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Let's Talk about Fats: Omega Oils

Q: Who needs omega-3 supplements?

Modern day diets are overloaded with omega-6 (from highly processed vegetables). High consumption of omega-6 tends to increases the risk of various cardiovascular diseases and inflammatory conditions.

The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 makes a difference in biological function and physiological response. Experts have different opinions about the optimum ratio, they generally range from 1:1 to 5:1. Unfortunately today’s typical Western diets offer the ratio of about 50:1!

Omega 3 supplements can help us maintain a healthier ratio that is difficult to achieve from diet alone.

Q: What are EPA, DHA and ALA?

Fish oil contains two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).
EPA is found mostly in fatty fish, and in small amounts in eggs and seaweed. Research has indicated that it has the potential to help reduce blood clotting, as well as lowering inflammation, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

DHA is found in the same food source as EPA. However, it is a major component of the gray matter in our brain. It also makes up our retina, testis, sperm, and cell membranes.

ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is also an omega-3 fatty acid, but found in relatively large amounts in flaxseeds, soy, walnuts, and chia seed oil. Our body can convert ALA into EPA efficiently, but it may require large amounts of ALA to produce optimal amounts of DHA.

Q: What is a better source: fish oil or flax oil?

Vegetarians or people with seafood allergies can obtain their essential fatty acids from plant sources such as flaxseeds and its oils. If you have no problem eating fish or seafood, then you can safely consume fish or krill oil.

Flax seed oil does not provide DHA, but with substantial amount of ALA our body can transform it into EPA and DHA. Expecting and breast-feeding mothers need DHA for their baby’s proper brain development, children need it for optimal learning, and all adults need DHA for proper mood balance. Irritability and depression are common signs of the deficiency of DHA.

Q: Are all fish oils the same?

Not all fish oils are made equal!

When it comes to essential fatty acids, the purity is truly essential. The health-promoting fats are surprisingly fragile and are susceptible to rancidity—that bad smell and taste when the oil is oxidized.

Poor quality oils may contain toxins from the environment, for example fish oils are notorious for containing heavy metals such as mercury.

When you select your fish oil supplements, take these into account:

  • Purity, safety, and cleanliness (PCBs and highly toxic chemicals like dioxins and furans)
  • Heavy metal content (mercury, cadmium, lead, arsenic)
  • Accurate labeling (actual DHA & EPA levels vs. labeled claims)
  • Oxidation and stability (peroxide, anisidine levels)
  • Omega-3 concentration (>60% omega-3-to-total oil)

Read the labels carefully and do a little bit of research. There are manufacturers that invest heavily into the production process to guarantee purity and quality in their products. Some of them are independently tested and score much better than the FDA and EU standards. Many uncontrolled products—or even counterfeits—are sold on the Internet by untrusted sellers.

Even if you are buying from major online stores, make sure they are handling the delivery process properly. Special packaging and temperature-control in the shipment process should be required to protect the oils from the damaging effects of light, heat and oxidation.

We encourage you to visit one of our dispensaries for premium brand supplement products, carefully selected and clinically-tested by our practitioners.

These practitioner-grade products are made to higher standards, compared to other retail brands. They undergo quality, independent testing for purity. We take care to ensure they are properly transported for distribution—a promise other local retailers cannot make.

Our dispensary advisor can also answer your questions should you need advice choosing the right fish or flax oil products for your family. Contact our one of our dispensaries: 2523 7121 (Central), 2537 1087 (Discovery Bay).