Sunday, May 9, 2010

The miracle of fish oil

Last week I did a post on the virtues of Vitamin D supplementation. Today I'm going to tell you a little bit about Omega 3 Fish oil.

Fish oil and Vitamin D share a close personal relationship as far as I'm concerned. Seafood is the richest dietary source of vitamin D available and Vitamin D is a fat soluble Secosteroid hormone so it is a reasonable to believe that they work synergistically in the human body and compliment each other perfectly. For that reason I always try to take my fish oil and Vitamin D together. Usually at suppertime but that's just a personal preference. I do however suggest you take them with food, preferably at your largest meal of the day.

Omega 3 is essentially made up of 3 long chain triglycerides. A-Linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EHA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). A mouthful I know, and that's it for the chemistry lesson for today. Let's simplify...

EPA is a very potent tool in the fight against inflammation. It has cancer fighting properties, particularly skin cancer. It is necessary for brain health and is believed to help reduce the severity of schitsophrenia and help in the treatment of  mental disorders, ADD, depression and even suicidal behavior.

DHA is the most abundant fatty acid found in the brain. It makes up at least 50% of the weight of the plasma membranes in your neurons. This goes to show the importance of supplementing with fish oils during pregnancy and making sure that children get adequate amounts during their earliest years. Likewise DHA levels are higher in the breast milk of mothers who supplement with omega 3.
DHA deficiency is known to cause cognitive decline and DHA has been found to be depleted in people who are severely depressed.

There is  compelling scientific evidence that eating an abundance of seafood  has played a significant role in  the evolution of the human brain. Eating fish has provided our brains with the very fatty acids that make up the majority of the molecular compositions of our very brains. Saturated fat and cholesterol are two other very important factors in the make up of the human brain and they are provided mainly by red meat. It turns out that fish and red meat were instrumental to the evolution of the species.

Now lets outline some other benefits. Fishoilblog.ca lists the benefits of fish oil as the following:

  • Lower total cholesterol and increase good cholesterol “HDL”, helping to keep the heart healthy
  • Reduce  triglycerides to 40%
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve memory, concentration and learning
  • Keep  skin healthy and vital and fight aging
  • Fight the formation of thrombi
  • Reduce the risk of heart attack
  • Lower the risk for some cancers
  • Decrease symptoms of angina and heart palpitations
  • Be helpful in pregnancy
  • Improve mood and fight depression
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Improve the symptoms of psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s Disease, ADD, ADHD, Crohn’s disease or lupus, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, premenstrual syndrome and painful periods
  • Reduce the risk of macular degeneration of the eyes
  • Make cell membranes more fluid, prevent stiffness and deterioration (replacing saturated fats)
  • Be useful for the hormonal system
  • Help the body to maintain its temperature
Not to mention increased energy, better fat loss and sport performance and increased cardiovascular health.

Now it's plain to see the importance of Fish oil and, that Fish oil and Vitamin D together have been extremely beneficial to us on an evolutionary level. Taking adequate amounts of both will help to ensure that our bodies function the way that they are intended to and help restore us to or maintain perfect health.

Let's talk about how much

The actual amount of fish oil I would recommend it actually quite high in order to compensate for the amount of damage we have done to ourselves  living in a world where conventional wisdom tends to do us much more harm than good. As a bare minimum you should pick an omega 3 supplement with at least 400mg EPA and 200 mg DHA per capsule if you are taking the soft gels. Of these I would recommend taking at least 6 per day spread out amongst your meals. If taking the liquid stuff I recommend a minimum of one teaspoon per meal. This is a bare minimum and is for maintenance.

If you haven't been taking fish oil or have been eating a diet containing sugars, grains, and dairy the prescription for the first three months would be much higher in order to bring you back to optimal health. I could give you the mathematical formula but the easiest way to find out exactly how much you need is to link you to the whole9 robb wolf fish oil calculator. Click the link, plug in the information and it will tell you exactly how much you need. I use it, I use the maintenance because  have been using fish oil foe years and am extremely careful with my health but I do sometimes take double the recommended dosage if I have been experiencing stress or did a bit of partying.

There you go. The two supplements I don't think anybody should be without.
Caveman2.0