Mighty Omega’s

July 2018

By Christine Cheng, R.Ph. and Fred Cheng, R.Ph.

Anyone who reads our articles will likely have noticed a trend: we’re fans of supplementing with omega fatty acids! Unless there are dietary restrictions in place, we often suggest the use of fish oils to get your omega’s. But, there are a couple of stand-out products in the veggie-realm that warrant some attention. 

First of all, why do we prefer fish-sourced supplements?  These provide us with omega-3 fatty acids in forms that are ready to use in the human body, i.e., eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). The original EPA and DHA are synthesized by marine plants and algae,which might lead one to ask why not just take the algae-based fatty acid supplements (which do exist). However, as these plants and algae are consumed by zooplankton, which are then consumed by fish, these useful “fats” are concentrated in the tissues of animals higher up the food. Thus, it is easier to get higher amounts of EPA and DHA from fish-sourced supplements.

The use of EPA has been proven useful to treat hypertriglyceridemia, coronary artery disease, depression, menopausal symptoms, and dry eye syndrome. DHA has been used to improve age-related cognitive impairment, cognitive performance, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, and depression. Omega-3’s in general can help reduce inflammation in the body, thus providing relief for chronic inflammatory disorders such as osteoarthritis.

Although fish oils are the most common source of omega-3 fatty acids, alpha linolenic acid (ALA), another omega-3 fatty acid is found only in vegetable-based supplements such as flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, hemp seeds (aka hemp hearts and hempseed oil). ALA can be converted to EPA and DHA, thus it is a great way for vegetarians to get the benefits of omega-3’s. On a side note, although hemp hearts are a great source of good fats and protein, they are not the source of cannabinoids (CBD) in the hemp plant.

Another amazing omega fatty acid is gamma linolenic acid, which is found in high amounts in borage oil. Try this supplement if you have any skin-related issues such as eczema or psoriasis.

We always ask our readers to check with a qualified healthcare professional before starting on any supplement. This is especially important when considering taking fish oils before doses of higher than 3grams per day might interfere with blood coagulation and increase the risk of bleeding. Interestingly enough, in women, the threshold is lower at possibly 1g per day. It is also important to note that the first source of omega-3s should be from dietary sources versus supplements as these are the sources studied for primary prevention of cardiovascular events, i.e., preventing the first heart attack or stoke. Supplements have only been shown to have benefit for secondary prevention, i.e., preventing a subsequent heart attack or stroke. We also suggest our clients choose oil-based supplements from reputable companies that perform third-party analyses on their products to ensure the levels of contaminants and freshness more than adhere to government regulations. This is because toxins found in oil-based supplements could potentially be stored in our own fatty tissues after consumption.

Christine and Fred Cheng are a passionate, charismatic sister-brother pharmacist team at their unique, family-owned and operated Pharmasave stores in Cloverdale and Steveston, B.C. They specialize in natural remedies and compounding for both human and veterinarian use. Everything mentioned in their article is available InStore.  

***All information posted and shared by Cloverdale Pharmasave is offered to provide information and choices regarding nutritional support for various health concerns, none of which is intended to be a treatment protocol for any disease state. The information does not replace seeking professional advice from your physician. Consult your health care practitioner before taking dietary supplements.

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