Importance of Fish Oils
By Jeffrey Aron, M.D.
oils regulate the ability of your
body’s cells to respond to the
stresses of their environment. All
cells are defined by their membranes
which form their external borders
as well as their inner workings. All
these structures are mainly composed
of oils, along with some protein and
carbohydrate. The oils are automatically
taken up by the cells from the circulation,
and directly reflect the oils consumed
in the diet.
major dietary oils come from the omega
3, 6, and 9 classes. This means that
there is a special chemical bond called
a double bond 3, 6, and 9 carbon atoms
down from the end of the oil molecule.
Omega 3 oils in the membranes of the
cell produce anti-inflammatory chemical
messengers when exposed to stresses,
while omega 6 oils produce pro-inflammatory
chemical messengers. Omega 9 oils
have minor anti-inflammatory effects.
Western diets have a preponderance
of omega 6 oils, and it is no accident
that all of our diseases are a variation
on the theme of ongoing inflammation.
The ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 oils
in the membranes of most of us is
about 20 to 1. In Crete, where the
longest lifespan of humans on earth
are found the ratio of omega 6 to
omega 3 is about 4 to 1. There, the
diet is rich in fish, free range meats
and fresh vegetables.
is direct competition between all
of the oils for space in our cell
membranes, so the less omega 6’s
and the more omega 3’s in our
diet, the better. The main sources
of omega 3’s in our diet come
from plant and fish sources. Plant
sources are flax, primrose and borage
oils, and are 14-16 carbons in length.
To get incorporated into our cell
membranes, they must be lengthened
to 22 and 25 carbons. Unfortunately,
we humans can only convert about 5%
of these oils into the lengths necessary
to have an anti-inflammatory effect.
the other hand, fish oils-EPA and
DHA- are at the right length for direct
incorporation into our cell membranes.
The minimum dose of EPA is 1200mg
daily, and DHA is 800mg daily. DHA
appears to be somewhat more beneficial
than EPA. One must consume these minimal
amounts of fish oils for at least
3 months before any anti-inflammatory
benefits are obtained.
dietary sources of oily fish needed
to reach these levels is five servings
a week. One cannot overdose on omega
3’s so a daily supplement of
800mg DHA and 1200mg of EPA together
with dietary sources is quite safe.
all well-conducted studies using fish
oil supplements at the above levels
are positive. The benefits are many.
Quality producers of fish oils exclude
mercury and PCB’s, so there
is no hazard from these potential
dangers lurking in our oceans.
taking supplements, divide the milligrams
of DHA and EPA in your capsule into
800 and 1200 respectively to arrive
at your daily dosage. Always round
Although very helpful, fish oils by
themselves must be a part of an every
day life that provides peace, relaxation,
exercise and attention to other dietary
measures-low glycemic index carbohydrates,
portion control and adequate fluid-to
provide their maximum benefit.
you have questions about Fish Oils
or Omega-3 Fatty Acids, please call
me to make an appointment.