Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Skinny on Fats

We’re seeing it everywhere; peanut butter, breakfast cereals, heck, even granola bars are now being fortified with omega 3’s, because yes, they are THAT important for you. Heart disease, inflammation, diabetes, ADD, depression, neurodegenerative diseases (MS, Parkinson’s etc.) IQ, and skin diseases like eczema have been helped with the right combination of Omega 3 fatty acids. But are all omega 3’s created equal?

Readily available (and cheaper) plant sources of omega 3 (such as Flax and Hemp seed oils) need to be converted by the body into the usable forms- EPA and DHA. The sad truth is that our bodies have a hard time converting the plant-source omega 3 (ALA) into EPA and DHA. This cheaper and tastier ALA form is unfortunately what is being used to fortify your favourite cereal. Fish oils on the other hand, require no conversion whatsoever. They enter our bodies as EPA and DHA, the usable forms of omega 3.

So it seems that fish oil is the best choice for omega 3, but beware, as not all fish oils are created equal! We looked at a number of different criteria before choosing the right fish oils for our clinic and patients.

Type of Fish and Contaminants.
Another sad fact is that fish today are highly polluted with mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, PCB’s and Dioxins. Professional line essential fatty acids are regularly tested and a ‘safe’ level mandated by government of 0.1ppm (parts per million) for most metals – 2.0 pg for Dioxin. Some companies go far beyond this, having less than 1/10 the acceptable levels, virtually undetectable. The safest and least toxic fish are the smallest ones such as anchovies and sardines.

Extraction Process. There are essentially two ways of extracting the oils out of fish: Supercritical CO2 (carbon dioxide) extraction or Steam/Heat distillation (the most common form). Studies have demonstrated that Supercritical CO2 extraction produces less contaminants and higher-quality fish oils as it is spared the damaging oxidizing effects of heat stress.

Pill size. You typically need a good 1000mg of fish oil for efficacy. Depending on concentration, that can equate to a massive ‘horse’ pill. What about liquid you ask? Fish oil oxidizes so quickly when exposed to the air that as you near the end of your months’ supply of liquid fish oil (even if has been stored in the fridge or freezer) chances are it could be doing more harm than good. Sigh*, I know, I loved the liquid too…

Concentration. Unless you’re under 2 years old, EPA is the most beneficial form for your body and brain. I hear a collective gasp – DHA has gotten all the publicity for brain health and EPA for inflammation. I know, intuitively it would seem so as structurally, the brain is more DHA, but research shows that for therapeutic effect, EPA wins out, click on the research links below for more information.

A ration of 2:1 (EPA:DHA) is most beneficial for cholesterol, pregnancy and lactation, neurodegenerative disorders like parkinsons, Huntigton’s, Alzheimer’s, MS and ALS.
While a ratio closer to 7:1 (EPA: DHA) is most beneficial for inflammation, depression, ADD, concentration, cardiovascular disease and memory.

Armed with this information, Naturopathic Living now carries 2 types of fish oils: all encapsulated (but in relatively small capsules), stored at room temperature, and both of the highest quality with a 2:1 and a 6.5:1 EPA:DHA ratio respectively.
Our children’s chewable fish oil has already been a tremendous success with all of our little patients!

contact Naturoapthic Living at 905-604-2491 or go to our website www.natliving.ca

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