Omega-3 Supplements

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Chinook Salmon

During an inflammatory event, mast cells stimulate the production of prostaglandins and leukotrienes from the body's lipid stores (see Role of Inflammation). Depending on diet, these lipid stores can contain varying amounts of Arachidonic Acid (AA), Dihomogamma-linolenic Acid (DGLA) and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), each responsible for a different series of downstream prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Since studies have shown that the prostaglandins and leukotrienes produced from EPA appear to be the least inflammatory (particularly in comparison to those producted from AA), modifying the diet to include additional omega-3 fatty acids increases the ratio of EPA to AA in the body's lipid stores and should therefore help decrease the inflammatory response.

The omega-3 fatty acid family includes Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). The body can also convert ALA to EPA and DHA through a series of enzymatic processes. However, studies have shown that this conversion is relatively inefficient and may be estrogen-dependent since women tend to convert ALA to EPA and DHA better than men, although still relatively inefficiently. It may therefore be better to obtain EPA and DHA directly through dietary sources rather than counting on conversion from ALA.

Dietary sources of EPA and DHA include:

Below are some useful links:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Inflammation and Autoimmune Diseases

University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Linus Pauling Institute, Micronutrient Information Center: Essential Fatty Acids