We have all heard that we should be adding essential fatty acids to our diet but exactly how much, and what kind can be confusing. The body can make most of the fats it needs from our everyday diet. The three basic Omega 3 fatty acids are ALA (alpha linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic  acid) and DHA ( docosahexaenonic acid). Both EPA and DHA can be converted from ALA, but how well this conversion takes place is not really known. The two Omega 3 fatty acids that are typically recommended are EPA and DHA.

Omega 3 fatty acids are considered anti-inflammatory whereas Omega 6 fatty acids are typically considered pro-inflammatory and are present in processed foods and vegetable oil. The average person in the United States gets plenty of 6 in there diet with the exception of GLA which is considered a good Omega 6. In fact recent studies show that the ideal ratio of 6s to 3s should be 4:1 or less, and currently the average American has a ratio closer to 25:1  There are not many food sources of GLA so supplements with Evening primrose oil, Borage oil and Black currant oil are usually taken by people wishing to increase GLA levels. So if it is recommended that you should increase good fatty acids in your diet, just what should you be doing?

First of all a healthy diet consisting of green leafy vegetables, nuts, extra virgin olive oil for cooking and in salad dressings would be a great place to start. Eat more oily fish, walnuts, flax seeds, and omega-3 fortified eggs. And if at the end of the day you want to take a supplement, choose one that contains a higher amount of EPA (300-500 mg) and DHA (400-600 mg) per serving.  Most quality fish oil will meet this criteria or even better a supplement with concentrated omega-3s, as EPA and DHA can be as high as 90%. Look for brands that contains omega-3s as free fatty acids (best), triglycerides or phospholipids.

As for Omega 9 fatty acids, they are described as non-essential, because our bodies can make them from other things we eat, and we don’t have to depend on direct dietary sources to obtain them. The main omega-9 is oleic acid, found in olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and sunflower oil. And since your body can make its own, you don't need to take a supplement with Omega 9 in it. Save your money.

In the next post, I will talk about the benefits of each fatty acid and whether or not it is worth the time and money to supplement. In the meantime if you have any questions regarding fatty acid supplementation feel free to call Alexandria Chiropractic Center at 859-635-6666 and ask to speak with Dr. Kevin E. Crowley.

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