Today I want to finish up my series on supplements and vitamins. If you missed it, we’ve been talking about the essentials supplements and vitamins that I believe everyone should be taking. We’ve covered a few and there are definitely more. But, sometimes I think it’s better to start small. Small change = lifestyle change. That’s the goal.
So we will wrap up with fish oil. Fish oil is well known as being high in Omega-3; but what the heck are omega-3s and why do I need to take them. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that our bodies need to maintain health. However, it is not something our bodies make, that is why it is necessary to get it from food or supplements. There are two types of omega-3. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Both of these forms come from animal sources (salmon, krill, etc.) while another form ALA (alpha-linoleic acid) come from plant sources such as chia, hemp, and flaxseed to name a few. Omega-3 plays a key role in brain function as well as growth and development.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published three studies looking at the effect of DHA and EPA in the elderly population. They summarized that a decreased amount of omega-3 significantly increased risk of death from all causes, as well as an increased memory and cognitive decline. Research shows that omega-3 reduce inflammation and can help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 is so involved in brain development and function that infants who do not get enough are at risk for vision and nerve problems in the future. The University of Maryland Medical Center says that symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include, “fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.” (Uni. of Maryland). It is also important to have a healthy ration of omega-6 to omega-3. Omega 6, unlike Omega-3 promote inflammation instead of reducing it. According to the University most Americans have 14-25 times as many omega-6 as 3; far too high in their opinion. Omega-6 can be found in corn, soy, canola, safflower, and sunflower oils. The ratio is ideally 1:1. Americans are “toxic” with inflammation. The rudimentary understanding is that all disease goes back to inflammation. Therefore, if all we are eating is omega-6s we will be chronically inflamed, and therefore diseased.
The benefits of Omega-3 continue as Dr. Mercola cites an Italian study of 11,324 heart attack survivors who were taking fish oil markedly reduced their risk of another event. American Researchers report that men who took fish oil at least once a week had a 50% lowered risk of dying from a cardiac event compared with men who eat fish less than once a month. Omega-3 also normalizes and regulates cholesterol triglyceride levels. Many people with heart disease and high cholesterol take a statin. What they don’t know is that a lot of the times diet could be enough to stay off of the statin. Fish and Krill Oil have been shown to be more efficient than statins at lowering cholesterol levels. Yet another reason why going back to the diet is so important! Studies have also shown them to be anti-arrhythmic (abnormal heart rhythms), anti-thrombotic (blood clots which can result in stroke or heart injury) and anti-atherosclerotic (preventing plaque build up within your arteries, leading to blockages and heart attacks.)
So now we’ve talked about a lot of the ways it affects your health- what about your kids.
Truth. Your kids need fish oil as much or more than you. Their brains are developing at a rapid rate- if they aren’t getting enough omega-3 in their diet it could be detrimental to their growth and development in the future. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August 2013 said that children who took an omega-3 supplement as infants scored higher on rule learning, vocabulary, and intelligent testing at ages 3 to 5. Studies are also showing that kids diagnosed with ADHD and learning disorders have a lower omega-3 level in the blood. Not only do kiddos need supplementation; if you are pregnant or nursing your baby is dependent on their omega-3 sources from your diet and nutrition.
So where should you be getting your Omega-3? Ideally you should ALWAYS be getting your nutrition from real food. The problem is- food is not the way it was designed to be in the first place. Many types of fish are high in Omega-3 but they are also loaded with toxins, mercury, radioactive content, etc. The safest exception is wild-caught salmon. Do not be fooled, farmed salmon contains half the amount of omega-3 that wild caught does. Not to mention farmed salmon is full of toxins, harmful chemicals, fed GMO based corn and soy products that our bodies are then responsible for breaking down. Farmed= bad news. Wild Caught= awesome. Fish Oil is one of the main ways that people in America get the necessary amounts of omega-3 since we can’t eat Salmon for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Krill Oil is also highly recommended because it can be 48 times more potent when it comes to anti-oxidants.
There are so many important nutrients for our health and wellness and this one is at the top of the list. Please take charge of your health- take the steps to a healthier life and give your kids the start they deserve. A few brands I have used in the past and have been happy with are: Barlean’s Fish Oil (it doesn’t taste like fish oil to me and I am able to take it daily without a problem). Melaleuca also has an AMAZING fish oil that tastes like key lime pie- I’m not even kidding- it’s amazing. It tastes like desert. If you need a contact for Melaleuca products I know just the person. Either way, capsule, liquid, smoothie- just take it. It’s important.