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Fatty Acids

 

 

 

 

Omega 3 EFA Supplements 

Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA's) are polyunsaturated "good" fats. Three of this group of fatty acids are considered ‘essential’ and are normally obtained from dietary sources, although some synthesis does take place in the body. The typical Western diet contains an excess of omega-6 fatty acids relative to omega-3 fatty acids, and this imbalance may be behind a number of the new diseases of the West, including heart disease, diabetes and immune system problems.

The omega-3 fatty acids are ALA, EPA and DHA.

 

Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA)

ALA is found primarily in flax seed oil and is also found in blackcurrant seed oil. The positive effects of ALA have been documented in many areas including: high blood pressure and immune system function.

Flax oil (linseed oil) or raw seeds are the preferred supplement source of this nutrient as it is relatively cheap and widely available.

 

Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

These two fatty acids are responsible for the beneficial effects of fish oils such as salmon oil and krill oil (krill are small crustaceans) and in whole mackerel and tuna and certain supplements derived from marine algae. Research has confirmed that fish oils containing high levels of EPA and DHA have therapeutic benefits in areas including: high blood triglycerides (a risk factor for heart attack), high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heart beat, which may lead to death if it occurs during a heart attack), and brain maintenance (the human brain is composed of about 20% by weight DHA). Research shows that low levels of this important fatty acid are connected to increased incidence of mood, personality and behavioral disorders.Because omega-3 EFA's can be converted into anti-inflammatory substances (prostaglandins and leukotrines), they're also believed to provide joint support, promoting flexibility, mobility and potential pain relief.

Supplements high in EPA and DHA are fish oils including krill oil. Fish oils are extracted from the tissues of fatty fish like salmon and herring and contain high levels of EPA and DHA. You should be aware that cod liver oil is generally not a good source of these EFAs as it contains high levels of vitamins A and D but the concentration of APA and DHA are typically low (although some proprietory ‘cod liver oil’ contains augmented levels of the EFAs).

Most of the world’s oceans are now becoming polluted with high levels of mercury, and the dangers of mercury toxicity from seafood and seafood derivatives are now reaching a significant level. The process of ‘molecular distillation’ removes such heavy-metal toxins so you should look for this on supplement labels. One of the few reaming safe sources (without molecular distillation) appears to be Alaskan salmon oil.

The recommended daily intake of EPA plus DHA is about 650-1000 mg (up to 5g/day for specific ailments, during pregnancy and lactation, or where the diet is overly rich in omega-6 EFAs).

 

Omega-6 EFA Supplements
 

The typical Western diet already contains an excess of omega-6 fatty acids, much of which is in the form of Linoleic Acid (LA), found in cooking oils and processed foods. This is converted to GLA in the body, which is then broken down to Arachidonic Acid (AA) and Dihomo Gamma Linolenic Acid (DGLA). However, Linoleic and arachidonic acids tend to promote inflammation and so put a strain on many organs when consumed in excess. In contrast, GLA may actually reduce inflammation and so is a safer option.

Because GLA can be synthesised in the body from linoleic acid, the need to supplement with GLA has not been firmly established. In fact, because taking any omega-6 supplement may further increase the imbalance between uptake of omega-3 EFAs and omega-6 fatty acids, it may actually be undesirable. Because GLA supplementation can displace some linoleic acid, it is often recommended for inflammation. However, if you do take GLA supplements, you should greatly increase your intake of omega-3 supplements (to 5g/day or more) to offset this.

GLA is found primarily in borage oil and to a lesser extent in evening primrose oil and blackcurrant seed oil.  

 

Cetylated Fatty Acid Supplements (CFAs) - Celadrin

Celadrin ('Celaritis') is the trade name for a mixture of cetylated fatty acids (CFAs) structurally similar to 'omega 3' oils. CFAs are saturated fats commonly extracted from bovine tallow oil and are increasingly used to reduce pain and swelling in arthritic joints.

The main constituents are myristic acid and oleic acid which are both produced naturally in the body. Oleic acid is an 'omega 9' oil also found in olive oil and in most meats and oily seeds. Myristic acid is found in full fat milk, butter and some vegetable oils such as palm oil and coconut oil. It is believed that as we age the natural production of these key nutrients can decrease, and supplementing with these oils can have significant benefits for arthritis sufferers.

Topical application of creams containing CFAs, which bypasses potential destruction of the oils by digestive enzymes, also appears to be effective in relieving some artritis symptoms.

 

 

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