Archive for September, 2009

If you’re pregnant or nursing you ought consider increasing your intake of Omega 3 fish oil.

If you’re having a baby soon you may be concerned about the possibility of postpartum depression. Otherwise known as postnatal depression, this is a form of depression suffered by women shortly after childbirth.

It is estimated that somewhere between 15% and 20% of women can suffer from postpartum depression symptoms after birth. In some the symptoms of postpartum depression can be mild and soon overcome but in others it can result in serious depressive symptoms and develop into a depressive illness. So anything that may work is a good postpartum depression treatment is worth investigating.

We have already written an article about the use of Omega 3 fish oil supplements for depression. There is now emerging evidence that supplementation of DHA, the major active ingredient of Omega 3 fish oil supplements, can also be an effective, albeit partial, postpartum depression treatment. There is a series of studies suggesting that this is in fact the case.

It has been known for some time that women who suffer from poor nutrition can be more prone to postnatal depression. This is not just a lower intake of fish or fish oil but also includes a range of other important nutrients, both before during and after pregnancy including folic acid, calcium and iron as well as Omega 3 fats.Postpartum Depression and Omega 3

Recently David Kyle, the US director of the Mother and Child Foundation, suggested that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding can improve their babies neurological development and reduce the chances of postnatal depression by increasing their intake of DHA. DHA is the most important of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids found primarily in fish oil and available to all of us from eating fish and in particular from daily supplementation by fish oil capsules.

This claim followed a number of research studies that have confirmed that higher levels of DHA in the diet can reduce postpartum depression symptoms. And by increasing the mothers intake of DHA there is also an increase of DHA in the breastmilk and this, in turn, as well is reducing postpartum depression symptoms, leads to improved development outcomes for the child.

The evidence for increasing DHA in the intake of babies and children is now so compelling that the FDA has approved the addition of DHA to infant formulas.

In one of the studies of the role of DHA as a postpartum depression treatment all of the women who received the DHA showed substantial improvement in their postpartum depression symptoms with their depression scores dropping by around 50 percent.

David Kyle has now suggested that the evidence pointing to the role of DHA in limiting depression after birth is sufficient to warrant women who are pregnant or nursing taking daily Omega 3 fish oil supplements or eating more fish. Unfortunately there are also FDA warnings about toxic contamination of fish and therefore it is not suggested that women eat too much fish particularly if pregnant or nursing.

Therefore the best way of increasing their DHA intake is to take fish oil supplements.

Note that not all fish oil supplements are the same. Many vary enormously in the level of DHA found in the supplements.

So if you’re pregnant or nursing there is good evidence that the health of both you and your baby can be improved by taking daily fish oil supplements.

Even if you’re neither there is sufficient evidence to suggest that every adult in the US should be taking fish oil supplements for the health in any case.

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Don’t be taken in by claims that Omega 3 supplements contain “pharmaceutical grade fish oil”.

Often when you’re researching information about the benefits of Omega 3 fish oils you will see the term “pharmaceutical grade fish oil”. We would like spend some time discussing exactly what “pharmaceutical grade fish oil supplements “are and are not.

The bottom line is that “pharmaceutical grade Omega 3” doesn’t actually exist. It is in fact a marketing term rather than a technical definition relating to the purity or quality of fish oil supplements.

There is no definition of “pharmaceutical grade” in the US Pharmacopeia. The term has come into more common use because companies that manufacture and market Omega 3 supplements use it in an attempt to prove that their products are clean or “pure”.

However there is no organization that determines what “pharmaceutical grade fish oils” are and there is no test to decide whether or not any particular fish oil is “pharmaceutical grade” or not.Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil

In fact it’s very difficult to find any formal standards to which any particular fish oil supplement must comply. There are no binding standards internationally for fish oil grades and every company that manufactures fish oil capsules is free to choose whether or not they comply with any voluntary standards.

There are voluntary standards and you can read more about these in our article about  fish oil purity however none of these are binding and any supplement manufacturer can choose to adhere to the standards or not, or to set its own standards.

