What’s All This About Omega-3?

Last week, I talked about the one vitamin I take on a daily basis (that would be D, for those of you who missed last week’s post). Today, there’s another supplement that I’d like to clear the air about. That supplement is omega-3 (often found in fish oil supplements also). I don’t take omega-3 supplements, but I do take flax oil on occasion and I always use flaxseed on my salads. Why do I do this? Because flaxseed is one source of omega-3 fatty acids, and it happens to be among the best plant-based sources.

I don’t have a problem with anyone taking omega-3 capsules or getting their omega-3s directly from eating fish. Personally, I think the plant-based approach is a better way to go, but I realize that’s up for debate. Instead of touting the benefits of one over the other, I thought my time would be better spent explaining some things about omegas that you may not know.

You probably know that omega-3s can help reduce cholesterol and even make your brain function a little better. But, is that because this is some magic pill? Do you find it strange that omegas are all the rage these days? Seems kind of trendy, right?

I guess you could say it is a trend. But, as long as we continue to eat the way we do, it’s a trend that’s here to stay (if that makes any sense). You see, there’s more than one type of omega fatty acid. Another of note in this situation is omega-6.

Omega-6 is often painted as the bad guy, but that’s kind of unfair. Our bodies need this fatty acid too, but we don’t need nearly as much as we get from the standard American diet. And, that’s the reason we so desperately need to supplement with omega-3 fatty acids these days. Our diet has changed throughout the years to include more foods that are rich in 6s and poor in 3s. Foods that are rich in omega-6 include meat, dairy and vegetable oils. Foods that are rich in omega-3s are fish, walnuts and flaxseed.

Experts believe that an ideal diet would give us 1 omega-3 for every 4 omega-6s consumed. The standard American diet is closer to 1 omega-3 for every 25 omega-6. Yikes – that’s outta whack, isn’t it?

When the ratio becomes unbalanced, the omega-6 fatty acids begin to cause inflammation within our bodies. Although omega-6s aren’t the enemy, inflammation certainly is. At the root of all illness and disease, you’ll find inflammation. You’ll even find it at the root of heart disease.

Does it make a little more sense now why you need to supplement with omega-3 fatty acids? The more omega-6s you consume, the more omega3s you should be consuming. So, I encourage you to take a closer look at your diet. Is it heavily weighted with meat, dairy and processed foods? If so, you might need to take stock in a fish oil company.

Seriously, though; the best way to tackle this problem is to find a supplement that works for you – and – adjust your diet to contain fewer omega-6 fatty acids.

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