alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentanoic acid (EPA), docosahexanoic acid (DHA)
Omega−3 and omega−6 fatty acids are part of the polyunsaturated fatty acids. They play an essential role in the proper development and functioning of the body. Our diet should contain a balanced amount of these fatty acids. Since the body cannot synthesize these acids, they must be obtained from the diet or supplement.
These fatty acids play an important role in the formation of the cells and the skin's structure, and they also play a role in the regulation of the inflammatory process and cardiovascular system. They reduce the amount of bad cholesterol and triglycerides found in the blood as well as prevent blood from clotting (coagulation).
There are three types of omega−3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). ALA is said to be essential because it must be obtained from food, while the other two can be synthesized in a small amount the body from dietary ALA. EPA and DHA are the main active fatty acids.
In the western diet, omega−6 consumption far outweighs omega−3 consumption. To reach an equilibrium, we need to increase our dietary intake of omega−3 fatty acids.
A typical dose of 5 grams of fish oil contains approximately 169 to 563 mg of EPA and 72 to 312 mg of DHA.
|Dietary sources that provide 1.3 g of omega−3 *|
Plant-derived omega−3 (ALA)
Omega−3 from marine sources (EPA+DHA)
* Certain foods are enriched with omega−3 fatty acids (eggs, milk, etc.).
Used doses: 2 to 4 g of EPA/DHA daily (increase dose gradualy)
Used doses: 1.8 g of EPA and 0.9 g of DHA (increase dose gradualy)
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
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