There is a very official sounding organization. It is the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS). In fact this is a private organisation that charges a fee to test fish oil products.

Some companies that pass the IFOS test often claim that their products are “pharmaceutical grade fish oil”. As we previously said this is a meaningless term.

However whilst this is a meaningless term there is no doubt that fish oil purity is a serious issue. Fish generally are contaminated with toxins including Mercury, and the FDA warns us not to eat too much for this reason.

Whilst speaking of the FDA, we should add that although the FDA do have standards for fish oil purity they are very easy to meet and most fish oil capsules should have no trouble in meeting them.

So there is every reason for those taking fish oil capsules to be wary about the cleanliness and purity of the Omega 3 fish oils in their capsules.

As you can see from our article about fish oil purity there are in fact a range of standards from different organizations that any manufacturer may or might not choose to meet. The most important thing to consider when buying your fish oil capsules is to get independent evidence of the cleanliness and purity of the fish oil.

We consider the best Omega 3 supplements to be those from Xtend Life. They exceed all the recognized (voluntary) standards and in fact set their own standards for fish oil purity which are substantially below all the recognized standards.

In particular their standard for Mercury is 10 times lower than all 4 major fish oil standards including those of the IFOS.

You should be able to investigate the cleanliness and purity of any fish oil supplements. If you go to the website of any company selling Omega 3 supplements there should be evidence there on the website of independent laboratory testing in the form of an independent Certificate of Analysis.

If you can find a Certificate of Analysis of the fish oils you’re buying you can then see to yourself exactly how pure fish oil is.

Of course this doesn’t mean that you’re getting the best value for money, but it’s an indication of the purity of official you’re buying. If you’re interested in finding out more about how to compare fish oil capsules for value then read our article about how to compare fish oil capsules by price.

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There is a link between Omega 3 and ADHD reduction.

We have already talked about the link between Omega 3 fish oil and a reduction in depression levels. And we have also talked about the importance of adequate levels of Omega 3 for brain development in the fetus and infants.

So it’s no surprise that there is also a link between Omega 3 and ADHD. It now appears that it is possible to use fish oil to at least partially treat ADHD. Omega 3 fatty acids are an important part of an ADHD strategy.

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or what is known as ADHD, is the inability of a person to concentrate for extended periods of time and to focus on one particular task. Symptoms can include hyperactivity and other impulsive and disruptive behaviour. It is estimated that around 7 percent of children in the US have some form of ADHD. Most of these are boys.

And somewhere around 70 percent of children with ADHD carry those problems through to adulthood.ADHD and Fish Oil

There have been studies conducted on ADHD sufferers which have found that they have very low levels of the 2 main Omega 3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. These are 2 essential fatty acids that are very important to the general health of the body. DHA is also one of the major fats found in the brain.

Does your child have ADHD? Fish oil contains the most DHA and EPA of any food that we can take. Fish eat micro algae with DHA and store this in their body. Oil sourced from the fish therefore contains good levels of DHA and EPA.

There are studies about using fish oil for ADHD relief. One at the Inflammation Research Foundation focused on the possibility of reducing the symptoms of ADHD by using fish oil supplementation. This study involved 3 boys and 6 girls, all of which had been diagnosed with ADHD. Omega 3 fatty acids were given to the boys and girls as liquids and measurements were taken of the level of DHA and EPA in their bodies together with the ratio between EPA and AA “arachidonic acid” which was considered to be one of the major causes of the ADHD.

The results of using fish oil for ADHD treatment were impressive. At the end of a trial lasting 8 weeks the levels of EPA and DHA found in the children have increased significantly and there were significant reductions symptoms of ADHD in all of the children.

The inattention score fell from 18 to 10, almost half, and a hyperactivity score fell from 11 to 5, a fall to less than half.

It is still in the early stages of research about the effects of fish oil and ADHD relief. However there are very encouraging results which fall in line with the results of using fish oil for depression. It is clearly worth considering that for anyone with ADHD, Omega 3 fatty acids are an important part of the equation in tackling the problem.

