by Stephen Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N.
I’ve read literally thousands of articles on the merits of omega-3s, and everyone has been positive. I’ve often said that if I were stranded on a desert island, two of the items I’d most want washed onto the shore would be fish oil and CoQ10.
Omega-3s in fish oil convert to EPA and DHA and get in your heart cells, stabilizing heart rhythm. They also have a positive effect on heart rate variability, so necessary to heart strength. Omega-3s also make blood platelets less sticky, keeping your arteries clear. They also work their way into existing plaque within three days and make it more resistant to rupture. Just two fish meals a month can reduce death by sudden heart failure by 50 percent!
Not only is fish oil great fertilizer for your heart, it’s also terrific for your brain, eyes, skin, and gastrointestinal tract. The EPA contained in fish oil is a terrific anti-inflammatory agent. We’ve also seen fish oil significantly lower triglycerides and lessen the effects of type 2 diabetes. People with bipolar II disorder have had positive results taking 9-10 grams daily. It truly is a remarkable substance with no downside that anyone has ever discovered.
Now, a new study has shown that the omega-3s in fish oil can even lengthen your life!
Cardiologists at the University of California, and several hospitals, measured the length of patients’ telomeres—which is the part of your DNA that corresponds with longevity. In their five-year study, they measured the length of the telomeres in the white blood cells of 608 patients who had coronary-artery blockage and previous heart attacks.
What they found is that the participants with higher omega-3s blood levels had significantly less shortening of their telomeres than the participants with lower omega-3 levels—over the five year study period. This suggests that omega-3s play an important role in the aging process.
But while it’s important to get more omega-3s —it’s the DHA fats that are most critical
While both the EPA and DHA omega-3 essential fats are critical, DHA is the omega-3 fat your body needs most for your cardiovascular system, brain, cognitive function, and eye health. Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a practicing cardiologist with an integrative approach to health and healing.
Research shows that supplementing with DHA is better at promoting normal blood pressure levels in hypertensive men than EPA. In a study of postmenopausal women with cardiovascular disease, those with the highest levels of DHA had significantly better cardiovascular health.
DHA is also highly concentrated in your brain, making up 40% of the EFA’s found there. It helps with nerve cell communication, is an important part of brain nerve cell communication, plus, it acts as an antioxidant.
Plus, DHA is the primary essential fatty acid found in the retina, with studies showing that higher DHA reduces age-related macular degeneration. Yet, while DHA fats are so critical to your health—they’re also the toughest fats for your body to obtain.
That’s because your body’s ability to convert plant-based omega-3s into DHA is very low. Plus, the ability of your body to convert EPA omega-3s into DHA is poor. It requires a great deal of energy, as well as the presence of a crucial enzyme, delta-6-desaturase—which may be lacking in some people, particularly the elderly.
What’s the best way to increase your DHA fats?
The easiest and most reliable way for most people to get the amount of omega-3s they need for general health—at least 500 mg per day—is to take a fish oil supplement each day. Preferably one that’s high in DHA fats.