Omega-3… Yep, you are herring me correctly (Fab Five Part 3)

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Omega-3 is an Essential Fatty Acid and it’s essential because the body can’t make it, so it needs to be consumed in our diet.  Normally the drug industry and the supplement industry are like oil and water, but the research behind the benefits of Omega-3 is so overwhelming, they actually made an Omega-3 drug called Lovaza!  Sales from that drug are over a Billion dollars a year… yep, I said the “B” word.

This email will be a little different.  Since Omega-3 fats have so many benefits, I’ll touch on what they do, and then just give you a big list of benefits with a load of resources.

Omega-3 fats are found in the cell membranes (housing) of every cell in your body.  Deficiencies will result in the cells becoming less flexible (compromising cell functioning and overall health) and less permeable (impacting release of waste products).

 photo by jbangelo

Here are the big three… Ready?… INFLAMMATION, INFLAMMATION, INFLAMMATION… ok, I guess that’s just one.  Don’t get me wrong, your body’s pro-inflammatory system is a wonderful thing.  There are times when you need increased blood clotting, increased swelling, induced fever or constricted blood vessels.  Problems arise when these things happen too often and when they’re not called for.  Why?  Both your pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory pathways are controlled by the same 3 enzymes (LOX, COX-1 and COX-2).  Inflammation or anti-inflammation depends on what is being converted by those enzymes.  AA (arachidonic acid), an Omega-6 fatty acid, equals inflammation and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), an Omega-3 fatty acid, and GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), a beneficial Omega-6 , equal anti-inflammation.  These fatty acids compete both for conversion by these enzymes and for storage space in your cell membranes.

You don’t have to remember all that, but you should remember these 2 things.

  1. You need proper balance between Omega-6 and Omega-3.  That’s around 2:1 and typical American diet is closer to 10:1 or worse.
  2. Regardless of Omega-6, you simply need to be eating enough Omega-3 each day so it can do it’s job.  Right now the internationally agreed upon recommendations are a minimum of 500mg of EPA + DHA per day.

Natural sources of:

  • Omega-3 (EPA & DHA) – herring, tuna, sardines, anchovies, salmon and cod
  • Omega-3 (ALA) – flaxseed oils, certain vegetable oils and some green leafy vegetables (but your body needs to convert these to EPA & DHA)
  • Omega-6 (AA) – seeds, nuts, grains and legumes.  But it’s all the corn and sunflower oil that put Americans out of balance.
  • Omega-6 (GLA) – borage and evening primrose oils

Quality is more important in regards to fish oils than any other supplement in my mind.  A lot of care has to be taken from the moment the fish is caught.  The processing has to start quickly, must maintain the good stuff and remove the bad.  Heavy metals are a big concern and each batch needs to be tested to insure it’s within safe limits.

Nordic Naturals is the industry leader and fish oils are all they do.  Here’s a product I recommend all the time.

Omega-6 (GLA)

Benefits of Omega-3

Improves heart health

  • Promotes healthy levels of vital fats in the blood
  • Supports proper blood flow
  • Maintains healthy blood vessels
  • Improves overall heart function
  • Reduces effects of aging

Promotes Healthy Joints

  • Improves joint flexibility
  • Reduces stiffness, swelling, tenderness
  • Improves range of motion
  • Lessens fatigue
  • Supports symptom-free exercise

Supports Mental Health

  • Improves disposition, focus, and behavior
  • Reduces mood swings, highs and lows
  • Lessens feelings of anger and loneliness
  • Supports clear thinking, memory

Omega-3 is essential for proper brain functioning

  • Brain cell walls are made of fat; 30% of this fat is Omega-3 DHA
  • Brain cells with enough Omega-3 are better able to respond to mood-related brain signals, keep brain traffic patterns efficient

Immune health

  • Important for vital immune function
  • Promotes vitality of all cells
  • Balances the impact of too much
  • Omega-6, helps reduce conditions associated with too much Omega-6

Seasonal and Acute Conditions

  • Lessens seasonal symptoms
  • Supports strong immune response

Omega-3 is essential for normal development of brain, vision, and immune and nervous systems in infants and children

  • Specifically, infants require DHA for normal development
  • Omega-3 intake for mom promotes healthy delivery
  • Omega-3 during infancy supports better health in adulthood
  • Children of moms who took cod liver oil during pregnancy have tested higher on intelligence tests
  • Omega-3 with GLA improves focus and behavior in children
  • Research shows that children with focus and behavior issues tend to have low levels of Omega-3 compared to other children

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Co-Founder of NutritionGeeks, retired USAPL drug-free powerlifter, volunteer youth wrestling coach, father of 3 amazing boys and interested in all things health

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