Marla Ahlgrimm R.Ph.

Marla Ahlgrimm | Retired Pharmacist | Leading Expert in Women's Health

Marla Ahlgrimm: Omega Overdose – Too Much of a Good Thing?

Marla AhlgrimmAccording to pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm, the benefits of essential fatty acids (EFAs) are realized through a diet that includes fish, nuts, seeds, or by dietary supplements that include certain oils, because the body does not manufacture these fatty acids naturally. EFAs are important for the synthesis of prostaglandins that reduce inflammation, contribute to normal brain and reproductive functioning, boost calcium absorption, regulate sleep, and affect pain tolerance, among other important actions in the body.

There are two categories of these important fatty acids, explains Marla Ahlgrimm. The omega-3 fatty acids (linolenic acid) come primarily from cold-water fish and certain nuts and seeds. Sources of omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic acid) include seeds and oils, flax, sunflower, sesame, and saf­flower, as well as the less healthy soybean and com oils.

With increased attention on the benefits of EFAs, says Marla Ahlgrimm, many women have eagerly added these substances to their diet, increasing the amount of fish they eat, grinding flax seed, snacking on handfuls of nuts, or supplementing with borage or primrose oil. However, women are frequently unaware of the importance of the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. Too much omega-6 may actually act as an antagonist to omega-3, curbing its benefits. This is not always new information for health­ conscious women-much has been made of the fact that the typical American diet, high in processed fats, contains much omega-6 but usually very little omega-3.

A healthy diet that includes fish, nuts, and seeds regularly can provide the EFAs you need, in a simple and practical way, advises Marla Ahlgrimm. Remember to keep portions of nuts and seeds small-a very small handful delivers plenty of EFAs. Some women prefer EFA supplements, often because they do not enjoy eating fish. In fact, Americans rank practically last in the world in fish consumption, reports Marla Ahlgrimm. An EFA supplement from a reliable source will contain the appropriate balance of omega-3 and omega-6.

Omega-9 is also beneficial, says Marla Ahlgrimm, although it is not technically an EFA. Omega-9 is oleic acid, found in olive oil. It is not considered an EFA because unlike omega-3 and -6, the body can manufacture omega-9 in small amounts. Dressing your salad with olive oil, or adding it to soup, bean, and vegetable dishes is an easy and delicious way to add this important substance to your diet, too.


Author: Marla Ahlgrimm

Pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm revolutionized the field of women’s health in the 1970s and continues to do so today. After introducing the term “premenstrual syndrome” to the American public in the late 1970s, Marla Ahlgrimm has continued to focus her pharmacy practice over the years to successfully address hormone concerns that affect women as they age. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Marla Ahlgrimm co-founded Madison Pharmacy Associates, and it was there she fine tuned individualized care protocols and prescription medication to optimize a woman’s hormonal health. One of the first hormone issues that Marla tackled was Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS. At that time, there were no diagnosis or treatment options to address the severe symptoms that many women were reporting. As a result of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s intense attention to women’s health, Madison Pharmacy Associates gained a national reputation as an innovative practice. Founded in 1982, Madison Pharmacy Associates was the first pharmacy to special in women’s health in the nation. Thanks to the expertise of Marla Ahlgrimm, Madison Pharmacy Associates became known for the management of PMS. Over the years, Madison Pharmacy Associates evolved with Marla Ahlgrimm’s careful guidance, providing the national PMS Access newsletter, as well as a toll-free line where patients could obtain referrals to physicians who had the expertise to help them manage their symptoms. Marla Ahlgrimm founded Women’s Health America, Inc. in 1993 to help women by providing individualized hormonal medications to address the complex health issues of women and also to provide practical, helpful women’s health information. Over the years, Marla Ahlgrimm’s vision has grown to include Women’s Health America, Madison Pharmacy Associates, PMS Access and Cyclin Pharmaceuticals. In addition to her accomplishments with these landmark organizations, Marla Ahlgrimm is an author, having published two watershed books, The HRT Solution and Self-Help for Premenstrual Syndrome. Marla Ahlgrimm has also been published in numerous national publications, including serving as a columnist for The American Journal of Natural Medicine. Today, the primary work of Marla Ahlgrimm centers on natural hormone therapy, an important area for the large number of women who are menopausal and postmenopausal. Marla Ahlgrimm ’s work is unique because of her focus on individualized, natural hormone therapy options. According to pharmacist, Marla Ahlgrimm, many health issues facing women today are related to hormone changes. Using an individualized approach to therapy, she reports that many women feel reenergized for the first time in years. In addition to recognition in publications and journals, Marla Ahlgrimm has been recognized with a number awards over the span of her career. Some of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s most notable awards have been the YWCA’s acknowledgment of Marla Ahlgrimm as one of its Women of Distinction and recognition by her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, as one of its Distinguished Alumni. Above all of the awards and honors, Marla Ahlgrimm finds that helping so many women is the greatest accomplishment of all. In fact, says Marla Ahlgrimm, she still works with some of her very first patients and their doctors. These women once sought the help of Marla Ahlgrimm for PMS, she says, and today she is helping them manage symptoms of menopause and the years that follow.

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