A proper balance of omega-3s and omega-6s is vital for good overall health. Not only do omega-3s provide benefits for the heart, they also help support athletic performance and recovery.
Fish and fish oil supplements are the richest source of omega-3s — the main two are EPA and DHA.
Fish oil consumption consistently results in lower levels of inflammation. High levels of inflammation can counteract some of exercise’s positive effects on insulin sensitivity and other metabolic benefits. If inflammation remains elevated after exercise, this can negatively impact muscle soreness, tissue repair and other aspects of recovery. Omega-3 fats have also been shown to improve blood flow to muscles during exercise, decrease muscle soreness by 35%, reduce swelling, and increase range of motion after exercise. For this reason Omega 3’s may help speed the recovery process after exercise.
Studies also show that increasing omega-3 levels enhances insulin sensitivity, which improves fat burning and reduces fat storage. Emerging work is even showing that omega-3s may regulate muscle growth and help during extended periods of rest by slowing the loss in both muscle and bone.
In recent studies, omega-3s in combination with exercise where shown to maximize fat loss. In addition, subjects who supplemented with fish oil decreased blood triglycerides by 14%, increased good cholesterol by 10% and improved the functioning of blood vessels. All these lines of research on omega-3s point to better recovery and improved health for athletes.
A general guideline for omega-3 intake is to aim for 500 mg of EPA plus DHA per day, and an optimal level could be 1,000-2,000 mg per day.
Taking omega-3 fats with an antioxidant may also be a good idea since omega-3 fats are highly unsaturated and prone to being broken down by reactive oxygen species (free radicals). Studies have shown synergy between omega-3 fats and vitamin E.
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Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential nutrients for health. We need omega-3 fatty acids for numerous normal body functions, such as controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain, and since our bodies cannot make omega-3 fats, we must get them through food. Omega-3 fatty acids are also associated with many health benefits, including protection against heart disease and possibly stroke. New studies are identifying potential benefits for a wide range of conditions including cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and other autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
There are two major types of omega-3 fatty acids in our diets: One type is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in some vegetable oils, such as soybean, rapeseed (canola), flaxseed, and in walnuts. ALA is also found in some green vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, and salad greens. The other type, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is found in fatty fish. The body partially converts ALA to EPA and DHA.
Experts say that DHA and EPA — from fish and fish oil — have better established health benefits than ALA. DHA and EPA are found together only in fatty fish and algae. DHA can also be found on its own in algae, while flaxseed and plant sources of omega-3s provide ALA — a precursor to EPA and DHA, and a source of energy.
You may have heard about the importance of having a healthy balance of omega-3s with another fatty acid, omega-6s.
Many experts believe that most people in the U.S. are eating far too many omega-6s and far too few omega-3 fatty acids. They argue that this imbalance may be causing many chronic diseases.
Omega-6 fatty acids are also polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential nutrients, meaning that our bodies cannot make them and we must obtain them from food. They are abundant in the Western diet; common sources include safflower, corn, cottonseed, soybean oils, nuts and seeds.
When eaten in moderation and in place of the saturated fats found in meats and dairy products, omega-6 fatty acids can actually be good for your heart and brain.
The most common omega-6 fatty acids are Linoleic Acid (LA) and Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA). GLA is found in Primose, Black Currant and Borage oil.
Canadian nutritionists at the University of Guelph discovered that fish oil supplementation boosts energy expenditure after a meal, so it makes weight loss or maintenance of a healthy weight easier.
The polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish improve body composition and studies have shown that they help muscle to react better to strength training. They also induce the body to burn more energy. Studies also show that people who consume large amounts of fish fatty acids are less fat than people who consume low amounts of fatty acids from fish.
Fish oil supplementation for dieters works better if the capsules are spread over different meals.
Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish such as salmon and tuna can help prevent muscle loss in aging adults and people with muscle wasting diseases. Insulin and essential amino acids promote protein synthesis in people of any age. A British study using healthy, young and middle-aged adults found that feeding Omega 3 fatty acids along with insulin and amino acids increased muscle protein synthesis at a greater rate than insulin and amino acids alone.
Omega 3 fats have been shown to be beneficial in losing body fat, it looks like they also can play a role in maintaining muscle especially as we age.
Fish Oil Supplements Can Fight Depression
Adults with major depression without anxiety may find serious benefit from omega-3 fish oil supplements, according to a new study (J Clin Psychiatry. ePub 15 June 2010. DOI: 10.4088/JCP.10m05966blu). Researchers from McGill University recruited adult outpatients (n=432) with major depressive episode (MDE, per Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview) lasting at least four weeks for the double blind, randomized, controlled, eight-week, parallel-group trial; 40.3 percent of subjects were taking antidepressants at baseline. Subjects received fish oil supplements containing 1,050 mg/d of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 150 mg/d of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or a matched sunflower oil placebo. Primary outcome was the self-report Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology (IDS-SR30); secondary outcome was the clinician-rated Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS).
