Frequently Asked Questions
Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids are available at Morningside, Parkhurst, Bedfordview, Fourways, West Rand and Illovo clinics. In Pretoria at Irene and Brooklyn as well as in the Western Cape at Cape Quarter, Claremont, Constantia, Stellenbosch Paarl and Willowbridge branches and in KwaZulu-Natal at the Durban, Umhlanga
There are actually three types of fatty acids that are collectively referred to as omega-3:
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid),
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic), and
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
- ALA is found in foods of plant origin. The richest source of ALA is flaxseed, but it is also found in hempseed, canola oil, soybeans, soybean oil, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil, linseeds, walnuts, and walnut oil.
- DHA is found in seafood, algae, and cold water fish such as salmon, sardines and albacore tuna.
- EPA is found in many of the same foods as DHA, including cold-water fish such as salmon, and sardines, as well as cod liver, herring, mackerel, halibut, anchovies.
At Health Renewal we recommend fish oil supplements that have been certified to be free of heavy metal contaminants, like mercury and fat-soluble pollutants like PCBs and dioxins, which are known to accumulate up the food chain
The more omega-3 fat you eat; the less omega-6 will be available to the tissues to produce inflammation. Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, while omega-3 is neutral. A diet containing a LOT of omega-3 and NOT MUCH omega-6 will REDUCE INFLAMMATION. This is because:
Humans have problems converting omega-3 (n-3) fats from plant sources, (such as flax seeds, walnuts, hempseed, canola oil, soybeans, soybean oil, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil, linseeds, walnuts, and walnut oil) to the longer chain derivatives EPA and DHA. Since EPA and DHA (especially DHA) are responsible for the benefits omega-3 fats provide, and since EPA and DHA are only available in significant amounts in seafood, it follows that we should be consuming seafood on a regular basis. But how much is enough? The question of how much omega-3 to eat depends in large part on how much omega-6 we eat. Over the course of human evolution there has been a dramatic change in the RATIO of omega-6 and omega-3 fats consumed in the diet. This change, perhaps more than any other dietary factor, has contributed to the epidemic of modern disease-inflammation.
Throughout 4-5 million years of hominid evolution, diets were abundant in seafood and other sources of omega-3 long chain fatty acids (EPA & DHA), but relatively low in omega-6 seed oils. Anthropological research suggests that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of roughly 1:1. It also indicates that both ancient and modern hunter-gatherers were free of the modern inflammatory diseases, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes that are the primary causes of death and morbidity today. At the onset of the industrial revolution (about 140 years ago), there was a marked shift in the ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids in the diet. Consumption of n-6 fats increased at the expense of n-3 fats. This change was due to both the advent of the modern vegetable oil industry and the increased use of cereal grains as feed for domestic livestock (which in turn altered the fatty acid profile of meat that humans consumed).
Vegetable oil consumption rose dramatically between the beginning and end of the 20th century, and this had an entirely predictable effect on the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in the American diet. Today, estimates of the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 range from an average of 10: 1 to 20: 1 with a ratio as high as 25: 1 in some individuals. Studies reveal that our average intake of n-6 fatty acids is between 10 and 25 times higher than evolutionary norms. The consequences of this dramatic shift cannot be overestimated as in the U.S. the average person's tissue concentration of highly unsaturated omega 6 fat is 75%. This creates a very inflammatory environment and goes a long way towards explaining why 4 in 10 people who die in the U.S. each year die of heart disease. The RATIO of omega-6 to omega-3 matters, but so does the total amount of each. Omega-6 COMPETES with omega-3, and vice versa.
The short answer is that elevated omega-6 intakes are associated with an increase in all inflammatory diseases-which is to say virtually all diseases. The list includes (but isn't limited to):
- Cardiovascular disease: The relationship between intake n-6 fats and cardiovascular mortality is particularly striking
- Type 2 diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome & inflammatory bowel disease
- Macular degeneration
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psychiatric disorders
- Autoimmune diseases
Extensive research indicates that Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids may improve:
- Artery health, by helping to reduce plaque build-up and blood clots in arteries that lead to the brain.
- Cholesterol, by lowering triglycerides and elevating HDL(good cholesterol) levels.
- Joint health, by reducing joint tenderness and stiffness associated with arthritis and osteoarthritis.
