Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Evolutionary Importance of Fish Oil

For those who understand that who we are today is the environmental evolution over many thousands of years and generations, it is not difficult to understand that our bodies have adapted to depend on the biologic components which were in ready supply during our march through time. As our bodies evolved from ape through to homo-sapien, we have remained a viable species because of our ability to utilize the vitamins, minerals and fatty acids which were part of our diets and environment.

We spent much time in warm climates wearing little clothing... our skin produced massive quantities of Vitamin D which all of our cells adapted for survival. Early man ate fish and free-roaming grass fed animals, both of which were high in the Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Prior to the mass breeding of cattle, the beef supply provided a significant source of the Omega-3 fats. Today, the herds are fed corn and other fattening agents which provide poor sources of the essential fats to the animals and thus to our diets. Also, meat was mostly eaten without cooking which preserved the full potency of these nutrients.

Specifically our brain requires a high percentage of Omega-3 fat for the construction of the cellular membrane (specifically the DHA component). Omega fats are shuttled in the body to be used for cellular reconstruction processes when consumed, and only burned for energy as a last resort. When our diet does not include sufficient Omega-3 fats (as is the case with the vast majority consuming the typical Western diet), other types of fats must be used. When this happens, the integrity of the cellular membranes are not solid, and the membrane does not exhibit the proper characteristics. Oxygen and nutrients do not enter and exit the cell in an efficient manner, and a variety of disease processes are initiated. It has been known for decades that when a cell is forced to burn glucose instead of oxygen because of this deficiency, a cancer cell can form within a matter of hours. Additionally, the Omega-3 fats reduce the inflammation raging in most people, a factor blamed in many diseases of modern society and most recently implicated as a major contributing factor to cardiovascular disease.

Today only cold water fish remain as a good source of Omega-3 fats, although much has been written about the contamination from mercury and other environmental wastes which affect many aquatic species. Most people are wise to supplement with fish oil, making certain to ensure that it has been molecularly distilled for removal of any contaminants. How much fish oil is the correct amount? The answer depends on the individual and the risk for cardiovascular disease.

It is critical to read the label of the fish oil you select, making sure that the amount of the two key Omega-3 fats are displayed. Current recommendations for healthy adults with no cardiovascular risks are for a combined total of 1 - 1.5 grams of EPA/DHA per day. For those with known disease or a high risk level, 2 - 2.5 combined grams per day. Very recent information is showing that like Vitamin D, it may be necessary to have the blood levels of Omega-3 fats in the blood tested to determine optimal levels. We will discuss this more as pertinent information becomes available. As always, you should abide by the wisdom of your natural health care provider for appropriate supplement dosing and for blood testing.

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