Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fats – Balancing for Your Health
Written by OmegaXL on May 9, 2014
There is plenty of good science out there suggesting we should be adding omega-3 fats to our diets. The American Heart Association tells us that cold-water fish, such as wild caught salmon, is the preferred source of Omega-3 fats because it has the greatest concentrations of DHA and EPA. While some popular plant-based sources of Omega-3 fats include flaxseed oil and certain nuts, these omega-3s are not DHA or EPA. They are in fact ALA, which has to be converted by the body into DHA and EPA. Unfortunately, that conversion is dismally inefficient and results in very little DHA and EPA. The reality is that in modern diets there are few good sources of omega-3 fatty acid other than fish.
Another good fat our bodies need is Omega-6. The body uses both omega-3 and omega-6 fats to synthesize important hormones the body needs. In the body’s quest for homeostasis, those hormones have opposite effects. Those that are synthesized from omega-6 fats tend to increase inflammation -an important component of the immune system – while those from omega-3 fats decrease the inflammatory response. Both omega-3 and omega-6 fats must be in balance for optimum health.
However, while sources of omega-3s are few, sources of omega-6s are numerous in modern western diets, a little too numerous in fact. In nature, omega-6 fats are found in nuts and seeds and the oils extracted from them. However, refined vegetable oils, such as soybean oil, are used in most processed and fast foods now common in the western diet. Just the soybean oil found in commercialized foods account for a whopping 20 percent of the calories most Americans are believed to consume.
Now that the western diet is so heavily slanted toward omega-6 fat intake the balance is out of whack. Instead of an optimal one-to-one balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, westerners now get far too many omega-6s and not enough of the omega-3s. This imbalance is the reason health professionals believe there has been such a rise among westerners in inflammatory related health conditions affecting the brain, heart, eyes, and joints. Bringing the intake of these essential fats back into proper proportion may actually relieve some of those inflammatory conditions.
Because our food supply is plagued by the ravages of industrial mass-production that has mitigated much of the Omega-3 fats from food products commercially produced, omega-6 intake is approximately 25 times greater than omega-3 resulting in a severe deficiency of Omega-3 fats. Some health professionals believe that most Americans only get about 10% of the Omega-3 they need, but it’s tough to tell because deficiency symptoms are vague and are often not diagnosed. This is because other deficiencies and illnesses manifest similar conditions. However, if you are experiencing joint pain or joint stiffness, there is a chance you might be suffering from a deficiency in essential omega-3 fats.
Since our foods no longer have adequate levels of Omega-3s, the American Heart Association encourages people to talk to their doctors about taking fish oil supplements. OmegaXL was formulated to provide your body with the essential omega-3 fats it needs for optimum health, and ease certain inflammatory conditions.