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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Omega 3 and DHA

Ok I know I have posted while ago about this issue.
I am posting this again because it is so important! Everyone needs to monitor their omega3 intake, especially if you are vegetarian and vegan or if you eat lots of processed food.
There is a study done on vegetarian and vegan. We all know now that increasing the amount of vegetables, legumes, fruits and decreasing animal products is good for us. But vegetarians and vegans don't necessarily live longer. And one of the reasons they said was low level of omega3 and vitamin B12.
Normally people have high intake of omega6 because it is everywhere in nature. Beans, vegetables oils (if you have lots of processed food and food that is cooked with vegetable oils your intake of omega6 shoots up), seeds and nuts. they are all high in omega6. I am not saying that omega6 is not a good thing. we all need it. but ratio of omega3 and 6 are important. If you have too much omega6 compare to omega3 you cannot expect optimal health.
Omega3 is harder to find.
Fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel is high in omega3. But I don't recommend having fish often because fish can be contaminated with methyl mercury, PCBs and dioxins, all of which can present a risk of health. Of course if you are vegetarian or vegan having animal product isn't an option.

So what we are going to do?
Oils from flax are rich in alpha linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is not identical to DHA and EPA but it has similar biological activity so it too can have an effect on mental acuity and heart diseases. Furthermore some ALA is converted to DHA and EPA in the body. (please note that amount of ALA conversion varies. Some can convert very well and some don't)
Other good sources of ALA are canola, soy (though it also has quite high omega6), leafy green vegetables and walnuts.

Flaxseed is more than ALA. It is high in fibre. This indigestible part of plant provides a laxative effect by allowing wastes to absorb water through the digestive tract. It binds cholesterol and prevents it from being absorbed
Also flaxseeds are sources of lignans, which are compounds that are found to have anti cancer properties.

Omega3 oil oxidise quickly so I usually store the oil in the freezer. it doesn't take long to be liquid again before using it. (do not use if for cooking) Even better way is to either grind to make fresh flaxseed meal or soak them whole and let them sprout for easier digestion. This way you get the great fibre they provide as well. If you have tried to eat the whole seeds as they are you may remember seeing them again in your toilet bowl... :-) Yes. they just go straight through.

Another way to get DNA and EPA is to get it from Krill. Krill has naturally occurring antioxidant so it doesn't oxidise as quickly as fish oil and it is more environmentally friendly to produce.
You can also get it from algae. which is a vegan source of DHA. That is where fish get their DHA from!

My choice is algae. the one that I am taking is a liquid concentrate, which only needs 0.50ml per day. I do have to remind my daughter to take it as well as it is very important for developing children. it is only 0.25ml for her. it is easier than getting her to swallow a pill.
I sell these DHA concentrate as well if you find it hard to find elsewhere. ( sorry to advertise...)

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