By Cheryl Wright RHN, BA

The term ‘Omega oil’ is popping up all over the place. It is in the news and it’s being added to all your favourite foods; from juice to cereal to yogurt. But what are Omega’s and why do we need them? Omega 3 and 6 are types of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA). They are called Essential Fatty Acids because they are ‘essential to life.’ The body does not produce these EFA’s on its own, so they must be consumed from food sources such as raw nuts, raw seeds and fish. EFA’s are a vital component of every cell in your body and are used in almost every process within the body.

Many people become worried when they hear the word ‘fat’ as they know it can be bad for them and they don’t want to gain excess weight. However, there are many different types of fat in food, some are healthy and some are not. EFA’s are the good fats that your body needs. As EFA’s are required for so many functions within the body, it is almost impossible for the body to store them as fat cells. The body will always use them for its necessary functions first.

Essential Fatty Acids play an important role in many key functions including:
•    Neurotransmissions throughout the body
•    Cellular development and reproduction
•    Brain function
•    Support the cardiovascular system

Based on the above, ensuring optimal levels of EFA’s in the diet is vital for good health. If you are not eating raw nuts and seeds or fish every day, you must supplement!

Two special forms of EFA’s are Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Decosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), which are found only in fish. EPA & DHA have important biological functions in the central nervous system; DHA is a major structural component of neuronal membranes, while EPA has important physiological functions that can affect neuronal activity, which can be helpful for mental health.

Leading national and international health agencies recommend a daily (combined) dosage of approximately 1,000mg of EPA and DHA for optimum health. Together, these omega-3 essential fatty acids promote intestinal health and regular elimination, as well as help nourish active tissues in the body and support healthy cardiovascular and nervous system function.

For individuals with specific health concerns, the recommended daily dosage may be as high as 4,000mg of EPA and DHA. It is important to note that dosing should be based on the amount of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids in a product, not on the total amount of fish oil.

For those with specific health concerns, a high potency EFA is recommended:

According to the American Heart Association (AHA):
•    For general cardiovascular health: 500mg daily
•    For individuals with known coronary artery disease: 1g (1,000mg) daily
•    For individuals with elevated triglyceride levels: 2g to 4g (2,000mg-4,000mg) daily (or as directed by your healthcare practitioner)

With all the benefits of EFA’s listed above, it is extremely important to ensure you are ingesting them every day. If you are not eating one portion of either raw nuts, raw seeds, or cold water fish each day, than you should be supplementing. There are many supplemental EFA’s available at your local Health First store. If you suffer from any digestive issues, it is best to use one that contains the digestive enzyme lipase. Lipase is the enzyme required by the body to break down and properly digest fats and oils, so the body can use them effectively. By taking an EFA with lipase, it will ensure that you are actually absorbing the nutrients contained within the oils.

Renew Life’s Norwegian Gold Super Critical Omega is an excellent example of a high potency fish oil with lipase. Super Critical Omega is a highly concentrated fish oil contained in a fish derived capsule, in a once a day serving (as opposed to other high potency formulas that require up to 4 capsules per day). It has received a 5-star rating by the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) program, proving that it meets or exceed all national and international standards for purity, potency and freshness, including the Norwegian Medicinal Standard (NMS) and the European Pharmacopoeia Standard (EPS). It has been formulated for those who require EFA support for chronic health conditions or for those who want the strongest and best formulation available. 

Cheryl Wright is a Registered Nutritionist from the Greater Toronto area. She lectures across Canada on holistic nutrition and specializes in digestive care and cleansing.

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