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One of the important factors for people that visit me here at Healthfirst Chiropractic is that Omega3 fats form the building blocks for our body's anti-inflammatory chemicals. In other words, having plenty of Omega3 fats in your diet is like taking a powerful and natural, food source anti-inflammatory. It is well known that acute (or short-term) inflammation causes pain but it is less well known that long-term inflammation is at the root of many of today's most common diseases – most notably perhaps, heart disease. A major review of the evidence on fish oil supplementation recently found that "Most trials reported that fish oil significantly reduced all-cause mortality, myocardial infarction, cardiac and sudden death, or stroke 1." So not only will they help with aches and pains but will help keep us generally healthy. Not bad for something you can easily add to your diet!

Also in just the same way that your muscles are made out of protein and your bones out of calcium, your brain and all your nerves are made, in large part, out of Omega3 fats. In addition to this all of your cell membranes (the outer wall of the cell) contain fat too. The flexibility of this outer cell wall is extremely important for the cells to work properly and for our cells to receive signals from their environment. When the cell wall is made out of primarily Omega3 fats, this keeps the membrane fluidly flexible. When we eat too many unhealthy fats, then these fats are incorporated into our cell walls and, as a result, the wall stiffens up. This reduces the cell's ability to respond to signals from surrounding nerves or from hormones. So you can see that Omega3's are essential for normal cell function.

It is important to mention that there are different types of omega3's. There is the longer chain variety found in fish oil – EPA and DHA – and the shorter chain variety found in vegetable sources such as flax seed oil – ALA. We all require about 1gram of long chain Omega3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) per day to maintain the health of our brains and all the other cells of our bodies.

So why can't we just get it from our normal diet?

Well, we used to get Omega3 fats from all of the animal products that we ate, when animals ate their natural diet of grass, shoots and leaves etc. However, these days almost all animals are farmed and are therefore fed grains (which are high in Omega6 fats) meaning that the fat profile in their meat is very different. If you can find organically reared, grass-fed or wild game meats they still represent a great source of Omega3's.

It is also important to note that humans do not convert the shorter chain Omega3 fats found in vegetable sources (such as algae, flax, hemp or walnut oil) into the necessary longer chains very efficiently. Fish however, are masters at it!

So why can't I just eat a lot of fish?

Today even the majority of fish we eat are also farmed – and therefore fed grain (as well as the many other problems associated with fish farming, including the health of the fish and the environment). In addition to this, our oceans are now so polluted with heavy metals and other toxins (such as mercury, dioxins and PCB's) that if you ate enough fish to get all of your Omega3 requirements you would probably start to glow in the dark!

So what's the best way to increase my intake of Omega 3 fats?

The answer to this dilemma is to take a purified fish oil supplement. Remember that we each require at least 1gram of the long chain Omega3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, every day (that's 1 gram of EPA and DHA combined). Due to the fact that the vast majority of people are deficient in Omega3 oils, the best recommendation is to take 2grams per day initially, and then maintain this with 1 gram per day from then on. I stock Nordic Oil- all you need is 2 tsp a day to begin with and that will set you up well in the days to come, so what are you waiting for?!

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