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Posted on 01-14-2011

Patients will commonly ask me which multi vitamin I would recommend. I always respond with, "do you take fish oils"? The answer is usually "no". Many people have heard about the importance of Omega 3 fats in the diet but don't truly understand how vital they are to our existence.

Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats are considered 'essential fatty acids'. They are essential to our health but our bodies can't produce them. We must get them from our diet in balanced amounts. The problem is the typical American consumes on average 20:1 Omega 6 (inflammatory fats ~ meat, cheese, butter, other animal fats.) to Omega 3 (anti-inflammatory, healthy fats ~ fish, olive oil, nuts.) This unbalanced consumption is contributing to many of the diseases in our society today.

Why Omega 3's?

By week 3 in a developing fetus, the brain and nervous system are beginning to develop. This vital system will help control and direct the perfect orchestration of events to bring a baby to full development. The brain and nervous system will feed on all of the mother's Omega fats in order to develop. If mom is deficient in any way, the fetus will not receive all of the essential nutrients and development could be hindered. With each subsequent child we see more developmental issues if mom is not aware of the significance of having sufficient Omega 3 levels.

America is sick!

When the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion compiled their Healthy Eating Index for 1999-2000, their findings were not so great. Only ten percent of the population had a good diet! The other 90% of the population is deficient nutritionally in some way. It can take 6 to 9 months to bring the body's nutritional state up to sufficient levels that allow one to thrive and not just survive. About ½ of all pregnancies in the U.S. today are unplanned. So, why, then do we wait until we are pregnant to take some form of supplementation?

Fish Oil vs. Flax as Omega 3 sources?

Both have great benefit to the body, however, in order for you to recognize the most benefit from flax seed oil, your body must be fully sufficient in it's nutrients. (Remember only 10% of Americans are). Flax oil requires several conversions in the body to finally reach the useable, beneficial form of Omega 3 fats. If you are deficient in any conversion nutrient (i.e. calcium, magnesium) flax will not make its way to Omega 3. Current research shows us that you need to take 20 times the amount of flax oil to gain the same benefit from fish oil. So, which would you prefer: 1 teaspoon of fish oil or 20 teaspoons of flax oil??

Can't I just eat fish every day?

The answer is simply, no. All the water on our planet has some level of toxin mostly from the use of fossils fuels. If you eat fish every day, you will become toxic and then you'll have many other issues to deal with! The recommendation for fish consumption for pregnant women is twice per month. Why is it okay for everyone else?

Fish oil is not just for pregnancy.

Fish oil has numerous benefits. The brain feeds on these fats and every brain function will benefit ~ mental clarity, focus, concentration, calmness, neurological development, and vision. It is also the best anti-inflammatory on the market so think joint/arthritis pain, injuries, and nerve pain. Other benefits include heart health and circulation. It can help if you have high cholesterol (consider the damaging effects of statin drugs), depression, osteoporosis, dermatitis/eczema, allergies, poor immune function, infertility and the list goes on. It is vital to every cell and every cell function!

With all the pesticide use and genetic modification of our foods it is highly recommended that we all take some form of nutritional supplementation especially ALL women of childbearing years. My basic daily recommendation for everyone is 1500 to 3000mg of Omega 3's, 2-4000 IU's of Vitamin D3 (iso form), and a daily multivitamin. Keep in mind that not all supplements are created equal. Because there is no FDA regulation on supplements, quality can range from extremely poor to excellent (considered pharmaceutical grade). Do not sacrifice quality for price! It is best to purchase supplements through a doctor trained in nutrition or a qualified health care practitioner so that your money is well spent.

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