The Role of Omega 3

Omega -3 ; promote a healthy heart – support for concentration, memory and learning – blood sugar health – healthy joints with an increase in joint comfort – fighting signs of ageing – healthy brain and nervous system function and development – protection for cell membranes – cholesterol and other blood lipid health – healthy liver function – bolstering your immune system – healthy mood support –  optimal skin health.

Respiration is the process whereby the body converts glucose and oxygen to energy and vitality.  This occurs at the level of the cell, by structures known as mitochondria.  A by- product of this process is what we term free radicals.  Free radicals are very reactive molecules which react with the cells and tissues of the body, causing oxidation of the tissues and chronic systemic inflammation. This inflammatory process wears out the tissues and organs of the body and is a leading cause of degeneration, degenerative disease and chronic pain.

The essential fatty acids are omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9.

To combat free radical attack we take into our body anti-oxidants, through the fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and the oily fish that we eat.  Anti-oxidants are the vitamins and the essential fatty acids present in our food.  They work by modulating inflammation in the body.  Many of the foods that we eat are actually inflammatory to the body and are a major cause of the health crisis that industrialised populations face.  Foods that are high in saturated fats, trans- fats, sugars and simple carbohydrates, cause inflammation in the body and are termed inflammatory foods.

The ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 in our diet should be 1:1.

Optimal health is achieved by ensuring a plentiful supply of anti-oxidants and therefore, natural anti-inflammatories in our diet.  Essential fatty acids (EFA) are a vital source of anti-oxidants.  Since the body is unable to make its’ own, it is necessary to include them in our diet.

The essential fatty acids are omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9.  Omega -3 is present in oily fish, flaxseed, and walnuts.  Omega-6 is present in nuts and seeds and other vegetable oils and omega-9 is present in olive oil.

EPA is essential for the functioning of the brain and for nerve stimulation.

The ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 in our diet should be 1:1.  However, the western style diet heavily favours omega-6 and is low in omega-3.  This ratio is closer to 1:20 making it detrimental to health due to the increased risk of systemic inflammation and thus degeneration of the body. These conditions contribute to chronic pain syndromes.

DHA is now thought to constitute the building blocks of the brain.

Omega-3 fatty acids are used in the building and functioning of cell membranes.  They are therefore essential for maintaining the integrity of the cell, by influencing the transport of life supporting molecules into and out of the cell, and acting as a barrier to unwanted molecules.  Omega-3 also act as the precursor for cell messengers called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins help mediate inflammation in your tissues and are essential for combatting chronic inflammation due to free radical attack.

Omega 3 is present in oily fish and krill as the active ingredients eicosapentaenoic acid ( EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid( DHA) and in plants such as flaxseed, hemp, and walnuts as the active ingredient, alpha-linolenic  acid (ALA).  Plant based ALA is converted to EPA and DHA by way of an enzyme mediated process. However age and well- being status reduces the efficiency of this conversion process and scientists believe that even though it is important to take in plant based omega-3, it is even more vital to get adequate level of fish or krill based EPA/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 maintain an adequate supply during pregnancy.  EPA is essential for the functioning of the brain and for nerve stimulation.

There is debate about whether Krill oil is superior to fish oil and whether EPA is more potent than DHA. Also not all omega-3 products are created equal so make sure you buy quality products that guarantee their potency as well as their purity.

Triglyceride fish oils are at risk of going rancid due to oxidisation and as such they need to be taken with high dose anti-oxidants to reduce the effect of free radical attack.  Krill oil is at less risk of this as it contains the potent anti-oxidant, Astaxanthin.  Krill oil is a phospholipid rather than a triglyceride like the omega-3 fish oils.  This enhances it’s bio-availability which means it can be taken in smaller doses than fish oil to achieve the same effect.  Krill oil is also less likely to leave a fishy after taste.

If you are suffering from a chronic pain syndrome you may benefit from supplementing with omega -3.  If you would like any further advice then feel free to call us at the Aquadrome Chiropractic Clinic.


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