I often talk about unhealthy fats, like saturated fats and trans fats, that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are the best example of healthy fats that the body needs to function at an optimal level.
The three most important types of omega-3 fatty acids are ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). ALA is mostly found in plant oils such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts, while DHA and EPA are mostly found in fatty fish, fish oil, and certain types of algae. Salmon, mackerel, and tuna are good sources of DHA and EPA.
Omega-3 fatty acids strengthen membranes around human cells. They can reduce inflammation and provide energy. They support a number of functions in the heart, blood vessels, brain, lungs, and immune system. In fact, the American Heart Association and the FDA have recommended eating fish that are rich in omega 3s for years, and cardiologists often recommend omega 3 supplements for people who are at high risk of heart disease.
Because your body can’t produce omega-3 fatty acids on its own, you have to get them from your diet. If you’re not getting enough omega-3s from your meals, you can get them from supplements.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you should grab whatever supplements are on the shelf at the grocery store or pharmacy and simply follow the directions on the label. There are three questions to ask first.
Most of the supplements you see in stores and online are junk. Many are highly processed and are even at risk of going rancid. Some come from the right type of fish, but if those fish are farmed and loaded with toxins, the oils that are extracted aren’t healthy. Supplements are only as good as the source.
Clean and pure omega-3 fatty acid supplements are taken from non-toxic sources and made into supplements in a way that preserves the integrity of the healthy fats without using additives or preservatives.
Dr. Coetzee and I only recommend pharmaceutical-grade supplements that have passed rigorous testing to ensure purity and confirm that the ingredients in the supplements match the ingredients on the label.
Years ago, cardiologists would prescribe 1,000-3,000 IU dosage for high-risk patients. Today, that number could be as high as 4,000-5,000 because the mountain of research that supports the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids continues to grow. Some supplements have a lower dosage because absorption levels are high. There is also a difference between IUs and milligrams.
The type of omega-3 supplements you take, and the amount you take, should be based on your state of health as an individual. At Natural Healthcare Center, we take the time to learn about your health history and go through comprehensive testing and examination before recommending supplements.
Omega 3 supplements should not be taken at the same time as certain medications. For example, if you’re already taking blood thinners to reduce blood pressure or slow blood clotting, doctors will often recommend avoiding a wide range of supplements. If you’re taking blood thinners, speak with your doctor before you begin taking omega 3 fish oil supplements.
All supplements should be closely monitored. If you notice any side effects or unusual symptoms after taking omega-3 supplements, stop taking them, make a note of what you observe, and talk to your doctor.
Would you like to learn more about supplements, how to identify high-quality supplements, proper dosage, and whether they’re safe for you to take? Call us today to schedule a complimentary consultation at Natural Healthcare Center.