Omega 3 fatty acids are a type of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (PUFA) that help to make up the components of cell membranes in addition to acting as the precursors to prostaglandins and leukotrienes which are subclasses of eicosanoids (hormone-like substances that influence inflammation, smooth muscle contraction, blood clot formation, vasodilation and vasoconstriction). Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosapentaenoic Acid (DHA) are all examples of essential fatty acids that we must consume from diet, as we are unable to synthesize them. Although ALA can be converted into EPA and DHA, that conversion is limited which means that we must also consume foods rich in them, in order to meet our body’s needs. EPA has an anti-inflammatory effect, whereas DHA helps in the development of the brain, central nervous system and retina. Besides acting as a precursor for EPA and DHA, ALA may also play a role in promoting skin health.
The highest sources of ALA in food are from perilla oil (64%), flax seed oil (53%) and hemp seed oil (22%). EPA and DHA are most abundant in fish oils, followed by the meat, milk and eggs of grass fed animals and free run poultry.
That brings us to today’s 2 minute health intervention. Commonly used dosages for fish oil are between 1-12g/day, 5-15ml/day of cod liver oil and 5-30ml/day for flax seed oil. When taking these dosages, the need for Vitamin E and Selenium also increases in order to prevent oxidation of these oils. Their typical dosages would be 400IU/day and 200mcg/day respectively.
Join us next week where we’ll talk about Candida.
- Gaby., Omega 3 Fatty Acids., Nutritional Medicine (2011)., ps.227-30., Ch. 66., ISBN13: 978-0-9828850-0-0. Fritz Perlberg Publishing, Concord, NH.