Your Questions answered about Fish Oil, Flax Oil and Omega 3′s

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Thanks to everyone who participated in February’s Barleans Omega Swirl giveaway! We had many great questions about fish oil and flax oil, but could only pick 6 winners. Below are the answers to the 6 winning questions, kindly provided by Dr. Herb Joiner-Bey, a leading authority on essential fatty acids.

Don’t forget to print this coupon! Save $2 on Barleans Omega Swirl

Q: What are some of the benefits of Omega-3s for children? Might these be able to be used instead of medication for medical issues such as attention deficit disorders?

Question submitted by Hillary

A: Essential fatty acids are the building blocks for the cell membranes of tissues throughout body. They also serve as raw materials for the manufacture of local hormones that control tissue functions. To counterbalance the overabundance of omega-6s and other fats in the diet, omega-3s are critical in the diet of a pregnant or nursing woman to ensure optimal nourishment and development of brain and retinal eye tissue of her child. Continued omega-3 nourishment after weaning is needed to support ongoing brain development and optimal functioning, including learning ability. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids have beneficial influence on mood, mental clarity, and ability to focus the mind. Thus, they can be very helpful in preventing and sometimes reversing attention deficit disorder. Nevertheless, for ADHD, is imperative that parents control the food ingredients that worsen ADHD behavior – sugar, refined, starch, food additives (artificial colors and flavors, etc.). The issue of medication must be decided in consultation with a qualified medical professional in accordance with the way a child responds to nutritional and other natural interventions.

Q: How is this better then just taking fish oil omega-3’s in capsules, does this smoothie get absorbed faster and better then the pill form and does more get absorbed then wasted when you take the appropriate amount in the smoothie form?

Question submitted by Danielle

A: Human studies have revealed that pre-emulsified fats are more efficiently absorbed than oils that are not pre-emulsified. This property of emulsions is clinically significant for patients with malabsorption problems, insufficiency of pancreatic digestive enzymes, bile insufficiency (after surgical removal of the gall bladder), inflammatory bowel disease, end other digestive difficulties. The smoothie flavor and texture of Omega Swirl is also appealing to children and adults who dislike the taste and consistency of oily products.

Q: I would like to know whether flax oil has sufficient omega 3 fatty acids for the body to absorb? I heard that only fish oil contains readily bioabsorbable omega 3’s, and that other non-animal sources of omega 3’s have to be converted to omega 3 from another compound and that this is less efficient.

Question submitted by Holly

A: A great deal of confusion has been generated in the minds of consumers and health professionals by the negative advertising campaigns of fish oil manufacturers. The human body can convert the flaxseed oil omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), into EPA and DHA, as found in fish oil. Studies have revealed that flaxseed oil is quite effective in protecting cardiovascular health for the general population. Those who have difficulty making the conversion should use flaxseed oil to displace less desirable omega-6s in food preparation and take fish oil as a supplement.

Due to the presence of estrogens, women of reproductive years are most efficient in making the conversion. These women can convert 21% of the ALA they consume into EPA and 9% into DHA. This means that one tablespoon of flaxseed oil (containing more than 6,000 mg of ALA) is converted into more than 1,800 mg combined EPA / DHA. This level is well above the recommended intake of 1,000 mg combined EPA / DHA daily for protection against heart attack or stroke.

Q: Is it safe for men to take Barlean’s Flax oil if they have a family history of prostate cancer?

Question submitted by Steve

A: A great deal of confusion has arisen from the misinterpretation of results form poorly conceived studies that tired to link alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the omega-3 in flaxseed oil, to prostate cancer. Flaxseed oil itself was never involved in those studies. Better-designed subsequent studies have revealed that ALA is innocent. In fact, an NIH study of all sources of ALA found no link between any source of ALA an increased risk for prostate enlargement, tumor, or malignancy.

Men who have a family history of prostate cancer need to be aware of the research of milled flaxseed and its benefits that my help prevent prostate enlargement and prostate cancer.

Q: The article stated that a certain ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 was vital to brain function. Has there been a direct link between depression and low amounts of omega 3? Also, is it possible/advisable to do away with or avoid omega 6 all together? Or is it necessary for proper bodily function?

Question submitted by Rose

A: Based on population studies and other investigations, it is believed that omega-3 nutrition is linked to mood, such as depression. As with other tissues in the body, much of the problem is believed to arise from too much omega-6 and too little omega-3 fatty acids on brain cell membranes. Under these circumstances, depression can arise in persons genetically susceptible to it. Omega-6s are not bad; we just tend to eat too much of them relative to omega-3s. Avoiding omega-6s totally may be just as harmful as the problem we have now with too little omega-3s in the Western diet. In addition, there is evidence that it may be more effective to use omega-3 sources that increase tissue EPA — flaxseed oil that contains the precursor to EPA or preformed EPA from fish oil.

Q: Since Omega 3’s reduce inflammation, do they help with skin condition? Do they help reduce the outbreak of psoriasis? If so, do Omega 3’s have to be topically applied to the skin for best results or can you get the same results by ingesting it?

Question submitted by Keri

A: As with all conditions, each person has unique needs, regardless of the label conventional medicine places upon a person’s disease process. Essential fatty acids are part of the underlying causes of psoriasis, but they are knot the only issue. For example, endotoxins produced by colon bacteria also play a role. It is important to work with health professional to guide you through the process of finding what works for you. In some cases, the omega-3s can be helpful. In other cases, the desirable omega-6 GLA, found in borage or evening primrose oil may be more helpful. It takes time and patience to work with your natural medicine professional to discover what your unique constitution requires.

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