The Mailbox: Can you take too many Omega-3’s??

inseed backgroundDear Health Junction),

How many essential fatty acids should you be taking per day?  Can you take too much?  What about vegan sources vs omega 3 and 6 from fish oil?  I want to make sure I’m getting what I need plus I take a multi and fish oil so don’t want to take too much!



Hi CP,

Essential Fatty Acids are a type of fat that are labeled “essential” because we can’t make it in our body.  The same goes when you hear the term Essential Amino Acids.  So, we need to derive both Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids from our diet (we can make Omega-9 by ourselves).


These compounds are made from string of carbons and a carboxyl group and the two types of EFA’s are differentiated based on where the first double bond appears.  In the case of Omega-3’s the first double bond occurs on the third carbon from the end whereas with Omega-6’s it occurs on the sixth carbon.


PG1 = Anti-inflammatory PG2 = inflammatory PG3 = Anti-inflammatory

We should be getting roughly 4 times as many Omega-6’s in our diet as Omega-3’s but our current diet actually lends to a 20:1 ratio versus the recommended 4:1.  High sources of O-6 are typically found in vegetable oils where as high sources of O-3 are found in fish, flax seeds, walnuts, and avocado’s.  The big difference is that when we consume an O-6 it can be either inflammatory or anti-inflammatory based on the pathway it takes in our body (PG1 vs PG2), whereas Omega-3’s will ALWAYS be anti-inflammatory.  So, when you are looking at EFA’s, focus on increasing your Omega-3 intake and decreasing sources of Omega-6 (reduce use of vegetable oil).


Omega-3 Fatty Acids are vital for health as they help keep our cell structure strong and flexible, they reduce inflammation, and help to keep our blood thin and void of clots.  Some common conditions that can be supported through the adequate ingestion of Omega-3 include:

Alzheimer’s disease, Asthma, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Bipolar Disorder, Cancer, Cardiovascular disease, Depression, Diabetes, Eczema, High blood pressure, Huntington’s disease, Lupus, Migraine headaches, Multiple sclerosis, Obesity, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Psoriasis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Irritable Bowel Disorder.

Not getting enough Omega-3 has been linked to several health issues.


So, how much should you be taking in each day?  Adults should not be taking more than about 3 grams of Omega-3 fish oil each day.  That includes what you take in from your diet as well as a supplement.  To give you perspective, a 3 oz serving of salmon provides anywhere between 1.1 and 1.9 grams of O-3.  Most of us could probably benefit from taking an omega-3 supplement without the harm of going over 3 grams per day.  I personally take an omega-3 capsule that has 1400 mg’s of fish oil each day.  To give you peace of mind, it’s far more common to be deficient in omega-3!

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“We can make a commitment to promote vegetables and fruits and whole grains on  every part of every menu. We can make portion sizes smaller and emphasize  quality over quantity. And we can help create a culture – imagine this – where  our kids ask for healthy options instead of resisting  them.
–  Michelle Obama


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Yuppies & Hippies Co-Exist @ Evergreen Brickworks Farmers’ Market

My friend Emily S has been raving about the Evergreen Brickworks Farmers’ Market for the year and a half since we met.  Emily brings her son Yatel and now new baby Sayen to the Toronto-based market that National Geographic named one of the top 10 geotourism destinations in the world in 2010.


Emily said I would love The EBW and so this morning, I finally dragged my rump out of bed for an 8:45 am pick-up to visit the market with Emily, Yatel, and Sayen.  Woah, did I ever have fun.


Evergreen Brickworks is “a community environmental centre that inspires and equips visitors to live, work and play more sustainably.”   Aside from the amazing year-round market, EBW has programming designed to help schools, communities, and individuals build green sustainable spaces.  In short, Evergreen Brickworks is connecting us with nature and it’s pretty amazing.

Now, back the  market.  There was maple syrup, bread makers, a rainbow coloured array of vegetables (including Turkish eggplant…new to me), baskets of fruit (blueberries, pears, and peaches seem to be in season), cheese, soaps, lotions, lamb, beef, pork, fish, honey, crepes, muffins, COFFEE!, juices, beet brownies, wine, teas, chocolate, crackers, grains, and much much more.




goat soap

Going to a Farmers Market naturally helps us learn about what is in season locally.  I saw lots of leafy greens, carrots, green onion, onions, peaches, and eggplant.  If you’re thrifty, shop around and search for the  best vendors.  My friend Emily knows exactly where to go for the best deals and has over time, built a relationship with the farmers who giver  her a dollar or two off and pack her baskets extra full.


It was cool to see the variety of shoppers who co-exist with the shared goal of trying new food and being part of a greater community of health and environmentally conscious people.  I saw about 100 pairs of Hunter boots pushing Uppababy strollers and just as many slightly ripe smelling hippies wearing linen pants.





I thought it was cool to watch kids interact with the food, farmers, and the extraordinary number of extremely cute dogs.  Yatel is almost four, but he knows a lot about food and where it comes from.  When they get home from the market each week, Emily pulls out all the produce and Yatel tells her what they’ve purchased.  Very cool.


