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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jill King

What is fish oil?

Fish oil is, well, oil from fish.



Well, not a goldfish...

It’s rich in two specific groups of omega-3 fatty acids known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). EPA and DHA are often cited as being the beneficial components of fish oil. EPA and DHA actually originate in algae, which is the base of the food chain for fish. Fish consume these algae and thus concentrate high amounts of the beneficial fats.

Why is fish oil so important?

Omega-3s are very important for health, including:

  • cardiovascular function

  • nervous system function and brain development

  • immune health

Research shows that low DHA consumption (and blood levels) is associated with memory loss, difficulty concentrating, Alzheimer’s disease, and other mood problems.

Cell membranes

Essential fats have an integral role in promoting cell health.

Cells in the human body have a fatty membrane (known as the lipid bilayer). This membrane is semi-permeable: It regulates what gets into the cell and what goes out of it. The fluidity of cell membranes depends on the fatty acid composition of the diet.

  • If the fatty membranes surrounding brain cells are relatively fluid, as they are with lots of omega-3s, then messages from neurochemicals such as serotonin can be transmitted more easily.

  • On the other hand, if people eat too many saturated fats (which are solid at room temperature), without enough omega-3s, then these membranes become more rigid, and stuff can’t get through.

Cells also require these good fats for repair and regeneration.

With lots of omega-3s, muscle cells become more sensitive to insulin, while fat cells decrease. This may mean that the body can divert more nutrients to muscle tissue.

Metabolic health

Finally, DHA and EPA can increase metabolism by increasing levels of enzymes that boost calorie-burning ability.

What you should know

We can’t make omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in our bodies, so we need to get them from our diets.

Omega-3 to omega-6 ratio

It’s easy for us to get omega-6 fatty acids. These are found in plant oils, for instance, and factory-raised animals (which are fed a lot of corn and soy) will usually have a lot of omega-6 too.

But it’s hard for people in Western countries to get omega-3 fats from dietary sources. We eat a lot more processed foods and a lot less wild game and plants. We rely heavily now on omega-6 vegetable oils.

We evolved with a fat intake ratio of about 1:1 omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Now, it’s closer to 1:20. Because omega-3s and omega-6s compete with each other for space in cell membranes and the attention of enzymes, the ratio matters more than the absolute amount consumed of either fat.


For the month of January, we have been offering 15% off our pharmaceutical-grade Omega 3 supplement. Please come by the office or contact us at 828-382-8005




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