Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fish For Omega 3

Fish for 3
Great article, key points are:
Sure, flax seed and walnuts and a few other sources have "omega 3 fatty acids", and these short chain omega 3s and ALA can be converted to long, branched chain omega 3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), but the conversion rates are very low.  Rates are decreased if serum levels of zinc, iron and pyridoxine are low, which they often are in vegans.  Thus: 
Studies have shown that ALA supplements (like flax oil) are unable to raise plasma DHA levels in vegans, despite low DHA levels at baseline. So unless they are supplementing with an algae-derived source of DHA, it is likely that most vegetarians and vegans are deficient.
The bioavailability of iron in plant sources is poor compared to animal sources, so iron deficiency is common in vegans and vegetarians. This is another reason why they tend to be poor converters of ALA to DHA.
DHA status in newborns is much lower in those receiving formula with LA and ALA, than in those receiving milk or formula with pre-formed DHA
DHA, vice EPA, is the essential form of omega 3 fatty acids - EPA seems to interfere with the action of arachadonic acid, providing a healthy inflammatory response, but DHA is a higher impact player.  Bottom line:  health demands that you eat DHA AS DHA, vice as a plant and hoping for a conversion.  This wasn't a problem when virtually the entire population ate grass fed animals and commonly ate organ meats.

Countless studies show that this deficiency is at least in part to blame for the rising incidence of cardiovascular disease, inflammatory disease, mental and psychiatric disorders and suboptimal neurodevelopment.
I don't trust anyone who cites "countless studies", but in this case, there's no down side to DHA supplementation, and a very good reason to think there's a serious downside.

DHA is likely to be the primary reason why populations that eat fish on a regular basis have consistently been shown to healthier than those that don’t. 
Wild caught salmon if you can get it fresh, or perhaps sardines if you can't get the salmon, are probably the closest most of us can come to getting this "essential" nutrient as we were meant to get it - although I'm doing my best to think of ways that I can use the liver of any deer I kill from now on.  Short of that, I recommend Green Pastures products for fish oil.  The Eades ( have recommended krill oil, also.  At a minimum, get some fish oil, note the DHA content, and shoot for a gram or so per day.

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