I’ll definitely be making EBW’s a Saturday morning destination.  Check it out yourself (550 Bayview Avvenue) by foot, bike, car, TTC (28 from Davisville Station), or a Free Shuttle Bus (leaves from Erindale/Broadview just north of Broadview Station).  Whichever way you decide to come, just make sure to bring lots of bags and your inner eco-freak.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Farming is a profession of hope.”

–  Brian Brett


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The Mailbox: Let’s talk about pee baby, let’s talk about you and me…

Let’s talk all the good things and the bad things that may be.  Let’s talk about Pee.

Gotta PEE

Dear HJ,
I know you’re obsessed with poop but what about pee? Pee must tell us something about our bodies. I pee a lot and sometimes I wonder if I pee too much or if I drink too much water? I find it annoying at night to get up and pee but I’m so thirsty all the time. Maybe that’s a separate issue. Also what color should my pee be, light I think?! Is it possible I just have a tiny bladder?! Are there food I can eat that absorb better/things to avoid.
Another East End Pee-er
Doing a number one is mostly fun but sometimes as per your point above it can become a bit of a hassle.  But before you get frustrated with peeing so much, let’s look at the urinary system components and their function is keeping us in homeostasis – that is keeping an internal balance despite a changing external environment.
Pee is the production of the urinary system which is comprised of the kidney’s, ureter, bladder, sphincter, and the urethra.
Urinary System
You can see above how the US (Urinary System) is anatomically constructed.  When we eat, our body takes what it needs for energy and cell repair and whatever is leftover needs to be excreted.  Poo is solid waste residue and you could consider pee the leftover liquid form of waste.  The average adult excretes about 4 cups of urine each day.
Urine is full of something called Urea and Urea results when proteins are broken down.  Urea travels in the blood stream to our kidney’s where the urea is removed from the blood via filters called nephrons.  Go nephrons!
Urea combined with water makes up urine and when it leaves the kidney’s it moves down the ureters to the bladder.  Every 15 seconds or so, a bit of urine is emptied from the kidney’s into the bladder (via the ureter).
The bladder is a cool organ which can store, in a healthy person, 2 cups of pee for up to 5 hours.  That feeling we get when we have to go to the washroom is a feedback system from the nerves in our bladder to the brain which tell us in increasing urgency that we have to empty our bladder – the more full the bladder becomes, the stronger the sensation becomes.
So, let’s breakdown your questions:
Q:  Do I drink too much water?
A:  It’s recommended to drink 8-12 cups a day (1 cup = 8 oz).  If you drink too much water it can lead to a problem called water intoxication when too much H2O causes the required amount of sodium in our body to become depleted.    Athletes may need more than 12 cups a day, and if so, it’s important to ensure that you’re getting enough electrolytes which will help you to avoid the issue of water intoxication.  If you’re a regular person and are drinking 12 cups a day…you’re good.
Q:  Why am I always thirsty?
A:  Constant and excessive thirst is actually a symptom of Diabetes – but if you’re healthy and that possibility has been ruled out, here are some other possible factors:
– Consumption of processed foods which tend to be high in sodium.
– Not drinking enough water
– Age.  As we age saliva production decreases leaving our throats and mouth feeling dry.
– Anti-Histamine medications
– Breastfeeding – especially important to drink 8-12 cups of water
– Humid and hot weather
– Exercise
Q:  I hate getting up in the night to go pee.
A:  Here are some tips to avoid disturbing your sleep from waking up to urinate via strengthening your bladder.  This applies to people who feel like they always have to pee during the day as well:
– if you genuinely feel like you always have to pee, speak to your doctor and discuss the possibility of an overactive bladder.
– do some kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
– build endurance.  Try to prolong the period of time between urination’s by 10-15 minute blocks.
– limit food that can be bladder irritants:  caffeine, soda, milk, tea, citrus, tomatoes, spicy foods, chocolate, synthetic sweeteners.
– keep your sodium intake (excluding athletes) to 2300 mg’s a day – that’s 1 tsp.
– avoid consuming more protein than is necessary. The general rule for protein consumption is between 0.5 and 0.8 grams of protein for each pound.  Ie:  130 pounds x 0.8 = upper limit.
– avoid getting constipated.  If that area of the body is full of poo, it decreases the size of the bladder and results in having to urinate more frequently.
big_Kegel Exercises01
Q:  What colour should my pee be?
A:  At least once a day, your pee should be a pale yellow.  If it’s dark yellow, it suggests you may be dehydrated.  If it’s totally clear, you might be drinking too much water.  Neon yellow?  Are you taking vitamin supplements?  These can sometimes cause the urine to appear a bright yellow.  Red?  Could be an infection (unless you’ve eaten beets) and you should see your doctor.  Murky, brown, cloudy, green, blue urine?  See your doctor.
Hope this helps!
The Health Junction

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“Happiness is like peeing in your pants.  Everyone can see it, but only you can feel its warmth”

–  Unknown Author


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