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Essential fatty acids help regulate several bodily functions including hormone and energy production. They are called 'essential' because they can’t be produced by the body and so have to be consumed through diet.
The foods we eat are traditionally composed by three types of fat:
• Saturated fat, which comes primarily from animal sources including cheese,butter and red meat.
• Monounsaturated fat, which can be found in olive and canola oil.
• Polyunsaturated fats, which are the major constituent of seafood (fish and shellfish), but can also be found in smaller amounts in nuts and some vegetable oils such as corn oil or sunflower.
Fish oil contains a powerful polyunsaturated fatty acid calledomega-3, a healthy type of fat with anti-inflammatory properties that has been shown to improve cardiovascular health by reducing 'bad' cholesterol and triglycerides levels (*1), (*2). On the other hand, omega-6 is a pro-inflammatory polyunsaturated fatty acid that can be found in most vegetable oils.
The key to maintaining a healthy diet is to have a proper ratio betweenomega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Health experts recommend an optimal 1:3 to 1:5ratio. The problem is that nowadays modern diets tend to have a 1:10 to 1:20ratio, which will eventually lead to health problems and cardiovascular disease.
To correct this imbalance it's necessary to increase the consumption of foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and/or reduce the consumption of foods high inomega-6.
There are three major types of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid(EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The first two can be found in marine foods while the latter is generally found in flax seed oil and walnuts.EPA and DHA are powerful fatty acids that have been shown to cut off heart attack and stroke risk (*3), (*4) and prevent neurodegenerative diseases (*5).
The recommended EPA and DHA dose for an adult is 400 to 500 mg / day,which is equivalent to have three units of any fatty fish (*6). You can pick up omega-3 supplements instead.
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