Whilst it is too early to say that using fish oil to treat ADHD can be a stand-alone treatment, and this is unlikely anyway, it is certainly worth considering in conjunction with other treatments.

Note that the levels of DHA and EPA supplementation in the trial were quite high. The children took levels of these Omega 3 fatty acids in excess of the levels recommended for general intake. And there appears has yet to be insufficient evidence of the link between increased intake of fish oil and ADHD relief, so there are as yet, no official recommended dosages.

So if your child has ADHD, fish oil may be a part of the answer. Though of course as is always the case you should always consult your doctor first on issues such as these.

Not all fish oil supplements are created equal. You need to be careful in choosing your fish oil supplements, some have way more active ingredients than others.

Read our article about comparing Omega 3 fish oil supplements find out more about how to choose between the supplements available.

Read the report at Nutrition Journal, Vol. 6, 2007, pp. 16-23

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Using Omega 3 for acne relief.

Have you heard of the benefits of fish oil? Acne is one of the conditions that can respond to increase of the Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fish oil. If you have acne it would pay you to investigate the link between fish oil and acne relief.

If you have acne you’ve probably heard that fat is both bad for your acne and bad for your health. This isn’t exactly correct. In fact there are some fats that are both good for your health and good for your acne. These are polyunsaturated fats known as essential fatty acids (EFAs).

The 2 most important of these are called DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA(Eicosapentaenoic acid). Both of these are important to your body health however DHA is the most important of all. Both DHA and EPA are  Omega 3 essential fatty acids and both are found primarily in fish.

So why would you use fish oil for acne relief? There is a clear Omega 3 acne link. Omega 3 polyunsaturated fats have several properties which are beneficial in the treatment of acne. The first of these is that using fish oil for acne treatments is a good way to reduce inflammation in your skin. Acne is a skin inflammation reaction to an excess of sebum in your skin and therefore any treatment that helps reduce inflammation will also assist in the reduction of acne.Fish Oil and Acne

The Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil have been shown to be very effective at reducing inflammation. This is why, for example, fish oil is so useful in the treatment of arthritis, an inflammatory condition. In fact studies have shown that taking fish oil supplements to reduce inflammation can be more effective than taking aspirin. And of course it doesn’t have a negative side effects of aspirin has other positive health benefits, example a reduction in the risk of heart disease.

It’s quite clear that any treatments that reduce inflammation in our body will also help reduce inflammation in our skin and this is good not only for those suffering from acne but also to those looking to improve their skin health overall. We have written elsewhere about the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids for good skin health and this includes using fish oil for acne reduction. Read our article about fish oil and skin health.

There is another reason for the acne sufferer to start taking daily fish oil. Acne responds to fish oil for a second reason. On our skin there is a bacteria that thrives on sebum. Particularly in teenagers and as sebum production increases this bacteria, (Propionibacterium acnes), inhabits the follicles in our skin too much greater degree because of the amount of sebum present there. This increases the body’s reaction by increasing white blood cells to the area and this is one of the causes of the inflammation we have previously mentioned.

Enter Omega 3. Acne sufferers can benefit from a reduction in the amount of bacteria present and Omega 3 fats are very good anti bacterials.

So for 2 reasons using fish oil for acne relief works. However it is fair to say that for the the acne sufferer simply taking daily fish oil supplements will help control their acne but will not be a complete solution. They will also need to consider other treatments in serious cases.

Those suffering from acne, particularly teenagers, need to use a range of options to combat this nasty skin condition. They should take daily fish oil supplements for both a range of positive health benefits as well as for the benefits of fish oil for relief of their acne. It is not just their acne that will benefit from an increase of Omega 3 fatty acids. And they will also find other positive skin health benefits from an increase in their intake of essential fatty acids.

And depending on the severity of their condition they should also consider high quality acne treatments. These will work better when combined with an increase in healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Research has shown a wide range of health benefits from increasing our intake of Omega3 fats such as DHA and EPA found in fish oil. Acne is only one of the conditions benefit and even those who do not suffer from acne ought also increase their intake of fish and consider taking daily fish oil supplements.

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