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Saturday, October 13, 2007

THE OMEGA OILS -- THE ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

THE OMEGA OILS – THE ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

INTRODUCTION


Proteins are made up of amino acids. The proteins we eat are digested in the alimentary canal into their component amino acids which are absorbed into the body to be used in making body proteins for muscles and other organs. Fats are made up of individual fatty acids which are similarly digested, absorbed, and employed to make fats required to make tissues and organs.

ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS

The body can make most of the 20 amino acids from other food components, but cannot make those which are called essential. Nine amino acids are generally regarded as essential for humans: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, histidine, valine, and phenylalanine. In addition, the amino acids arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine and tyrosine are considered conditionally essential, meaning they are not normally required in the diet, but must be supplied exogenously to specific populations that do not synthesize them in adequate amounts. Essential amino acids are not all the same for all species of animals. Since we are concerned with human health, we are considering what the human body requires.

ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

The same is true for the essential fatty acids. It is recognized that there are three "families" – namely the Omega 3, 6, and 9 – of polyunsaturated fats which are found in foods. The Omega-9 family is of little significance nutritionally because, although they are found in foods, the body can manufacture the fatty acids of this family. The three families differ in the position of the first double bond counting from the methyl end (or the omega end), of the chain. These three families are known as the omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 families. The list below shows the three main families of polyunsaturated fats:

The Omega-9 Family: oleic acid

The Omega-6 Family: linoleic acid, gamma-linolenic acid

The Omega-3 Family: alpha-linolenic acid


As already mentioned, the omega-9 family is only of significance when there is an insufficiency of either or both of the other two families, which are essential to human health, and must be supplied in the diet. When adequate amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturates and/or omega-3 polyunsaturates are not available, the body tries to compensate by producing omega-9 polyunsaturates to take the place of the essential omega-3 and/or omega-6 polyunsaturates. Though the omega-9 derivatives can substitute to a certain extent, they are not as effective as the omega-3 or omega-6 derivatives, and health will eventually suffer. The main value of the omega-9 polyunsaturates is as a marker for dietary insufficiency of the essential polyunsaturates. (Excerpted from Wykipedia).

The list below shows sources of omega 3 oils in decreasing order of the amount of oils contained in each food. We can see than flax seeds and walnuts are excellent sources of omega 3 oils, but most would suggest to obtain most of these fats from fish sources, such as salmon, halibut, and shrimp, because of the high caloric content of seeds and walnuts.

FOODS RICH IN OMEGA 3'S

Food
Flax seeds
Walnuts C
Chinook salmon, baked/broiled
Scallops, baked/broiled
Soybeans, cooked
Halibut, baked/broiled
Shrimp, steamed, boiled
Snapper, baked
Tofu, raw
Winter squash
Tuna, yellowfin
Cod, baked
Kidney beans

FOODS RICH IN OMEGA 6'S

* Safflower oil - the richest natural source
* Sunflower oil
* Corn oil
* Sesame oil
* Hemp oil (best balance of omega 6:3)
* Pumpkin oil
* Soybean oil
* Walnut oil
* Wheat germ oil
* Evening Primrose oil

Some medical research has suggested that excessive levels of omega-6 acids, relative to Omega-3 fatty acids, may increase the probability of a number of diseases and depression. Modern Western diets typically have ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 in excess of 10 to 1, some as high as 30 to 1. The optimal ratio is thought to be 4 to 1 or lower.

Deficiency of essential fatty acids may cause problems in circulation in the extremities (e.g. cold hands and feet); dry, flaky skin; dull, dry and brittle hair; nails that have no sheen and breast pain and tenderness. Long-term essential fatty acid deficiency may contribute to diseases such as the early development of insulin resistance and diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and chronic inflammatory diseases (e.g. eczema and asthma.

OMEGA 3 DEFICIENCY DISEASES

The list of diseases associated with Omega 3 deficiency is so long, I refer the reader to the following link: just highlight, copy and paste to your browser:
www.omega3-drho.com/omega3deficiencydiseases_a.html

OMEGA 6 DEFICIENCY DISEASES

Similarly the following link will detail diseases caused by Omega 6 deficiencies:
www.answers.com/topic/omega-6-fatty-acid?cat=health

RELATIONSHIP OF CARBOHYDRATES, PROTEINS, AND FATS IN AS ENERGY SOURCES IN THE BODY

In a very simple analysis of food components, sugar, in particular glucose, is the major fuel for the body to make the energy required to run the body machine. From carbohydrates the body can manufacture other important nutrients, such as the non-essential amino acids required to make protein and the non-essential fatty acids required to make other structural components of the body including important enzymes. Obviously the essential amino acids and fatty acid which he body cannot make must be taken into the body from foods.

Excess amino and fatty acids can be converted by the body into glucose, the energy fuel, or stored as fat. Excess carbohydrates are also stored as fat. When required the body taps into the fat stores to reconvert the fat into glucose, amino and fatty acids. The conversion of the components of food into one another is a two way street, and it is truly magnificent how this complex interaction occurs to maintain the body machine.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com

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