Fishing for the perfect supplement

Sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Courtesy dreamstime.com.

When it comes to adding supplements to your nutrition, Mark Hyman, M.D., may have said it best in his book “The UltraMind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First.” 

He wrote that if people “eat wild, fresh, organic, local, nongenetically modified food grown in virgin mineral and nutrition-rich soils that has not been transported across vast distances and stored for months before being eaten…and work and live outside, breathe only fresh unpolluted air, drink only pure, clean water, sleep nine hours a night, move their bodies every day and are free from chronic stressors and exposure to environmental toxins,” then it is possible that they might not need supplements. 

But, as we all know, that’s a big if. Hence the supplements. There are hundreds of companies selling thousands of these products nowadays. Let’s keep it simple and focus on one good supplement that we could all probably benefit from. Recent research has gotten behind taking fish oil daily, specifically Omega-3. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids. The body can only produce so much polyunsaturated fatty acid on its own that you need to get it through your diet, too. 

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are the two most useful kinds of Omega-3s. They’re found in salmon, tuna, shrimp, herring, seaweed and some grass-fed meats. The third Omega-3, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), is found in plant sources like flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp, walnuts, kale and spinach. Since the body can’t produce this one at all, it has to come from food. 

Unless you are eating ample amounts of these foods daily, there’s a good chance that you could use some supplementation. 

Why Omega-3s? They produce hormone-like substances that reduce inflammation. An inflamed body manages blood sugar and insulin poorly, disrupts proper cell function and signals fat storage and muscle destruction. With this decreased inflammation, Omega-3s can also be looked at as helping with pain management, especially for those dealing with orthopedic challenges.  

Omega-3s reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes and support good cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Omega-3 fatty acids are also highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive functioning. Indeed, infants who do not get enough Omega-3s from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems. 

Omega-3s enhance cell structure by improving the number and function of insulin receptors, thus aiding gut health. They also turn on lipolytic genes, which increase the ability of the body to burn fat, and turn off lipogenic genes, which decrease the body’s tendency to store fat.

Finally, Omega-3 calms and soothes skin due to its role in the immune system, bolstering the body’s production of proteins called cytokines. 

Before embarking on any type of supplement routine please consult with your doctor.  There are blood tests available that can determine if you are deficient in Omega-3s. Symptoms include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression and poor circulation.

Given the benefits and the symptoms of deficiencies, it is worth looking into. It may in fact be a missing link in your overall health, wellness and longevity.   

Reach Giovanni on Twitter @GiovanniRoselli and at his website, GiovanniRoselli.com.

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