Flaxseed oil is isolated from flax seeds of the plant known as Linum usitatissimum. It has been used for hundreds of years for its many health benefits. It has been reported to contain the greatest concentration of a particular omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha linolenic acid. It also contains EPA (eicosapentaenoic) acid and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which are also omega-3s. These fatty acids are important for every cell in your body. They are an integral part of the plasma membrane and internal cell organelles and as such important for maintaining cell membrane integrity, transmembrane transport and cell signaling. They are also important in the prevention of inflammatory responses, maintaining proper blood pressure, reducing cardiovascular events and maintaining proper brain function.
Given that fatty acids are an integral component of cell membranes, any deficiency has widespread repercussions. These molecules are very important to proper brain function and if not available can cause memory and learning dysfunction. Keep in mind that the plasma membrane of cells is a very busy area and requires replacement parts on a regular basis. A deficiency in omega-3 is not only damaging to the brain but is important to the immune system, cardiovasculature and clotting mechanism. Studies indicate that low levels of omega-3 may increase the probability of developing blood clots.
Many people don’t get enough omega-3 simply because they don’t eat enough oily fish. In that case, reaping the benefits of omega-3s may require supplementation and flaxseed oil is a good way to do that. Not only do we not get enough omega-3, we get too much omega-6s. For proper balance, you need more omega-3 than omega-6 fatty acids. The medical community suggests you not worry about decreasing your intake of omega-6 but rather increase your intake of omega-3s to restore balance. Excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids increases the probability of inflammation due to the over production of a particular form of prostaglandins often seen in arthritic conditions, skin problems, cardiovascular disease and asthma. Omega-3s activate another form of prostaglandins which actually act as an anti-inflammatory mechanism. It has been suggested that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 be somewhere around 2:1 or perhaps 1:1. Unfortunately, many diets have a ratio that is 20:1 to 50:1. Much of this imbalance comes from the processed foods we eat.
The benefits of flaxseed oil stem in part on its ability to lower low-density liposomes (LDL) which is believed to be bad cholesterol as well as lower triglyceride blood levels as this lowers the probability of cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 is also known to cause vasodilation and reduce plaque formation.
The benefits of flaxseed oil extend into glucose pathways. The omega-3s in flaxseed oil have been reported to be beneficial to patients who have diabetes with insulin resistance. This comes about due to the fact that omega-3s may reduce triglyceride levels. Omega-3s may also improve circulation and thereby improve nerve function.
Studies indicate that the brain can benefit from flaxseed oil as has been observed in patients who have depression. Deficiencies in omega-3s have been reported to predispose an individual to depression. Clinical trials indicate that treating an individual with omega-3 may improve depression symptoms in patients that have been diagnosed with unipolar depression. Flaxseed oil omega-3s are also important for all areas of the brain and have been reported to improve memory, learning, cognition and focus. If you are experiencing depression and/or feel your brain is sluggish, it is a good idea to see your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment. Then as about supplementing with flaxseed oil to get your daily requirement of omega-3s the easy way.
The medical community is well aware of the changes in our diets over the past century which has altered our consumption of fatty acids. Our processed foods are full of saturated fats along with high concentrations of omega-6 fatty acids with very low concentrations of omega-3s. This decrease in omega-3s has increased the incidence of inflammatory diseases such as allergies and asthma. Clinical studies indicate that increasing omega-3s in your diet may help decrease your chances of inflammatory diseases.
Why You Should Take Flaxseed Oil
If you tend to overeat and you want to lose weight, you might want to consider flaxseed oil as it has been reported to suppress appetite therefore helping you to lose weight. If you have high blood pressure problems, the omega-3s (alpha linolenic acid, ALA) in flaxseed oil have been reported to lower blood pressure as has been demonstrated in dyslipidaemic (abnormal amounts of cholesterol and/or fats) patients. If you are experiencing depression, omega-3s may improve your condition. If you have memory, learning and/or focus problems, omega-3s may come to the rescue. Even if you don’t have brain dysfunction, omega-3s can help boost memory and learning. If you have high triglyceride levels and too many LDLs in your bloodstream, a daily dose of omega-3s may be able to lower your levels of bad fats lowering your probability of cardiovascular complications.
The most important thing to remember is that omega-3s are essential fatty acids meaning they cannot be made by the body. It is reported that the omega-3 alpha linolenic acid can be converted into DHA and EPA however, only in small amounts. Therefore, its a good idea to take in DHA and EPA as well. Luckily, the benefits of flaxseed oil include all 3 omega-3 fatty acids.
Keep in mind that around 60 percent of your brain is made up of lipids most of which are found in the plasma membrane of neurons and supportive cells such as oligodendrocytes which make up the insulation around your axons that allows for fast electrical conduction. Proper membrane function is needed for transmitter release and reuptake as well as transport of nutrients into the cell and wastes out of the cell. It’s amazing that something as simple as the omega-3 fatty acids could be a major component of all cells and play such an important role biologically but it does. Remember that it is essential so it must be taken in the diet in some form. If you want to reap the benefits of omega-3s and you can’t alter your diet, supplementation may become necessary.