By Roberta Campanaro
Omega 3s have received quite a bit of publicity over the past few years, but truthfully they have been considered an important fatty acid since I was in college studying Nutrition back in the 1970’s and 80’s. Over the past 30 years we have learned a lot about omegas. While I was in college I remember going to the local health food store with fellow Nutrition majors prior to exams to stock up on stinky, fishy, foul tasting capsules to improve our memories. And let me tell you, they were gross! Research was already published back in the 80’s proving they could help with memory and attention, but we have since learned so much more and been able to do so much more to improve upon products containing omega 3s!
So let’s dive into your science lesson for today. Omega 3s are fatty acids, which are considered good fats. Our bodies need fats in our diet, but there are good fats and bad fats. Bad fats are primarily found in saturated fats and trans- fats. Saturated fats are solid fats from sources such as beef, dark meat chicken, butter, whole milk dairy and egg yolks. Trans-fats are synthetically-made hydrogenated fatty acids appearing in products such as vegetable shortenings, margarine and many snack foods. Omega 3s, on the other hand, can come from some plant sources such as flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts, or from cold water fish, krill and egg oil. ALA omegas, which come from plants such as flax seeds, are very good for fighting inflammation, fighting free radical damage and acting as antioxidants in your body. They are also good for your metabolism and may help with regularity, so they are great to have in your diet. However, EPA and DHA omegas are magical omegas!
EPA and DHA are incredible fatty acids, which cannot be manufactured by the body, but come from cold water fish such as salmon, cod, tuna, anchovies, sardines and mackerel. They are life giving to our bodies! They have been proven to aid in circulation and blood flow, dramatically help improve joint health, improve eye health and boost your immune system with their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. But their greatest claims to fame are in helping to increase cognitive ability and to prevent heart disease.
There is so much here to talk about, so we will stick with one topic at a time. Let’s talk about the brain today. Did you know that 90% of your brain is made up of fat cells and 70% of those fats are omega 3s? By consuming the proper balance of DHA omegas to EPA omegas (a ratio of 2:1) every day, you can actually increase the number of brain cells you have and even increase the size of your brain. Now don’t worry, your head won’t suddenly get larger and your brain won’t explode, but you will definitely get smarter! Additionally, it’s important to know our brains usually shrink with age. In fact, our brains will usually start shrinking at age 45, ending up 11% lighter in weight than in early adulthood.
Omega 3’s to the rescue! Research shows you can actually prevent brain shrinkage by taking the right omega 3s every day. Since brain shrinkage is also a major precursor to the onset of Alzheimer’s, it makes sense that all of us should be taking these important nutrients on a daily basis. Of course, most of us in my age group have already experienced what we call “senior moments”. These are simply signs that brain shrinkage has begun!! So, I for one am going to fight this issue tooth and nail! It’s up to you what you do!
I should also mention that omega 3s are good for every age. After all, every parent wants his or her child to be smarter. So, now you can do something about it! New Beginnings works with a manufacturer of superior omega 3 supplements. They have omega 3 prenatal supplements and a creamy omega 3 smoothie designed for kids of all ages. This smoothie actually tastes great too! For adults, they have five additional supplements containing these valuable fatty acids. Contact our office and we will help you find the one suited for your personal metabolic profile and health needs. If you are shopping on your own for omegas I recommend you choose ones that come from wild deep sea cold water fish with short life spans, giving them less time to be affected by toxins in our waterways. You also want to be sure those omegas have gone through a reputable purifying and extraction system, guaranteeing you get the safest and most effective fish oil products possible.
So what should you take daily to care for your brain, heart and the rest of your body? Government health agencies offer the following guidelines:
- Healthy adults: 1000 mg daily
- Adults with cardiovascular concerns: 2000 mg daily
- Adults with symptoms of Alzheimer’s: 2000 mg daily
- Prenatal and nursing mothers: 1400 mg daily
You can follow these guidelines; however, there is a great deal of recent research that recommends higher doses of EPA and DHA omegas to receive the best results. So, I recommend 3600 mg for adults and 1200 mg for children. Follow the guidelines you are most comfortable with.
By the way, I come from a family of very serious fishermen! And, while I love to eat the incredible fish they have blessed our family with, I would have to eat an awful lot of fish to get my recommended dosage. In fact, to get 1000 mg of omega 3s I would have to consume 4-7 servings of cod or 2 full servings of salmon every day! In addition, our oceans are not what they used to be and pollution is a big problem. I would be eating a lot of fresh fish possibly contaminated with mercury and other toxins. So, for now, I eat all fish in moderation and take my omega supplements every day!
I think I have said enough about nutrition for one day.
Next time we will talk about taking Omega 3s for your heart!