Vitamin D and Omega-3 are two of the best supplements we can take for health and wellbeing, but quite often we don’t get enough of them. Here’s what to know about this dynamic duo

This post is in partnership with Eskimo-3 Extra.

We’ve learned a lot about what we’ve all been up to in lockdown from search engines like Google revealing their data. From the spike in searches for banana bread recipes back in April, to people looking up ‘how to play the guitar’ on YouTube – what we’re all searching for shows us what we’re all doing. Interestingly, one of the most searched-for things on Google in recent times has been health supplements, notably vitamin D.

Our bodies depend on us to take care of them – to exercise regularly, to get plenty of sleep, to hydrate and to eat nutritious foods to nourish our bodies. Two of the most beneficial nutrients to health and wellbeing are Omega-3 and Vitamin D, but unfortunately, they are often the nutrients people are lacking. Each of these supplements has specific capabilities that target different areas of the body and can impact overall health.

Everyday essential

What is Omega-3?

Omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks of every living cell in the human body. They are absolutely necessary for normal health and development. Without them, cells can’t function, renew, or maintain themselves properly. Omega 3s support brain, eye, and heart health throughout life. Omega-3 also plays an important role in thinning the blood and reducing inflammation throughout the body – in the blood vessels, the joints and elsewhere. The really important fatty acids are the ‘essential fatty acids’, considered essential since the body cannot make them, and therefore they must be obtained daily through diet or supplementation.

EPA and DHA

Oily fish provides the most beneficial and active fatty acids, commonly referred to as EPA and DHA. Because your body cannot make Omega-3, it must come from the foods you eat every day. Surprisingly, according to a survey (IPSOS/MRBI), a massive 89% of Irish people are not consuming sufficient oily fish in their diet, so there is often a need to supplement with a good quality Omega-3 product.

Health benefits of Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA have numerous health benefits approved by the European Food Safety Authority:

HEART:

  • EPA and DHA contribute to the normal function of the heart.1
  • EPA and DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal blood triglyceride levels.2
  • DHA and EPA contribute to the maintenance of normal blood pressure.3

BRAIN: DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal brain function.4

VISION: DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal vision. 4

PREGNANCY:  DHA maternal intake contributes to the normal brain and eye development of the foetus and breastfed infants.5         

CHILDREN: Essential fatty acids are needed for normal growth and development of children. Omega-3 DHA is needed for healthy brain function and vision in children. 6

How much do I need?

Studies show that you need 250mg EPA and DHA daily to support heart health1 and 250mg DHA daily for brain function2 and vision3. Eating oily fish twice a week – such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, tuna or sardines, provides a healthy dose of Omega-3 EPA/DHA.

Not a fan of fish? You can choose a high-quality fish oil supplement such as Eskimo-3. Check your preferred supplement to see that you are getting adequate DHA, as often supplements can fall short.

The sunshine vitamin

Vitamin D is fast becoming known as a super-nutrient. No longer just an important nutrient for healthy bones, recent research has also highlighted that it may have an important function within the immune system. Known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D deficiency is common in Ireland and with the unlikeliness of any of us getting away for sun holidays this summer, it is even more important to know its benefits.

A new study carried out by researchers from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin has pointed to a link between lower levels of Vitamin D and the severity of infection in those who contract Covid-19. The research highlights the key role of Vitamin D in the body’s immune response to fight infection.

In a statement, TILDA principal investigator Professor Rose Anne Kenny said: “Vitamin D has many benefits for bone and muscle health and the immune system, in addition to a potentially critical role in suppression of the severe pro-inflammatory response which characterises severe COVID-19 complications. Taking supplements of 800-1000iu [International Unit] per day will ensure normal blood values.”

Health benefits of Vitamin D

Vitamin D has been shown to support a number of factors that contribute to overall health, such as:  

BONES: Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and teeth.

IMMUNITY: Vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune system.

MUSCLES: Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of normal muscle function.

How much do I need?

The need for supplemental Vitamin D has never been greater. The human body is able to produce Vitamin D3, but only after sufficient exposure to the UVB rays in sunlight, therefore deficiency is often an issue for people during the winter months, when sunlight is in short supply.

There are three main sources of Vitamin D – sunlight, food and supplements.

  • Fish, especially salmon, mackerel and sardines
  • Fortified foods such as cereals and dairy products
  • Liver and Egg yolks
  • Fish oil with vitamin D e.g. Eskimo-3 Extra
  • Vitamin D food supplement

According to TILDA at Trinity College Dublin, it is recommended that you get 10-20 ug per day (400iu – 800iu) daily via diet or supplementation to maintain adequate levels. In people over 70 years of age, 20-25 ug per day (800iu -1000iu) is recommended.

Eskimo-3 Extra, €30 for 50 capsules RRP

  • 800mg Omega-3 per capsule
  • 800iu Vitamin D3 per capsule
  • Suitable for adults at risk of Vitamin D deficiency
  • Ideal support for sports enthusiasts/athletes 
  • One-a-day capsule