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Essential Fatty Acids: A Fish A Day

By Chris Terrell, CSCS, ND, Merchandising Manager

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are certain types of fats that humans must obtain from their diets since the body cannot produce them. Two well-known EFAs are omega 3 and omega 6—named for the location of the last double bond in relation to the omega end of the fatty acid chain. Anthropological and epidemiological information suggests that humans evolved from a ratio of 1:1 omega 3 to omega 6 essential fatty acids. The western diet is usually 1:10 or 1:15 omega 3s to omega 6s. Increased levels of omega 6 are believed to be a contributing factor to cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. A study looking at consumption of fish indicated that deaths related to cardiovascular disease were 50% lower in women who ate fish five times a week and 20 percent lower in women who ate fish three times a month. Groups of individuals who are in fish eating communities also have been shown to have lower cardiovascular related deaths than other groups of people.

Omega 3 fatty acids are also known as alpha linolenic acid. Omega 3s, found primarily in animal products and supplements, are very important to the body and contain healthful eicosapenaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acids (DHA). It is believed that the higher EPA and DHA in fish are biologically more potent than omega 3 from plant sources (ALA). One of the most important features of omega 3 is its cardiovascular benefits including anti-inflammatory effects and anti-thrombotic and vasodilation properties. Omega 3s also lower low-density lipoproteins—bad cholesterol—in individuals with high lipid levels.

Omega 3s may also be beneficial for many different neurological issues. The brain contains high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) have been shown to have lower levels of DHA and EPA in their red blood cells and lower total omega 3 acids. DHA supplementation is believed to be beneficial for ADD and ADHD issues. EPA has been shown to be beneficial for neurological issues such as depression, dyspraxia, dyslexia, Alzheimer’s disease, and bipolar disorders.

There are a number of excellent omega 3 supplements. New Chapter’s Wholemega has shown to be beneficial for reducing markers of inflammation in the body and lowering total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol). Research shows that Wholemega increases levels of high-density lipoproteins (good cholesterol) in the body. Another excellent product is the Omega Surge line from Country Life. Omega surge uses a patented technology that changes the omega 3s into extremely small drops and then seals them into a gel form. This technology increases absorption up to 40 percent, compared to other omega 3 products, by increasing the surface area for digestive enzymes to utilize the omega 3s. Omega Surge is a chewable product that is sugar free and tastes great!

Before you start any supplement regimen please consult your health care provider.

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