If you’re from an older generation, you probably have a few memories that kids today have little concept of. Life was tougher then, and, many would argue, smarter. You may remember walking several kilometers through the snow to school (uphill both ways), getting a dose of dad’s belt for bad behaviour, or—yuck—taking a tablespoonful of cod liver oil with breakfast.
That was just the way it was back then, often with good reason.
Fish oil supplements have certainly stood the test of time. Far from being an old wives’ tale, the benefits of taking fish oil as a supplement are many. Studies have shown that taking cod liver oil with vitamin D can lower high cholesterol and triglycerides, lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease, lower risk of osteoarthritis, fight eye diseases and improve memory, not to mention lowering the risk of developing certain cancers, neurological disorders, and complications from metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Quite an impressive list!
Fish oil contains long-chain polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids (N3 for short). These fats are essential for many cellular functions and when we don’t get enough of them we become deficient—and the negative results can be many.
It’s ironic that we say N3 supplements help with deficiencies and think of the deficiencies as unrelated to the lack of N3 in our diet. The human brain is 60% fat, and omega three fatty acids are essential to the proper functioning of the brain. In saying that N3 supplements improve memory, we fail to acknowledge that the cause of our poor memory may simply be a shortage of N3 in our diet.
Other common symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation. Imagine all the hospital visits and health bills that could be prevented if people ate a diet rich in the essential fatty acids they need!
Of course, cod liver oil isn’t the only source of N3 but the sources are relatively few and quite specific. Really, the only sources of long chain fatty acids (EPA, DPA and DHA) come from fatty fish, wild game and grass fed (and finished) animals. Of these, fatty fish are the only source of N3 that is both high in concentration and contains all forms of the essential fatty acids (DPA, EPA and DHA) in one package.
Unfortunately, there’s a catch-22 when it comes to getting these into our diet: Fish oil is the single best source of N3, but also potentially hazardous to our health. Our oceans (and fields) are polluted with high levels of dioxins, or “persistent organic pollutants” that wreak havoc on human health, and particularly the health of babies and children.
This is why many types of fish are off limits to pregnant women. All animals and fish contain dioxins at some concentrations, however, miniscule. Fish that are higher up the food chain, predators such as sharks, tuna, halibut and red snapper, contain high levels of dioxins in their fatty tissues. which is why it’s important to choose your fish wisely.
Sockeye salmon, unlike other species of Pacific salmon, feed extensively on krill and zooplankton. Consequently, sockeye are among the least toxic fish in the ocean, and, because they are also high in fat, are one of the best sources of fish oil for N3 supplements.
When choosing a fish oil supplement, it’s also important to ensure the product is “fresh” and not oxidized. In fact, fish oils are highly susceptible to oxidation, which makes the oil smell and taste “fishy”, and may also have negative health effects as well.
At Rice Family Chiropractic, we carry the Innate Choice line of supplements created by Dr. James Chestnut, who takes a evidence-based approach to his supplements, his chiropractic practice and his books. We like Innate Choice because they are third party tested for purity and freshness, and they are sourced from fish that are low in dioxins. They also contain vitamins A and D, both of which are essential and which we’ll get into in our next blog entry, in October.
As we like to say, we take a holistic approach to our practice, which means we consider your health to be a sum of all your inputs—mental, spiritual and physical. If you aren’t taking care of your diet by eating healthy and avoiding toxins, it will be difficult to achieve health in other aspects of your life.
If you have any questions about Omega 3 essential fatty acids or how they are related to your spinal health, please don’t hesitate to call us for an appointment.
Rice Family Chiropractic
Wellness from our family, to yours.
Dr. Erin and James Rice
#310-6525 204 Street
Langley, BC V2Y 3B3