Healthspan Blog

Long healthspans mean happy lives

Omega 3 fats: your body needs fatty acids

23rd June 2007

I spend my days and nights studying this stuff and providing it to people. I’ve seen literally thousands of mini-miracles with omega-3s and other nutrients in terms of health.

I was at a nutrition conference in California a few months back. A Dr. Maroon, chief surgeon of the Pittsburgh Steelers, gave a talk on fish oil and omega-3 fats. He said that he put every member of the Steelers on the fish oil at the start of the 2005 season; you know, the year they won the Superbowl.

I for one am a firm believer in fish oil, whether it’s the cod liver oil of old, or the highly refined, pollution-free brands of today. Yet, I was still amazed that this physician said it made all the difference. Certainly, it can affect the body in many positive ways, from joint relief, to bone building, heart health, cognitive acuity, softened skin, dry eye relief, mood lifting, anger control, and reduced inflammation overall. It really is amazing stuff, especially if you don’t eat fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, halibut, etc.

I’m not saying that any one nutrient is gonna win the Superbowl for your team, but I know the importance of fish and fish oil. Every cell in your body contains these fats. It’s what makes your cell membranes fluid and dynamic. Other oils can do the same, but these other oils (omega-6 fats) are pro-inflammatory. Omega-3s from marine or plant sources (e.g., flax, walnuts, hemp) are anti-inflammatory. They are the peace makers in the body, while the omega-6 fats from vegetable oils (e.g., corn and soybean) are the warriors. They help fight infection and heal wounds. But there’s too much omega-6 in the modern diet. The trick is to balance it with omega-3s. One other important fact: Up to 20% of the dry weight of your brain is DHA, one of the omega-3 fats found in fish and algae. DHA is hard to get from any other source.

With regard to what to take, it’s all a matter of what works for you. If you like fish, eat salmon and sardines. If you’re on the go and want to get your daily dose of omega-3, have some good quality fish oil around. The dose depends on the quality. If you don’t mind a slight fishy taste, cod liver oil (1-2 tablespoons daily) is great because it is full of other nutrients (e.g., vitamin D) as well. It’s not nearly as bad as what it used to taste like. Nordic Naturals sells a great product. Personally, I take highly refined fish oil capsules from Iceland Health (0.5 to 1 gram a day of EPA and DHA) because it does not repeat on me (no fishy taste), and I only have to take one pill. It’s also free of mercury and other pollutants. There are many other good brands out there, like Nordic Naturals, Omax, Coromega, Zone, etc. There is also a prescription form (Omacor) for people with high triglycerides and heart troubles.

Probably the best brand is Pharmanex. A little hard to get since it’s a network marketing company but you can go to faq.mypharmanex.com/ and order Marine Omega. It’s expensive, but it is the best.

The take home message is that this stuff is ESSENTIAL! Your opinions don’t count here, because the science is absolutely fullproof on this. And you really don’t want to argue with me about science. However, if you wish to follow your old fashioned doctor to an early grave, that’s your business.

The question is not whether you should get this in your diet, but rather how much and in what form. Each of you (if you have a lick of sense) needs to figure that out for yourself.

Comments are closed.