Research shows that organic dairy and meat contain more nutrients and specifically an average of 50% more omega-3 fatty acids compared to the conventional versions. Eating organic eggs, dairy, meat and poultry may also help to reduce the development of antibiotic resistance in humans since organically raised animals never come in contact with antibiotics. Another reason Organic Valley products make sense — they contain absolutely no antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMOs.

Also noteworthy: 100% grassfed or pasture-raised meat, milk, milk-derived products such as yogurt and cheese, and poultry, like those offered by Organic Valley, have been shown in studies to be more nutritionally dense than their conventional counterparts. Specifically, grassfed foods contain more vitamin A and E, higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, higher-quality saturated fat, a better omega-3/omega-6 ratio, and increased amounts of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

CLAs are a type of beneficial fatty acid that’s been shown to reduce inflammation, support immune function, improve bone mass and blood sugar regulation, and reduce body fat. CLAs are typically found in animal products such as organic dairy milk, cheese and yogurt, and are particularly derived from grassfed cows. Another reason to love Organic Valley products!

Studies show that when there are improvements in the nutritional quality of milk and dairy products from grassfed and organic practices, consuming those products then improves long-term health status and outcomes for most people, but especially for pregnant women, infants, children and those with a higher risk for heart disease.

How many milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids specifically should you consume?

According to information in June from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), referring to Adequate Intake (AI) levels, the recommended daily intake for omega-3s (ALA) is:

For ages 1 and older, the AI level includes only ALA recommendations since ALA is the only omega-3 that’s considered “essential” (required from outside food sources versus made in the body).

Also, pregnant women should definitely consider supplementation on top of eating a diet rich in omega-3s, given the studied benefits to mom and the developing fetus and also children born to women who meet daily requirements. Studies on pregnant women and developing fetuses are limited; however, modern research points to 1,200 to 2,200 mg per day of DHA specifically as being both beneficial for mom and baby in utero and as an infant.

Omega-3 Supplements

It’s commonplace to supplement omega-3s alongside a healthy diet and, in some populations (as described above with pregnancy), it’s been shown to be highly beneficial.

Omega-3 supplements come in many forms such as fish oil (liquid and encapsulated), cod liver oil, flaxseed oil, omega-3 blends, single EPA or DHA supplements, or vegan algae-based DHA/EPA blends.

Along with pregnant women, vegans are at high risk for a deficiency. Vegetarians who eat dairy and eggs fed an omega-3-rich diet are better off but will still likely need supplemental support. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you may need to supplement directly with DHA/EPA, but please consult with your primary care provider before beginning any new supplements or medications.

A father and son make cheesy eggs using organic milk, cheese and eggs.

Make Informed Choices

Understanding the different types of fatty acids and their effects on our health is important for making informed and healthy dietary choices.

Overall, remembering to incorporate a variety of food sources rich in these fatty acids can contribute to a balanced and healthy diet. Please consult with a health care professional or a registered dietitian for personalized dietary recommendations.

Quick Reference Guide

Consume adequate fatty acids in your diet whenever possible; however, supplements may be needed for some people, especially pregnant women, vegans and some vegetarians.

Carly Knowles, MS, RDN, LD is a master’s-educated registered dietitian, health coach and cookbook author of The Nutritionist’s Kitchen. She specializes in integrative nutrition and health coaching for women as well as media consulting for healthy food brands. For recipes, recommendations and more, visit her website at www.radiantknowing.com.

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