April 2007 Newsletter
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
There has been a flurry of media attention paid to Omega-3 over the last year. Much of the spotlight has been focused on Omega-3's importance to cardiac health, but that is just one facet of this oil's benefit.
What is Omega-3?
Omega-3 is a "Long Chain Polyunsaturated Essential Fatty Acid". "Long Chain" means the length of the fat is 20 or 22 carbon molecules long. "Polyunsaturated" means they have more than one double bond. *Essential* means they must come from the diet. We cannot produce it on our own. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of a family of fats, which also include Omega-6 and Omega-9. Each fatty acid comes from a different source, and has a specific function in our metabolism.What Do Our Bodies Do With These Fatty Acids?
Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids play a critical role in the composition of our cell's walls. These two fats form the outer wall of our cells. Each fatty acid imparts a characteristic to the cell wall. Omega-6 adds rigidity, while Omega-3 contributes fluidity. Ideally there is a ratio of 1:1 (Omega-6: Omega-3) between the fatty acids, which allows our cell membranes the perfect balance of fluidity and rigidity. Too much Omega-6 (through hydrogenated oils) or too little Omega-3 and our cell walls stiffen up. The importance of this balance is appreciated when you understand that the cell membrane holds receptors (equivalent to a lock mechanism) to which hormones, (neurotransmitters, amino acids, polypeptides etc.) act as keys and bind to. When the cell membrane stiffens (from an imbalanced ratio of 6:3) the receptor distorts and the key doesn't fit. Now, the hormones are unable to exert their influence on the cell. For a desired effect to occur, the body needs much more of these hormones like insulin, estrogen, serotonin and so many others. The importance of this ratio between Omega-6 and 3 was dramatically demonstrated in a study Brain Lipids and Disorders in Biological Psychiatry, ER Skinner (Ed.), Elsevier Science, 2001, which demonstrated patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, had a blood ratio of 70:1. This should concern us all considering most Americans have a ratio of 25:1!
How Does Omega 3 Work as an Anti-Inflammatory Agent?
The benefit touted most in the media, the enhancement of cardiac health, arises from the property of Omega-3's serving an anti-inflammatory role. Omega-3 stops the breakdown of DiHomoGammaLinolenic Acid (DHGLA) to Arachidonic Acid (AA). Stopping the formation of AA stops the formation of Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Increased levels of PGE2 are associated with inflammation and lead to increased vascular disease, degenerative joint disease, immune system dysfunction, pain, fibrosis and expression of Alzheimer's disease. Its amazing that if we increase the amount of Omega-3's in our system, we can be less dependent on over the counter anti-inflammatories.
What are Some Sources of Omega-3?
A great source of Omega-3 fatty acids is found in cold water fatty fish, such as cod and salmon. You may have heard that Flax seed oil is a good source of Omega-3's but the conversion rate to the bio-available form of Omega-3 is only about 2 to 2.7%. Considering that most sources recommend 1000 to 1500 mg per day, its easy to see why fish oil is the best. It is important to be aware of the origin and processing of the Omega-3 from fish oil. Much of the commercially available fish oil is dangerously high in Mercury, PCB's and other carcinogens. This requires purification of the oils through a process called molecular distillation. This process assures the harmful chemical components have been removed so that you can safely enjoy the benefits of Omega-3.
This should start you thinking about supplementing with this fatty acid. If you have specific questions, please address them with Dr. Matt at your next appointment.
Will Omega-3's Interfere With My Other Medications?
At this time, there are no known contraindications to taking Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3's may actually help improve the function of other drugs you may already be taking. For example, Omega-3 used while taking topical steroids may improve the symptoms of Psoriasis. By reducing the Omega-6 to omega 3 ratio, Omega-3 helps cholesterol lowering medications such as statins. One of the only possible interactions that may harm you comes if you are taking any medications to help thin your blood. Omega-3's also thin the blood and the combination of two thinners may lead to a decrease in your ability to form blood clots. Ask Dr. Matt before taking Omega's with any other blood thinner.
Product of the Month: Coromega®
Thinking about getting started on an Omega supplement? Dr. Matt and Katie take Coromega® brand Omega supplements. The supplements actually come in a creamy orange flavor that is a pudding like texture--No pills to swallow. You can even mix it in with juice or yogurt, and the best part is no fishy taste or burps. Coromega® is also molecularly distilled, so it does not contain mercury or PCB's. Ask Dr. Matt or Katie for a sample and a brochure today!
And..as a special bonus, Coromega® is 20% off during the month of April!
For more Information check out, www.coromega.com and www.oilofpisces.com
Conditions Omega-3's Can Help
85% of American are deficient in Omega-3. Are you one of them? Omega-3's can be beneficial for: