What is Omega-3?
Omega-3 is a collective term for a group of long-chained polyunsaturated fatty acids, having the first double bound between carbon number 3 and 4 counted from the methyl-end (See also “Fatty acids and local hormones”). Omega-3 fatty acids are essential, which means that the body cannot produce them itself so they have to be a part of your diet. The exception is females in a fertile age, which have the ability to produce small amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. However, intake of Omega-3 fatty acids through the diet is still recommended for females in this group. There are different types of omega-3 fatty acids; shorter chained Omega-3 fatty acids from the plant kingdom and longer chained Omega-3 fatty acids from marine sources. The long chained Omega-3 fatty acids have the highest bioactive effect (see also “Fatty acids and local hormones”), especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, C20:5 Omega–3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C 22:6 Omega-3-3).
Following are the EFSA approved health claims for EPA and DHA (Commission Regulation (EU) 1924/2006 and 432/2012):
- DHA and EPA contribute to the normal function of the heart (0.25 g per day)
- DHA and EPA contribute to the maintenance of normal blood pressure (3 g per day)
- DHA and EPA contribute to the maintenance of normal blood triglyceride levels (2 g per day)
- DHA contributes to maintenance of normal blood triglycerid levels (2 g per day in combination with EPA)
- DHA contributes to maintenance of normal brain function (0.25 g per day)
- DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal vision (0.25 g per day)
- DHA maternal intake contributes to the normal brain development of the foetus and breastfed infants (0.2 g DHA plus the daily reccomenden intake of Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA+DHA for aduls which is 0.25 g per day).
- DHA maternal intake contributes to the normal development of the eye of the fetus and breastfed infants (0.2 g DHA plus the daily recommended intake of Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA+DHA) for adults which is 0.25 g per day).
If you want to take a closer look at the EU register of nutrition and health claims, click here.
How much Omega-3 do I need?
The minimum recommended daily intake of EPA and DHA differs between countries and organizations. Below are some examples:
- EFSA (European Food Safety Authority); 250 mg EPA+DHA/day
- American Heart Association; Two serving of fatty fish per week
- ISSFAL (International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids); Minimum 500 mg EPA+DHA/day
- WHO (World Health Organization); 200-500 mg EPA+DHA/day
Western diet contains a surplus of Omega-6 fatty acids compared to omega-3 fatty acids, which makes it necessary to increase the daily intake of Omega-3 fatty acids up to 3 gram to achieve a normal Omega-6/Omega-3 fatty acid balance (See also “Fish oil and health”).
In what type of food can I find Omega-3?
The long chained Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are mainly found in oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, anchovies, and salmon to mention some, while the shorter chained Omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are found in most vegetable oils.
Why should I take Omega-3 supplements?
Marine Omega-3 fatty acids are important to achieve a normal and good balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory components in your body (see also “Fatty acids and local hormones”). In addition Omega-3 is important for a natural and healthy development and growth. A number of documented scientific studies show that Omega-3 (EPA and DHA) are important for our cardiovascular health, fetus development, cognitive performance, mood and behavior, to mention some.
At what age can we begin taking Omega-3 supplements?
In principle, there are no age limits for starting or interrupting a food supplement based on Omega-3 fatty acids.
In any case, the capsules and then the recommended doses have been designed for healthy men of about 70 kg but can be adjusted individually depending on the weight, specific functional needs and any pathological conditions of the subject.
Can you become dependent on Omega-3?
EPA and DHA supplements are not drugs or artificial molecules, but nutritional supplements that renew the essential fatty acid reserves of the body in cases of dietary deficiency and / or increased need for these nutrients.
An abrupt suspension of treatment has no adverse effect except the risk of losing physiological reserves progressively again in the absence of a sufficiently rich Omega-3 diet.
Can Omega-3 be taken during pregnancy?
A Danish study suggests that women with a rich Omega-3 diet during pregnancy give birth to children with “healthy” birth weights and are less often subject to premature births. It is well known that Omega-3 plays an important role in the development of the fetus and infant’s nervous system and that women with a poor diet of Omega-3 in pregnancy are at greater risk of postpartum depression
The authoritative confirmation of the need to ensure an adequate take-up of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) during this delicate phase has recently come (September 2005) from the European Consensus Recommendation on Poli-unsaturated Fat Acids for Pregnant Women (PERILIP ), aiming to improve nutrition guidelines during pregnancy and natal growth.
