Updated: Sep 17
Yes! I am talking about the essential fatty acids! We need good fats in our diet to keep our bodies healthy. Allow me to introduce you to some of the Omegas. Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s are considered essential fatty acids because our body cannot produce them on our own. Omega-9 is non-essential because our body can make these from other fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid). Omega 6 fatty acids include LA (Linoleic acid), GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) and AA (arachidonic acid). I know you are asking yourself, where do I find these beauties?
ALA – is found in flaxseed & flaxseed oil. There are small amounts in some nuts, green leafy vegetables, canola, wheat germ and black current seeds.
DHA & EPA – are found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna.
LA – is found in many vegetables and most vegetable oils like sunflower, safflower, corn, peanut, canola and olive. LA is prevalent in the food supply and does not need supplementing.
GLA – can be found in borage oil, evening primrose oil and black current oil. It can also be present in small amounts in breast milk. However, GLA is usually lacking in a typical diet.
AA – high amounts of AA are found in eggs, fish and meat. AA is also prevalent in our food supply and does not need supplementing.
I’m sure you have heard “everything in moderation”, right? What happened in the Standard American Diet is that the balance between Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s became VERY skewed. We have WAY too many Omega- 6’s to Omega-3’s. A healthy ratio of 3’s to 6’s is 1:3 or 1:6, but our Western Diet provides 1:8, 1:10 and even 1:25! This can lead to inflammation in the body!
So, what do Omega-3 fatty acids do? Why are they so essential? Well, Omega-3’s, especially EPA, have been shown to help with depression and anxiety. They can help with sleep, mood, brain health, ADHD, reduce triglycerides and increase HDL (the “good” cholesterol), reduce inflammation, support bone and joint health, and they do wonders for the skin!
But, before you just run out and get the nearest Omega-3 supplement, please talk to your primary care provider (doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant) and pharmacist. Some health conditions, medications, and other supplements may interact with Omega-3 supplements. You also need to find a good source and consider the purity and stability of the product. If your provider or pharmacist recommends a supplement, the usual recommended dose is 1000-2000mg daily (check the DHA and EPA amounts on the back of the bottle to make sure they add up to these amounts).
There are some life choices that may be affecting your Omega-3 levels. Some of the causes for Omega-3 deficiency include excessive alcohol intake, excessive Omega-6’s, high intake of saturated fats (mostly found in meats), increased intake of sugar, and stress. So, consider your diet. Are you using vegetable oils to cook your foods? Consider switching to a healthier oil like olive oil (low heat) or avocado oil (high heat). Do you eat too many sweets? Processed foods? Try incorporating the rainbow of fruits and vegetables into your diet (eat the rainbow)! Are you really stressed? Try meditation or yoga. Maybe take a walk in the woods to clear your mind and get a little exercise. Drinking copious amounts of alcohol to compensate? What are some small changes you can make today?
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Are you ready to start your journey to a healthier, more balanced life?