How Important Are Omega 3 Fats and How Do You Know If You're Getting Enough?

Most Americans are Omega 3 deficient because of our over-processed, super-sized diets!

It's true. After over a decade of testing patients in my practice, I would say eight out of ten would be DEFICIENT in EPA & DHA- Two of the main essential ("essential" meaning we must consume them in order to get them!) fatty acids in our diet.

Why are these Omega 3 fats so very important?

EFAs support the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune, and nervous systems.

The human body needs EFAs to manufacture and repair cell membranes, enabling the cells to obtain optimum nutrition and expel harmful waste products.

A primary function of EFAs is the production of prostaglandins, which regulate body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood clotting, fertility, conception, and play a role in immune function by regulating inflammation and encouraging the body to fight infection.

Essential Fatty Acids are also needed for proper growth in children, particularly for neural development and maturation of sensory systems, with male children having higher needs than females.

Fetuses and breast-fed infants also require an adequate supply of EFAs through the mother’s dietary intake.

Omega 3 fats are one of the GOOD, HEALTHY FATS found especially in foods like:

  • Wild Salmon

  • Anchovies

  • Sardines

  • Fish oil Supplements

There are also VEGAN sources of Omega 3 fats!

  • Flaxseed

  • Flaxseed meal

  • Hempseed oil

  • Hemp hearts

  • Walnuts

  • Pumpkin seeds

  • Brazil nuts

  • Sesame seeds

  • Avocados

  • Some dark leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, purslane, mustard greens, collards

  • Algae

  • Algae Supplements

These vegan sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are not as efficient as the animal sources. Why? To put it simply, A large percentage of the population cannot convert these vegan sources to the end product EPA and DHA (aka- The most important, and usable form of Omega 3 fats). Bottom line: The healthier you are, the more alkaline and plant-based your diet is and if you don't have issues with blood sugar regulation, you may be great at converting these to their usable Omega 3 form.

Good fats compete with bad fats, so it’s important to minimize the intake of trans fats and cholesterol (animal fat) while consuming enough good fats.

In other words, if you're taking an omega supplement, although still consuming unhealthy fats such as vegetable oils, fried foods, donuts and other foods loaded with hydrogenated oils and trans-fats- You are basically flushing your money (along with your "good" omega's) right down the drain!

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary fats that humans cannot synthesize, and must be obtained through diet.

There are actually two families of EFAs: Omega 3 and Omega 6. Omega 3 fatty acids are derived from Linolenic Acid, Omega 6 from Linoleic Acid.

EFA deficiency and Omega 6:3 imbalance is linked with serious health conditions, such as heart attacks, cancer, insulin resistance, asthma, lupus, schizophrenia, depression, postpartum depression, accelerated aging, stroke, obesity, diabetes, arthritis, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s Disease, among others

Unfortunately, most people are not as "healthy" as they think, and end up with far more Omega 6 than Omega 3- Setting the stage for chronic inflammation and omega 3 deficiency. In fact, the ratio of inflammatory Omega 6:Omega 3 is recommend to be 2:1. What's our current ratio in the American population? 30:1!!!! No wonder why everyone is so sick and inflamed!!

So now that you know what these important fats do in our body...if you don't have access to a practitioner that can test your Omegas, here are just a few symptoms of essential fatty acid deficiency to be on the look out for!

What are some common symptoms of Omega 3 deficiency?

  • Depression

  • Exacerbation other mental health conditions such as anxiety, bipolar, etc

  • Decreased memory

  • Skin issues

  • Mental abilities

  • Tingling sensation of the nerves

  • Poor vision

  • Increased tendency to form blood clots

  • Diminished immune function

  • Increased triglycerides and “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels

  • Impaired membrane function

  • Hypertension

  • Irregular heart beat

  • Learning disorders

  • Menopausal discomfort

  • Itchiness on the front of the lower leg(s)

  • Growth retardation in infants, children, and pregnant women

**NOTE: Omega 6 fats can be BOTH - HEALTHY & UNHEALTHY!

A healthy person with good nutrition will convert linoleic acid into gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which will later by synthesized, with EPA from the Omega-3 group, into Eicosanoids...a process that ONLY happens in healthy individuals.

Healthy sources of GLA fatty acids include foods like:

  • Nuts & seeds

  • Borage oil

  • Black currant seed oil

  • Evening primrose oil

Unhealthy sources of GLA fatty acids include foods like:

  • Refined and hydrogenated oils

  • Corn oil

  • Safflower oil

  • Sunflower oil

  • Soybean oil

  • Cottonseed oil

Bottom line friends- Limit to healthy sources only if possible which means LIMITING FRIED & PROCESSED FOODS and checking ingredient labels for the above processed oils as to not throw our ratio off.

FRESH Tips to Help You Get the Right Balance of Omega Fats!

  • High heat, light, and oxygen destroy EFAs, so when consuming foods for their EFA content, try to avoid cooked or heated forms. For example, raw (soaked for better digestion) nuts are a better source of healthy fats than roasted nuts.

  • Don’t use flaxseed oil for cooking, and never re-use any type of oil.

  • Replace hydrogenated fats (like margarine), and poly-unsaturated fats (common cooking oils) with healthy EFA-based fats when possible. For example, instead of margarine on your warm (not hot) vegetables, use flaxseed and/or extra virgin olive oils & sea salt.

  • A little grass-fed buter isn’t a bad choice either. For a nice spread, I like to mix Extra-Virgin, Cold-Pressed Olive Oil (an Omega-9 fat actually called, Oleic acid), along with Grass-fed butter and refrigerate it until I am ready to use it for either a spread or for cooking. The saturated fat of the grass-fed butter actually increases the smoke point of the olive oil, preserving its structure from heat degradation.

  • Sprinkling flaxseed meal on vegetables adds a slightly nutty taste. Whole flaxseeds are usually passed through the intestine, absorbing water only and not yielding much oil. So of you're eating them whole- make sure to chew, chew, chew!

  • Adding flaxseed and/or extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil to salads instead of supermarket salad oil is another healthy change.

  • Replace oily snack foods, like potato chips and corn chips, with raw nuts and seeds, gluten-free crackers, seaweed chips, etc.

  • Extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil is best to use for only low-medium heat or raw.

Want to know my FAV when it comes to pharmaceutical-grade Omega Supplements?

Here's a few you might check out!

CLICK HERE to register for your own personal pharmaceutical-grade supplement account through Wellevate, then search the "exact name" of product.

OmegaGenics EPA-DHA 1000 (Metagenics)- Best for MOST of us!

OmegaGenics EPA-DHA Algae (Metagenics)- Best for strict VEGANS!

OmegaGenics 3-6-9 (Metagenics)- Best for overall PLANT-BASED/SPECIFICS!

It doesn't hurt to mix it up too! As long as YOU GET THEM IN!!!

How do you know how much Omega 3 to take?

Most people benefit from taking at least 1 gram of EPA/DHA daily! Larger friends may need more such as 2 grams daily, or sometimes we go up to 3-5 grams if extremely inflamed or imbalanced!

Overall, it's great to get an Omega-Check to see where you need to modify your own personal fats, although if not- Maintain a healthy, plant-based, alkaline diet, engage in a metabolic detox three times yearly, stay active, etc...and best of all, follow the guidelines we reviewed, you should be balanced in no time!

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