For starters, both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are essential—just like vitamins and minerals. That is, the body needs them; however, it cannot produce them on its own. So, you must get them through food, supplementation, or a combination of the two.
Here's the kicker: Experts estimate that throughout human history, the optimal ratio for consumption of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids was about 1:1 or 2:1. With the contemporary diet, this ratio has shifted dramatically in favor of omega-6 fatty acids to 20:1.†
Why does that matter? Great question. You see, omega-6 fats serve as precursors to pro-inflammatory chemicals. Along those lines, overconsumption of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats promotes inflammation, particularly when they are consumed in excess of omega-3 fats.†
In other words, consuming too many omega-6 and not enough omega-3 fatty acids may lead to an "exaggerated" inflammatory response. In fact, this imbalance has been tied to virtually all negative health outcomes and accelerated aging.†
According to researchers, there are three main explanations for this heavy imbalance of omega fatty acids:†
Obviously, reducing consumption of processed foods (which are rife with omega-6-rich oils) and low-quality products from farm-raised animals is a key step to resolving the problematic omega imbalance. On the flip side, the other crucial piece of the puzzle is making sure you're getting plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, the two most prominent omega-3 fatty acids.
Along those lines, the American Heart Association recommends adults consume a minimum of 500 mg/day of EPA and DHA, and often, more is better. The unfortunate reality is that the average person consumes only about a quarter of the recommended amount (around 135 mg/day).†
You see, there are very few foods highly concentrated with these two, all-star omega-3 fatty acids, with the main dietary source being cold-water fatty fish (e.g., salmon, sardines, anchovies, herring, mackerel) and other seafood (e.g., oysters, mussels). With that in mind, it's just plain smart to use an omega-3 supplement containing DHA and EPA.
Simply put, the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are nutrition MVPs. For starters, they are incorporated into the walls of cells (called cell membranes) that make up the various tissues (e.g., brain, retina, heart). These fats help improve the properties of cell membranes (e.g., fluidity, suppleness), and research shows that regular use of an omega-3 supplement containing DHA and EPA may promote a wide range of health benefits, including:
Clearly, using an omega-3 supplement is one of the most important, effective tools in the supplement toolbox when it comes to healthy aging. Even more, EPA and DHA may also exert an anti-aging effect at the cellular level. For example, research has shown that diets rich in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA may defend, and in some cases, lengthen telomeres, a key marker of biological age that typically shorten with age. There's even some evidence that using an omega-3 supplement with EPA and DHA increases the activity of telomerase, which is an enzyme that maintains, lengthens, and restores telomeres.†
Conversely, excess omega-6 intake has been shown to be associated with shorter telomere lengths and accelerated aging. Along those lines, it appears the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids may be where the magic happens: Telomere lengths increase with decreasing ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. In other words, increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids (by eating fatty fish and using an omega-3 supplement) while reducing intake of omega-6 fats (eating fewer processed foods and meat from feedlot animals) may have a positive impact on cellular aging.†
While using an omega-3 supplement is one of the smartest supplement choices most people can make, when it comes to choosing an omega-3 supplement, buyer beware!
When searching for an omega-3 supplement, you have many choices, but don't be fooled: They're NOT all created equal. Here are some critical questions you should be asking:
1. Potency: Does your omega-3 supplement contain the amounts claimed on the label?
According to the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) program, the only third-party testing and certification program for fish oils that sets the world's highest standards for purity, potency, and freshness, one unfortunate problem with omega-3 supplements is that they don't always contain the amount of active ingredients (EPA and DHA) listed on the product label. Obviously, you can't reap the expected benefits if your omega-3 supplement is underdelivering. Not only that, you're getting ripped off!
2. Contamination: How pure and safe is your omega-3 supplement?
Believe it or not, many omega-3 supplements are contaminated with heavy metals or other dangerous toxins (such as PCBs, dioxins, furans, and dioxin-like PCBs), which can be harmful to your health and can lead to endocrine, neurobehavioral, and developmental disruption.
That's no joke, and research suggests these contaminants can have negative effects, many of which outweigh the potential health benefits of an omega-3 supplement. For instance, fish contain a specific form of mercury called methylmercury, which is a neurotoxin that causes brain and nervous system damage. Methylmercury is also toxic to the kidneys, liver, and heart.
3. Stability: How fresh is your omega-3 supplement?
Omega-3 fatty acids (such as DHA and EPA) are polyunsaturated fats that are very delicate and susceptible to oxidation, which occurs when unsaturated fats are exposed to oxygen, heat, and light. This leads to the production of free radicals and harmful compounds, as well as rancidification, which results in an unpleasant smell and taste. If you've ever experienced the embarrassment of fish burps or a downright disgusting fishy aftertaste when using an omega-3 supplement, there's a good chance your supplement had oxidized, spoiled, and gone rancid. Yuck!
Unfortunately, most companies don't test for rancidity or take the additional steps necessary to protect these delicate oils. In a study of the quality of popular omega-3 supplements, researchers found the vast majority exceeded recommended levels of oxidation markers. In fact, they found that 83% of the samples tested exceeded the recommended levels for peroxide values (PV), which is an indicator of freshness.
4. Application: Does your omega-3 supplement contain the right blend of DHA and EPA?
Most people tend to refer to the two omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA as if they are one and the same, leading many to believe they are interchangeable and provide similar health benefits. The fact is this couldn't be further from the truth. You see, DHA and EPA each have very specific functions, and along those lines, they offer unique and distinct health benefits.
While EPA is indeed important and seems to be closely correlated to mood and feelings of wellbeing, DHA generally exceeds EPA by 5- to 30-fold in most tissues of the body. In fact, DHA is the most predominant fatty acid in the brain and eye tissue, where it is several HUNDRED-fold more abundant than EPA.†
Along those lines, DHA has been shown to improve both memory and reaction time, and it seems to play a key role in cognitive function. DHA may also be more effective than EPA at improving markers of heart health.†
One particularly nifty attribute of DHA is that the body can convert it, on an as-needed basis, to EPA. However, the opposite is NOT true, meaning the body can't convert EPA to DHA.† Traditionally, the typical omega-3 supplement contains predominantly EPA. However, as you can see, emerging scientific research suggests DHA may have more profound benefits.
The unfortunate reality is that the market is flooded with untested omega-3 supplements that have gone rancid, are contaminated with harmful heavy metals and toxins, don't contain the amount of active ingredients listed on the label, and don't provide the optimal amounts of DHA and EPA.
That's exactly why we developed OmegaKrill 5X, which we truly believe is the best omega-3 supplement available today.
Simply put, we believe OmegaKrill 5X is the best omega-3 supplement and sets the bar for QUALITY.