Do you find yourself feeling chronically inflamed or having trouble recovering from workouts? Maybe your moods are all over the place. Perhaps you’re super forgetful. Maybe allergies plague you, or you’re struggling to get your cholesterol in check. I have found in my practice over and over again that many patients are deficient in their good fats, which can really do a number on your overall health! Most of us have heard that we need fish oils, flaxseed or chia to get our omega-3s. However, what do we need to do to get in those healthy fats?
Vitamin B6 is a common deficiency that goes hand in hand with not getting the right omega-3 fatty acids. It could be that you’re not eating the omega-3 fatty acids, or it could be that you’re not absorbing vitamin B6 and you can’t convert the fat you eat into useful omega-3s.
I highly recommend that everyone take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement! My favorite form is a fish oil form, but I understand that not everybody is into fish oil. For those people, I recommend some of the vegan sources such as walnuts, flax, and chia seeds. Make sure that you get raw walnuts and whole flax seed that you grind yourself. If it is already ground and sits on the shelf, you have no idea how long it has been there. By the time you get the seeds you might not be getting many omega-3s.
Something that I see in my practice is that way too many of us are getting omega-6 fatty acids. Nobody seems to have any deficiency in the omega-6 department! Where do we get omega-6 fatty acids from? Vegetable oils such as cottonseed, sunflower, and safflower. We have been told that these are healthy oils, and they are if they are expeller pressed. If you don’t see “expeller” on the label, then you’re getting a refined oil. Most of the time when you’re going out to eat you will be getting a vegetable oil blend, which is not a good thing. Omega-6 levels can be elevated in this case.
Processed grains are another huge source of omega-6. So when I look at a profile of fatty acid balance on a patient and I see the omega-6 levels off the charts, I start with targeting the oils in their diet.
Why are Omega 3’s important?
I find omega-3’s to be amazing because they do a ton for our bodies! I will cover some of the amazing benefits here.
Omega-3’s help keep our blood viscous. If our blood is sticky it bounces and sticks to the sides of our artery walls, which can damage the cells. Then we end up having the possibility of plaque in our arteries. We want our blood to be very viscous and very slippery. Omegas can help with this.
Omega fatty acids can interrupt our inflammation process by blocking prostaglandins and arachidonic acid. This acid is omega-6 that comes from eating too much animal product. It’s an amazing thing that omega fatty acids can block these types of issues because if we have arachidonic acid then we have stickier blood.
PMS and Menstrual Pain
One of the things that I like to use omega-3 fatty acids for is women that get PMS and menstrual pain. This is for you ladies that get cramps before your period. If you take omega-3 fatty acids your chances of having period cramps can be drastically less. It’s huge for preventing cramps and even back pain associated with your period.
Another thing that I love omega-3 fatty acids for is that they help to keep our mast cells from not being overly sensitive. Mast cells are cells that release histamines. Histamines cause itching and redness. You see this body response when you get a mosquito bite. That’s all thanks to histamines. You can prevent this by getting some omega 3 fatty acids! and because omega-3s or fats right.
We have this layer called the phospholipid bilayer around every single one of our cells. We need fatty acids to create this phospholipid bilayer. If we have good amounts of omega-3s, our useful fatty acids in the body, we can make these cell layers. It can make all of our cells super strong. We use omega-3 fatty acids for helping with eye health, for helping with nerve health, for skin health. It works to keep all of our cells healthy. Neural tissue uses fat to help insulate nerves. Omegas are just amazing for brain health.
Having omega-3’s in your diet can help with the skin. The reason being is that having those good fats in the body helps manage your oil production. If you have good fats coming into the body, you’re not going to overproduce oils on your skin. A lot of times acne is not because your skin is too oily. It’s actually because your skin is too dry! Your body is trying to compensate for the dry skin and it overproduces oil. How do you balance that? Omega-3 fatty acids. They can also help with hydration of your skin. And the reason being is that fat locks in moisture. It will lock in oil and fluid to the skin.
If you’ve ever had bumps on your upper arms, this is related to a fatty acid deficiency and a vitamin A deficiency. Omega-3 fatty acids can help with this because it’s going to help prevent this process called hyperkeratinization. This is a protective mechanism where the body is putting out these little spines onto your skin to protect it. And you know what it’s a that he was being nice and smooth.
Omega-3 fatty acids are really great for calming the mind but also working to increase melatonin production to help you sleep.
Omega-3s have a myriad of different areas where they are super helpful to our bodies. The big takeaway is that they help with tissues; bones tissue, skin tissue, and your blood and blood vessels, which are all tissues. Because omega-3 fatty acids are so critical to your cells and cell strength, they are vital to your overall health and longevity.
I highly recommend that everybody go out and grab some form of omega-3 fatty acid supplement. The other option is eating somewhere between 3 and 6 ounces of fish three days a week. You need to make sure this is high quality fish such as wild caught salmon or halibut from very cold waters. There is a concern with mercury and toxicity. If you’re getting an omega-3 fish oil you also want to get that from a very high quality cold water source. This is important because if you’re getting your fish sourced from a warm water area, they’re not as high quality fish oils as the cold water Alaskan and Nordic sources.
Finding The Balance Between The Fats
Something that I recommend to help to get your omega-3s in check is making sure that you’re getting enough vitamin B6. Most of us do not have a deficiency of the omega-6s because we are getting it in grains. Omega-3 deficiency is much more common. The good news is is that some of our omega-3 rich nuts also have omega-9s as well, so we can balance them out by eating nuts. If you’re feeling like you aren’t able to get enough of the omegas, Nordic Naturals makes supplements containing all three.
I recommend fish oil from Nordic Naturals, which is one of my favorite companies. Another company is called Stronger Faster Healthier. They have really quality fish oils as well. Barlean’s is a company that’s been around a long time and they have great customer service.
What I Supplement
One of the big questions that I get asked pretty much every day is “What supplements do you take?”
I take the following:
– Glycine– Helps me recover from the gym. I take 3 grams a day.
– Magnesium– I take 900 mg of magnesium a day.
– B-Complex- I take one by Designs for Health
– Vitamin D
– Omega-3 fatty acids
Give It A Try
There you have it- the five main categories of deficiencies that I see in patients and vitamins that I think are critical to your overall functioning. I’ve linked to various companies that make great products here which will help you get started. If you want to prevent fatigue, chronic aches and pains, and just help yourself to live a longer, happier, healthier life, consider supplementing those crucial omega fatty acids in your diet.
This blog post is a summary of my podcast on this topic. Click here to listen the podcast!