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We are constantly hearing that we should supplement with fish oil to get the omega-3 fatty acids that our body needs. I want to share information that may change your mind – at least I hope it will cause you to do your own research.
The following is quoted from a collegiate nutrition textbook*:
“Fish oil should come from fish, not from supplements. Fish oil supplements are not recommended for a number of reasons.* Perhaps most importantly, high intakes of fish oil increases bleeding time, interfere with wound healing, worsen diabetes, and impair immune function. Fish oil supplements are made from fish skins and livers, which may contain environmental contaminants. Fish oils also naturally contain large amounts of the two most potentially toxic vitamins, A and D.”
* In Canada, fish oil supplements require a physician’s prescription.
(The emphasis is mine.)
Why supplement with omega-3?
In the last few years, we have been hearing that we need to increase our intake of omega-3 fatty acids. When I hear things like this, I must question it. Why? Why do we need to increase our intake of omega-3s?
Well, it seems that all of a sudden we are out of balance! For some reason, we have much more omega-6 than omega-3. A good balance between these two fatty acids should be a ratio of 1 to 2-5 – omega-3 to omega-6. According to the textbook, many Americans have a ratio of 1 – 10. Personally, I think there is a bigger difference than this. But even so, this is over twice the recommended amount of omega-6.
I think we need to look at this and see what has been happening over the last few years that created this discrepancy.
Let’s look at our animals and see what they are fed. It doesn’t matter if it is cattle, swine, poultry, fish – most are fed mega amounts of grain, and most of it is corn. The flesh of these grain-fed animals is high in omega-6 fatty acids. Thus, when we eat these foods, we have a higher ratio of omega-6 fatty acids.
So, what’s the problem with consuming high levels of omega-6? Omega-6 fatty acids have been implicated in enhancing cancer development.* When omega-6 fatty acids are excessive in the diet and out of balance in relation to omega-3 fatty acids, they negatively affect heart health.*
What to do?
So, what are we to do, quit eating meat? No, just eat small amounts of meat and then from animals that are not grain-fed. This means grass-fed, free-range, and wild.
If you believe you need to supplement your diet with omega-3 fatty acids, my choice is flaxseed. Purchase whole seed and grind only what you need. It must be ground; otherwise it will pass undigested. Yes, you can get omega-3 from flax oil, but I would rather use the whole seed with all its nutrients instead of just its oil.
If you’re taking fish oil supplements, I encourage you to research the negative properties. Also, you can decrease your omega-6 intake by eating more plant foods, and when you do eat animal foods, eat grass-fed meats and dairy as well as free-range poultry and eggs and wild seafood.
* Understanding Nutrition, Eleanor Noss Whitney and Sharon Rady Rolfes, pgs. 153, 618, 606.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009
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Posted by Elizabeth Mullins at 9:14 PM