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Omega-3 EFAs-What You Need to Know

Do you love BBQ salmon fresh off the grill? The benefits of seafood extend far beyond delicious flavor. You probably know by now that fish like salmon are great sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs), but do you know exactly why these unique fats are so important?

Omega-3 EFAs are a group of unsaturated fatty acids that includes alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They’re “essential” because our bodies can’t make them, they must come from food and/or supplements. ALA sources include flaxseed oil and walnuts, while DHA and EPA are almost exclusively found in seafood and fish oil capsules. If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably falling short on these crucial fats. Over the past 70 years, U.S. consumption of omega-3s has declined sharply, while our intake of omega-6 EFAs has hugely expanded.

Research suggests that humans evolved on a diet with a 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 EFAs, whereas in contemporary Western diets the ratio is closer to 16:1.1 This is due in part to mass use of cheap oils in fast/processed foods. It appears that our current imbalanced EFA ratio has some alarming health implications, including increased rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory/autoimmune diseases. One explanation for this is that while omega-3 EFAs have strong anti-inflammatory effects, omega-6 EFAs tend to be pro-inflammatory.2

In terms of cardiovascular disease, a ratio of 4:1-a far cry from America’s average of 16:1-is associated with a 70% decrease in mortality from cardiovascular disease.1 If you don’t eat seafood, can you obtain omega-3 EFAs from plant sources? The answer is that while ALA from plant foods can be formed into DHA/EPA in our bodies, it’s a highly inefficient rate of conversion-a mere 5% in men-and clearly inadequate to meet human needs.3,4,5

Getting enough daily DHA/EPA through daily fish consumption and/or fish oil capsules is well worth your trouble. Research suggests that along with other health benefits, omega-3 EFAs help prevent heart attacks,6 slash levels of potentially dangerous blood fats called triglycerides,7 reduce blood pressure,8 and help minimize disease promoting, chronic inflammation.9,10

Wei Jiang, MD is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Associate Professor of Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine. She became interested in the benefits of EPA/DHA in a 2:1 ratio for treating depression. Dr. Jiang is a strong proponent of EnergyFirst fish oil. When she discovered this particular brand and assessed the pristine quality and critical 2:1 ratio it offers, she asked to use it for a clinical trial at Duke University School of Medicine to study fish oil’s effects on eliminating depression.

If you don’t eat enough fish daily to obtain at least a gram of omega-3s-about 3.5 ounces of salmon, sardines, or mackerel-high-quality fish oil capsules providing optimal levels of EPA and DHA offer a simple, effective solution. Get in the swim-for your health.

1 Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Oct;56(8):365-79
2 Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17 Suppl 1:131-4
3 Int. J. Vitam. Nutr. Res. 68 (3): 159-173
4 Curr. Opin. Clin. Nutr. Metab. Care 5 (2): 127-132
5 Reprod. Nutr. Dev. 45 (5): 581-597
6 Pharmacol Res. 1999 Sep;40(3):211-25
7 Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1993 Jun 14;683:16-34
8 http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/993.html
9 Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2004 Nov;6(6):461-7
10 Mini Rev Med Chem. 2004 Aug;4(6):659-6810

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EnergyFirst, a leading company in the all-natural protein and supplement industry, was founded in 1997. We, at EnergyFirst, believe that everyone can benefit from drinking a protein shake whether the goal is optimal nutrition in a meal replacement, an easy and healthy breakfast alternative, a weight loss aid, or a protein supplement for athletes. We also believe that your protein shake should be 100% natural and delicious. Nutritionist, educator, athlete, and EnergyFirst's CEO, Gerry Morton is committed to providing customers with all natural, science-based, effective products for optimal nutrition, weight loss, and a healthy lifestyle.

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