Omega 3’s standout as the most anti-inflammatory of the poly unsaturated fatty acids (omega 9’s also acting as anti-oxidants). They modulate NF-kappaB (central in the inflammation cascade), help heal leaky gut, treat pain in arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis, benefit the cardiovascular system, and even help lower allergic reactions in the current and future generations. And don’t forget, they are good for your brain whether you’re young, old or even suffering after a concussion.
Anti-inflammatory: Omega 3’s suppresses NF-kappa B through activating PPAR-alpha, causing a decrease in inflammatory triggering mediators.
Leaky Gut: At least in experimental rats, leaky gut is prevented by omega 3 administration. I have seen other research supporting their use but will have to add more later.
Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Multiple studies in rheumatoid arthritis indicate a significant benefit when omega 3’s are dosed appropriately.
Cardiovascular: This area has been widely studied. Omega 3’s can lower particle numbers for the cholesterols which trigger atherosclerosis. It causes the small dense LDL to enlarge to the less dangerous larger ones. It reduces triglycerides while increasing HDL (protective). It improves insulin sensitivity, lowers inflammation, and acts to lower clot risk. It also lowers blood pressure, decreases atrial fibrillation, and improves heart rate variability. More importantly it lowers morbidity and mortality.
Allergies: For those suffering from asthma and allergies, omega 3’s can help shift the immune system away from allergic responses. For babies in utero, the mom’s intake of omega’s 3’s lowers the baby’s future risk of allergic diseases.
Brain Health: Studies show that the Omega 3, DHA, particularly benefits brain health. Besides their cardiovascular benefits, they also seem to protect the concussed brain from suffering long term effects.
How to Get the Benefits of Omega 3’s: Sources of omega 3’s include not only marine sources (cold water fish, krill oil, and algae) but also for vegetarians flaxseed and other oils (options for vegetarians).
When using omega 3’s from marine sources, awareness of mercury toxicity risk is necessary. Eating fish without paying attention to mercury levels could lead to other health issues. Even supplements may contain mercury if not harvested and processed properly. At Sanctuary we steer our patients toward safer forms of Omega 3’s.
How to take Omega 3’s
Omega 3’s are fat soluble. They will absorb when taken with other food, but if they cause fish burps, one can free them and take them frozen. By the time they melt, they are further down the intestines.
Potential Side Effects of Omega 3 usage:
- Allergic reactions: As with nearly any therapy, anyone can develop allergies to any chemical we give them. Severe reactions are uncommon with Omega 3’s, unless a person is allergic to fish. In that case, vegan forms of omega 3’s are available which are derived from algae oil if one is aiming for EPA and DHA. Alpha linolenic acid is an omega 3 from plant sources like flax seed, walnut oil, and more.
- Blood Pressure drop: Some patients who run a low blood pressure (systolic 100-110) may find that higher doses of omega 3’s with EPA and DHA can drop the blood pressure sufficient to cause fatigue or dizziness. Alpha linolenic from plant sources like flax seed typically do not do this.
Review of Omega 3’s:
Kiefer, David and Traci Pantuso. “Omega-3 fatty acids: An update emphasizing clinical use” Agro food industry hi-tech vol. 23,4 (2012): 10-13.
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Darshan S. Kelley, David Siegel, Dawn M. Fedor, Yuriko Adkins, Bruce E. Mackey; DHA Supplementation Decreases Serum C-Reactive Protein and Other Markers of Inflammation in Hypertriglyceridemic Men, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 139, Issue 3, 1 March 2009, Pages 495–501, https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.108.100354
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Darshan S. Kelley, David Siegel, Madhuri Vemuri, Gloria H. Chung, Bruce E. Mackey, Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation Decreases Remnant-Like Particle-Cholesterol and Increases the (n-3) Index in Hypertriglyceridemic Men, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 138, Issue 1, January 2008, Pages 30–35, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/138.1.30
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Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.