What is Omega 3 Fatty Acid?
Found primarily in fish oil omega 3 fatty acids are an important part of a healthy diet plan. The body uses omega 3 fatty acids to create eicosanoids which control cell division and growth throughout the body. The fish oil omega 3 fatty acids are the most easily used by the body. The body does not produce them on its own.
Scientists originally began to study fish oil omega 3, because of the marked absence of coronary heart disease among Eskimos. Previously it was thought that a diet so rich in fat would lead to a greater incidence of atherosclerosis. This is when the whole good fat bad fat debate began. The Eskimos diet was found to be rich in fatty fish like salmon as opposed to the common western diet which may be rich in fatty beef, chicken or other meats that do not contain omega 3s. It was found that fish oil omega 3 lower triglyceride levels in the blood stream. High levels of triglycerides and cholesterol levels often lead to heart disease.
Most doctors say that a balance of omega 6 and fish oil omega3 fatty acids is important, but the average Western diet provides much more than adequate amounts of omega 6. Unless one consumes large quantities of fish (which has become a questionable practice because of mercury in our oceans) and large amounts of leafy greens, the average diet cannot provide adequate amounts of omega3.
Purified fish oil when added to a healthy diet should provide the benefits of omega 3 and still maintain a balance with omega 6. The optimal ratio is believed to be 1:1, but the typical Western diet has a ratio of 20:1 with 20 being way too much Omega 6's in the diet. Many natural health experts argue this is going to cause a looming health disaster for millions of people.
The 'essential' fatty acids were given their name when researchers found that they were essential to normal growth in young children and animals.
See why Omega 3 and 6 are different to Omega 9.
What are Omega 3 Fatty Acids Good For?
Omega 3 fatty acids are important for healthy brain function, healthy heart function, joint function and the function of every system of the body.
Essential fatty acid supplements have gained popularity for children with ADHD, autism, and other developmental differences. A 2004 Internet survey found that 29% of surveyed parents used essential fatty acid supplements to treat children with autism spectrum disorders.
People with certain circulatory problems, such as varicose veins, benefit from fish oil. Fish oil stimulates blood circulation, increases the breakdown of fibrin, a compound involved in clot and scar formation, and additionally has been shown to reduce blood pressure. There is strong scientific evidence that fatty acids significantly reduce blood triglyceride levels and regular intake reduces the risk of secondary and primary heart attack. Some benefits have been reported in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and cardiac arrhythmias.
A study examining whether omega-3 exerts neuroprotective action in Parkinson's disease found that it did, using an experimental model, exhibit a protective effect, much like it did for Alzheimer's disease.
A benefit of fatty acids is helping the brain to repair damage by promoting neuronal growth. In a six-month study involving people with schizophrenia and Huntington's disease who were treated with EPA or a placebo, the placebo group had clearly lost cerebral tissue, while the patients given the supplements had a significant increase of brain grey and white matter.
How much omega 3 do you need?
As macronutrients, fats are not assigned recommended daily allowances. Macronutrients have AI (Acceptable Intake) and AMDR (Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range) instead of RDAs. The AI for is 1.6 grams/day for men and 1.1 grams/day for women while the AMDR is 0.6% to 1.2% of total energy. This is under debate and more research is being done. Right now the range experts recommend is from 500-2000 mg/day.
