Echium oil as an alternative to fish oil

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Published: 19th November 2010
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Omega-3 fatty acids, often called essential fats, are necessary for the formation of healthy cell membranes. There are two main types of fatty acids, both plant oil derived polyunsaturated fats: LA (the parent omega-6 fatty acid) and ALA (the parent omega-3 fatty acid). Humans are able to convert LA and ALA to more physiologically active fatty acids through a series of reactions Ė DGLA and AA from the omega-6 series, and EPA and DHA, from the omega-3 series. These important long-chain fatty acids are necessary for the formation of healthy cell membranes, but also for the proper development and functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the production of hormone-like substances which regulate numerous body functions including blood pressure, immune and inflammatory responses.

The truth is that our body canít easily convert the ALA into the long-chain fatty acids.



Although vegetarian diets are generally lower in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol than non-vegetarian diets, omega-6 intakes are significantly higher in vegans and vegetarians than in meat eaters. Because the consumption of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (found mainly in fish but also in eggs Ė in small quantities) is low in vegetarian populations and absent in vegans, levels of EPA and DHA in body stores are significantly decreased. Indeed, people who donít eat fish are dependent on the successful conversion of the parent fatty acid ALA to EPA and DHA. The first step in the pathway that converts ALA to EPA and DHA is via the enzyme delta-6-desaturase, although this step is slow and rate-limiting, particularly in humans. If this enzyme is impaired for any reason (the significant factors are: old age, stress, diabetes, the consumption of alcohol, caffeine and diets high in saturated fats, also viral infections) and intake of omega-6 is high, then the rate of conversion of parent omega-3 to long-chain omega-3 may be inadequate for normal and healthy function.



Years of research have recently given an alternative to all omega-3 followers. A novel source of omega-3, derived from the seeds of the plant Echium Plantagineum, has received a food approval in the UK. In a form of supplement capsules, Echiomega contains stearidonic acid (SDA), an omega-3 fatty acid which is more effectively metabolised to EPA than ALA in humans (SDA even has its own potent anti-inflammatory effects). Echium oil also contains other beneficial fatty acids, including the potent anti-inflammatory omega-6 gamma linolenic acid (GLA), as well as the omega-9 oleic acid, known for its cardio-protective properties. According to research SDA in combination with GLA raises red blood cell EPA levels more efficiently than SDA alone, suggesting that Echiomega may be the ideal nutritional supplement for those who are vegetarian, vegan or allergic to fish, to help boost the levels of important omega-3s in the diet.

You may want to read about echium oil and its benefits. Find out how vegetarian and vegan supplements may help you keep proper fatty acid levels in the body.

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