Archive for October, 2009

Up to 96000 of us die each year from Omega 3 deficiency. Are you taking your Omega 3 capsules?

That sounds a little melodramatic doesn’t it? That Omega 3 deficiency could be killing you? Melodramatic or not the results of a recent study has concluded that Omega 3 deficiency was responsible for between 72000 and 96000 preventable deaths in the US every year.

This study was not just intended to study the negative effects of Omega 3 deficiency but was in fact intended to study the general mortality effects of a range of identifiable dietary, lifestyle and metabolic risk factors in the US.

It was intended to study these factors so that the data could be used for health policy and priorities setting.

The 12 dietary, lifestyle and metabolic risk factors that were studied included high blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure, obesity, high dietary trans fatty acids and salt,  dietary polyunsaturated fatty acid levels, Omega 3 fatty acids, fruits and vegetable intake and  low physical activity, use of alcohol and smoking.

Not surprisingly the results concluded that the 2 biggest preventable lifestyle factors causing the highest number of preventable deaths in the US were smoking and high blood pressure. It was estimated that in 2005 smoking and high blood pressure were responsible for almost 800,000 preventable deaths in the US, accounting for around one in every 5 or 6 deaths of adults in America. Next came obesity and physical inactivity accounting for around one in 10 deaths.

The first thing that surprised us about this study is that Omega 3 deficiency was studied at all. There is ample evidence that low levels of the Omega 3 fats can contribute to various poor health outcomes including heart attack and stroke, however we had still not considered the possibility that deficiency of omega 3 in the population of the US could possibly contribute to so many deaths.
Omega 3 Deficiency

Estimates are that over 90 percent of adults in the US have too little intake of Omega 3 essential fatty acids and their diet and are therefore Omega 3 deficient. It seems clear from the study that this now contributes significantly to the risk of death from a range of health conditions such as heart attack or stroke.

And it’s not just an increase in the likelihood of health problems that are directly related to low levels of DHA and EPA. For example studies now show that low levels of Omega 3 essential fatty acids in the body can contribute to becoming overweight and that increasing your intake of both DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), the 2 most important Omega 3 essential fatty acids, can help you lose weight as part of an overall weight loss program.

And of course obesity itself contributes to a range of lifestyle diseases which themselves can result in disability or death. Therefore inadequate levels of essential fatty also contributes to these diseases indirectly by contributing to the sufferer carrying excess weight.

If you browse our categories at the right you will see a wide range of health conditions which have all been found to benefit from higher levels of Omega 3 essential fatty acids in the diet. The evidence is now so overwhelming that Omega 3 supplements are now the first nutritional supplements recommended by the American Heart Association.

With 90 percent or more of American adults being deficient in Omega 3 this has major implications for individuals and also for our health system.

Melodramatic or not the studies are now clearly showing the benefits of an increased intake of Omega 3 essential fatty acids found in fish oil and it is now quite clear that virtually all of this should be supplementing our diet with daily Omega 3 capsules, or eating more fish, or both.

The best Omega 3 capsules are way better than the worst and we have written articles helping you compare Omega 3 supplements, both for value and for quality. We hope you enjoy those articles.

There’s so many reasons to add fish oil capsules to your daily diet.

They might just prevent your death.

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There is now a clear fish oil weight loss link. Why would Omega 3 fats help with losing weight?

Have you heard about the benefits of fish oil? Weight loss may be one of those benefits that you hadn’t thought about. There are now scientific studies linking fish oil and weight loss and today we wanted to look at the link between fish oil supplements and weight loss.

The science seems to suggest that one of the best ways to improve any weight loss program, along with a balanced diet and exercise, is to have an adequate supply of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. The 2 most important of these essential fatty acids are called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and apart from eating lots of fish the best way to get these is using Omega 3 supplements.

