Omega Fatty Acids
The average American diet has a fat intake of just under 33% of total calories consumed. This value is well within the range that is considered healthy by the dietary recommended intake (DRI) committee. However, at least a quarter of the population consumes 35% or more of their total calories from fat – usually due to processed and fast foods that are high in saturated and trans fatty acids, often referred to as “bad” fat. Over time, foods that are rich in “bad” fat have been found to promote health risks.
That’s because the types of fat that you eat can actually alter the fatty acid composition of cell membranes, which play vital roles in so many cellular functions. This is even true for the cell membranes of the heart; we think of the heart as very stable tissue, but it can be rapidly modified. Eating an abundance of bad fat weakens cell membrane structure, so the cells can’t function at optimal levels. Conversely, a diet rich in “good” fats can strengthen cell membrane structure, supporting general health and well-being.
As a rule, “good” fats are the unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are the backbone of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet and have been shown to help maintain heart, joint, brain, skin and menopausal health. Monounsaturated fatty acids include palmitoleic acid and oleic acid, which are abundant in olives, olive oil, nuts and avocados. Polyunsaturated fatty acids include linoleic acid (LA), gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which can be found in fish, sardines and walnuts, as well as soybean, sunflower, fish, borage, evening primrose and flax seed oils.
Omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids are all unsaturated fats. And, research has shown that they must be consumed on a daily basis. However, few Western diets offer the proper omega-6:omega-3 ratio for optimal health, which is currently estimated at 4:1 or even 2:1. In fact, for most Americans, the ratio falls between 10:1 and 20:1.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids. That means they are necessary for optimal function of every cell in the body. But they can only be obtained through food and supplementation. Omega-3 fatty acids consist of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – the only omega-3 form found in plants - and its derivatives EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA - which are found in fish, sardines, walnuts and flax seed oil - are primarily responsible for the positive brain, heart and joint support properties associated with omega-3 fatty acids. DHA is considered the major building block of human brain tissue and is particularly abundant in the grey matter of the brain and other neural tissues, including the light-sensitive cells in the retina of the eye. DHA enhances the response of rhodopsin – a pigment that allows for night vision – for optimal visual health. DHA also mediates the transport of choline (a methyl donor for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine) and amino acids, glycine and taurine, in the brain for proper cognitive health.
All Bluebonnet’s formulas that provide omega-3 fatty acids are in a natural triglyceride form. The natural triglyceride form is 300 times more bioavailable than most other fish oil forms – and far more stable. In fact, many fish oils use a synthetic ethyl ester form, which is subject to oxidation and rancidity and can make the fish oil less effective. Plus, all omega-3 formulas that are derived from fish or algal oils have undergone intensive purification. These include a four-step purification process, molecular distillation, and/or steam distillation. These processes eliminate virtually all heavy metals (like mercury), PCBs, dioxins and other contaminants, as well as the unpleasant fishy taste and odor often associated with marine fish oils.