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Omega 3 Info

What are Essential Fatty Acids

Essential Fatty Acids

The term essential is deduced from Latin. Essential fatty acids are nutritional factors, discovered in 1929 at the University of Minnesota by George and Mildred Burr. Like vitamins, they are not synthesizable by the human body and therefore must be absorbed from food.

Essential Fatty Acids

We have already mentioned that essential fatty acids are nutrients that we must have to stay healthy. To really understand essential fatty acids, we must get down to the molecular level.

Omega Fatty Acids

The omega fatty acids are named according to the position of the first double bond in their carbon chains. Thus, the first double bond in the omega 6,s begins at the sixth carbon from the end of the chain. The first double bond in the omega 3,s begins at the third carbon position from the end of the chain, once in the body both omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids are bio chemically converted and control the body initially in two ways. First, they become incorporated into the cell membranes and secondly keep the cell membrane optimally fluid. If there are not enough omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, these cell walls will incorporate saturated fatty acids and other lipids and become less fluid. In fact, essential fatty acids are the major building blocks of cellular membranes surrounding every cell in the body, know as lipid bilayers, because they are made up of two layers of fat, these fatty acid walls help to control the opening and closing of the cells channels that allow the passage of important messenger molecules into and out of the cell. In a second pathway, the omegas convert to hormone like substances called eicosanoids that influence metabolic activities, it is important the body has an adequate balance. The recommended ratio is 3-5: 1 of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids.

Fish Oil Supplement

Why are fish oil supplements so important to us

It is estimated that 85% or more of people in the Western world are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and most get far too much of the omega-6 fatty acids. Vegetarian diets, for example, tend to be very high in omega-6.
Seemingly minor differences in their molecular structure make the two EFA families act very differently in the body. Although we do need both omega-3s and omega-6s it is becoming increasingly clear that an excess of omega-6 fatty acids can have dire consequences. Our ancestors evolved on a diet with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 of about 1:1. (most of the omega 3 came from consuming fish ) A massive change in dietary habits over the last few centuries has changed this ratio to something closer to 20:1 and this spells trouble.

FISH OIL SUPPLEMENT – QUALTIY

fish oil supplements tend to vary alot. It is very important to read all of the information that is presented to you, these days every fish oil supplement makes claims of the purest and strongest omega 3 fish oil on the market, you only need to look on the internet to see that this is the case. When choosing your fish oil supplement there are two very important factors to watch out for, these are the strength – concentration of the oil and the quantity. This is better explained in the know your oil article.

Fish oil supplements Cod liver oil and fish oils are not the same. Cod liver oil is extracted from cod liver and is an excellent source of vitamins A and D. Fish oils are extracted from the tissues (flesh) of fatty fish like salmon and herring and are good sources of EPA. Fish oils contain very little vitamin A and D, but cod liver oil does contain EPA and DHA. However, the concentration and amounts of essential fatty acids that are found in fish oil supplements like cod liver oil are very very low. You would probably exceed the recommended daily intake of vitamins A and D if you were to try to obtain therapeutic amounts of EPA from cod liver oil.

Supplementing with a fish oil supplement has been found to be entirely safe even for periods as long as 7 years and no significant adverse effects have been reported.

Fish oils, how we grade them

Pharmaceutical grade fish oils

In our opinion we think for fish oils to be classed as pharmaceutical grade the concentration – strength has to be above 70%, although lots of fish oils claim to be of pharmaceutical grade, you will find that there are not many fish oils on the market which match our criteria of having this strength. Therefore we feel it shouldn’t carry this tag!!

Health food shop grade fish oils

This is the category that most fish oils fall into. They are relatively cheap to buy and you have to take fairly large quantities daily. This is where we would class most of the fish oils that are sold on the internet. The omega 3 EPA content per capsule is relatively low, as is the concentration – strength of the EPA.

Cod liver fish oils

Although lots of older people swear by it, we class these fish oils as one of if not the lowest grade of fish oils on the market. The reasons for this are that it contains very small amounts of omega 3 essential fatty acids and you would have to consume large amounts to get to one gram of EPA, and in doing so you would probably be going over the recommend daily amount for other vitamins that cod liver oil is very high in, mainly vitamins A and D.

As you will notice we have not mentioned anything about the purity of these fish oils, as that’s a different matter altogether. It’s possible that fish oils are very clean but are not very strong, we are purely classing the above grades of fish oils on omega 3 EPA content and the strength of the EPA.

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