Omega-3: An Under-consumed Fatty Acid with Potent Benefits

So, what are omega-3 fatty acids? Essentially the human body is able to make the majority of the fats it needs from other foods it consumes. However, omega-3 fatty acids are special. They are called essential fats, meaning the human body cannot create them but instead had to get them from food.

But Why Do Human’s Need Omega-3s?

Omega-3 fatty acids are integral in cell membranes, affecting the function of the cells’ receptors. They are the beginning point for numerous cell functions. [1] This includes inflammation regulation, relaxing and contracting of artery walls, genetic function, and blood clotting. [1]

Because of omega-3s being involved in these functions, it may come as no surprise that omega-3s are demonstrated to prevent stroke and heart disease. [2] [3] Omega-3s were even shown to control eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and even playing a protective role in certain cancers. [4] [5]

One such study found that omega-3 fatty acids keep a regular rhythm. [6] Omega-3s not only improve blood vessel function, they lower blood pressure and heart rate, even lowering inflammation causing triglycerides (inflammation that plays a role in the development of atherosclerosis). [6]

A Different Essential Fatty Acid that Americans Love

However, Americans consume far more of a different essential fat, omega-6 fatty acids. Some have hypothesized that the imbalance between the amount of omega-6s versus omega-3s consumed could pose cardiovascular problems. Notably, this has not been supported by studies on humans. [7]

In fact, studies have shown cardiovascular benefits of omega-6 fats as well. [8] While omega-6 fats may still be good, studies demonstrate Americans could greatly benefit from increasing their intake of omega-3 fatty acids, as discussed above.

Omega-3 Consumption Levels in The American Diet

So, just how much omega-3 fatty acids do Americans consume? One global study sought to examine the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in peoples’ blood around the world.

The study colored regions green, yellow, orange, and red. Green being high blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, yellow for moderate, orange for low, and red for very low.

America was colored red, showing omega-3 blood levels more than half as low (< 4%) as green countries such as Japan (>8%).

Map of Omega-3 Blood Levels

Figure 1. Omega-3 blood levels by country (NOTE: gray denotes unstudied regions)

While it is only correlationary evidence, it is interesting to note the average life expectancy in Japan is 84.2 years, whereas the average American life expectancy is 78.6. [10] [11]

However, it is also the case that the leading cause of death in America is heart disease, something omega-3s have been scientifically demonstrated to reduce the chance of, as discussed above. [12]

Western Food and ilixer

Western food needs to be different. Food should be crafted with the people in mind, bridging the gap between important nutrients and what an average diet lacks. With such a mindset, ilixer was born.

ilixer is packed with both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. We pack ilixer full of organic chia seeds, giving it a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Gram for gram, chia seeds have more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon.

ilixer is also packed with omega-6 fatty acids from organic raw cacao and organic high-oleic sunflower oil. ilixer is a health-conscious powdered food with you, the consumer, in mind.

We created ilixer not only so you can be confident you will consume your recommended vitamins and minerals, but also to be conscious of including ingredients, backed by science, that are demonstrated to reduce your risk of mortality causing conditions.

Therefore, when formulating ilixer, we specifically had in mind that our community would receive a proper amount of omega-3s through consuming ilixer.

A Note on Fish Oil

***We also want to note that fish is also important for omega-3 consumption. Fish provides a large amount of a type of omega-3 that is not found in large quantities through land plants or animals.

While ilixer’s mission is one conveniently healthy powdered food with all your recommended vitamins and minerals, taste tests attempting to incorporate fish oil (YUCK!) were in vain.

Therefore, one nutrient we believe is worth supplementing when eating ilixer is a separate fish oil pill. We recommend a pill derived from a low food-chain fish, as fish oil higher up on the food chain will have higher levels of mercury. The best is krill oil, but this can be expensive and should not be consumed by people with a shrimp allergy.

The next best would be a fish oil pill created from sardines, mackerel, or anchovies. As always, this is our opinion from reading the scientific literature on omega-3s, but everyone’s body is different. You should ask your doctor before starting any supplement routine, including fish oil.***

Citations

[1] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/omega-3-fats/

[2] https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/87/6/1997S/4633363

[3] http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.616.1136&rep=rep1&type=pdf

[4] https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/71/1/367s/4729582

[5] https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.38755.366331.2F

[6] Leaf A. Prevention of sudden cardiac death by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. J Cardiovasc Med. (Hagerstown). 2007; 8 Suppl 1:S27-29.

[7] Willett WC. The role of dietary n-6 fatty acids in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. J Cardiovasc Med. (Hagerstown). 2007; 8 Suppl 1:S42-5.

[8]  Mozaffarian D, Ascherio A, Hu FB, et al. Interplay between different polyunsaturated fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease in men. Circulation. 2005; 111:157-64.

[9]https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0163782715300333

[10] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/07/27/life-expectancies-2018-japan-switzerland-spain/848675002/

[11] https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/american-life-expectancy-has-dropped-again-heres-why

[12] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.html

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