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  • Black Current Seed Oil
  • Borage Oil
  • Evening Primrose Oil
  • Fish Oils/Marine Oils
  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Perilla Oil Introduction
    Essential unsaturated fatty acids and the substances formed from them, with such "high" sounding names as eicosanoids, are necessary for normal growth and healthy blood, artery and nervous systems. These unsaturated fatty acids are also necessary for the transport and breakdown of cholesterol. In addition, they function with Vitamin D to make calcium available to the tissues, assist in the assimilation of phosphorus and in the conversion of carotene into Vitamin A

    Mammals, including man, are unable to produce the essential fatty acid LINOLEIC acid (LA - omega-6), which must be supplied from foods. The body converts LA to gamma-LINOLENIC acid (GLA - omega-6) and ultimately to prostaglandins, hormone-like substances which help to regulate inflammation, blood pressure and many other functions in the body. GLA may be converted into DGLA (dihomogamma-linolenic acid) if adequate supplies of magnesium, zinc and vitamin B3, B6 and C are available. GLA may also be converted into ARACHIDONIC acid (AA - omega-6). Arachidonic acid is also considered to be essential, but only when linoleic acid is deficient. All these fatty acids are present in phospholipids, which help maintain the structure and function of cellular membranes. However, not all these omega-6 fatty acids behave in the same way. For example, LA and AA are often considered "unhealthy", because they promote various types of inflammations in the body, whereas GLA reduces them.

    The omega-6 fatty acids are found in the seeds of plants and the oils produced from them. Corn, safflower, sunflower and soybean oil and wheat germ are all high in linoleic acid. The more "exotic" sources of omega-6 fatty acids include, borage oil, black current oil and evening primrose oil.

    Why are omega-6 fatty acids considered "bad"? The presence of such substances as prostaglandins, leads researchers to believe, that too little linoleic acid is bad and too much or rather a dietary imbalance is also bad. The definition of too much or imbalance is the difficult part and will depend on the intake of saturated fats and carbohydrates, both of which increase the need for linoleic acid intake.

    The third essential fatty acid is LINOLENIC acid. There are TWO. We have "met" gamma -Linolenic acid (GLA - omega-6) above, but there also is the more important, alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA), which is an omega-3 fatty acid. From linolenic acid can be produced EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docasahexaenoic acid) which are important in the membranes of the retina and brain and modify platelet function and inflammatory responses. Both DHA and EPA are omega-3 fatty acids. DHA and EPA are synthesized by photoplankton and algae and are thus abundant in seafood. The richest sources are mackerel, anchovies, herring, salmon, sardines, lake trout, tuna and Atlantic sturgeon. In plants the highest levels are found in walnuts, flaxseeds (flax oil), rapeseed (canola oil) and purslane.

    Now as to the "sisters, cousins and aunts".
    Obviously the sisters are omega-6 and omega-3. We need them *both*. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in American cell membranes is 4:1, whereas that in the Japanese is 1:1 and the Eskimos (with very low chronic disease rates) 1:4. The intake of omega-6 to omega-3 in Americans is 10:1, whereas in Eskimos it is 1:3. The World Health Organization (WHO) seems to indicate a satisfactory intake would be between 5:1 to 10:1, whereas Canadians are advised that the ratio should be between 4:1 and 10:1. The ratios (omega-6:omega-3) in some cooking/salad oils are: flaxseed 1:3; canola 2:1; extra virgin olive oil 8:1; soybean oil 8:1 and corn oil 60:1.

    Now the "cousins" are Vitamin E and selenium. It is very important for the best absorption of the unsaturated fatty acids, that Vitamin E and selenium be present, which they are in most foods containing these fatty acids. Only when one is taking highly processed supplements, may they sometimes be deficient.

    The "aunts" are carbohydrates, Vitamin D (and calcium), the Vitamin A system and fats, both saturated and unsaturated.

    Black Current Seed Oil (Ribes nigrum)
    This oil is a rich source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA - omega-6) 15-20% and also alpha-linolenic acid (ALA - omega-3) 12-14%, as well as linoleic acid. This oil may have cardio-protective effects, as well as being of benefit for rheumatoid arithritis.

    Borage Oil (Borago officinalis)
    This oil is a rich source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA - omega-6) 20-27%. This oil may have anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic properties and may also be effective in rheumatoid arithritis. NOTE: Adverse reactions may occur in immune deficiency disorders, such as, AIDS and in persons using aliphatic phenothiazine drugs such as chlorpromazine or anticoagulants.

    Evening Primrose Oil (Oenthera biennis)
    This oil is a rich source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA - omega-6) 7-14 %. This oil is thought to be an anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic agent. It also appears to be effective in some cases of rheumatoid arithritis. However, adverse reactionsmay occur in persons with immune deficiency disorders, such as AIDS and in persons using aliphatic phenothiazine drugs, such as chlorpromazine.

    Fish Oils/Marine Oils
    These oils are a rich source of omega-3, long chain polyunsaturated faatty acids. these fish oils have blood pressure and triglyceride lowering activity, as well as anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic and immune system modulating properties. The fish oils decrease clotting tendencies which is particularly useful following myocardial infarcts. They also can prevent restenosis following coronary angioplasty. Fish oils may alleviate some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arithritis, help stabilize mood in bipolar disorders and help prevent rejection in renal transplant patients. However, there is very little supporting evidence for use of fish oils in angina, asthma or psoriasis. NOTE: interactions may occur when also using asperin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and herbs such as garlic and ginko biloba.

    Flaxseed Oil (Linium usitatissimum)
    This oil is a very rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA - omega-3) 40-60%, which is almost twice that found in fish oils. It also contains lower amounts of linoleic acid (15%) and oleic acid (15%) which are also present in the "Mediterranean" diet, which appears to lower the risk of coronary artery disease. It would appear that flaxseed oil also has anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic properties. It seems to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, but weight loss claims are unsubstantiated. Eggs from chickens feed diets rich in flaxseed have an omega-3 fatty acid content 8-10 times that of regular eggs. It is hoped that eating these eggs will lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and decrease platelet aggregation.

    Perilla Oil (Perilla frutescens)
    This oil is very rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA - omega-3) 50-60%. Perilla oil has anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic and antiproliferative properties. It is a cardioprotective supplement. Interactions may occur with asperin, garlic, ginkgo biloba and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Home Page

    NOTE: All information on this page is copyrighted by RosettaStoneInc, and may not be duplicated

    email Dr. Inge Harding-Barlow