Omega 3 A VisionEssential

Omega 3 A VisionEssential

Posted on Mar.18, 2013, under Educational, Eye Health, Low Vision Info

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for not only our vision but for our brain, our skin, our heart, our joints and even our moods. Who wouldn’t want some improved health in any of these areas? However, getting enough of these essential fatty acids (EFA) in our diet has become more of a challenge for several reasons.

1. Today’s meats are much lower in omega-3 fatty acids than they were a hundred years ago. Animals that were at one time free range are now given feed that is high in omega-6s so their meat is high in this type of EFA.

2. Processed or packaged foods use oils that are high in omega 6s. This includes foods like mayonnaise, granolas and granola bars, salad dressings, margarine, fast foods and many vegetable oils.

3. The ratio of omega 6s to omega 3s is unbalanced. When the amount of omega 6 foods in our diet accounts for more than the omega 3s, our bodies find it difficult to benefit from the omega 3s because they both compete for the same cell receptor sites.

So at the same time we are trying to include more foods high in omega 3s we need to decrease foods high in omega 6s. A grilled salmon for dinner is not going to benefit one’s health if it follows a lunch from a fast food restaurant.

The three main types of EFAs are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and ALA (alpha linolenic acid). DHA is necessary for healthy retinal function. According to Molecular Vision 2010:
“Studies over several decades have shown that DHA is essential for maintaining the normal structure and function of the retina . Reduction of DHA in the retina can lead to diminished retinal electrical responses to light in rodents, reduced visual acuity in nonhuman primates, and delayed photoreceptor development and function in preterm and term human infants.” So how can we get more of these important fats incorporated into our diet? There are two options.

Animal Sources

Animal sources of omega 3s provide DHA and EPA. They include wild salmon, canned sockey salmon, Alaskan halibut, canned albacore tuna, sea bass, and sardines packed in water or olive oil . Other fish include herring, sablefish, and butterfish. Animals that graze on grass rather than on grains.

Plant Sources

Plant sourced EFA is called alpha linolenic acid (ALA). To benefit from this EFA the body needs to convert ALA to DHA and EPA. There is some concern as to how efficient the body is able to make this conversion. Food sources include flaxseed (freshly ground) and flaxseed oil, walnuts and walnut oil, soybeans and tofu, hemp seeds, omega 3 fortified eggs, canola oil and in lesser amounts in leafy greens like kale, spinach and collard greens.

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN
Better Health For Better Vision