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Pass the fish oil, please - Karen Hourtovenko

For many of us, there is too much information out there offering the cure all for diseases. Sadly enough, many fall into the trap buying the new and hip supplement.
For many of us, there is too much information out there offering the cure all for diseases.

Sadly enough, many fall into the trap buying the new and hip supplement. There are many that support health, as well as many that could cause adverse reactions, so consumer knowledge is important.

Omega-3 continue to be in the spotlight. So, what are they?
Well, they fall into the essential polyunsaturated fat category, which essentially means our bodies require it, but cannot make it, so we need to consume it.

Included in the polyunsaturated fat category are the two essential dietary fats: omega-6 and omega-3. Omega-6 fats are everywhere, especially in the vegetable oils used for cooking and baking.

Omega-3 oils, however, are rapidly disappearing from our diet. As recently as a century ago, North Americans were still consuming approximately 1,500 mg of omega-3 oil daily.

This was due, in part, to cattle and chicken consuming grass (which contains omega-3 oils), which would make it into the animal and then make it into us.

Over time, this amount has decreased to less than 100 mg per day. The lack of omega-3 consumption is a dietary tragedy. Omega-3 oils are critical for nerve and brain functional development and vital for a healthy immune system and healthy heart.

Because of changes in our food supply and modern eating habits, these once ubiquitous oils are almost absent from our diet. Fish contains omega-3, but with the concern over toxic PCB and mercury, we consume less than enough to support omega-3 levels.

As a practical matter, dietary supplementation is the only way to achieve appropriate levels of these oils.

In order to guarantee adequate amounts of omega-3 oils, you may consider taking a good quality supplement.

Please ensure molecular-distilled fish oil is in the capsules you choose to ensure the oil is as pure as possible.

The Canadian government recommends 1,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acid per day at minimum to support health. This can vary pending on how healthy your lifestyle is. For those people who consume Omega-3s in their diets, less supplementation is required.

That said, unless you live in northern Japan, where the diet is high in omega-3s, you should consume a high-quality omega-3 fatty acid from fish oil or algae.

Many believe taking omega-3, 6 and 9 together is better, but because we consume the latter two in vegetable and grains, we really require only supplementing the omega-3.

There are tremendous benefits to having sufficient omega-3 in our bodies. It is omega-3 that supports anti-inflammation and disease prevention/treatment.

Supplementation is not the “new” thing to do either. Remember when your mother or grandmother gave you cod liver oil (high in omega-3)? Some of us were lucky to have capsules, while others consumed the liquid (Yuk!).

However, taking these certainly kept colds away and if that were the only benefit, most of us would agree it was well worth it.

More importantly, high enough doses can assist your body in the treatment/prevention of diseases — heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

So do your part and give your body the essential fats it needs to work well.

There are literally tones of research available to show the benefit of omega-3 for our overall health maintenance.

When we take care of ourselves, our medical practitioners have an easier job making sure we stay well.
Here’s to your health!

Karen Hourtovenko, RN(EC), is a Sudbury-based health and wellness consultant.