Supplement Sunday : Omega 3
Updated: Nov 15
This widely talked about, widely available supplement has been around for quite a while. More recently, healthy fats such as omegas have become the centre of attention in many ways. Omegas are polyunsaturated fatty acids that our body needs for optimal health. Did I mention yet that there are SO many benefits? Lets start with the basics.
so what are omegas specifically?
both omega 3 and omega 6 are called our essential fatty acids (EFA’s)
we call the essential because we are unable to make them ourselves
therefore we MUST obtain them through our diet
what is the difference between omega 3 and omega 6?
the most simple way to describe it is as so:
omega 3 fatty acids feed more into an anti-inflammatory pathway
omega 6 fatty acids play more into a pro-inflammatory pathway
sources of omega 3: cold water fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna, sardines), oysters, shrimp, algae, seaweed, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts
Sources of omega 6: wheat, corn, safflower oil, sunflower oil, chicken, eggs, some vegetable oils (corn, safflower, sunflower, peanut, soybean)
omegas 6s aren't always bad and can have benefits too - what is important is the ratio in our diet
the ratio of omega 6: omega 3 in our diet:
ideally, we should be consuming a 2:1 to 3:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 in our diet
however, the standard American diet leads to more of a 15:1 ratio which is far from optimal
this is not to say that we need to avoid all of these foods - but be more aware of what the ratio of omega 6 : omega 3 is within our diet
the higher the ratio – the more inflammation in our body which can lead to: heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disease and other inflammatory diseases. In fact, lower ratios such as 4:1 have been associated with a 70% decreased chance of morality (Simopoulos)
so now that we have gone over the difference between the omega 3&6 we can focus in more on omega 3
the different types of omega 3s:
omega 3 fatty acids include ALA, EPA & DHA
can be found in plant sources : flax, chia, hemp seeds, walnuts
however ALA has to be converted into EPA or DHA for our body to use it for reasons other than just simply energy
is found in cold water fish & algae
it is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory effects throughout the body
It converts to molecules called prostaglandins and eicosanoids that regulate inflammation in our bodies
is also found in cold water fish & algae
this fatty acid is found in higher concentrations within our brain and is known for its role in brain and nervous system health
research shows omega 3 may be useful in:
heart disease : atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, high triglycerides & cholesterol
autoimmune diseases : rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis
pregnancy : brain and nervous system development specifically
reproductive health : menstrual regulation and fertility
skin health : acne, dry skin
concussion and brain health
cognitive health : age related decline and Alzheimer's
mental health : depression & anxiety
eye health : macular degeneration
more and more research is being done on omegas and their role in health conditions - I am excited to see what the research tells us in the future!
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