Are you deficient in Omega-3s?
What are Omega-3s, and Why Do They Matter?
There are three types of Omega-3 fatty acids. These "good fats" are often in short supply in our diets. In fact, less than 2% of North Americans are consuming adequate amounts of these healthy fats, and in general, we are consuming an abundance of Omega-6 fats. To be in a state of balance, we should be consuming Omega-6 to Omega-3s at a 1:1 or maximum 3:1 ratio, but the standard North American diet has us consuming them at a rate of nearly 20:1. This is putting us into a state of chronic inflammation and is a leading cause of disease today. So what are the healthy Omega-3s we should be looking to consume more of?
1. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): This acid comes mainly from plant oils, some seeds, and nuts. These Omega-3s are not considered essential and only convert at a rate of roughly 2 to 10% in the essential fatty acids (EPA) and (DHA)
2. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): This is one of the two essential fatty acids. It is most traditionally available in fish, and can also be found in smaller amounts in algae. EPA is hugely beneficial in reducing inflammation, reducing bad cholesterols, improving circulatory, health, and heart health, to name a few.
3.Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): Is the other essential fatty acid and is the larger of the two. This can be found in abundance in fish and also in algae. DHA is very beneficial for memory, and cognitive function is essential for developing brains and has positive health benefits.
Signs of Omega-3 Deficiency
When we do not consume enough omega-3 fatty acids, deficiencies can develop. A disproportionate ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 can lead to significant health problems. What are some of the signs you can look for to understand if you might fall within 98% of the population that is not getting enough Omega-3?
1. Issues with skin, hair, and nails. Omega-3s create fluidity within the cells, which allows for a better flow of nutrients. The EPA helps reduce inflammation and improve circulation, which will help with things like dry skin and eczema.
2. Chronic Fatigue and poor sleeping. Fatigue is generally a side effect of chronic inflammation in the body, and once again, the EPA in Omega-3s will help reduce this and improve energy levels naturally. The DHA in Omega-3s will help to naturally enhance the production of Melatonin, a vital hormone for sleep.
3. Concentration, memory, and attentiveness. Inadequate levels of Omega-3s can lead to hormonal imbalance and significant mood swings. You may also find it challenging to focus and feel anxious and irritable. Again Omega-3s will help bring your body into balance, reduce inflammation, and improve circulation, giving the brain what it craves less inflammation, with more blood flow and oxygen. This translates to better focus, clearer thinking, and less irritability.
4.Joint pain and leg cramps. Pain and cramping are a by-product of inflammation. Omega-3s can significantly reduce chronic inflammation in the body, helping to reduce aches and pains and improve circulation around the joints. This is essential in the preservation of cartilage around your joints to prevent any future damage.
5.Allergy symptoms and eczema. Allergy flare-ups, Asthma fits, dry skin, and eczema are all inflammatory conditions. These may be aggravated with low levels of Omega-3s. By taking high potency Omega-3s specifically high in EPA, you can significantly improve these conditions.
6.Dry Eye Syndrome. Symptoms of dry eyes can be bothersome and may include a stinging, itchy or burning sensation in your eye; sensitivity to light; blurred vision; mucus in or around your eye; and excessive tearing. Dry eye disease tends to be a chronic inflammation that can be improved with a quality Omega-3 by reducing inflammation and enhancing the fluidity of the cells.
7. High Cholesterol and Cardiovascular concerns. One of the most researched topics in Omega-3s is heart health, and a recent study proved that by consuming high potency fish oil (4,000mg) of EPA daily, it was possible to reduce the risk of heart attack by up to 25%. Having an optimized Omega-3 index will significantly increase the survival rate of a heart attack or stroke. A high EPA Omega-3 will also help decrease bad cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins, which are risk indicators for heart attack.
8. Women that are suffering prolonged, painful menstrual cycles. Women who experience heavy periods with clotting and a lot of discomforts may get relief from high potency Omega-3s. Studies have found that omega-3s, known for their anti-inflammatory properties, can help soothe menstrual pain. There is some evidence that omega-3 can drive away period blues and help balance hormones and reduce mood swings.
Do I Get Enough Omega-3s?
If you are suffering from any of the symptoms above, the likely answer is no. But that is ok because with a quality, high potency Omega-3, you can start to see results in as little as one week. However, you need to keep in mind that all Omega-3s are not created equal. So here are the key things you need to look for. A maintenance dose of Omega-3s will start at 2,500mgs of combined EPA and DHA per serving, and if you feel like you have a lot of inflammation or are looking to protect your heart, you will want to look for something that will be closer to 4,000 to 5,000mgs. The next thing you need to look for is that source. Single source is always best, and you will also want to make sure that it is third party certified to ensure low levels of contaminants, heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins, and also that it has very low oxidation values. Finally, you must be getting your Omega-3s in a Triglyceride form and avoid EthylEsters at all costs. Ethyl esters are highly unstable, carry higher levels of oxidation, and because the Omega-3 is no in its natural state, the bioavailability is very low (20%). However, a Triglyceride-based Omega-3 is highly stable, a quality product will have very low levels of oxidation and be extremely bioavailable (98%), which means you can absorb and use almost everything you are consuming.