Experts in nutrition, development and function of placenta, obstetrics and neonatology, led by Dr. Berthold Koletzko and Dr. Irene Cetin, have completed work recommending a daily daily dose of 200mg of DHA for pregnant women and breastfeeding .
PERILIP has highlighted the fact that taking up to 1g DHA or 2.7 g of long chain chain poly-unsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFA) has proved to have no significant side effects in various clinical trials. Such a recommendation could soon become an integral part of the new EU official guidelines, which among other things funded the work of the above-mentioned PERILIP conference.
What may be the side effects of Omega-3?
The most common side effect of Omega-3 supplements is the possible retro-taste of fish; however, it can easily be eliminated using small steps such as taking capsules just before a meal and / or dividing the doses. For example, if you take three capsules a day, it is advisable to take one immediately before each main meal.
In some people Omega-3 can accelerate intestinal transit. During the first week of treatment it is rare but it is possible that the stools are soft and have diarrheal episodes; in this case it is sufficient to reduce the doses for one to two weeks as appropriate and then reschedule the initial dose to test for greater tolerability.
In other cases, rarer, Omega-3 may facilitate the appearance of ecchymosis since, like aspirin, interfere with certain mechanisms of blood clotting (aggregation of platelets).
This is generally considered one of their major beneficial effects that results in reducing the risk of heart disease or cerebrovascular complications.
However, it may be a problem for people who are ecstatic or who use anti-coagulant medications, which Omega-3 might enhance the effect. In these cases, it is advisable to consult your physician before starting to integrate with Omega-3.
Taking Omega-3 makes you fatty?
The short answer is no. In fact, each 1 gram OMEGOR® Mega 3 capsule has little more than 10 calories. Three capsules of 1 gram OMEGOR® Mega 3 contain about 32 calories, which is the equivalent of half an apple. Various rats studies suggest that Omega-3s actually reduce fat formation and size (adipocytes). Omega-3s are also used predominantly as constituents of cellular membranes, not for energy purposes. For these reasons, assuming OMEGOR® Mega 3 does not make you fatty, indeed the reverse is true.
Omega-3 play a role in prevention?
First, it is important to differentiate the concept of primary prevention from secondary prevention. The latter refers to those patients who have already had a first “cardiovascular alert”.
Most of the clinical studies made using Omega-3 fatty acids have taken this type of patient into consideration. In this regard, it has been widely shown that Omega-3 reduces the risk of sudden cardiovascular mortality (GISSI Prevention).
Further studies, conducted on healthy subjects without previous episodes of heart phenomena (primary prevention studies), have shown a beneficial effect on Omega-3 over normal cardiovascular functioning.
Omega-3 can be useful for multiple sclerosis?
The results of studies that specifically measured the effect of Omega-3 on multiple sclerosis have shown that Omega-3 improves the symptoms of patients with this condition.
In principle this applies to all autoimmune diseases, contributing to a better balance of the immune system.
While on the one hand there are no particular side effects to be feared in the use of Omega-3 for multiple sclerosis, it should be stressed that the results may be moderate but potentially significant, such as reducing the required doses of anti-inflammatory drugs or immunosuppressants after a few months of care; all clearly under the supervision of the treating physician.
Is the fish oil in the balancing products natural or concentrated?
All balancing products contain the same fish oil in its natural form. Triglycerides are the main component in natural fish oil.
Why is it important to have a normal Omega-6/Omega-3 fatty acid balance?
Western diet contains much Omega-6 fatty acids and relatively small amounts of marine Omega-3 fatty acids, which increases the unbalance between Omega-6 fatty acids and Omega-3 fatty acids in the body. Such unbalance is a driving force for development of lifestyle related health problems. Both the Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are precursors for hormone-like signaling molecules (eicosanoids) in the body. Eicosanoids derived from Omega-6 are pro-inflammatory and supports chronic inflammation. Signaling molecules derived from Omega-3 fatty acids have lower inflammatory potential, some are also anti-inflammatory. In many ways the eicosanoids fulfill each other, and that is why it is important to have a good balance between these. A normal Omega-6/Omega-3 fatty acid balance is fundamental for a good eicosanoid balance, while a high Omega-6/Omega-3 fatty acid balance supports chronic inflammation. Nordic Council of Ministers recommends that the Omega-6/Omega-3 fatty acid balance in the diet is below 5:1 (see also “Fatty acids and local hormones”).
