Trying to understand good oils from “bad” oils and knowing which supplements are good and why is a daunting task. To simplify it, it boils down to getting enough EPA and DHA. EPA is eicosapentaenoic acid, which the body needs to make anti-inflammatory workers in the body (prostaglandins, thromboxanes and leukotrienes). EPAs play a critical role in maintaining cell membrane structure and function. Cell membranes protect us from the influences of virus and other pathogen attack and also form the basis upon which we absorb our nutrients (amino acids, simple sugars such as glucose, fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and trace elements). Cell membrane structure regulates nutrient flow in and out of cells as well as waste products. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) also plays a key role in membrane fluidity, cell membrane receptor function and is found in highest concentration in nerve cells, the retina of the eye and in the testicles. Therefore, getting sufficient quantites of EPA/DHA is essential to allow the body to maintain cell structure and repair these “high demand” structures.


Cold water fatty fish, salmon, sardines, wild trout, anchovies, tuna, mackerel, fish oils (EPA/DHA) and algae-derived DHA all help increase EPA/DHA ratios. A diet too high in omega 6 fatty acids and therefore arachindonic acid needs to result in cutting back saturated fats such as margarine, shortening, vegetable oils and using olive oil, or high-oleic canola or high-oleic safflower oil instead in addition to taking in EPA/DHA fish oil.

Flax oil alone will not result in the synthesis of EPA. However, it does help to counter the omega 6 ratios. Other foods that counter a diet high in omega 6 are, walnuts, and dark leafy green vegetables.

Niacin, B6, vitamin C, zinc and magnesium are all essential for the healthy functioning of the desaturase enzyme to function, assisting in the synthesis of EPAs. Therefore, you have been on a high EPA/DHA supplement program and your lab results still show low synthesis of EPA/DHA then consider these additional co-factors.


Two factors can be involved. The first factor concerns the body’s ability to break down fats into simple fatty acids. This is a fat metabolism issue. In many cases, the person is not making sufficient quantities of the fat enzyme lipase. Taking a digestive enzyme that contains lipase will help the body to digest all fats, including fish oil. Taking the digestive enzyme when you take your fish oil supplements will help break them down and reduce the chances of burping up fish oil later.

The second factor someone might notice is the anti-inflammatory effect flax versus fish oil may have. Some studies confirm a different mechanism of action for flax and EPA/DHA that has a different effect depending upon the condition. In Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, leukotriene LTB4 creates chronic intestinal inflammation. Animal models confirm that flax was more effective than EPA/DHA in reducing levels of LTB4, lowering ulcerations. However, colitis patients given high doses of EPA/DHA, 3.24g EPA and 2.16g DHA daily, showed significant decline in LTB4 levels and improved labs. In addition, those patients taking fish oil supplements could significantly reduce their Prednisone levels by more than one half! (Ann Inter Med 1992; 116(8):609-614.

Overall however, fish oils outperform flax oil because of its mechanism of action. Fish oils reduce arachidonic acid’s inflammation. They lower blood triglycerides. Studies confirm that eating one fatty fish a week reduce the rate of heart attack by 70%! Fish oils help to reduce fibrinogen, a substance that makes our blood sticky, leading to increased risk of stroke. Fish oil also helps to reduce blood pressure and improve insulin resistance. Studies of fish oil supplements have shown prolonged remission of lupus, and significant reductions of inflamed joints


There is a lot of press going on about heavy metal toxicity in our fish and as a result contamination of our fish oil supplements. Should we be concerned? A lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court cited a number of suppliers of fish oil supplements for selling products contaminated with high levels of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) compounds. The levels identified were above the safety limits established by California’s Proposition 65. Prop 65 established a safety limit of total PCBs at 0.09 ppm (90 ppb or 0.09 ug/kg). In fact, the lawsuit stated that some products contained as much as 70 times the amount of PCBs as other products! So yes we do need to be concerned especially since the grade sold over the counter is not routinely sampled for toxic contamination though it is much cheaper than a doctor’s grade EPA/EHA sold only through doctor’s offices.

Immune Matrix has toured the manufacturing facility of Metagenics in depth and was incredibly impressed by their exceedingly high standard of excellence. The highest standard of quality in the supplement manufacturing industry is GMP Certified. There are two logos one that shows GMP and another that shows NSF (National Sanitary Foundation) that guarantee that the ingredients on the label are actually in the bottle. These logos cannot be put on a bottle without certification to facilities that have been regularly audited by the GMP-certifying body. There are only two certifying bodies, NSF and NNFA (National Nutritional Food Association). Once a product bears the logo it means that the manufacturer passed an audit, received GMP certification and manufactures according to GMP-certified standards. Metagenics complies over and above these standards!

Why isn’t this the universal standard for all supplements? It’s expensive. The incoming raw product has to be tested and certified according to exact GMP-certified standards. Many manufacturing facilities do not have the testing facility to support this certification. Receiving raw product that does not meet GMP standards means the product has to be thrown out at significant cost to the manufacturer. Cutting corners to skip GMP-certified manufacturing standards LOWERS THE PRICE, and the QUALITY and POTENCY of the product. Some of these companies use misleading terms like “GMP-compliant” or “exceed GMP standards”, “Food GMP”, and this IS NOT the same as GMP-certified.

However, the test of a product is its performance. Immune Matrix has found in routine testing of its patients with BIA, significant improvement of cell membrane function for those patients taking EPA/DHA 6:1 unlike any other fish oil on the market, over the counter or those only available through a health care provider. Immune Matrix is so excited about this finding that it is making this supplement available online at www.immunematrix.com. Patients that take a minimum of 3 per day, and those with chronic infection, lyme disease, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, arthritis, eczema took 6 per day, all showed significant improved cell membrane function of BIAs within 30 days! This means that the body is able to begin to accelerate cell membrane repair because 1) it is now able to get ahead of its inflammation, and 2) because the building blocks of cell membrane repair are now available. Patients with brain fog and cognitivie impairment need to take as much as 6 a day to give the body what it needs and then also to allow adequate EPA/DHA for the brain. Remember, if the body has a huge need for EPA/DHA because of cellular repair, there will be little available for the body to repair neurons in the brain. Patients who switched off of the 6:1 to another fish oil, relapsed into their old cell membrane picture. This suggests that daily maintenance of cell structure require adequate high grade EPA/DHA.

You can significantly improve your inflammation markers by adding EPA/DHA to your diet. It is safe to take with prescription medications and steroids. And, when your lab values begin to improve, advise your health care provider of what you are doing in your dietary choices and in taking fish oils daily so that over time your medications can be adjusted as your inflammation and healing improves.

Please note:
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

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Anna Manayan

Anna Manayan