Stop being a howdedodat… Here’s how:
Everyone has heard the buzz about omega-3, omega-6, or fish oils. However, many people are still in the dark about what these words mean and why it should be important to them. I hope this will help clear up some of the confusion.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary for human life and must be obtained through the diet. EFAs are needed for the body to function properly. Omega-3 and omega-6 are two of these EFAs and they are found in the body’s cell membrane.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are two types of Omega-3s. They are found in most cold water fish. These omega-3s occur together in nature and work to balance the effects of omega-6s. They have many health benefits, including promoting healthy vision to strengthening the immune response.
Linoleic acid (LA) and Arachidonic acid (AA) are two types of omega-6s, and are found in vegetable oils and red meat respectively. These omega-6s are in charge of pro-inflammatory signals. They cause constriction of blood vessels and promote inflammation.
Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are needed for survival. The problem this day and age is that our diets tend to be very high in omega-6 fatty acids and very low in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids compete for space in the body’s cell membrane. Without omega-3s the body’s cells become compromised leading to decreased health (increased inflammation). Omega-6s seem to be winning out, and are causing a chronic diseased state in the bodies of our population.
You can increase your amount of omega-3 fatty acids in two ways: Through diet, and by supplementing with a pill or oil. In your diet you can consume less omega-6s (red meat, dairy, eggs) and start eating more omega-3s (tuna, salmon, oysters, halibut). If you are supplementing with an oil or pill remember to look at the labels. Look for EPA and DHA levels. Often times the labels will say 1000mg soft gel, which is referring to the size of the pill only, and not the levels of EPA and DHA within. International intake guidelines suggest 500mg EPA and DHA to avoid deficiency, 1000mg for support, and 2000 to 4000mg for high intensity support.
I hope this has helped clear up some of the confusion and shown the importance of omega-3s and why we desperately need them. Remember that this information is for educational purposes only. Seek the advice of a health specialist before starting any new supplements.