Clinicians Omega-3 Fish Oil works as a natural anti-inflammatory agent that also supports brain function. Supplementation with omega-3 has been clinically shown to reduce inflammation through its ability to inhibit COX-2 expression and therefore prevent elevated levels of the prostaglandin called arachidonic acid (which is an omega-6 fatty acid) in the same way that prescribed COX-2 inhibitor medications such as Celebrex and Vioxx work.
Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that are found in most tissues and organs that act as mediators responsible for physiological effects such as inflammation and platelet aggregation. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids ordinarily compete at two specific prostaglandin pathways; cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX). In the case of inflammation (when there is too much omega-6), this fatty acid dominates within the COX 2 pathway, which in turn causes elevated levels of arachidonic acid. In individuals with inflammation (as seen in osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis) omega-6 becomes pro-inflammatory, that is it promotes inflammation within the body when levels become elevated. Omega-3 has the opposite effect being anti-inflammatory, which is why the ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 requires balance.
Historically, the western diet contained an equal ratio of plant oils (omega-6) and fish oils (omega-3). Over the last several decades, our diet has seen this ratio radically changed to a ratio ranging from 15:1 to 17:1 of pant to fish oils.3 Some suggest it may be as high as 30:1.4 Inflammation is thought to be the underling factor in many chronic and degenerative diseases. Observational studies have shown that cultures with diets high in omega-3, are associated with a reduced incidence of heart disease.
Thromboxane (TXA2) is the body’s prostaglandin mediator that is involved in blood clotting. TXA2 is derived from arachidonic acid. When too much prostaglandin is produced this increases platelet aggregation increasing the viscosity (thickness) of the blood which may present as thrombosis (blood clots). Omega-3 fish oil plays a major role in reducing the synthesis of thromboxane and can also increase the production of prostacyclin (an independent mediator derived from prostaglandins) which helps to further reduce platelet aggregation and vasoconstriction.
Both EPA and DHA also exhibit neuroprotective qualities – EPA has a more profound effect on mood and behaviour whereas DHA is vital for pre and post-natal brain development as well as maintenance of learning and memory. New research suggests that cognition in the healthy adult brain continues to benefit from these vital fatty acids.
While the body can convert alpha-linolenic acid found in plants, nuts, meat and diary products into eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA), the levels of conversion are low and as such may not supply the body with adequate daily requirements needed for optimal health.