Omega 3’s- Key thoughts

Your prime objective for consuming Omega 3 should be to get DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) into your body.

The scientific evidence supporting the benefits of DHA are now overwhelming.

DHA is much more important than EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) which is the major Omega 3 component of most fish oils.

The explanation as to why DHA is the most important substance is somewhat technical and not possible to explain in this short article. Somewhat explained here:

Not all Omega 3′s will provide you with DHA and EPA.

That is because these essential fatty acids are not present in a lot of Omega 3 products.

For example….ground flax seed is an excellent oil for certain uses and contains Omega 3′s but does not actually contain any DHA or EPA at all.

Flaxseed contains alpha linolenic acid, which your body has to convert to DHA and EPA.

For the elderly this conversion process does NOT work very well.

Itis estimated that most adults would have to consume 10 – 40 grams of flaxseed oil to produce just 0.2 grams of DHA.

So, if you want to get the proven benefits of DHA don’t rely on getting your Omega 3′s from vegetable oils such as flaxseed.

There is however now some products being produced from algae which contain good levels of DHA and do not require the body to convert the ALA to the DHA. But, they are still not readily available and they are very expensive.

The best source of DHA is from fish oil. However, there are some drawbacks with many fish oils:

The amount of DHA is low in most fish oils. A typical level is 12% DHA and 18% EPA. The popular ‘salmon’ oils (which are not really salmon) are usually of the 12/18 type.

Many oils on the market today are from questionable sources and some have high levels of heavy metals or other contaminants such as PCB’s.

Use fish oils which have been molecularly distilled, or are from impeccable sources with a reliable certificate of analysis.

This basically rules out any oil, which is processed from fish caught in the Northern Hemisphere.

Most fish oils are of the triglyceride form, which does not easily pass through the cell membranes.

Some suppliers of fish oil claim that it does not matter that the EPA is higher than the DHA because the body will convert part of the EPA to DHA.

This is TRUE but like the conversion of ALA to DHA the percentage of conversion is very low.

This is due in part to the high consumption of Omega 6 in the typical Western diet.

Enzymes needed for the conversion are in ‘short supply’ in the bodies of those people who have a reasonably high level of Omega 6 intake (via vegetable oils).

This is because the enzymes needed are ‘used up’ in having to deal with the processing of Omega 6 oils.

As a result, the conversion in most people is quite negligible which further supports ingesting the DHA directly.

MOST fish oils are in the triglyceride forms. A triglyceride consists of 3 fatty acids attached to a glycerol backbone. It does not pass easily through the cell membrane as it is changed. It also requires two enzyme steps to ‘release’ its fatty acids. Sometimes because of the structure of the triglycerides the fatty acids are not released but rather stay attached to the glycerol backbone.

IF IF IF IF the oil is esterified during the concentration and purification processes the resulting substance can easily enter the body’s cell membranes.

The esterified molecule has no charge and only requires one enterase enzyme to release the fatty acid. (DHA). This enables the body to use it as an immediate energy source, or store it for later use.

To receive the many benefits of DHA you need to do as follows:

1. Find a source of fish oil that is high in DHA or alternatively be prepared to take much higher doses of conventional fish oil.

2. Ensure that the fish oil you use is molecularly distilled.

3. Try to find the oil in the Ester form for better bio-availability.

Buy from reputable companies! It doesn’t pay to find the cheapest fish oil products. You wouldn’t shop for cheapest heart surgeon for a loved one would you? Read this link on fish oil lawsuit in 2010.

Other good article links below:

Fish Oil (Omega 3’s) and Postpartum Depression-Journal of Affective Disorders: 2002

Fish oil and Dementia-British Medical Journal

Surgical Neurology 2006-Neurosurgeon for Pittsburgh Steelers

Fish Oil and Cognitive performance at middle age-Neurology 2004

Fish oil; ADD and Developmental Coordination Disorder-Pediatrics 2005

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Depression-European Neuropsychopharmacology 2003

Fish Oil and Cancer 2010

Fish oil and heart disease-British Medical Journal 2004

Fish oil on Cortisol-Body Comp-Jr International Scty of Sports Nutrition 2010

Fish oil-Annals of Internal Medicine 2004

Current Sports Medicine Reports July 2007 Omega -3 Fatty Acids (Fish oil) and Athletics

Omega 3′s -Journal of Pain 2007

Omega 3′s and Nerve pain-Clinical Journal of Pain 2010


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