Omega 3 Fatty Acids (EFAs) Are Essential For Rebuilding Tissue And Longevity
Article by Michelle Honda PhD
Scientific research is enlightening today in the area of healthy fats. Explorative studies have shown that most of the general public has not been ingesting the proper amount of omega 3 fatty acids in anywhere near the required proportions necessary to support and regenerate the body.
The inadequate amount of beneficial fats (omega 3 fatty acids) coupled with high levels of less desirable fats, creates an imbalance that leads to deficiencies of required fats when the daily intake is not properly balanced. I will shed some light as to what the body needs on a daily basis, the correct ratio and how to go about balancing the diet to ensure adequate consumption of these essential nutrients.
The first revelation is that we are consuming an excess of omega 6 fatty acids (grain and vegetable oil). This ratio should be 1 to 1 (1 portion omega 6 EFA’s to 1 portion omega 3 EFA’s). In sharing with you the importance of this information, I will include examples of essential areas and major systems within the body requiring omega 3 fatty acids in order to perform their functions and to rebuild tissue. Additionally, there is a significant difference in these acids as to how and where they are used, as well as in their structure.
EPA DHA FATTY ACIDS
Essential fatty acids, especially from coldwater fish are abundant with EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Omega 3 fatty acids are referred to as EFA’s (essential fatty acids) or PUFA’s (polyunsaturated fatty acids). These fats are required in the correct balance for utilization throughout the body. The dietary source of Omega 3 Fatty acids is found in fish oils and seed oils such as Flax seed oil, Hemp oil, Chia oil and Walnut oil.
KEY POINT: Many researchers and scientists today conclude that Omega 3 deficiencies are believed to be the cause of numerous health problems.
What is the Difference between Fish oil and Seed oil?
- Fish oil differs from plant based oils in that fish oil has long chained fatty acids and seed oils have short chained fatty acids
- Only long chained Omega 3 fatty acids have the ability to feed the brain as well as the body, whereas plant Omega 3’s will nourish other parts of the body
Do Vegetarians and Vegans get enough Long Chain Fatty Acids?
This has been a hot topic for sometime now. An easily accessible article was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2010; they conclude that the conversion rate from plant based ALA intake to long chain EPA and DHA is actually increased or made more efficient in vegetarians and vegans. The concern lies in whether or not vegetarian and vegans are getting enough long chain fatty acids since these fats are primarily found in fish and some claims to algae. The conversion rate from short chain fatty acids to long chain is slow and incomplete.
The suggestion for remedying this problem is to take as suggested above; a 1.1 ratio of omega six and omega three plant based fatty acids. Extra attention must be paid to consuming sufficient ALA to hopefully ensure the preservation of adequate DHA levels. This ratio works out to be 4.1 to protect against a deficiency.
Reference: Harnack K, Andersen G, Somoza V. Quantitation of alpha-linolenic acid elongation to eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid as affected by the ratio of n6/n3 fatty acids. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2009; 6:8.
What are some of the Major Areas Requiring and Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
- The brain mass consists of 60% or more of Omega 3 fatty acids. By regularly ingesting a form of long chain fatty acids such as fish oil or krill, the brain mass will enhance. Additionally, you are protecting the brain mass you currently have – against shrinkage, and promoting conditions leading to Alzheimer’s disease.
- Great importance – Almost every brain disorder would benefit from optimal levels of Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA fatty acids).
- Nerve communication could not occur in a normal way without Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Critical to the structure and function of neuronal membranes: Transmitting information by electrical and chemical signalling. Omega 3 fatty acids are a core component of the nervous system including the brain spinal cord, sensory glands and like.
- Aids cholesterol balancing in the liver. The liver needs the right kind of fat in order to make cholesterol, being a necessary component of the glands to make hormones.
- Required elements to manufacture cell membranes (cellular walls) – we have trillions of cells in our bodies.
- Controlling inflammation response, leading to pain and the spread of disease. EPA and DHA essential fats are converted into the active hormone like chemicals called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins have very strong anti-inflammatory properties.
- Initiating immune response
- Omega 3 controls hormone production
- Essential for regulating nerve transmission
- Preserves the blood level of vitamin D
- Heart Health – Dr. Harris W.C. and colleges performed 25 clinical trials. Example: 11.323 subjects – on post heart attack patients who had consumed as little as, 1- 850 mg capsule per day of fish oil. Remarkably, the outcome showed a 30% reduction in Cardio Vascular Mortality and 45% reduction in Sudden Cardiac Death.
