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WHATS ALL THE FUSS ABOUT EFAS?

WHICH TYPE OF EFA IS BEST?

Essential Fatty Acids are just that – essential.  There are 2 main types Omega 3 (alpha linoleic acid) and 6 (linoleic acid) – you may have heard of 9 but this can be produced by the body and therefore non essential.  Both are necessary but the correct balance is important.  We should eat a ratio of 4-1 (6 to 3), but western diet has the ratio up to 50:1.

  • Omega 6 primarily gives us energy but will also be stored as fat. Omega 6, which comes from grains, and also has high levels of prostaglandins 2 which is inflammatory.
  • Omega 3 has Prostaglandins 1 and 3 which are pro inflammatory. We need both, but we have too much Prostaglandins 2 already in our diet and not enough 1 and 3 to control it. Omega 3 is also well known for brain health.

So we believe when choosing an EFA it is best to focus on Omega 3 as 6 is already sufficiently covered.

THERE ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF OMEGA 3’S

Just to make this even more complicated there is not just one type of Omega 3. The main ones are ALA, EPA and DHA.

  • EPA – EPA are anti-inflammatory and will inhibit the enzyme that produces Arachidonic Acid (found in Omega 6). The more EPA you have the less AA your body has which then means the less production of inflammatory eicosanoids such as prostaglandins, thromboxanes, leukotrienes). In addition, it competes with AA for a particular enzyme that it needs to be released.  If it is not released it cannot begin the damaging inflammatory cascade. This is the actually the same action a corticosteroid uses but without the side effects. EPAs are also key in reducing neuro inflammation thus reducing dementia and mental health etc.  If we think about what we now know, in regards to the gut and brain connection (via vegas nerve), it makes sense the communication between the two is critical.  Less gut inflammation will then lead to less brain inflammation. Omega 3 is well promoted now to support mental health. Less inflammation in the body can reduce weight and fatty liver, support bone health and asthma.
  • DHA – makes up 80% of the brain and increases membrane fluidity in the brain which is critical for nerve function. It also increase the good cholesterol LDL.
  • ALA – is good for energy

WHERE CAN WE FIND EFAS?

Some of the well known EFAs are Fish oil, Flaxseed oil, Safflower, evening primrose.

Flaxseed– is very popular because it’s one of the highest forms of EFA.  But referring back to what we’ve just said  (above) it contains: 18% omega 6 and 57% omega 3 but the ALA type.  So, it has a less effective omega 3 and more omega 6 which we don’t need. ALA can convert to Omega 3 but the conversion is around 50 times to 1.

Safflower has 76% omega 6- more inflammation.

Evening primrose is found to be very helpful for hormone health but it is an Omega 6.

Fish oil not oils are the same.  A good quality oil will have 750mg of EPA and 500 DHA per teaspoon but if you look at the nutrition panel on some cheap brands you need around 10 capsules per day to get your daily dose. What determines the quality is where a fish was farmed, what it has been fed, and the size of the fish.  A small fish like krill will feed on algae and seaweed where as a farmed one will be fed on imflammatory grains and antibiotics.  The big fish will eat the small ones so the potency of EFA will be less in a larger fish.

Vegan/Vegatarian – If you are vegan you will find it hard to get the level of EPA and DHA required, but Free Spirit is a good algae form.

Dosage may be anywhere between 1000-10000mg per day depending on skins condition.  EFA should be taken with food and ideally with fat.  You will see improvements after one month as the cells are created every 28 days or so.

We prefer oils as it is faster penetration and the body doesn’t need to break up capsules.  Fish oils are best kept in the fridge and they can turn ransid easily and lose their chemical structure and benefits.  So why would you buy off a supermarket shelf?

If all this just sounds confusing, you can rest assure we have already done the research at Dermal and we now retail Nordic Naturals which has some of the highest levels of EPA and DHA we can find.

 

 

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