|Omega 3 - Dosage for Health Conditions|
|Aging||1,000 mg twice a day|
|Angina||2,000 mg fish oils 3 times a day|
|Arrhythmia||1,000 mg 3 times a day|
|Asthma||1,000 mg 3 times a day|
|Cancer||3 capsules twice a day|
|Crohn's Disease||2,000 mg twice a day|
|Diabetes||2,000 mg 3 times a day|
|Eczema||1,000 mg 3 times a day|
|Gout||1,000 mg 3 times a day|
|Heart Disease Prevention||1,000 mg 3 times a day|
|High Blood Pressure||1,000 mg 3 times a day|
|Lupus||2,000 mg 3 times a day|
|Psoriasis||2,000 mg 3 times a day|
|Raynaud's disease||1,000 mg 4 times a day|
|Rheumatoid Arthritis||1000 mg containing 600 mg EPA/DHA, twice a day|
|Skin Health||1,000 mg a day with food|
|Stroke||1,000 mg 3 times a day|
|Foods Containing High Omega 3:|
|Chicken Eggs||Fed a diet of greens and insects produce higher levels of fatty acids (mostly ALA) than chickens fed corn or soybeans. In addition to feeding chickens insects and greens, fish oils are added to their diet to increase the amount of fatty acid concentrations in eggs.|
|Wild Salmon||1 serving (3-4 ounces) of salmon is enough to obtain nearly 1.5 grams of omega 3 fatty acids. If you are taking omega 3 salmon oil supplements, then consuming 800-1000 mg daily should be enough.|
|Tuna canned in water||To get the most omega 3 fats from your canned tuna, choose water-packed tuna rather than oil-packed. Canned in water and drained, 6 ounces of light meat tuna typically provide a little less than .5 gram of omega-3 fatty acids, while light tuna canned in oil and drained provides a little more than .3 grams of omega 3.|
|Cod Fish||Considered to be a abundant source of Omega-3's. Unfortunately, the extremely high quantity of Vitamins A & D limit the amount of cod that one can eat due to the negative effects on your heart.|
|Flax||Six times richer than most fish oils in n-3, Flax seed oil (linseed) and its oil are perhaps the most widely available botanical source of n-3. Flaxseed oil consists of ca. 55% ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Flax, like chia, contains approximately three times as much as n-6. 15 grams of flaxseed oil provides ca. 8 grams of ALA, which is converted in the body to EPA and then DHA at an efficiency of 2-15% and 2-5%, respectively.|
|Soybeans||Soybean oil is one of the few common vegetable oils that contains a significant amount of aLNA; others include canola, walnut, and flax. However, soybean oil does not contain EPA or DHA. Soybean oil does contain significantly greater amount of omega-6 fatty acids in the oil: 100g of soybean oil contains 7g of omega-3 fatty acids to 51g of omega-6: a ratio of 1:7. Flaxseed, in comparison, has an omega-3:omega-6 ratio of 3:1.|
|Walnuts||1 oz. 2570 mg (ALA 2570 mg) - One-quarter cup of walnuts contains about 2.3 grams. Combining a quarter cup of walnuts with a tablespoon of flaxseeds you will add close to the recommended 4 grams of omega-3 fats to your diet.|
|Pecans||1 oz. 280 mg (ALA 280 mg)|
|Krill||Small, shrimp-like zooplankton, also contain the fatty acids EPA and DHA. One advantage of extracting fatty acids from krill, as opposed to sources higher in the food chain, is that krill contain fewer heavy metals and PCBs harmful to humans.|
|Wheat germ||cup 210 mg (ALA 210 mg)|
|Sardines||One of the best choices to obtain your needed dietary omega 3 fatty acids. Only a few fish species compare or exceed the omega 3 content found in sardines....examples include pink salmon, chinook salmon, herring, and Hoki, a cold deep water fish from New Zealand. Sardines also offer a good choice too because since they are so small, they do not accumulate many toxins. Although the omega 3 content of sardines varies, generally it is about 1 gram to 1.70 grams per serving.|
|Canola oil||Canola oil also provides some omega-3 fats, with an omega-6:omega-3 ratio of 2:1, while sunflower oil contains omega-6, but no omega-3 fats.|
|Olive oil||1 Tbsp 100 mg (ALA 100 mg) DHA and EPA have a greater link with lower cholesterol levels, lower triglycerides, and higher HDL levels than ALA. The body is able to convert ALA to EPA and DHA, but the conversion rate is low; therefore, it is best to include high DHA and EPA sources in your eating plan.|
Here are the current American Heart Association (AHA) recommendations.
The AHA recommends that individuals without heart disease eat a variety of fish twice a week, use heart healthy oils (flaxseed, canola, soybean oils), and consume flaxseed and walnuts.
For individuals with heart disease, the AHA recommends 1 g of EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) + DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) daily, preferably from fatty fish.
The AHA recommends 2 to 4 g of EPA + DHA daily, under physician's care only, for individuals that need to lower triglycerides. High doses, > 3 grams/day, can result in excessive bleeding. (Do not self medicate! Talk to your MD before supplementing greater than 2 grams.)
Recommendations and Cautions:
As a preventive measure and to promote lower cholesterol and blood pressure control, I recommend eating fish twice a week, select a supplement that will provide you at least 1000 mg of omega 3 fatty acids daily (choose a good source of DHA and EPA), and use ground flaxseed when appropriate in your meal preparation.
Persons with congestive heart failure, chronic recurrent angina or evidence that their heart is receiving insufficient blood flow are advised to talk to their doctor before taking fatty acids. It may be prudent for such persons to avoid taking fatty acids or eating foods that contain them in substantial amounts.
A perceived risk of fish oil supplementation has been heavy metal poisoning by the body's accumulation of traces of heavy metals, in particular mercury, lead, nickel, arsenic and cadmium as well as other contaminants (PCBs, furans, dioxins), which potentially might be found especially in less-refined fish oil supplements.