Omega-3 has been clinically proven to reduce the production of inflammatory substances in the blood. Clinical studies on patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), lupus nephritis, and osteoarthritis (OA) have shown an improvement in symptoms associated with those diseases. Omega-3 actually reverses the progression of these diseases as well as as inflammatory bowel disease and diseases of the skin.
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I’ve been living with pemphigus vulgaris, a blistering autoimmune disease, since 2012. In addition to avoiding triggers, supplementing with Omega-3 as well as Vitamin D, has played a huge role in greatly reducing my autoimmune flare-ups. Prior to making these changes I flared several times each month, even while taking Prednisone and Cellcept. Now I go several months between flare-ups and my flare-ups are very mild for the most part.
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What is Omega-3?
Omega-3 fatty acids are a collection of polyunsaturated fats, a type of healthy fat that stays liquid at room temperature. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are three of the main classes of polyunsaturated fats found in Omega-3’s.
DHA and EHA come from fish, fish oil and krill oil (krill are small crustaceans) whereas ALA is sourced from vegetable oils like soybean, corn and safflower.
Omega-3 is known for improving cardiovascular and eye health and supporting weight management. It also slows mental decline associated with the aging process. In addition it eases symptoms associated with depression and other mood disorders.
Omega-3 and the Immune System
The immune system operates through an intricate network of chemical substances that signal one another to set off responses within the body. When an invader like bacteria is detected, these chemicals go into action to attack foreign substances.
We know inflammation by its appearance and feeling: redness, swelling, heat and pain.
Autoimmunity occurs when the immune system mistakes “self” for an invader, triggering the same inflammatory response. Instead of being short-lived as the inflammatory response was intended, autoimmunity results in chronic inflammation. This produces the symptoms associated with autoimmune disease.
Omega-3 helps to block the enzyme responsible for triggering the inflammatory response.
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5 Natural Sources of Omega-3
Omega-3 isn’t produced in the body so it must be consumed either through diet or supplementation. Foods that are rich in Omega-3 include:
- Fatty fishes like salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines. Fish like herring, cod, shell fish and tilapia also contain omega-3, but lower levels.
- Grass fed beef. If you like to have the occasional serving of red meat, opt for grass-fed. Grass-fed beef contains twice the Omega-3 as conventional beef. Not only that, conventional beef is sourced from cows whose diet is rich in genetically modified grain.
- Nuts like walnuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnut, and macadamia seeds.
- Seeds like flax seeds and chia seeds.
- Foods fortified with Omega-3 like milk, juice and yogurt. Ever wonder how eggs labeled as “Omega-3 enriched” get to be this way? The eggs are produced by hens whose diets contain flax-seed.
Omega-3 supplements tend to come in capsule form and many are produced in such a way as to eliminate the fishy aftertaste when burping.
While 250 to 500 mg daily may be an adequate dose for healthy individuals, those suffering from health conditions may benefit from higher doses. However, care should be taken as high does can cause blood thinning and excessive bleeding.
Personally, I’ve been using Ultimate Omega for several years. But as mentioned in the disclaimer above, always consult with your physician.
When purchasing supplements be certain to check the expiration date, as fish oil can go rancid rendering it ineffective. Also check the label for levels of EPA and DHA.
Omega-3 supplements can also interact with medicine, herbs and supplements used to reduce blood clotting and blood pressure. In addition, contraceptives and some weight loss medications may interfere with the absorption or effect of omega-3’s.
Consult with your pharmacist if you have any concerns. It’s unknown as to whether individuals with fish allergies can take Omega-3 supplements.
Omega-3 Versus Omega-6
Omega-6 is also a fatty acid and is found in vegetable oils. Consumed in moderation, Omega-6 is vital for maintaining a healthy reproductive system and metabolism, promoting skin and hair growth, lowering bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol. However, in large quantities Omega-6 increases inflammation in the body.
The recommended ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is 4:1. However the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 in the“Western diet” which is high in fats, sugar and salt and overly processed foods, is somewhere upwards of 15:1.
Omega-3 has been clinically proven to reduce inflammation associated with several autoimmune diseases. This is regardless of whether omega-3 is consumed in natural for or as a supplement. By impeding the enzymes responsible for triggering the immune response, autoimmune symptoms may be reduced.