Omega-3s, Vitamin D, and More
Fresh from the cool sea
to restore body and mind
nature's healer comes
– Original Haiku by "Vital Choices"
reader Ginny Eash
Omega-3s and Human Health
Fish—especially fatty fish like wild Salmon, Tuna, Sardines, and Sablefish—are the only abundant food sources of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA and DHA.
The results of countless studies indicate that these vital food factors promote optimal health. (The short-chain omega-3s in plant foods are not as beneficial as the omega-3s in seafood... to learn why, click here.)
The American Heart Association (AHA) says that the ways in which omega-3s reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease are still being studied, and that research shows that omega-3s have the following effects:
The AHA makes these recommendations:
- Decrease the risk of arrythmias, which can lead to sudden death
- Decrease triglyceride (blood fat) levels
- Decrease growth rate of atherosclerotic (arterial) plaque
- Lower blood pressure (slightly)
To see the omega-3 content of selected fish species, click here.
- People without documented coronary heart disease: Enjoy two servings of fish per week.
- Patients with diagnosed coronary heart disease: Consume 1,000 mg (1 gm) of omega-3s daily, preferably from fatty fish or fish oil supplements.
- Patients who need to lower triglycerides: Take 2 to 4 gm of omega-3s daily.
- Patients taking more than 3 gm of omega-3s per day from fish oil capsules should do so only under a physician's guidance.
Excess intake of omega-6 fats can blunt the benefits of omega-3s
The health benefits of dietary omega-3s are blunted when diets are high in omega-6 fatty acids, because both kinds of fat comp0ete for absorption through the same metabolic pathway.
Omega-6 fatty acids predominate in the most comonly used vegetable oils (corn, safflower, soy, canola, cottonseed), the packaged and restaurant foods made with these oils, and livestock or farmed fish raised on feed that is naturally high in omega-6s (corn, soy, etc.).
The ratio of omega-6 fats to omega-3 fats in the American diet has risen drastically since the 1800's, due to changes in eating patterns, and is now 20 to one or higher, versus the nearly equal ratio (about two or three to one) typical of ancient humans and modern hunter-gatherer societies.
Recent research ties this "omega imbalance" to increased risk of cancer, dementia, and diabetes, and to autoimmune disorders.
To see the ratio of omega-3s to omega-6 fatty acids in various foods, click here.
See the Vital Choice White Paper for a detailed summary of research on omega-3s. You can also visit our newsletter archive and search for articles by health condition (e.g., "heart", "diabetes", "brain").
Vitamin D (and more) from Ocean Fish
Safety Issues: Fish Rewards Clearly Outweigh Risks
VITAMIN D—Wild salmon, albacore tuna, sardines, and mackerel are the richest food sources of vitamin D, which possesses critical bone-building and anti-cancer properties. To see the vitamin D content of various fish species, click here. For more information on this overlooked nutrient, go to our news archive and search for "vitamin D."
ASTAXANTHIN—Wild salmon gets its characteristic red-orange color from astaxanthin... a powerful carotene-class antioxidant.
SELENIUM—Almost all ocean fish (including the species we sell) are rich in selenium. This elemental mineral is an essential component of key enzymes critical to the body's internal antioxidant network (e.g., glutathione peroxidase). Selenium also binds to and substantially detoxifies the mercury in ocean fish, which is why children and adults from cultures that eat large amounts of seafood show no signs of mercury toxicity. (Fresh-water fish are generally not rich in selenium.)
The subject of fish safety is plagued by exaggeration, imbalance, and distortion. We sell only exceptionally pure wild seafood that's naturally low in mercury and manmade pollutants (For more on this, visit our Purity page).
But the preponderance of published research suggests very strongly that the well-documented developmental and preventive rewards of fish-rich diets outweigh the minuscule, hypothetical risks to adult, child, or fetal health.
For more on this topic, see “Seafood: Weighing the Risks and Benefits,” “‘More-Fish-for-Moms’ Report Affirmed,” “Mothers and Kids Urged to Eat More Fish,” “Findings Verify Safety and Value of Higher Maternal Fish Intake,” “Fight Over Mercury Risks Muddied by Bad Science,” and “Mercury-Fighting Mineral in Fish Overlooked.”
Here's what some experts say about the importance of diet and omega-3 fatty acids to your health:
“Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can stop arrhythmia before it triggers sudden death from heart attacks. That makes fish such as salmon as potentially potent as any high tech heart drug and considerably cheaper to stock up on.” –Dr. Alexander Leaf, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
“Omega-3 fatty acids have so many biological roles because they are a primary element of health for virtually every cell and organ system in the body. Along with their partners, the omega-6 fatty acids, they keep our bodies in balance, modulating such basic physiological functions as inflammation, cell signaling, blood pressure, immune response, and the electrical excitability of heart and brain cells.” –Andrew Stoll, Faculty, Harvard Medical School
"By far, the best type of omega-3 fats are those found in fish. That's because the omega-3 in fish is high in two fatty acids crucial to human health, DHA and EPA. These two fatty acids are pivotal in preventing heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. The human brain is also highly dependent on DHA, and maintaining high DHA levels can help deter depression, schizophrenia, memory loss, and Alzheimer's. Omega-3 is also very important for pregnant women and children, as researchers are now also linking inadequate intake of omega-3 to premature birth and low birth weight, and to hyperactivity in children." –Joseph Mercola, D.O., founder/director, The Optimal Wellness Center
“My anti-aging patients often start out eating fish two to three times a week. When they see how quickly their skin improves, they are quick to increase their intake to five to seven fish meals a week." –Nicholas Perricone, M.D., author of The Wrinkle Cure, The Perricone Prescription, The Acne Cure
Omega 3s and Cardiac Disease
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