Omega-3 Fatty Acids Simplified
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, meaning humans and other animals must ingest them for good health because the body requires them but can't make them from other food components. The term refers to fatty acids required for biological processes, and not those that only act as fuel. Often sourced from fish oils and flax seed oils, essential fatty acids have been heavily researched in the medical community. Numerous articles in the medical literature support the use of omega-3 fatty acids, especially from fish sources, in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease.
Omega-3 vs. Omega-6 Oils
The position of chemical bonds in a fatty acid molecule determines the name of the molecule. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are the most important types. Over the past 100 years a dramatic change in our diet has occurred. We have invented an industry of prepared foods made in factories and shipped to consumers via supermarkets. With this “invention”, product shelf-life became a premium. Essential fatty acids, on the other hand, kill shelf-life because they have a tendency to go rancid when exposed to heat, light and oxygen. At the same time, large commercial oil manufacturers began producing the refined vegetable oils we are now so familiar with. Currently, 4 oils (soybean, cottonseed, corn, and canola) account for 96% of the vegetable oil use in the U.S. The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of these combined oils is between 12:1 and 25:1. An estimate of the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in our diet 100 years ago is between 3:1 and 5:1. This dramatic shift away from omega-3 and toward omega-6 oil consumption is thought to be one of the leading factors in the rise of chronic illnesses, especially cardiovascular diseases over the past century. Modern agricultural practices have a dramatic effect on the essential fatty acid ratios of animal products. For example, a free-range chicken egg has a omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 1:3, while a corn fed USDA chicken egg has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 19:4. To regain a balanced essential fatty acid ratio in our diet is almost impossible without supplementing our diets with high levels of omega-3 containing oils such as flaxseed oil or concentrated fish oil supplements.
Why Take Fish Oil Over Flaxseed Oil?
Flaxseed and other plant-based foods including walnuts, canola oil, and soybeans are rich in an omega-3 fatty acid called ALA. However, flaxseed lacks the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have been directly linked to beneficial cardiovascular and neurologuical effects. The human body can convert ALA from flaxseed oil into EPA and DHA, but the conversion is not very efficient and very high doses of flaxseed oil are required to convert to even modest amounts of EPA and DHA. It is much easier to supplement EPA and DHA directly in the form of fish oils.
About Quality and Purity
The quality of the fish oil supplements you choose is very important. Low quality fish oils that are not processed properly and lack chemical testing can contain harmful contaminants. These include toxic heavy metals such as mercury arsenic and cadmium and organic toxins such as PCBs and pesticides. In addition, many commercial fish oils can be made in large batches and stored in a warehouse for many months, sometimes in high heat. Improper, long-term storage can lead to rancid oils that are actually detrimental to health.
The Institute for Progressive Medicine carries a variety of pharmaceutical grade fish oils that are sourced from smaller fish and squid from the cleanest waters in the North Sea. They are then molecularly distilled to remove any trace amounts of contamination and leave you with the purest, natural product. Our oils are also tested by a third party laboratory to guarantee purity and antioxidant stabilized to help prevent oxidation and rancidity. Small stock and quick turn around means you will always receive the freshest product available.
How to Select a Fish Oil
Mega Omega products at the institute for Progressive Medicine provide several options for supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids in the forms of EPA and DHA. Mega Omega Balance
is our most popular fish oil offering a near 1:1 ration of EPA to DHA. This product is ideal for patients with multiple chronic illnesses, or those who wish to take a fish oil to help avoid chronic disease. It is also good for blood sugar metabolism, and pregnancy and child development. This product is available in 60 and 180 count bottles.Mega Omega EPA Select
favors EPA over DHA. Higher doses of EPA have been shown in clinical trials to be more effective for patients needing nutritional support for depression, anxiety as well as inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, inflammatory skin conditions and inflammatory autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Using a product with higher EPA levels can help reduce the number of capsules needed to achieve a therapeutic effect. This product is available in 60 count bottlesMega Omega DHA Select
favors DHA over EPA. Higher doses of DHA have been shown in clinical trials to be more effective for patients needing cardiovascular, cognitive and ocular support. Using a product with higher DHA levels can help reduce the number of capsules needed to achieve a therapeutic effect. This exclusive formula is sourced from white calamari, providing a very clean tasting and environmentally responsible oil. A light natural lemon flavor is added. This product is available in 90 count bottles.Mega Omega Pearls
is a fish oil formula designed for young children. This product offers a slightly higher DHA to EPA ratio, which is beneficial for neurological development. Natural orange-berry flavor improves taste and small capsules are easier to chew or swallow. This product is available in 120 count bottles. Mega Omega Enteric Coated
is specially designed for patients who are sensitive to fish oil supplements. Even with pure fish oils, some patients have trouble with repeating and burping. Enteric coating prevents this issue because the capsules dissolve in the intestine instead of the stomach. If you have had difficulty taking fish oil in the past, you will want to try this product. Mega Omega Enteric Coated has a similar EPA:DHA ratio to our Mega Omega Balance formula.
Liquid Fish Oils are also available and are excellent for children and adults who cannot take capsules, or as an addition to smoothies. For more information, please call reception at (949) 600-5100.