Your body can make Omega 6 and Omega 9, but it can’t make Omega 3. The average diet (including meat and eggs) is high in omega-6 fatty acids, which is why supplementing with fish oil (Omega 3) is recommended to balance the ratio of 3’s to 6’s. It turns out that 6’s are quite inflammatory in our bodies, while 3’s are anti-inflammatory. Fish oil provides a variety of benefits when supplemented, particularly when the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the body is almost equal (1:1). A ratio of roughly 1:1 is associated with healthier blood vessels, a lower cholesterol count and a reduced risk for plaque buildup1. Fish oil can also decrease the risk of diabetes and several forms of cancer, including breast cancer. The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (2013) reports that omega-3s are known to possess anti-inflammatory properties and are proven effective in “reducing joint pain and morning stiffness.”2
Fish oil is a common term used to refer to two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: EPA (eicosanoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Cold-water fish are recommended as a source of these omega-3 fats as they are the cheapest and most common source of them. Look for Norwegian, Arctic, or Antarctic sources, as these are the cleanest oceans in the world. Krill oil or squid oil are particularly good. Fish from fish farms and European seas are regularly contaminated by mercury, dioxins and similar toxins.
In terms of heart disease risk, it is important to keep your HDL cholesterol as high as possible. This “trumps” your LDL and total cholesterol levels and protects you from heart disease. Most cholesterol-lowering drugs mainly lower your LDL cholesterol. Your doctor may tell you this is the right thing to do, but in test after test researchers actually find that your HDL levels more reliably determine your risk for heart disease. If your HDL is lower than 1.0 mmol/L, you are at increased risk for heart disease – no matter how low your LDL is. When you get your HDL above 1.5 mmol/L, you have a negative risk. The sad irony is that many prescription drugs actually lower your HDL. Blood pressure medications like beta-blockers and diuretics can have a particularly negative impact on your HDL levels. Supplementing with DHA on the other hand will significantly boost your HDL level3.
In my own practice, I’ve helped many of my patients improve their overall health simply by boosting their omega-3s with fish oil. You want to get at least 1200 mg of DHA and 800 mg of EPA from your supplement, for a total of two to three grams daily. This will be the optimal dose for raising your HDL and lowering inflammation. And of course, eat cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) regularly.
Find the PAGDIN’S PICKS display at the following retailers, where we will feature Omega 3 supplements for the month of April:
- Abaco Health (Gordon at Cook Rd)
- Lakeside Medicine Centre (Gordon at Guisachan)
- Remedy’s Rx / Dyck’s (downtown on St Paul)
- Prescription Health Studio (540 West Ave, just off Pandosy)
- Thrive Naturals (97N and Brown Rd, West Kelowna)
- Nolan’s Pharmasave (Vernon)
- Summerland Pharmasave
Your partner in Living Longer Better,
Dr. Grant Pagdin MD
3. Sagara M, Njelekela M, Teramoto T, Taguchi T, Mori M, Armitage L, Birt N, Birt C, Yamori Y. “Effects of DocosaHexaenoic Acid supplementation on blood pressure, heart rate, and serum lipids in Scottish men with hypertension and hypercholesterolemia.” Int J Hypertens. 2011;2011:809198.
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