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The Case for Fish Oil Supplements

 

The evidence is mounting almost daily.  Fish and seafood contain vital nutrients that we're just not getting anywhere else. The most important of these are essential omega 3 fatty acids, the building blocks of new cells.  Over the past few years, research has uncovered links between deficiencies in omega 3 fatty acids and diabetes, heart disease, depression, bipolar disorder, psoriasis, stroke, obesity, eating disorders, ADHD, schizophrenia, osteoporosis, inflammatory bowel disease, macular degeneration, colon cancer, breast cancer, asthma and prostate cancer.  That's a whopping list of most

of the health conditions and diseases besetting the modern Western world - and increasingly, our Eastern counterparts.  Unfortunately, our best source for this important nutrient has been contaminated to the point of toxicity.  Omega 3 is found in high quantities in cold water and fatty fish like salmon and tuna – and not much else. Those fish – our best source for omega 3 – have been poisoned by heavy metals like mercury.  Eating enough of those fish to get enough omega 3 in your diet can bring your levels of mercury to poisonous levels. Yet the importance of omega 3 to the body can’t be overstated.

 

What does omega 3 affect? Take a look at a summary of recent research that used fish oil supplements to test the effects of omega 3 fatty acids on various conditions.

 

** In a study on memory, omega-3 supplements were fed to mice with a gene that induces Alzheimer’s.  The mice fed a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids suffered far less memory loss. Mice in the same study who were fed omega-6, a similar compound with a slightly different makeup, showed no difference in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

** Researchers at McLean's Hospital in Belmont, MA supplemented the treatment of 30 patients suffering from bipolar disorder with either olive oil, or fish oil supplements, which is high in the fatty acid, omega-3.  Depression was improved in 65% of the patients taking a fish oil supplement as compared to 19% of those taking the olive oil. The results were so clear that the study was ended early so that the placebo group could take fish oil if they wished.  Notably, patients showed in change in mania symptoms.

 

** In a 2002 study, researchers at Louisiana State University gave fish oil supplements containing DHA to overweight men and women who suffered from insulin resistance – a precursor of type 2 diabetes.  After 12 weeks, 70% of the participants showed a decrease in insulin resistance – a significant statistical difference.

 

** In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration approved fish oil supplements for the prevention of heart disease.

 

How can one little compound have such a profound effect on so many systems? While all the research is prefaced with the ubiquitous more research is needed, scientists think they have an answer to that question.  Essential fatty acids are what our bodies use to create cell walls when building new cells.  That includes the neural pathways used by our brains to transmit messages about the world around us, and trigger the release of hormones, endorphins and other natural chemicals that help regulate moods, appetite and activity.

 

Cells built of omega 3 fatty acids are strong, flexible, resilient and provide excellent transmission. If omega 3 isn't available, then the body will substitute omega 6 (from vegetable oils, cereal and grain and meat) fatty acids instead.  The cells formed with omega 6 fatty acids are shaped differently, and have a different level of electrical conductivity.  While they work, there are significant differences in the WAY they work. It's not the omega 6 acids are BAD for us - it's just that they're being forced into doing jobs that they weren't meant to do.

 

So how do we fix this?  First, don't get the impression that omega 6 fatty acids are BAD. Our bodies need both kinds.  The problem is that our diets tend to favor omega 6 over omega 3 by an overwhelming 20:1 ratio.  With 20 times the omega 6 available to our bodies, they naturally choose it to build new cells rather than the more optimal omega 3.  The logical solution is to reduce our intake of omega 6 and increase our intake of omega 3.  Again, the experts vary on suggested ratio, of omega 6:omega 3 but it ranges from 5:1 to 1:1.

 

How much omega 3 should we be getting?  Despite the mounting evidence of the importance of omega 3 in our diets, there's no 'official' recommendation for daily intake.  Researchers and scientists are divided on what an 'adequate' intake is, with suggestions from 1/2 gram of omega 3 EFA daily to 2.6 grams of omega 3 daily Because our fish supply has become contaminated, the best way to ensure an adequate intake of omega 3 is to supplement your food sources with a high quality, pharmaceutical grade fish oil.  What we use is Omega 3 / QH Ultra.

 

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