Most bird food companies don’t state on their food labels the actual amount of Omega 3’s in ratio to the Omega 6s in the foods they produce. Why?
Simply stated: 1) Testing for fatty acids is very, very expensive. 2) The public would be shocked to learn that almost all foods are extremely high in Omega 6s; the fatty acid that adds to systemic inflammation.
It really can’t be helped. Almost all ingredients are just naturally higher in Omega 6s than they are Omega 3s; we actually have to work at finding foods that are high in Omega 3s.
Sure, food producers could add flax seed and flax seed oil to their foods, but then the insinuated problem of stabilizing the Omega 3 oils so rancidity doesn’t occur becomes a problem. One might think temperature is the main contributing factor in Omega 3s going rancid, but in fact it is “oxidation” that is the real problem and this involves both temperature and time, with time as the main culprit.
During processing medium-chain Omega 3s (plant-based) such as flax, vs long-chain Omega 3s such as fish oils may reach temperatures as high as 150-200 degrees F. It is not so much the high temperature they reach, but how long they remain at those temperatures. If they were to sustain those temperatures for many, many hours they would oxidize and turn “rancid.” So blaming the underuse of flax seed and flax seed oil in commercial bird foods on the possibility of “rancidity” is lame, especially with so many manufacturers using preservatives in their foods. I believe manufacturers simply do not wish to raise the cost of their products.
Of course in adding flax seed and flax seed oil to a processed food the formulator has to understand the chemistry enough to know that plant-based Omega 3s cannot cross the blood brain barrier. While the Omega 3 can assist the body overall, it cannot provide health to the brain without GLA (gamma linolenic acid) to push Omega 3s across the blood brain barrier. Where are we to find GLA? Hemp seed and hemp seed oil. The formulator must know what ratio of hemp seed and hemp seed oil to add to their recipe to cause the Omega 3s in the flax to cross the blood brain barrier, but not so much hemp to dramatically increase the overall Omega 6s in the total recipe.
Back to the overall ratio of Omega 3s to Omega 6s in your bird’s diet.
The optimum ratio of Omega 3s to Omega 6s is believed to be 1:1 to 1:5 with 1:1 being perfect for your bird to thrive. However for the few bird food companies that tout “balanced Omega 3s to Omega 6s” you will see the ratios way, way off as high as 1:10 or more! How a company can make this claim and keep any good conscience is beyond me. I guess they hope the avian community doesn’t become educated enough to know the truth. If you see a guaranteed analysis that states. Omega 3s: 0.49%; Omega 6s: 4.66% and they claim the Omegas are balanced I would ask “By what and who’s standards?” In my opinion a balanced analysis would read: Omega 3s: 0.49%; Omega 6s: 1.96% at the maximum. –It further begs the questions: “What sources are the Omega 3s coming from? Are they plant-based? And if so, where is the GLA coming from to help the Omega 3’s cross the blood brain barrier?”
I personally LOVE adding just a drop of krill oil to each of my bird’s diet a couple days a week. ONE drop only a couple days a week is all that is need because krill oil is a long-chain Omega 3 that crosses the blood brain barrier all on its own. It is also very high in beta-carotene. An added plus! It is highly anti-oxidant, even more so than a plant-based Omega 3. Nonetheless I would still offer plant-based Omega 3s to my birds’ diets.
So much to concern ourselves with to ensure the good health of our companion birds, but all very necessary if our birds are to really thrive instead of barely survive in our homes!
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