The health benefits of Omega 3 Fish Oil and essential fatty acids.

Omega 3 fish oil and fatty acids - What are they and what do they do?

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are the “good fats” that everyone needs in order to maintain optimal health.

These “good fats” raise your levels of “good cholesterol,” and compete with “bad fats”, such as “bad cholesterol”, by sending it to the liver to be broken down and excreted.

One key function of EFAs is that they help the body produce prostaglandins, which regulate functions such as heart rate, blood clotting, blood pressure, fertility and conception.

Essential Fatty Acids - Getting them in your diet?

A good supply of EFAs is absolutely vital if all our organs are to function at a comfortable level of health.

There’s just one problem: the body cannot produce them by itself. That means they must come from the diet, and today our diets are very much lacking in the right quantity and quality of essential fatty acids.

Deficiency and imbalance of EFAs is especially pronounced in the ‘Western’ world, with its abundance of junk food.

EFAs are what’s known as long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which come from linolenic (Omega 3 Fish Oil), linoleic (Omega-6), and oleic acids (Omega-9). An ideal intake per adult per day is 1.5 grams of Omega-3 and the same for Omega-6, and getting the balance right between the two is also important. A healthy ratio would be between 1:1 and 1:4 of Omega-6 to Omega-3.

EFA's - Where do you find them?

We actually have a well-stocked store of these essential fatty acids all around us, if we care to look.

Pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, and nuts are an excellent source, and they’ll give you a good supply of slow-releasing energy to boot.

Some dark leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach and mustard greens contain them, and supply fibre. Eating salmon, sardines, mackerel, albacore tuna, anchovies, and other types of oily fish is another way of getting EFAs.

However, because high heat destroys linolenic acid, cooking in linolenic-rich oils or eating cooked linolenic-rich fish won’t always do the trick.

In addition, many of the processes that produce commercial oils also strip them of their nutritional value. Canola oil is regularly used as a cheaper alternative to the healthier virgin olive oil, for example, and it does have some linolenic content - but supermarket varieties are often refined and processed with chemicals and heat, destroying their Omega-3 content.

Quality is important - Your health relies on it

Cold-pressed, unrefined oils are much healthier (although they’re sometimes more expensive) and you can find them primarily in health food stores and speciality markets. This is also where good quality supplements can help. You can increase your EFA consumption easily and quickly by supplementing your (hopefully healthy) diet with these.
Just remember: quality is important. Supplements and oils, including omega 3 fish oil, should be produced in an inert nitrogen atmosphere and ideally refrigerated to maintain their freshness.

The fact is, that much of the product sold off-the-shelf at drug stores and supermarkets isn’t worth the money you pay for it.

In all probability, the higher the quality of supplement you buy, the greater the benefit to your health, and the less you’ll end up spending in the long-term, especially on medicines. Prevention is almost certainly better than cure! Once you have a reliable supplier of supplements, it’s easy to get maximum benefits from a fairly small quantity of product.

Just one tablespoon of flaxseed oil per day, for example, will give you all the EFAs you need (and it has the highest linolenic content of any food). Evening Primrose oil, linseed oil and omega 3 fish oil supplements are also rich in linoleic, linolenic and eicosapentanoic acid, and in addition, they’re non-toxic and easily absorbed by the body.

It’s not just important to get the correct supply of EFAs – it’s absolutely necessary for optimum health.

Scientists and medical professionals now say that if you consume a good quantity of essential fatty acids, you’re much less likely to suffer from a number of debilitating health problems, including the common degenerative diseases we hear about every day: harmful types of blood clotting and artery clogging, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and cancer. Deficiency of EFAs and imbalance between levels of Omega 3 fish oil and 6 are also linked to asthma, accelerated aging, obesity, arthritis, schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer’s Disease , and insulin resistance, to name but a few.

By ignoring your EFA intake, you increase your risk of contracting these largely preventable diseases.

Essential Fatty Acids and omega 3 fish oil - Recent new research

But that’s old news.

What’s exciting the scientific community at the moment, is the discovery that fatty acids also act as a natural antibiotic.

Increasingly, researchers are discovering how they offer the body a powerful boost to its immune system, by protecting it against bacteria, viral infections, and unhealthy kinds of fungus.

Experiments show that some kinds of fatty acids work particularly well to inactivate herpes, influenza and some viruses, often within minutes of contact. Stand by for updates on this new development! (See medical reference #15)

EFA's look after your kids!

Perhaps most importantly, when it comes to growth in children, EFAs are vital.

A foetus needs it in order to develop correctly. Babies fed on milk containing fatty acids usually suffer from much lower rates of infection.

Older children often show a marked improvement in their behaviour and concentration at school when they take a regular fatty acid supplement, and taking EFA and omega 3 fish oil supplements drastically reduces the tendency of some children towards Attention Deficit Disorders.

Clearly, these clever chemicals act as nature’s way of giving us a good start in life! Fortunately, the benefits are also wide-ranging and well-documented for individuals of any age.

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