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!

Thanks,

CP

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).

omega3and6

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.

TransFattyacidsChart

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).

 helaexlarge2

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.

Omega3-fatty-Acid-Deficiency

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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One thought on “The Mailbox: Can you take too many Omega-3’s??

  1. Hi Heather,

    I have another question for you about poop… should poop float or sink? I heard that if your poop floats, you have too much undigested fat in it and that your liver may need to be flushed. Can you shed some light on this matter?

    Great article! Michelle ​

    *Michelle Johnston* Employee Wellness Expert (416) 365- ​WELL ​ http://www.workingwell.ca ​​

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