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Chronic inflammation at the cellular and system level is the major underlying factor in all chronic disease. Fatty acids play a very critical role in cellular health as they make up the cell membrane and have an intimate role in the hormonal responses throughout the body. The ideal ratio of essential omega 6 to omega 3 fats is critical to cellular health and systemic inflammatory levels.
Various researchers have found that the ideal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 essential fatty acids is anywhere between 2:1 – 4:1. The average American has a range around 16:1(1). This is due to diets that are high in commercialized meat and processed corn, soy, peanut, sunflower, cottonseed and canola oils. These foods are very high in omega-6 fats and low in omega-3 fats.
Research is clear that omega-3 fatty acids are key for good cardiovascular health (2) and brain function (3). They are also important for reducing symptoms of joint pain and immune dysfunction as seen in cancer and auto-immunity.
What Conditions May Benefit from Omega-3 Supplementation:
Types of Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
There are four distinct types of omega-3 fats that are differentiated based on the number of carbon atoms (C) they contain along with the number of double bonds (DB) they hold.
ALA: 18 C & 3 DB: Found in green plants, flax, chia, hemp, pumpkin seeds & walnuts
DPA: 20 C & 4 DB: Found in mother’s milk, algae, fish, & krill oil & grass-fed meat products
EPA: 20 C & 5 DB: Found in mother’s milk, algae, fish, & krill oil & grass-fed meat products
DHA: 22 C & 6 DB: Found in mother’s milk, algae, fish & krill oil & grass -fed meat products
Cell Membrane Health and Omega 3 Fatty Acids
The cell membranes within the brain, spinal cord, & nervous system are especially dependent upon fluid based membranes for proper signaling and neurotransmitter dynamics. EPA & DHA with 5 and 6 double bonds are very critical players in healthy nervous system function. The brain is made up of 60% fat and 10-15% of that is DHA.
Optimal brain structure depends upon a healthy array of saturated fat and cholesterol on the membrane to hold the fluid based fats tight at the corners. Then a load of EPA & DHA in-between the solid structures to give it a great level of fluid mobility. A diet that is deficient in saturated fat, EPA, & DHA is very dangerous for the nervous system.
Fish Oil vs Vegetarian Sources:
The body can and must convert ALA & DPA into the brain enhancing nutrients EPA & DHA if they are to be of any significant use in the body. This process depends upon the enzymatic systems within our liver. If we have any sort of liver toxicity, nutrient deficiencies, or chronic diseases or infections our ability to effectively convert ALA into EPA & DHA will be significantly hampered (3).
Flax oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and green leafy veggies provide small chain ALA omega-3s. These are all good components to a healthy diet but most individuals will struggle with converting the ALA into EPA and DHA (4).
Blue-green algae sources provide small amounts of DHA which is much more preferable. For strict vegans the algae is definitely the best source of omega 3s. Fish oil provides significantly more of the powerful long-chain EPA and DHA in a highly bioavailable form and is therefore the best source of these critical fatty acids.
The Highest Quality Fish Oil:
Fish oil from clean waters is a superior source of omega 3 fatty acids because it is primarily the long-chain variety EPA and DHA. The fish oil should be purified of environmental toxins through a molecularly distillation process and tested to be safe and pure by a 3rd party lab. This is called a pharmaceutical grade and it should appear on the container.
The fish oil should be in the most absorbable triglyceride form that is easily digested and into the blood stream with minimal digestive energy. It should also be protected with fat soluble anti-oxidant extracts to prevent oxidation of the delicate long-chain fats.
Why Nordic Naturals Brand:
Rather than trying to formulate my own brand of Cod Liver oil, I went to the industry leader in Nordic Naturals. I am thoroughly impressed with the rigorous 3rd party testing and purity levels of the Nordic Naturals brand.
Over the past decade, Nordic has perfected their three-step Gold Standard system that allows their products to test at 10 times lower than the limits set by the strict European Pharmacopoeia Standard for purity and freshness. Vertically integrated from catch to finished product, they deliver the freshest cod liver oils in the world.
You can read more about their quality standards below or by going to their page here for all their direct research links.
All oils used in Nordic Naturals have been thoroughly examined and shown no detectable heavy metals when tested by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED) and The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).
All the oils used in the Nordic Naturals products have been examined and shown to have no detectable dioxins or furans when tested down to 2.0 ppt. This is the testing methodology established by the World Health Organization.
All the Nordic brand oils show no detectable PCBs when tested down to 1.0 ppt. The GOED limit for dioxin like PCBs is 3.0 ppt. This is the toxicity equivalent established by the WHO.
California’s Proposition 65:
California’s Prop 65 focuses on total PCBs and established an upper limit of 0.09 ppm. Nordic products are the only fish oil on the market that surpassed this very tight standard as documented by 3rd party analysis.
Nordic uses an oxygen-free, chemical free manufacturing process that maintains extreme freshness of all the fish oil products. Freshness is measured with peroxide values and the lower the value the fresher. Nordic’s peroxide values The peroxide values are well below the European Pharmacopoeia Standard limits.
Every batch of Nordic fish oil products is 3rd party tested for environmental toxins, heavy metals, dioxins and PCBs. This ensures that every product exceeds the international quality standards and is at the minimum, 750 times purer than fish.
The major objection to liquid fish oils is the taste and aftertaste. Nordic brand oils benefit from a proprietary enzymatic and oxygen free processing technology that allows for no fishy smell, taste or aftertaste. The unsurpassed purity and freshness are the key factors in eliminating this undesirable smell and taste.
Highest Quality Fish:
Nordic uses meticulous quality control processes to ensure their fish are naturally high in omega 3 fatty acids and low in environmental toxins. All the fish used are wild-caught and sustainably sourced so there is no worry of shortage as they keep the species strong and plentiful. The fish used include Arctic cod from Norwegian waters (such as in the Cod liver oil), anchovies and sardines from South Pacific and Atlantic oceans, which are the purest and the most sustainable fish species in the world.
The fish oil processing is one of the key things that sets Nordic Naturals apart from everyone else in the industry. They water and clay filters to molecularly distill the products without any chemicals or excessive heat, while preserving the natural integrity of the oil to the highest degree possible.
They also use a proprietary nitrogen (oxygen-free) environment to achieve the industry leading freshness levels and further reduce heat requirements. Only natural enzymes are used to form the triglyceride form for optimal freshness and absorption.
True Triglyceride Form:
After decades of research, it is clear that the triglyceride form gives the best omega 3 absorption rate. Most concentrated fish oils on the market use an ethyl ester form, which is a synthetic fat with only 30 years of history in the human diet. All Nordic products use the triglyceride form which is how we have processed and used fats in our body since the beginning of mankind.
The newest research shows that the absorption advantage of the triglyceride form is 70% more than the ethyl ester form.