Do you remember when you were young and your parents forced you to take ﬁsh oil by the teaspoon, saying that it was good for you? Guess what?
They were right! Omega-3 and Omega-6 are called essential fatty acids (EFAs) and are poly-unsaturated fats. Since your body cannot manufacture EFAs, they need to be obtained from the food you eat or the supplements you take. Linoleic Acid (LA) is a primary member of the Omega-6 fatty acids and can be found in leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains, and vegetable oils like corn oil, soybean oil and sunﬂower oil. Vegetarian diets tend to be very high in Omega-6.
Omega-3 fatty acids have three main types. The ﬁrst two, EPA (eicosapen- taenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexanoic acid), are both found in cold water ﬁsh. Fresh seaweed is the only plant food that contains a signiﬁcant amount of EPA and DHA. The third type of Omega-3, called ALA (alpha- linolenic acid), is found in oils (like ﬂaxseed), although small amounts can also be found in some nuts and seeds. In order for your body to beneﬁt from DHA and EPA, your body must be able to convert the ALA to DHA and EPA. Your body may not always be able to make that conversion if your organs are not working as efficiently as they should, therefore, the only way to truly ensure your body gets the powerhouse beneﬁts of DHA and EPA is to take it directly in the form of ﬁsh oil.
Most North Americans currently consume between 20 and 50 times more Omega-6 than Omega-3, although for optimal health, the ratio should be about 3:1. As you can see from this ratio, most people don’t need to supplement with Omega-6; since they already get enough from their diet.
Science is now pointing to the fact that a major cause of the current high incidence of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and some forms of cancer is the imbalance between Omega-6 and Omega-3. Many ailments or diseases can be traced back to a deﬁciency in Omega- 3 fatty acids, they have been shown to support a healthy cholesterol level along with musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, endocrine and immune system functions. Research shows that imbalances between Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids can increase inﬂammation, coagulation and the growth of adipose and cancer cells.
Fish oil has also been shown to play a crucial role in weight loss. Fish oils turn on your lipolytic (fat burning) genes, turns off the lipogenic (fat storage) genes and increases the use of fat stores from your adiposities (fat cells).
Other Beneﬁts of Fish Oil Include:
• Promotion of good heart health • Decrease in triglycerides and high blood pressure • Enhancement of circulation • Decrease in depression • Reduction of symptoms of Attention Deﬁcit Hyperactive Disorder • Better memory, learning and help with Alzheimer’s Disease • Reduction of allergies • Clearer skin • Reduction of inﬂammation from arthritis • Regulation of insulin • Improvement of immune system health • Better women’s reproductive health • Enhancement of vision • Reduction of inﬂammatory bowel disease
As mentioned earlier, the most efficient way to ensure that you get DHA and EPA is to take it directly in the form of ﬁsh oil. While I usually promote the value of getting your nutrients directly from the source, cold-water ﬁsh, unfortunately, often contains metals that are harmful to humans, such as mercury. Therefore getting your Omega-3 from ﬁsh oil supplements might be a healthier option, especially if you don’t know the origin of the ﬁsh you’re buying. Adding Omega-3 to your diet is important. If you opt for a ﬁsh oil supplement be very careful of the source.
Look for ﬁsh oil that:
• Is pharmaceutical-grade • Is third party certiﬁed for purity and quality • Has an antioxidant blend for freshness and stability • Is free from pesticides and heavy metals such as mercury, PCBs and dioxins • Is custom-made in small batch production
The antioxidant in ﬁsh oil is important because it is perishable. The antioxidants are needed so that the ﬁsh oil does not oxidize in your body, causing free radicals that are hazardous to your health. High-quality ﬁsh oil supplements are stabilized with adequate amounts of antioxidants. To help protect the fat in the oil from oxidation, 400 units of vitamin E is commonly used. For more information about fish oil and Omega-3 and Omega-6, check out Dr. Nathalie’s book Wellness On The Go at www.drnathaliebeauchamp.com.