- All of these heart studies showed the benefit of Omega 3 EFA’s in preventing the blood from becoming too “sticky” and forming Arterial Blockages. Doctors recommend 1000 mg per day of fish oil for the above condition.
- Baby aspirin used for thinning the blood, can be replaced with adequate amounts of EPA s and DHA’s found in Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Nattokinase may be added if you are on blood thinners and wish to investigate reducing or stopping this form of medication. Seek professional counselling in monitoring a change.
- Serrapeptase and Proteinase are two other proteolytic enzymes with greater potency that increase circulation. Product quality is critical.
- ADHD is benefited – EFA’s are needed for proper retinal and brain development.
- Inflammation study – Inflammatory molecule (Leukotrienes), Fish oil and Olive oil; Fish oil reduced inflammation by 30% whereas Olive oil subjects were unchanged. For treating chronic pain and inflammation, a dosage of 4000-8000 IU in divided doses taken throughout the day with food, is very helpful.
- Another study investigated the influence of fish oil and diet on the intestinal tissues of ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s and control patients. The most noticeable anti-inflammatory effects were seen in the ulcerative colitis patient’s tissues.
- Fish oil – Very beneficial for Rheumatoid arthritis and other joint pain where swelling is involved.
- Studies have supported the following conditions to have all been linked to a deficiency of Omega 3 fatty acids. In addition to heart health issues; Alzheimer’s, dementia, allergies, depression, high blood pressure, asthma, eczema, learning disabilities, gut disorders and constipation.
Ratio – How to Balance these Fats on a Daily Basis
- The correct ratio is 1 to 1. One part of Omega 6 fatty acids to one part Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids are found in grain and vegetable oils.
- The average North American diet consists of 20:1 or 30:1. We are consuming too many Omega 6 fatty acids. Only concentrate on Omega 3’s. The body requires a great deal more Omega 3’s to regenerate and function.
- Excess amounts of Omega 6 fatty acid create an Omega 3 deficiency in of itself.
How to Incorporate more Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Daily in the Correct Balance
- Assess your Fat/Oil Intake on a Daily Basis.
- Examine where and what your fat intake exists from. (Fats/oils, meat, fried foods, donuts, junk food)
- Increase your Omega 3 fatty acids by adding them to your daily diet. For example, make a salad with just flax seed oil or a combination of olive and flax oil together to increase your Omega 3 intake while lowering your Omega 6 fatty acids.
- Take supplements to offset other fats in your diet to bring about the proper balance of a one to one ratio. For instance, supplement daily with fish oils, flax seed oil or other comparable oils like hemp, walnut or chia. A list may be obtained off the internet for additional choices.
Note: I feel supplements will be necessary to achieve an optimum and healthy balance.
Caution: Do not heat these oils but you may use them in or on your food that has already been prepared.
Also assess any intake of foods that retain oil like potato chips and corn chips, popcorn, processed foods, imitation cheese on pizza, donuts or deep fried foods.
What to Watch for When you Buy Omega 3 Fatty Acid Supplements
- Do not buy Omega 3, 6, and 9 combinations
- Buy only Omega 3s
- Potency is measured in milligrams – The balance of EPA to DHA is always two to one.
- Some brands are advertising extra high potency. Gimmick – Being that the ratio is always two to one of EPA to DHA, the only deciding factor is the milligrams on the bottle. These companies may charge up to 4 times more for their mock extra strength product.
Can I get enough Omega 3 Fatty Acids by Eating Fish?
The amount of fatty fish an average consumer eats would not produce the health requirements suggested by health care professionals and researchers.
What about the Toxins in Fish and Supplements?
- Anyone who eats fish regularly has elevated levels of mercury. The bigger the fish the more mercury, PCB’s and Dioxins.
- Fish oil supplements are a cleaner source of Omega 3 fatty acids – Most manufacturers today remove the mercury and other toxic heavy metals from their products.
- Choose Purity, Potency and Freshness – The brand you buy should be able to provide you with a detailed biochemical and toxicology analysis of its contents – in liquid or capsule form.
This article is copyrighted and the property of Michelle Honda PhD All rights reserved. It may be reprinted or used on your own website or blog – as long as this entire author resource paragraph and link below are included. Michelle Honda PhD is a holistic doctor in private practice at Renew You Holistic Health located in Ontario Canada. In addition to her doctorate, she holds an advanced degree in nutrition (RNCP), is a Master Herbalist and a n IIPA Certified Iridologist. Visit her website at: http://www.renewyou.ca