What is the difference between these balancing products and other Omegor Mega 3-6-9 products?
The unique with these products is the balance between marine Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) and polyphenols from olives. This balance is a condition in order to restore and maintain a normal Omega-6/Omega-3 fatty acid balance in the body in a safe and effective way. Most Omega-3 products only contain the marine Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
The balancing products combine the best from the Artic and Mediterranean diet. By daily recommended intake, the Omega-3 levels in your body will increase, and the Omega-6/ Omega-3 fatty acid balance in your body will be normalized. We recommend combining the balancing products with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Is there any genetically modified material in the fish oil?
No, there is no genetically modified material in the fish oil, as well as in the balancing products.
How can I achieve a healthy Omega-6/Omega-3 fatty acid balance?
It is difficult to achieve a normal Omega-6/Omega-3 fatty acid balance through mainly eating a vegetarian diet, even if the content of the short chained Omega-3 fatty acid ALA (C18:3 Omega-3) is high. Vegetable products, such as vegetable oils, contain a high amount of Omega-6 fatty acids. To achieve a normal Omega-6/Omega-3 fatty acid balance it is important to include foods that are rich in the marine fatty acids EPA and DHA in your diet. Alternatively you can use the balancing products as recommended. These products contain a significant amount of EPA and DHA, and you will be able to normalize your Omega-6/Omega-3 fatty acid balance in a safe and efficient manner.
Are there any heavy metals in the fish oil used in producing the balance oil?
High quality standards are used to produce fish oil for human consumption. The fish oil produced at LYSI comply with EU regulation, all major pharmacopoeias and the GOED monograph which is a quality standard for the industry. The fish oil meet all official regulatory standards with regard to environmental contaminants (heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins etc.)
What part of the fish is used to produce the balance oil?
The fish oils from LYSI are normally derived from short-lived, small pelagic fish. The whole fish is used to produce the oil. The crude oil goes through a refining process to remove sensory- and environmental contaminants. The refining process makes the fish oil palatable.
Are there saturated fats in the fish oil?
All oil and fats contains saturated fatty acids, as well as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. However, the relative amounts varies from one oil to another. Fish oil is rich in the polyunsaturated fatty acids EPA and DHA (Omega-3), while extra virgin olive oil is rich in the monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid (Omega-9).
What is the main fatty acid in olive oil and what health claims have been approved for this fatty acid?
Over half of the fatty acids in olive oil are the monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid (C18:1, Omega-9).
For unsaturated fatty acids EFSA have approved the following health claim (Commission Regulation (EU) 432/2012):
“Replacing saturated fats in the diet with unsaturated fats contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels. The claim may be used only for food which is high in unsaturated fatty acids, as referred to in the claim HIGH UNSATURATED FAT as listed in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006”.
If you want to take a closer look at the EU register of nutrition and health claims, click here.
What is extra virgin olive oil?
Extra virgin olive oil is the naturally oil extracted from fresh olives using a mechanical cold pressing process. Before cold pressing the olives are crushed into a paste without the use of excessive heat or any form of additives or solvents. Extra virgin olive oil has a distinctive olive fruity aroma and flavor and a natural high content of bioactive polyphenolic compounds (see also “Olive oil and health”).
EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) have approved the following health claim for bioactive polyphenols in olive oil (Commission Regulation (EU) 432/2012):
- “Olive oil polyphenols contribute to the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress. The claim may be used only for olive oil, containing at least 5 mg of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives (e.g. oleuropein complex and tyrosol) per 20 g of olive oil. In order to bear the claim information shall be given to the consumer that the beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 20 g of olive oil”.
If you want to take a closer look at the EU register of nutrition and health claims, click here.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a process exerting both positive and negative effects on our body. The acute inflammatory response is generally positive, as it is an important part of the body’s defense against invading bacteria, fungus and virus, and helps the body repair injuries. Symptoms of acute inflammation can include swelling, redness, pain and an increase in temperature in the affected area. However, if acute inflammation fails to resolve the problem, chronic inflammation may develop, and this is generally negative. Long-term chronic inflammation is known to play a critical role in driving most if not all the lifestyle related health problems which have increased rapidly, especially in the western world, the last 50-60 years. The reason is related to the major changes in our diet that have taken place in the same time period. Our diet have never had a higher content of pro-inflammatory components such as Omega-6, and as low content of anti-inflammatory components such as Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) and polyphenol from olives, as it does today. This unbalance is a driving force for the development of lifestyle related health problems.
