We’ve all heard the good news, that healthy fats should be added to your daily diet. Omega 3 fatty acids are “good fats” whose most well known active forms include EPA and DHA (together these two can majorly help reduce inflammation) commonly found in omega supplementation. They’re derived from our dietary intake but how we process these fats will also influence our whole-body status of omega 3 fatty acids.

When any type of fat enters the body, our enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the gallbladder will break them down so they can travel to the small intestine for absorption. Great dietary intake plus a good digestive system will result in higher nutrient levels. Here are a few clues that your nutrient status of omega 3’s may be affected.

 

  1. You have joint pain or other inflammatory conditions.

One of the best benefits of omega 3 fatty acids is that it helps lower inflammation! We see that In randomized controlled studies where omega 3 supplementation lowered anti inflammatory medication use in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

  1. You have pre-diabetes (or diabetes) and elevated Triglycerides on your cholesterol panel.

Increasing your EPA and DHA levels is especially helpful for both conditions in this exact scenario!

  1. You have skin issues such as dry rashes, dry skin, and brittle nails

These are clear signs of a deficiency in omega 3 fatty acids.

  1. You have cardiovascular risk factors, family history of, or have cardiovascular disease.

Consistently across many studies we see that the intake of fish or supplementation of omega 3’s did significantly reduce mortality from cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and sudden death) across all ages, sex, and ethnicity.

 

  1. You eat a restricted diet and are plant-based, vegan, or vegetarian.

Due to the benefits for the cardiovascular system (and the fact that cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of Americans today), the American Heart Association recommends at least 2 servings of oily fish weekly.

 

These populations specifically are at risk for deficiency when eggs and fish aren’t included in the diet.  A common vegan source of omega supplementation is algae but, according to Harvard Medical School, the plant based sources are not as easily processed by the body. Restrictive diets of any kind are only successful and potentially beneficial to your healthy when well planned!

 

What should I do to boost my Omega 3 status?

 

  1. Talk to your Functional Medicine physician or nutritionist – Omega 3 and 6 levels can be measured in your routine lab work to best determine the need and dosage of products. You’ll want to make sure to ask before supplementing if you have conditions with excessive bleeding, surgical procedures upcoming, or use anticoagulant medications. You’re a candidate for supplementation of at least 2 grams if you don’t consume at least 2 servings of fish per week. Also, quality of supplementation is highly relevant because we want a product derived from marine (fish) sources that’s low in mercury and toxins. One easy way to tell if your product quality is too low is if you have “fish burps” after taking it!
  2. Start incorporating sources of omega 3’s into your diet – EPA and DHA are primarily found in fish (such as herring, salmon, sardines, oysters, trout). Avoid high mercury fish like swordfish, mackerel, shark, and limit albacore canned tuna. Other healthy omegas are found in flax seed, chia seed, and raw walnuts.

About Functional Medicine

Our doctors take a comprehensive and proactive approach to your health issues, using advanced diagnostics to seek out the root cause of your health concerns. Instead of seeing your concerns as a set of isolated symptoms, we look at you as a whole body – one that has the capacity to heal, eliminate pain, and empower itself through natural solutions and preventative healthcare. As a result, Functional Medicine helps your body build its healthiest foundation that will improve your quality of life and better keep illness away for years to come!

To learn more about changing your diet and lifestyle to achieve your wellness goals, visit us for a free consultation with our Functional Medicine & Clinical Nutrition team.

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