The Skinny on Omega3 Fatty Acids
At this point most people are aware of the fact that Omega 3 Fatty Acids are “Good for you.” What most people don’t know is how not all Omega 3 Fatty Acids are created equal, or even processed inside the body the same way.
For those of you who aren’t aware how beneficial they truly are for the body, let’s start with the fact that they are a complete essential nutrient. This means that it is something your body cannot produce, so therefore you must obtain it through your diet. It is also known that given the abundance of Omega 6 in the common diet, it is important for balance to make sure that at least 75% of the fats in your diet come from Omega 3’s. There are three different types of Omega 3 Fatty Acids: EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid). Each one has specific benefits for your body, as well as overall common benefits.
EPA reduces the inflammatory responses of Arachadonic Acid (AA) derived from the Omega 6 Fatty Acids commonly found in red meats (especially non-organic, grain fed beef). The more EPA in your diet the less AA your body will produce, thus reducing inflammation in the body as a response to your diet. This is something to keep in mind for those individuals struggling with inflammation of the joints and ligaments. Regardless of injury, Omega 3 Fatty Acids can help with reducing overall inflammation in the body.
DHA aids in nerve function and creates an internal environment that is difficult for cancer cells to thrive in. It also reduces inflammation, but is best known for its ability to reduce inflammation in the brain and protect the cellular membrane from further damage. It also has the ability to reduce the size of LDL particles in the muscles’ cells that line the arteries, thus reducing the likelihood of Atherosclerotic Lesions. As a result of these functions, EPA and DHA assist in lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improve blood vessel function, and at higher doses lowers triglycerides. These fatty acids also have the ability to improve the health of your skin, eyes, hair, and nails.
ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid) is best known for support in inflammatory bowel disorders, increasing healthy HDL Cholesterol and decreasing unhealthy LDL Cholesterol. Unfortunately, Alpha-linolenic (ALA) acid needs to be converted in the body into the Omega- 3s EPA and DHA in order to be effective. For some bodies, this may not be an issue, but with so many bowel disorders and the percentage of individuals that have lower absorption rates, many people wind up being deficient in Omega 3 Fatty Acids regardless of whether they consume it in plant or animal form.
EPA and DHA are commonly sourced from our Marine based foods, such as wild salmon, herring, sardines, etc. It is important to make sure that the fish youeat is wild and from cold waters, this decreases the chances of heavy metals such as mercury contaminating the food. Tuna, for example, is also rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, but travel from cold to warm waters increasing the level of heavy metals in the fatty tissue. For vegans, ALA can be sourced from foods such as Flax Seeds, Chia Seeds, Moringa leaf, Hemp Seeds, Kale, Spinach and Brussels sprouts.
Given this information, I’m sure a few of you are wondering about Omega 3 Supplements. The main thing to keep in mind is not all supplements are created equal. The supplement industry is a multi-million dollar, unregulated industry, and everyone wants to sell you on their product.
When you purchase a bottle of Omega 3’ supplements, make sure that the ingredients are very clearly listed. There should be no fillers or added oils, for example soybean oil, food coloring, or synthetic preservatives. The most common ingredients for Omega 3’s are usually the smaller types of fish such as Sardines and Anchovies. If it is a better quality company they will make sure that the Fish oil is tested and purified to ensure that there are no levels of chemicals, toxins, and metals left over in the oil. In order to do this, the product must be molecularly distilled. Molecular Distillation is the process in which they boil and pressurize the fish without the exposure of oxygen, then encapsulating them in soft gel form.
If you are already taking a high quality fish oil or ALA and still don’t feel any positive effects, the first thing is to determine is if you are taking your supplement properly. Fat has a lower density level than the fluid in your stomach; therefore it rises at the top. The best way to guarantee absorption is to take the supplement BEFORE a meal instead of during or after. Another factor to consider is molecular compatibility with other foods; sugars inhibit absorption of fats and vise versa. It is best to take your supplement with other healthy fats instead of juice or other foods that contain a high amount of sugar.
You may also have a general problem absorbing and using fat. There are many contributing factors as to why this could be the case, such as:
- Prescription proton pump inhibitors
- Blocked or slow working gallbladder
- A high level of toxins slowing down the citric acid cycle in the body inhibiting not only fat absorption but protein and carbohydrates
- An off balance of the body’s internal circadian rhythm which is connected to the adrenal glands and over production of Cortisol
- An over load of bacteria throwing off the balance of flora in the gut
- Lymphatic toxicity
The list can go on, but the most important thing is to find a practitioner who will access the underlying causes to your body’s distress, as opposed to simply masking the symptoms. Once the underlying cause is fixed, supplements like Omega 3 Fatty Acids will have the positive effect they were intended to.