The studies major finds show that fish oils may be able to help combat depression as well or better than prescription medications.
Working out and dieting can help create a calorie deficit (taking in fewer calories than burned) which is necessary for weight loss. The ideal situation is one in which you lose body fat and maintain muscle tone. The trick is to get your body to use fat as a fuel source. This is where CLA and essential fats can help.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid or CLA has been shown to inhibit the activity of lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme involved in the uptake of fat into fat cells. This can reduce fat uptake into cells preventing accumulation of body fat. CLA also promotes the body’s use of fat as fuel, helping to breakdown fatty acids allowing them to get into the blood stream to be used as fuel. Several studies have shown that CLA can positively affect body composition.
Liposlim combines fat mobilizers like CLA and emulsifiers that keep fats and cholesterols moving so they do not accumulate and build up, contributing obesity. CLA in combination with the essential fats GLA, ALA, DHA and EPA has been shown to contribute to weight loss. The Liposlim formula also uses Hoodia to help control cravings and appetite.
In a study published in the Public Library of Science Medicine Journal, Harvard researchers concluded that a deficiency in Omega-3 fats is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. On a positive note, fish oil supplements, a convenient source of omega-3’s, were found to dramatically reduce allergies among infants when mothers began taking the supplements during the 25th week of pregnancy and continued while breastfeeding. For people of every age, benefits of fish oil include heart and brain health, improved blood sugar control, and reduced pain and inflammation.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are considered “good” fats. Your body cannot make Essential Fatty Acids, and therefore they need to come from your diet or from a supplement. Since most of us do not consume a diet high in these fats it may become necessary to take a dietary supplement. EFAs contribute to your health in too many ways to list here. Research with EFAs as supplements has been performed in relation to their potential benefits to your heart, skin, brain, eyes, joints and more.
The ideal intake ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids is between 1:1 and 4:1. This means for every gram of Omega-6 you need up to one gram of Omega-3. The typical American diet often leads to a ratio between 10:1 and 25:1, a proportion which may lead to health related issues. Changing your diet to improve your ratio is an important factor in experiencing the full health benefits of EFAs – that’s why so many people take an Omega-3 supplement every day.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 are scientific terms for two different classifications of EFAs. These names are derived from the chemical composition of the fatty acid molecules. Omega-3 fatty acids include ALA, EPA DHA. Omega-6 fatty acids include GLA and LA.
The most popular dietary supplements for EFAs are Fish Oil, Flax Seed Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, and Borage Oil.
The reason fish oil is so popular as a supplement, is that not all of us convert ALA into EPA and DHA. DHA is important for health and, even if the body converts the ALA to EPA, it still has to make DHA. Since we are unaware of who is able to make the conversion, make sure to take fish oil to assure to assure you are getting adequate EPA and DHA.
Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) (Omega-3 Fatty Acids) are responsible for many of the beneficial effects of fish oils. Research has shown that fish oils containing EPA and DHA may have therapeutic benefits throughout your body, especially for the health of your heart, brain and joints.
Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) (An Omega-3 Fatty Acid) is found primarily in Flax seed oil. ALA helps support heart health, including healthy cholesterol already within the normal range, and may also provide immunity benefits. In some of us, the body can convert ALA into EPA and DHA.
Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) (An Omega-6 Fatty Acid) is found in borage, black currant and evening primrose oils. GLA helps the body’s inflammation response and supports healthy circulation. It supports mood in pre-menopausal women as well.
Linoleic Acid (LA) (An Omega-6 Fatty Acid) is found in processed foods, margarine, and vegetable oils. LA helps improve skin conditions. It may also be partially converted to GLA in the body.
Fats that Burn Fat?? This may sound like a contradiction but the research on CLA and other healthy fats is clear. Healthy fats can promote the body’s use of fat as fuel, changing the body’s fuel source from carbohydrates and protein, allowing it to tap into fats as a source of energy. These fats promote two actions within the body. The first is the breakdown of fatty acids allowing them to get into the blood stream to be used as fuel. The second is to keep excess calories from being stored as body fat.
One of our favorite products is Olio. This product combines CLA, Olive, Flax, and Fish Oil. This blend of healthy fats not only promotes weight loss but is good for you as well. If you haven’t seen all the press on omega 3 (fish, flax oil) fats you will soon. These fats promote heart health buy keeping cholesterol levels low, and reducing inflammation.