What are essential fatty acids and in what kind of foods do I find them?
Essential fatty acids are necessary for building and maintenance of all cells in our body. The human body cannot produce essential fatty acids itself, and is therefore dependent on getting them through the food we eat. The essential fatty acids, EPA and DHA are mainly found in fatty fish, while the shorter chained essential fatty acids LA and ALA are found in vegetable oils (see also “Fatty acids and local hormones”).
Do you have an excessive consumption of Omega-3 (that is, an Omega-3 rich diet that is associated with proper food supplementation) could be dangerous?
There is no overdose risk in this situation. Suffice it to think that Eskimos living in the north of Quebec in Canada consume up to 16 grams of fish oil a day and no negative effect has been observed so far from such a dose of Omega-3.
What are the effects of Omega-3 on cholesterol, triglycerides and other lipid parameters?
At high dosages, EPA and DHA have a powerful and well-proven triglyceride reduction effect. Integration with EPA / DHA from 1 to 3 grams per day allows a quantifiable reduction of blood serum triglycerides. There is a dose-response relationship, ie the greater the amount of EPA / DHA taken and the greater the triglyceride reduction effect. In some studies it has been observed that a quantity of 1 gram of EPA + DHA taken regularly produces in some subjects a decrease in triglycerides of about 20%.
At a higher dose (> 4 grams), a reduction of 25-30% was achieved. EPA and DHA at the same time modify other lipid parameters (LDL, VLDL, HDL). In particular, the intake of about 3 grams results in an increase in the values of HDL (“good” cholesterol) and a reduction, but modestly, of the “total bad” cholesterol (VLDL + LDL) values.
For a person who already has a rich Omega-3 diet and who feels both physical and mental, is it necessary to take Omega-3 dietary supplements?
It is clear that to a person who feels so well the advice to give is to continue doing what he does. In any case, if daily nutrition is already rich in essential fatty acids Omega-3 (fish, crustaceans, flaxseed, flax or rape oil) there is no reason to take nutritional supplements.
Several studies show that a well-balanced diet of the “Mediterranean” type has a major preventative effect on the development of more common Western diseases such as frequent cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease, high blood triglyceride rates, some heart rhythm disturbances).
Some epidemiological studies suggest that such a diet also has preventative effects against depressive phenomena.
In principle, there are no age limits for starting or interrupting a food supplement based on omega-3 fatty acids. In any case, the capsules and then the recommended doses have been designed for healthy men of about 70 kg but can be adjusted individually depending on the weight, specific functional needs and any pathological conditions of the subject.
The main purpose of integration with Omega-3 is to prevent a deficiency of essential fatty acids by restoring the physiological levels of these essential substances in our cells.
Our body is very greedy of these vital fatty acids. To evaluate the effects of Omega-3, in addition to interpreting the beneficial signals sent by our body, we can measure the improvement of so-called “cardiac consistency” or even monitor the presence of these fatty acids in the blood.
First, a regular examination of the fasting plasma lipids, to be repeated after two to three months of treatment, could be performed and calculate the ratio of triglycerides to “good” (HDL) (TG / HDL) cholesterol: enough Take the value of triglycerides and divide it into that of HDL cholesterol. In some studies it has been found that a ratio of triglycerides to HDL of less than 2 is indicative of a lower relative risk of cardiopathy.
It would be useful to evaluate the evolution of this value before and after the integration period by consulting with your GP.
There is also a new blood test that measures the ratio of arachidonic acid to eicosapentaenoic acid (AA / EPA). It is advisable to perform this test two to three months after the start of the treatment.
Studies on the Japanese population, which record the highest average life expectancy among industrialized countries, have shown that a value of this ratio, ranging from 1 to 3, is related to a good functional balance and state of health.
Recently, Harris WS and von Schacky C have been shown that measuring the amount of EPA + DHA as a percentage of total fatty acids present in the red blood cell membranes (“Omega-3 Index”) can give premonitric important information of clinical relevance regarding the risk of death for cardiovascular disease.