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Omega 3 Info

Borage oil

What is borage oil?

Borage oil is probably better known as starflower oil, this being the plant from whose seed the oil is extracted – but researchers have been more interested in the oil’s active component than the oil itself. Whatever you like to call it, the oil’s medicinal properties have made it the centre of attention for both alternative and mainstream medicine.

The ‘magic’ active ingredient of borage oil, which brings its possible health benefits, is GLA – gamma linoleic acid. This is a long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid, one found in very few plants. Along with borage it’s found in hemp, blackcurrant and evening primrose, but borage has it in an especially great concentration. Borage oil supplements usually contain 24% GLA, and the amount of GLA in the oil itself is between 20% and 27%.

It’s good to take GLA supplements to help the body attain and maintain a healthy balance. The body has the ability to obtain GLA from linoleic acids, found in omega 6 oils which include safflower, sunflower and corn oils. However, over-consumption of these oils, as is typical today, can inhibit the body’s uptake of GLA as it becomes more difficult to convert linoleic acid to GLA.

Modern food production can produce food that the body finds hard to digest and utilise. For example, the likes of margarine can only be made through hydrogenation, a process which involves subjecting oils to very high temperatures and changing the chemical structure of fatty acid molecules. This can alter the configuration of the molecules from ‘cis’ which is healthy, to ‘trans’ which carry their own risks if over-consumed. Too much in the way of trans fats in a diet can block the enzymatic conversion of linoleic acid to GLA, which can only be bad for the body. It means you lose out on many important vitamins and minerals including vitamins A and C, potassium and zinc.

Omega 3 Fatty Acid

Omega-3 fatty acids: where to find them?

Although no single food alone can make a person healthy, eating more fish is one way that most of us can help improve our diets—and our health. Many of the studies about beneficial omega-3 fatty acids focus on fish as the primary source. Salmon, sardines, tuna and even shellfish are rich in omega-3 fatty acid content, but increasing your consumption of all types of fish and seafood is NOT recommended if you are trying to obtain a therapeutic effect from the omega 3, this is something that should be done with a clean, strong grade of pharmaceutical strength fish oil.

Sorting out your fats

Experts agree that a diet based on moderation and variety is essential to good health. In other words, eating some of a wide variety of foods provides more complete nutrition and is more beneficial overall than a diet that relies on just a few foods.

Increase Your Omega-3 fatty acids

omega-3 fatty acids are generally lacking in our diets. They are found in fish, shellfish, tofu, almonds, walnuts as well as in some vegetable oils such as linseed, nuts and canola (rapeseed). Omega-3s have a positive effect on our health. Another intriguing area of research on omega-3 fatty acids pertains to their role in brain and visual function, as some research suggests they may have a role in preventing macular degeneration, a common form of blindness, and have beneficial effects in some depressive disorders.
Continuing research involves the role of omega-3 fatty acids and the immune system, and suggests a positive influence on rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, lupus, kidney disease and cancer.

It is recommended that you eat fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids twice a week in order to reap specific health benefits. Although all fish aren’t high in omega-3s, they still can contribute important amounts of these fatty acids if they’re eaten regularly. The following chart provides a general overview of fish and their omega-3 fat content.

Omega-3 Content of Fish and Shellfish
(Amounts are in grams per 100g portion*)
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, dry heat 1.8
Anchovy, European, canned in oil, drained 1.7
Sardine, Pacific, canned in tomato sauce, drained solid with bone 1.4
Herring, Atlantic, pickled 1.2
Mackerel, Atlantic, cooked, dry heat 1.0
Trout, rainbow, farmed, cooked, dry heat 1.0
Swordfish, cooked, dry heat 0.7
Tuna, white, canned in water, drained solids 0.7
Pollock, Atlantic, cooked, dry heat 0.5
Flatfish (flounder and sole species), cooked, dry heat 0.4
Halibut, Atlantic and Pacific, cooked, dry heat 0.4
Haddock, cooked, dry heat 0.2
Cod, Atlantic, cooked, dry heat 0.1
Mussel, blue, cooked, moist heat 0.7
Oyster, Eastern, wild, cooked, dry heat 0.5
Scallop, mixed species, cooked, dry heat 0.3
Clam, mixed species, cooked, moist heat 0.2
Shrimp, mixed species, cooked, moist heat 0.3
Source: USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

Remember to obtain a therapeutic effect from omega 3 fatty acids; clean, strong fish oil is more preferable due to the high level of pollution in today’s oceans.

Omega 3 fish oil EPA and DHA

There is no doubt that Omega 3 fish oil can not only help your heart and joints, but your brain too. Most people are aware of these benefits, but aren’t sure whether the benefits of Omega 3 fish oil apply across the board for all types of Omega 3 fish oils. There are now many different brands available on the world market, with sellers aiming to capitalise on the

Omega 3 fish oil ‘boom’. This makes for such a wide range of products and so many claims that it is hard for the consumer to sift fact from fiction.
Omega 3 fish oil contains two active ingredients: EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid).

Most fish oils on the market contain both these ingredients in various quantities – the argument that has arisen concerns which of these essential nutrients you need, and which is better than the other.

The simple answer to this is that both are vital nutrients, but they are each important at different stages of life; it is becoming clear in the scientific community that they both have different functions.

DHA

DHA is now thought to constitute the ‘building blocks’ of the brain, forming about 8% of the brain by weight – this is why it is important for pregnant mothers to ensure an adequate supply throughout pregnancy.

DHA is also added to some infant milk formulas by some leading manufacturers, as an infant requires a lot of DHA in the first two years of life to support the growth of the brain.

EPA

EPA however is different; this essential nutrient is now considered by some leading doctors and professors in the UK as being the single most vital nutrient in the functioning of the brain and nerve stimulation.

This was highlighted by the release of a very high profile book by a leading psychiatric professor, who is using a very strong form of ethyl EPA to help treat patients of his who suffer from depression and schizophrenia. Moreover, the ethyl EPA that the professor is using has had the DHA removed. In the book he explains that Ethyl EPA fish oil is not as potent, and does not give the same therapeutic effects when DHA is present.

According to the professor, this is backed up by two randomised controlled trials at the University of Baylor and Sheffield, where depressed people who were given DHA only fared slightly worse than the placebo-controlled group.

Conversion

So what happens if the body becomes deficient of DHA? The professor goes on to describe that the body can convert EPA into DHA, as it is only two steps down the chain of ecosanoids. This is a process the body can do relatively easily. The body can also convert DHA into EPA, but our bodies struggle to make this conversion and it is not a very efficient process.

A good example of this would be with flaxseed oil, that is high in the omega 3 parent fatty acid ALA (alphalinoic acid); to obtain roughly 1 gram of EPA, you would have to ingest 11 grams of flaxseed oil.

Conclusion

The simple truth is that you need both these essential nutrients. The evidence is increasingly pointing towards the two being important for various stages of life. DHA when compared against EPA in treating depression is faring no better than a placebo; however the DHA is important for pregnant mothers and children from birth to two years. Beyond that some leading doctors (Mercola, Stoll, Puri) are leaning towards EPA being very beneficial for the daily functioning of the brain.

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