February Functional Medicine Blog of the Month
February may be American Heart Month, but we’re not talking about the heart protective effects of Omega’s today. Did you know Omega 3 Fatty Acids play an integral role in the functioning of your immune system? There are multiple types of Omega’s so let’s break them down.
Omega 3s: There is a plant form called Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA) found in most nuts (walnuts and almonds) and their oils. The animal based forms are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found mostly in cold water fish (think salmon).
Omega 6s: The two forms are arachidonic acid and linoleic acid. Linoleic sources are found in vegetable oils like sunflower, safflower and soybean oil. Arachidonic acid is found in red meats and eggs. Americans get plenty of Omega 6 without supplementation.
Omega 9s: Also known as Oleic Acid. This form of Omega is non-essential meaning, your body can make it on its own. Omega 9s can be found in avocados, olive oil, and almonds.
To keep it simple, the difference between these forms of omegas is the number of double bonds in the chemical structure of these fatty acids. Omega 3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids and they make up part of cell membranes. The more Omega 3 you consume, the stronger the cell walls are, letting less pathogens through, into the cells. DHA and EPA (the animal sources of Omega 3) support your B cells in fighting off pathogens. Omega 3s also influence macrophage activity by enhancing communication of these immune cells to pathogens in the body.
Since most Omega 3 supplements are made of fish oils, it’s important to invest in high quality supplements so that the sources are free from mercury and other toxins. Another important aspect of fish oil supplementation is to make sure it is made and handled properly as to avoid the fish oils going rancid. If you’re looking to add more immune boosting power to your vitamin C and zinc routine, reach out to Dr. Marina for recommendations of her favorite high quality omega supplements.
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