Fish oils have become popular because of their wide range of health benefits. The key is omega 3 essential fatty acid, which is a building block the body uses to build all cells. We are deficient in omega 3 because of our overly processed, nutritionally poor diets. Fish oil is derived from cold water fish, such as macarel, tuna, and salmon.
The health benefits from fish oil are derived from DHA and EPA. Everyone can benefit from supplementation with fish oils, including children. There is a reason your mother made you take your cod liver oil! Fortunately, fish oils now come in tastier options.
What are Essential Fatty Acids?
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) are necessary fats that the human body cannot synthesize, and thus must be consumed from what we eat. There are two types of essential fatty acids (EFA) - omega 3 and omega 6. EFAs support the health of multiple systems, including cardiovascular, immune, and nervous systems. The body utilizes EFAs to repair and make cell membranes, regulate heart rate and blood pressure, assist in fertility and conception, and help fight infections.
Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency
EFA deficiency is common in the United States, due to our nutritionally poor, overly processed, pesticide treated diet. The ideal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is between 1:1 and 4:1, however, due to our poor diets, most Americans have ratios between 10:1 and 25:1.
Omega 3 deficiencies are linked to decreased memory and mental abilities, poor vision, hypertension, bad cholesterol ratios, menopausal discomfort, and diminished immune function, among other things. Many of these diseases, when managed by an integrative practitioner, are successfully treated by correction of EFA ratios and deficiencies.
Correct your EFA Deficiency
One option to increase the amount of EFAs in your diet is to make sure you consume raw foods that are high in EFAs, or supplement with flaxseed oil, since flaxseed oil has the high EFA content. Furthermore, flaxseed oil contains the correct ratio of EFAs. Remember – the ratio of EFAs is as important as the deficiency. One tablespoon per day of organic flaxseed oil can supply most of your EFA needs.
Omega 3 is found in flaxseed oil, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, avocados, fish oil, and some dark leafy green vegetables. Omega 6 is also found in flaxseed oil, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, olive oil, and chicken. However, please note that high heat, light, and oxygen destroy EFAs. That is one reason good quality olive oil is sold in dark glass bottles.
Fish oil is a good source of EFA, but it is important to note that the fish oil needs to have a correct balance of omega 6 to omega 3, be pharmaceutical grade, and be from a deep water source to minimize mercury contamination. Norwegian fish oils are very popular due to their high quality.