You already eat a healthy, balanced diet containing fish, and you buy omega-3 enriched eggs at the supermarket. So why is your doctor recommending you take an omega-3 supplement to treat your dry eyes? Let’s break it down.
Omega-3 in the form of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are the most effective. Omega-3 is an essential nutrient, meaning the human body can’t synthesize it; we have to get it from food sources like oily fish (salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel), nuts and seeds (chia, flax, walnuts), vegetables (broccoli, spinach, cauliflower), free-range eggs, and grass-fed meat sources. Omega-3s are incredibly important to our health, because they possess powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and decrease the risk of:
- Eye disease – macular degeneration, dry eye and ocular surface disease
- Cardiovascular disease (blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke)
- Cancers (colon, prostate, and breast)
- Mood disorders and mental health concerns (depression and anxiety)
- Autoimmune disease (Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis)
- Age-Related mental decline, including Alzheimer’s disease
So why can’t you simply add more salmon and tuna to your weekly menu? Well, you can, and you should, try consuming more omega-3 in your diet. However, it’s a little like trying the fill a swimming pool with a squirt gun. Although humans evolved consuming a diet with roughly equal amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, today’s western diet means we eat almost 20 to 30 times more omega-6 due to the prevalence of processed food intake.
How is Omega-6 different than Omega-3? They too are an essential fatty acid, but in this case, they are counterproductive. In large amounts, omega-6s become pro-inflammatory. Even worse, they compete with omega-3s for the same enzymes in our natural physiology, meaning any anti-inflammatory benefit that you were going to get from that delicious sushi you ordered last night will be nullified by the presence of Omega-6.
To counteract the large presence of Omega-6 in our Western diets, you need a large amount of omega-3. To ingest the amount of Omega-3 known to have a measurable, positive effect (i.e. 2000mg), you would need to eat 37 cans of tuna per week! Yes, 37 cans! This is why your doctor has recommended a supplement. But there are so many out there, so how do you choose from all the options on store shelves?
Unpurified native oil is pressed directly from fish, so it is in a triglyceride form that is recognized and well-absorbed by your body. Unfortunately, unpurified means it likely contains toxins (such as PCBs, mercury, and dioxins) that become more concentrated the higher up you go in the food chain and therefore can be present in dangerous amounts in larger fish. It also has an unpleasant fishy aftertaste.
To remove the toxins from native fish oil, manufacturers chemically convert the omega-3s to the ethyl ester form, which although free of toxins, is poorly absorbed and may require as many as 40 capsules to provide the equivalent benefit of just one tablespoon of fish oil. The ethanol in the final product is also an irritant to the lining of the stomach and should not be taken by patients who are at risk of ulcers. This is the form present in the majority of omega-3s sold in pharmacies and grocery stores.
PRN is a brand of omega-3 that goes one significant step further. The omega-3s found in PRN are reassembled as a re-esterified triglyceride, making them readily absorbed by the human digestive system. Just four soft gel capsules, or one teaspoon of liquid PRN, supplies the recommended therapeutic dosage of 2000 mg in the clinically-proven ratio of 3:1 EPA:DHA, without the fishy odor or aftertaste observed in other forms.
PRN is also the only omega-3 brand clinically tested in dry eye disease. In a study, it was shown after 12 weeks of supplement intake, patients showed a significant decrease in several measures of dry eye disease, including inflammation and a 50% reduction in symptoms like itching, burning, and redness. The effect was so pronounced that several patients reported that they were able to reduce the frequency of use of their artificial tear supplements.
The right formulation of omega-3 can go a long way to help you manage your dry eye symptoms effectively, and offer you the myriad of health benefits mentioned earlier here. Remember, look for at least 2000 mg of a re-esterified triglyceride (it should say right on the bottle) in a 3:1 EPA:DHA ratio. PRN has it and is available through your Eye Care Professional.