Omega 3 fatty acids. What are they? Where do they come from? And why are they important to my health?
All very good questions that most people cannot answer. I’m going to answer all these questions in today’s article, because this nutrient is essential to optimum health. Omega 3s are essential fatty acids, meaning the body doesn’t make them on its own, we need to consume them. Omega 3s benefit us even prior to being born with respect to fetal development especially the brain, eyes and heart.
They have been shown to reduce:
- Blood pressure
- Risk of heart disease
- Risk of complications of metabolic syndrome
- Risk of blood clots
- Risk of dementia
Since 1⁄3 of the American population suffers from one or more of the above conditions, Omega 3s are an easy way to support our overall health. However, we do need to be careful with the type of Omegas we consume. There are three types of omegas; 3s, 6s, and 9s. There is a big difference between the 6s, which are in abundance in our diet, and the 3s which are less so, but provide the most help.
The body craves a ratio of 1:1 to 1:2 for Omega 3:Omega 6. The Standard
American Diet (SAD) provides a ratio closer to 1:20 to 1:30…
…the problem with this ratio is that it is pro-inflammatory. Inflammation leads to pain and the breakdown of healthy tissues, such as the linings of our blood vessels (measured by C reactive protein on your blood labs). Omega 6 sources are vegetable oils, canola, corn, safflower, meat, poultry and eggs. So you can see these are not all bad foods, some are essential to our healthy diet, however, I do try to avoid the vegetable oils mentioned above. Look at things like your salad dressing and over-the counter vitamins; your big box store omega 3 supplments will even have safflower oil and corn oil in them! Bad, Bad! In addition to avoiding the non-essential bad fats (especially if they are heated up as in fried foods), I will add good fats like avocado and coconut oils.
Omega 3 sources are salmon (wild caught, not farmed), tuna in water, sardines, herring, and quality Omega 3 supplements that have not been heated up. There are also vegetarian sources of Omega 3s such as flax, chia and leafy greens, and although they are good fats they are not as strongly recommended as sources of EPA and DHA, because they are short chain Omega 3s and the body has to convert them to longer chain EPA and DHA in order to use it. It is a very inefficient process and only 1% of the ALA (alpha linolenic acid) found in vegetarian sources is converted into the long chain version the body needs.
Recommendations for daily intake of EPA and DHA is around 250-500 mg/day, however those with heart problems, depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, allergies, and arthritis may benefit from up to 4,000 mg or 4 grams per day. You can also get some of that from your dietary intake of fatty fish. I recommend 2-3 servings per week.
You may be wondering how do you know if you’re getting enough?
It just so happens that we have access to a new at home test to measure Omega 3s, the Omega-3 Index Test from OmegaQuant! There are 64 fatty acids on a red blood cell and an ideal range is 8-12% of those fatty acids being Omega 3s. The average American is at or below 4%. Research shows that those with 8-12% have the lowest risk factors and the best overall heart health, brain health, and eye health. Knowing your score gives you peace of mind, especially if you have a family history or currently are dealing with any of the risk factors listed above.
For the months of May and June (2021) we will be having a special rate of $60 for a test kit. We will register it for you and you can pick it up or we can send it to you. Follow the easy instructions, send it in, and I will review it with you when we get the results.
Have more questions? Here are some useful links for the Omega-3 Index Test!
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Folsom, CA 95630
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