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 Essential Fatty Acids: Dietary Fats and Essential Fatty Acids  
 

How to take
The usual therapeutic dose of fish oils ranges from 3 to 12 g per day. Capsules of 1000 mg (containing 180 mg of EPA and 120 mg of DHA) are commonly available, and there are also some supplements with a higher concentration of the active oils. Sometimes higher doses are used in studies, but with comprehensive diet and supplement programs it is usually possible to achieve beneficial effects with lower doses. I usually recommend starting on two to four capsules per day, and may increase the dose if the response is not adequate.

Flax Seed Oil
Another good source of omega-3 oil is flax seeds. Many of the effects are similar to fish oil, but because they have not yet gone through the first step in conversion they may not be as helpful in some situations. Supplements of flax seed oil are useful in a variety of skin disorders, including psoriasis, and digestive problems, including spastic colon and probably inflammatory bowel disease. Some claims have been made for benefits in other inflammatory diseases, as well as cancer and immune system problems.

How to take
Usual doses of flax seed oil are 1-3 tbsp per day for therapeutic purposes, reducing this to 1-3 tsp after the desired effect is achieved. It is available in 8.8- and 17.6-ounce bottles. It is important that the processing of the oil is done in an inert gas environment and that the oil is stored in opaque bottles without oxygen. This oil is very easily oxidized especially if exposed to heat and light, and I recommend keeping it in the freezer until it is opened, and then in the refrigerator. (After taking it out of the freezer it will take a few minutes to liquefy.) It is a good idea never to cook with flax oil because of its sensitivity to heat, but you may safely add it to hot foods after cooking.

Flax seeds themselves are a good source of the omega-3 oil and a large amount of fiber, especially soluble fiber. Each tablespoon of seeds contains about one teaspoon of oil. The fiber in flax seeds is an effective treatment for both constipation and diarrhea, and it helps to eliminate toxins. Grinding the seeds only for immediate use (in a small electric coffee mill) provides the freshest source of the oil. I like to grind up some flax seeds and add them to a blender drink with banana, other fruit, dilute juice and low-fat organic yogurt.

Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)
Gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA, is found in evening primrose oil, borage oil and black currant oil. GLA is produced by enzyme action on the linoleic acid that is essential in the diet. It is the result of the first step in conversion to the beneficial prostaglandin PGE1, bypassing the metabolic blockages mentioned above. Supplements have anti-inflammatory effects because they lead to increased production of the PGE1.

Many studies have shown remarkable benefits from supplements of GLA. It helps relieve premenstrual symptoms, asthma and eczema and other autoimmune disorders. It can lower blood pressure in hypertension and decrease excessive blood clotting. It helps to regulate hormonal function through its effect on production and release of hormones and through control of hormone activity at the target organs. GLA has been shown to help in alcoholism, diabetes, acne, hyperactivity and numerous other conditions. Although it sounds miraculous, its effects are easily explainable based on well-known nutritional biochemistry.

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 About The Author
Michael Janson MDMichael Janson, M.D., is past-president of the American College for Advancement in Medicine and the American Preventive Medical Association. He founded one of the first holistic medical practices in New England......more
 
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