- Bone health, by positively impacting the body's calcium levels, reducing the incidence of bone loss.
- Skin health, by helping to alleviate symptoms related to skin disorders like acne and psoriasis.
- Bowel health, by reducing inflammation of the bowels, helping alleviate symptoms of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Lung health, by reducing inflammation in diseases like asthma.
- Menstrual health, by reducing the pain associated with PMS and menstruation.
- It may help prevent cancer such colon, breast, and prostate cancers as they all have been correlated with low intakes of omega-3's.
- Mental health, by helping to insulate nerve cells in the brain, allowing these nerve cells to better communicate with one another.
- People who are deficient in omega-3's may suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and ADHD.
Omega-3 is one of the rare instances here Health Renewal recommends you take a supplement instead of getting it from your food. Be cautious of eating fish, unless you know they have been tested and are mercury free. Fish, whether farm-raised or caught from the ocean or freshwater sources, must be carefully selected as almost all fish are contaminated with mercury, PCBs and DDT. The only exceptions to this rule are fish like sardines and anchovies, as they are small enough to have minimal contamination. Haddock and wild Alaskan salmon is also less likely to be contaminated with high levels of mercury. Unless you find a source of lab-verified clean and pure fish, then supplements would be your best source of omega-3. But for those of you who can't (the vast majority of people), a supplement is your next best option. In addition, supplementing with Spirulina also helps to "detoxify" fish and also has numerous other health benefits.
If you are not yet taking a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat supplement every day, what are you waiting for? The science on this one is loud and clear: omega-3 fats are essential for optimal health and the best way to get the benefits of omega-3 is to consume it over many years. So don't wait until a health problem appears to start taking this advice seriously. Adding an omega-3 supplement to your daily diet is one of the simplest, and most powerful, things you can do for your health.
Omega-3 in fish and seafood is high in two fatty acids crucial to human health, DHA and EPA. These two fatty acids are pivotal in preventing heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. Your brain is also highly dependent on DHA-low DHA levels have been linked to depression, schizophrenia, memory loss, and a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's.
Researchers are now also linking inadequate intake of these omega-3 fats in pregnant women to premature birth and low birth weight, and to hyperactivity in children.
Yet, most people fail to consume sufficient quantities of this essential fat. Even the mainstream health media now reports that lack of omega-3 is one of the most serious health issues plaguing contemporary society.
While most people are seriously lacking in omega-3, they are overdoing another type of fat, omega-6. Omega-6 is found primarily in vegetable oils (which if you eat processed foods you're eating a lot of) and although it is also essential for human health, when eaten in the unprecedented large quantities it is today, it causes health problems.
The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 1:1. Today, though, our ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 averages from 20:1 to 50:1! As one of the studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition pointed out, high ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 may increase your risk of dementia, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. University of Michigan researchers also agreed that including more omega-3 than omega-6 in your diet may help protect your tissues and organs from inflammation, one of the underlying causes of countless chronic diseases and aging.
To get your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio closer to the ideal 1:1, simply cut back on all vegetable oils (this includes those in processed foods) and get a regular supply of high-quality omega-3 fat daily.
Another way you can receive the necessary omega-3 fats is to eat from free-range cattle and game. Most wild game fit this description, but are not readily available for most us. Grass-fed beef or poultry are reasonable alternatives. Range-fed poultry is available from most health food stores or local organic chicken farmers.
Omega 3s in beef that feed on grass is seven percent of the total fat content, compared to just one percent in grain-only fed beef. It also has the recommended ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats (3:1.)
Grass-fed beef also contains a potent nutrient called conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, which has been linked to long-term weight management and health. The natural diet for ruminant animals, such as cattle, is grass. When left to feed on grass-only diets, levels of CLA are three to five times more than those fed grain-based diets.
At Health Renewal we recommend that all our supplements (such as fish oils) have been certified to be free of heavy metal contaminants like mercury. Consumers of oily fish including fish oil supplements should be aware of the potential presence of heavy metals and fat-soluble pollutants like PCBs and dioxins, which are known to accumulate up the food chain.
In addition, Health Renewals Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids are FREE OF: gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast, sugar, sodium, artificial flavour, sweetener, and preservatives.