foods with Omega 3 Fatty Acids

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Getting nutrients from your daily food choices is always a best first choice. Some foods with omega 3 fatty acids include:

Omega-3 foods for vegetarians must come from a marine source as well.  Remember, plant source Omega-3s are tasty, but not beneficial to replenish Omega-3s EPA and DHA, which are the ONLY Omega-3s essential for all cells in the body to function optimally. A nice seaweed salad is a healthy choice for EPA and DHA; however, many vegetarians choose to supplement with product high in EPA and DHA, like Viactiv Omega Boost, to ensure their daily serving of health Omega-3s.

For vegans and vegetarians, there are also other solutions. Marine source algae provide a great source of Omega-3s (EPA/DHA) that are immediately beneficial and used by the body.

How Much Omega 3 Per Day Do You Need?

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The American Heart Association recommends that all adults eat two oily fish meals twice a week (4 meals total). A serving is 3 oz. cooked.

As with every active lifestyle or dietary choice, it may be important to include a high-quality supplement to fill in the gap between the nutrients provided by our diets and what our body needs to function at our best. Most evidence suggests that eating Omega-3 rich foods or taking a high-quality Omega-3 supplement with a healthy meal can increase its absorption, but there is no correct or incorrect way to take it.

Here are 5 reasons to add Omega-3s to your healthy diet:

1. Omega-3s Help You Sleep Better

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Omega-3 fatty acids may help make you sleep better. Lower levels of Omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with sleep problems in adults and children as well as lower melatonin levels, which is a hormone required by the body to help with sleep.

2. Omega 3 Benefits for the Brain

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Research has shown that DHA fatty acids in Omega-3s help sharpen memory by helping nerve cells in the brain communicate effectively with each other.

3. Omega 3 for Mental Health

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Omega-3 fatty acids easily travel through the brain’s cell membrane and interacts with the mood molecules in the brain. Although more research is needed, Omega-3 fatty acids have shown to support other mental health conditions associated with the brain.

4. Ease Premenstrual Discomfort

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Suffering from tearful outbursts, crying, and feeling anxious every month? Research shows that taking Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce discomfort of PMS and may also help bloating and tenderness as well.

5. Omega-3s Increase Sex Drive

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Omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks of sex hormones in the body. Omega-3s have also shown to improve sexual function in both men and women.

A busy, active lifestyle requires optimal nutrition, Viactiv Omega Boost chews provide 1200 mg of omega-3 fatty acids that include over 1000mg of EPA and DHA per day. Viactiv, along with a healthy diet, can optimize overall health function by helping you maintain healthy levels of omega-3 fatty acids in your body.


The Slow Discovery of the Importance of Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids in Human Health | National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Studies Show Kids, Adults & Pregnant Women Don’t Get Enough Omega-3 | OmegaQuant

The Omega-3 Effect | Ask Dr. Sears

Seaweeds as Valuable Sources of Essential fatty Acids for Human Nutrition | National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids | American Heart Association (AHA)

When to Take Fish Oil for Better Health | Medical News Today

What is Omega-3? | Holland & Barrett

Last Updated On: January 23, 2022

First Published On: February 28, 2022

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