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  • 4 Good Reasons to Take Omega-3s

    Mom and DaughterOmega-3s like DHA and EPA are called essential fatty acids for a reason—they’re essential to our health. But just why are omega-3s so essential? We spoke with Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, ND, member of Pharmaca’s Integrative Health Advisory Board, about why she recommends essential fatty acids.

    Fighting inflammation
    “Fish oil can help normalize the inflammatory process in the body,” says Dr. Low Dog. That’s vital, she says, because it seems that inflammation is what’s driving many of the chronic ailments we see today. We need a certain level of inflammation to heal ourselves, she says, but it’s the chronic levels that are causing a lot of health problems—like allergies, heart disease, arthritis, cancer and more.

    Reducing insulin resistance
    “Omega-3s have been shown to have very beneficial effects on insulin resistance in obese people without diabetes,” says Dr. Low Dog. People in this pre-diabetic stage see real results from fish oil, which helps increase insulin sensitivity, she says, and therefore reduces the risk of developing full-blown type 2 diabetes. And since the CDC believes the rate of diabetes in America will continue to increase, taking omega-3s preventively can be vital for a large portion of our population.

    Supporting baby’s neurodevelopment
    “Most of our brain and eyes are made from DHA,” says Dr. Low Dog. That’s why it’s a vitally important nutrient for baby’s development, specifically during pregnancy and breastfeeding. “You can’t give what you don’t have, so the baby may not be getting enough if there’s not enough DHA in Mom’s diet or they’re not getting a formula with added DHA.” That’s why she recommends that all pregnant or breastfeeding women eat fish or supplement with a vegetarian source of DHA.

    Boosting cardiovascular health
    There’s so much evidence showing EPA’s ability to lower triglycerides that it’s approved by the FDA as an effective therapy, either by prescription or over-the-counter fish oil supplements.  “Studies have shown that about 4,000 mg per day can reduce triglycerides by about 30 percent,” says Dr. Low Dog. She adds that because omega-3s help fight inflammation and lower insulin resistance, they can also help reduce heart disease risk. “With fish oil, you’re getting a multitude of benefits for the cardiovascular system.”

    A few more reasons…
    There is strong evidence for fish oil’s effects on rheumatoid arthritis. “What they’ve found is that when you give 5,000 mg of fish oil to people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, it actually can reduce the need for so much medication. People are also more likely to go into remission,” says Dr. Low Dog.

    “We think inflammation may be a direct link to depression,” says Dr. Low Dog, so fish oil’s ability to lower inflammation may also have some beneficial effects on depression itself. Medications used to treat depression can also drive inflammation, and it is well known people suffering from depression usually have a higher risk of heart disease. That’s why Dr. Low Dog almost always puts patients with depression or bipolar disorder on at least 1,000 mg of EPA per day.

    There are new studies that showing overweight people, especially those with high abdominal obesity, saw greater weight loss on 1,000 mg of fish oil per day than others taking a placebo. “Weight around the midsection can increase insulin resistance, increase triglyceride levels, increase inflammation…and fish oil can help combat all of that,” says Dr. Low Dog. As if there wasn’t enough to love about fish oil!

    Speak with your doctor or a Pharmaca practitioner about finding the right fish oil and dosage for your health concerns.

  • Ask the Practitioner: What Are Some Natural Remedies for Adult ADHD?

    Q. I have taken prescription stimulants for ADHD in the past, but would like to stop taking Ritalin and try a natural remedy instead. What can I take to help keep me focused on my work and other responsibilities during my hectic day?

    A. It's great that you want to try more natural remedies! There are many supplements that can help calm the mind, but here are my top suggestions:

    DHA is one of the two main essential fatty acids in fish oil (EPA being the other), and is very nourishing and supportive to the brain. Nordic Naturals makes a product called DHA Xtra that features a very concentrated dose of DHA in 2 pills per day. Give this supplement a few weeks of consistent dosing to build up in your system, as it is a fat-soluble oil.

    Albizzia Calm by Planetary Herbals is a wonderful herb for calming the mind and spirit as well as promoting happiness.

    Cut out or seriously minimize sugar, alcohol and caffeine. These all act as stimulants and have a draining effect on the body. Avoid processed foods, especially those with food dyes. Adopt a whole food-based diet. Eat smaller meals packed with protein throughout the day, as healthy sources of protein will stabilize your blood sugar and help your brain to stay focused.

    Exercise daily. Elevate your heart rate for a minimum of 20 minutes every day. Exercise increases serotonin, norepinephrine and epinephrine—three brain chemicals found to be lower in those with ADHD and required in proper amounts for calmness, focus and happiness.

    Try calcium and magnesium to help relax your body and ease tension (and support your bones while you're at it). I like Natural Vitality’s Calm Plus Calcium or Pure Essence Lab’s Ionic Fizz Calcium Plus—both in powder form for rapid and optimal absorption.


    The information provided here is intended for educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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