Dr. Clare Hasler
The benefits of Fish Oil and Omega Acids are often heard when discussing women`s health, but what about men? The truth is, Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil, are just as important to men`s health helping promote a healthy heart and maintain healthy triglycerides.
Can`t tell your omega acids apart? Don`t worry, the Wellness Advisor can help. Dr. Clare Hasler, PhD, is here to answer your questions.
Wellness Advisor: Where does fish oil come from and why is it good for us?
Dr. Clare Hasler: Fish oils are fats found in fish, particularly fish which live in deep, cold waters, such as sardines, salmon, mackerel, cod, and tuna. Fish oil is thought to be healthful because it is composed of rich sources of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids of the omega-3 type. The two most heavily researched fish oils are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Supplemental fish oil has been shown to benefit heart health because higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids provide protective effects for the heart. The omega-3’s in fish oil also help to maintain blood levels of triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood) within normal limits.
One of the omega-3’s, DHA, is a vital component of human cellular membranes, especially in the brain and retina of the eye. So DHA may be important in visual acuity and cognitive function.
WA: What`s the difference between omega-3s and omega-6s? If I take one, but not the other, am I still okay?
Hasler: One of the big differences between omega-3 fatty acids and the omega-6 fatty acids is the components that are produced from them during the body`s normal metabolism of these two types of fats. When the body metabolizes either omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids, a group of highly active compounds known as "eicosanoids" are produced, which include prostaglandins, and thromboxanes. The prostaglandins and thromboxanes produced from the metabolism of omega-3 fatty acids tend to have a more relaxing effect on blood vessels and a less inflammatory effect in the body. In contrast, the prostaglandins and thromboxanes.
An emerging theory is that our diet is far too low in omega-3 fatty acids, especially compared to what it was when we first evolved as hunters and gatherers, and this low level of omega-3 may explain the increasing incidence of chronic disease.
This is also due to the fact that we eat far less plant and fish foods than we should which contain omega-3 fatty acids. Most of us should be consuming more omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in flaxseed oil and corn oil as well as fish. These fats actually get incorporated into cellular membranes which truly brings meaning to the phrase, "you are what you eat!"
WA: A fatty acid doesn`t sound good for me. Why is it?
Hasler: Fatty acids are essential to life. They are critical to membrane structure, and are required for the formation of eicosanoids. They function in cardiovascular, pulmonary, immune, secretory and regulatory systems. In short, fatty acids play a critical role in regulating cellular activity in the body and generating body heat. You would die without fatty acids.
WA: How much omega acids should I get on a daily basis?
Hasler: For the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, there are no set recommendations in the United States yet. However, it is thought from large scale clinical studies that about 1 gram per day may have a protective effect on the heart. The American Heart Association recommends consumption of two fatty fish meals per week for heart health. For lowering triglycerides, 3-5 grams per day has been used, but there are interactions with aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs and supplements (such as garlic and ginkgo) so caution should be used. For rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn`s disease and ulcerative colitis, 3 grams per day has been recommended.
Note: Consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. FDA evaluated the data and determined that although there is scientific evidence supporting the claim, the evidence is not conclusive. Omega-3 fatty acids also help maintain triglyceride already in the normal range.