We know that our bodies need fat, Fat is vital for healthy eyes, heart, liver, kidneys, cells, hormones, immune system and more. Fats can come from various meats, poultry, fish, nuts and seeds. Often in our diet we aren’t getting the healthy fats we need. Specifically, we often aren’t getting enough omega 3 and omega 6. The reason for this is pretty simple, it’s due to the way our food is raised and processed. Animals are often given feed with grains rather than being allow to eat grass from a pasture. Processing damages the oils rendering them useless and sometimes damaging to your body.
This is why supplementing omega 3 and omega 6 is a good idea, to insure you are getting the fats that your body requires. So the next questions is what product to supplement? There are literally thousands of omega supplements on the market. Currently the focus is largely on omega 3, specifically EPA and DHA. These are the omega 3 derivatives that are found in fish oil. Much attention is given to these derivatives, mainly because the fish oil industry has spent tons of money commissioning research to be done on the benefits of these fats. It is true that we need these derivatives, however, the body doesn’t need a lot of them. Studies show that we need 5% or less of the omegas in derivative form, and 95% in the parent form.
So what is the parent form? Parent omega 3 and parent omega 6 are technically Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA) and Linoleic Acid (LA). These are the most basic forms of the omega series fats. Your body can take these fats and break them down into related substances, also called derivatives. It’s important to note that your body can not use a derivative fat and create the parent fat. Since your body needs around 95% parent fats, it doesn’t make sense to focus on supplementing a derivative oil, like EPA and DHA, as the primary supplement. It’s ok if EPA and DHA are added to the supplement, but many of the fish oil supplements are primarily EPA and DHA. The way to tell is to simply read the ingredient list. If the main ingredients are fish oil, then the supplement is primarily derivatives.
Another reason to avoid fish oil is quality. The best fish aren’t going to be ground up and pressed for supplement oil, they are sent to markets and restaurants to be sold for top dollar. Fish used for supplements are lower quality fish or farmed raised fish. Krill is also commonly used for supplement oil. When is the last time you can recall humans eating krill? The tiny little creatures are usually eaten by whales. When choosing supplements, remember to keep in mind step 4 in the Healthy for Life U plan. That is to use common sense and compare it to the past before all of the processing and mass production. Why aren’t we getting the nutrient today, and how would we have gotten it before? We already discussed why we aren’t getting it, and where people used to get it would have been from meats or seeds. Now you might ask, what about people groups who live by the ocean and eat lots of fish. Eating fish is great, when you get the oil from the fish you are getting in it a good proportion. Fish oil supplements are mega-dosing on the derivatives, giving you much more than you would get even eating fish three times per day. Those people are also eating other foods to get the parent omegas.
Plant based omega supplements are the best option and contain parent oils. When offered as organic, they are the most pure, quality oils available. Flax oil is the primary plant oil containing omega 3. Evening primrose, sunflower, safflower (linoleic varieties), pumpkin and borage are the primary seeds that contain omega 6 fats. A few of these have omega 3 in them also, but it’s minimal compared to the omega 6. The best supplements for omega oils will have between 2 to 1 and 3 to 1 for the ratio between omega 6 and 3. Your body needs much more omega 6 than three.
Some will say we get plenty of omega 6 from our diets, the fact of the matter is that it’s mostly processed and adulterated, meaning our body can’t use it. Also the American Heart Association encouraged the use of omega 6 in the article Omega-6 Fatty Acids and Risk for Cardiovascular Disease. They even warned against the use of omega 3 without omega 6. This, however, is off the topic for this post, we’ll discuss that in another post, for today we’ll just leave it at that 🙂
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