Omega-3 Fatty Acid
How do you feel about FATs? The perspective on fats seems to be always changing, doesn’t it? It’s bad. It’s good. Some are bad, while others are good. Both Omega-3 and Omega-6 are crucial fatty acids that are essential for our bodies, and we must eat them because our bodies do not make them. These are termed Essential Fatty Acids, EFAs. The Omega-3 fatty acid is the least common in the SAD (Standard American Diet).
Technically termed “Alpha-linolenic acid”, research has shown that the Omega-3 fatty acid is helpful in supporting ADD/ADHD, Depressive disorders, Diabetes, High Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, High Triglycerides, Arthritis, Osteoporosis, Skin and Eye disorders, Inflammation, Edema, Asthma, and digestive concerns. Serious symptoms that can result from an Omega-3 deficiency include slowed growth, weakness and tingling sensations in the arms and legs, poor motor coordination, compromised vision and learning ability, and behavioral changes.
Eat fat to lose fat? Omega-3 helps the kidneys rid the tissues of excess water, resulting in less water retention and edema. It also helps increase metabolic rate, oxidation rate, and energy production, burning more fat and glucose, but lending us greater energy levels which will increase activity overall. In addition, consumption of Omega-3 through diet or supplementation can increase the efficacy of insulin, thus affecting both metabolic syndrome and the dependency of Type I diabetes and insulin-dependent Type II. Got “fat” in your arteries? Sufficient intake or therapeutic supplementation of
Omega-3 fatty acid seems to support the normalization of triglycerides, as well as lowering LDL and encouraging a healthier overall lipid profile. Not to mention, components of Omega-3 contribute to the lowering of inflammation in the entire body, including the blood vessels, lessening the risk of plaque and clot formation in the first place.Omega-3 fatty acid is converted in the body to two components: EPA and DHA. If you look on the back label of your bottle of Omega-3 you will see these two listed under nutritional information. Omega-3 is given as an overall gram or milligram content. EPA and DHA are broken down into their respective milligram contributions. The ratio between the two is modified by the pharmaceutical-grade laboratories depending upon the therapeutic purpose of that particular supplement. Products intended to lower inflammation and support recovery from Cardiovascular disease will be higher in EPA, and an overall daily dose of 1000-1200mg EPA is often recommended. For hormone related concerns, doses can often be recommended upwards of 1600mg EPA. Products for diabetes, neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s, ADD/ADHD and Autism, Vision and Brain development, and skin disorders still contain both components of Omega-3 but may be concentrated to have a higher than usual DHA content.
As a holistic nutritionist, I try to emphatically educate my clients that our cell membranes throughout our entire bodies MUST be composed of fats. Our bodies will use what is available to them to assemble these membranes, and Omega-3 fatty acid is essential to a well-functioning cell. If the body is deficient, other fatty acids will be substituted, but who wants cell membranes composed of stale old french-fry fats? Omega-3 is found in seeds like flax, chia, pumpkin, and hemp. It is also present in spirulina, brazil nuts, and walnuts. Highest concentrations are found in fish, but can also be produced and concentrated for supplementation from brown or red algae. Give your body plenty of Omega-3s from whole food sources or molecularly distilled supplements and look forward to better functioning for every cell in your body!
Originally published in, Taste For Life Magazine Spring 2014