Fat is an essential ingredient that made us human. It is the dominant feature of our brains. It is required for electrical insulation of nerves and for nerve synapses. Essential fatty acid actions include maintenance of cell membrane fluidity and stability, development and function of brain and nerve tissue, oxygen transfer and energy production, immune function, and conversion of compounds involved in all body functions, including local hormones governing inflammatory responses.
According to the Surgeon General excesses or imbalances in fats are involved in 70% or more of all U.S. deaths. High on the list are deaths from cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and lung disease. Much of this can be linked to two essential fatty acids in our diets. Omega-6 is found in most plant oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower, seeds, and soybeans. Omega-3 is found in oils from cold water marine animals, flax oil, canola oil and walnuts.
Omega-6 and Omega-3 are metabolized to substances called eicosanoids, such as prostaglandins, thromboxanes, and leukotrienes. The differences lie in the nature of eicosanoids produced by each. Significantly, most chronic diseases stem from an imbalance, not a deficiency, of the eicosanoids produced by these two essential fatty acids. Humans evolved consuming a nearly equal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, however, the U.S. estimated ratio today is greater than 20:1. Not good.
Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is inversely associated with the incidence of many chronic diseases by inhibiting coagulation, promoting vasodilation, reducing inflammation and modifying lipid concentrations. Low intake of omega-3 has been associated with cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer,Alzheimer’s disease, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune conditions.
Processes thought to inhibit metabolism of essential fatty acids include deficiency of magnesium, zinc and vitamin B6; intake of alcohol and trans-fatty acids; high cholesterol levels; viral infections and aging. NSAID drugs, such as ibuprofen, can inhibit the production of “bad” eicosanoids but they have significant side effects. The only things that can safely give you the appropriate balance of eicosanoids are food and omega-3 nutritional supplementation.
An enlightened preventive-aging strategy includes nutrition and supplementation to obtain increased levels of omega-3. EPA and DHA are complementary omega-3 fatty acids, best supplied together. Fish oils are the optimal means of enhancing EPA and DHA levels.
Blood tests can help determine your optimum requirement, but a daily intake of at least 1.6 grams of EPA plus DHA can provide significant protection for most adults. Fish oil supplements should be as pure as possible, avoiding toxins such as PCBs, DDT, mercury, and lead. Dr Mahl will make a recommendation to you regarding the appropriate dosage and brand for optimizing your health.