There’s several reasons why an adequate supply of DHA and EPA helps in losing weight. There is one reason you may never have thought of. If you’ve read the rest of our website you’ll see that fish oil supplements help improve the outcomes for people suffering from depression.

It is thought that this effect helps people who may be struggling psychologically with the difficulties of following a low-calorie diet and help them maintain a positive attitude and avoid some of the more negative psychological effects that some experience that cause them to struggle to maintain the diet.
Fish Oil and Weight Loss

It is now well understood that more DHA helps reduce the effects of depression. If you’re interested in finding more browse our depression category at the right.

But this isn’t the only fish oil weight loss link. The link between fish oil and weight loss has been studied extensively and a new study from Australia has recently been released about the benefits of fish oil for weight loss.

In this study researchers studied 124 adults classed as normal, overweight or obese. 63 were obese and 40 were overweight. Each of these subjects fasted for 10 hours and then blood samples were taken to measure their Omega 3 levels. (None of these people took fish oil supplements.)

There was a clear link between the levels of Omega 3 in their bodies and their weight. Those who were the heaviest had the least Omega 3 and those who had normal weight had the most Omega 3 in their bodies. The conclusion was that those who have higher levels of Omega 3 essential fatty acids tend to have lower weight and a smaller waistline and hips.

This demonstrates a clear link between taking more Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet and losing weight. It is not entirely clear how doing this works. There are some theories suggesting that an increase in Omega 3 essential fatty acids increases the feeling of fullness in people thereby helping reduce their intake of calories, and other studies suggest that Omega 3 fats help the body burn calories better.

And there is the reason previously mentioned, that an adequate supply of essential fatty acids helps maintain a positive attitude.

But it is generally estimated that around 90% of people in the US are deficient in Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

There is now a significant number of studies confirming a fish oil weight loss link and that using fish oil supplements for weight loss is a worthwhile strategy.

Of course whilst this may be true it is probably fair to say that adding more fatty acids to your diet is only one part of a successful weight loss program, that doing so in isolation will be unlikely to be successful. But seems that it may well be a part of the overall strategy.

There is also a range of other health benefits associated with increasing your intake of Omega 3 fatty acids and it is highly likely that these benefits also contribute to a successful weight loss campaign.

No one is suggesting that if you just start taking fish oil weight loss will happen automatically. Even the best fish oil supplements on their own are unlikely to produce significant weight loss unless combined with a controlled diet and exercise however it seems clear that using fish oil supplements for weight loss in this way is likely to improve your result.

Bear in mind that not all fish oil supplements are the same. We have attempted to write articles that help you determine which are the best fish oil supplements both in effectiveness and value. Feel free to read those articles which you’ll see listed on the right.

We wish you luck in your quest to lose weight. Don’t forget that there is a wide range of benefits to taking Omega 3 supplements other than weight loss, for example improved heart health and reduced risk of stroke.

So even when you’ve reached your target weight there are powerful reasons to continue taking your supplements.

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Find out more about the benefits of fish oil for your heart. New research has uncovered some more reasons why your heart, and blood, loves it.

There’s no doubt that increasing the amount of Omega 3 essential fatty acids in your diet is good for your heart. It’s well known, and it’s confirmed by the American Heart Association, that maintaining a minimum intake of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids helps reduce your risk of heart disease and dying from a heart attack.

But new research is showing that there are other aspects of heart health that may also benefit from some more of those good essential fatty acids in your diet.

One of the reasons why the essential fatty acids are considered good for the heart is because it is now understood that these fats help thin your blood.

This is good because one of the causes of major cardiovascular incidents is blood clots. For example a stroke is caused by a blood clot.

And in fact most people who have suffered from a stroke are put on medication to help thin their blood to reduce the risk of another blood clot causing another stroke.Fish Oil 3

And it’s not only strokes, patients suffering from a range of other heart disease is can also be put on blood thinning medication.

A new study just released has shown that the effectiveness of blood thinning drugs can be improved by adding a dose of Omega-3 fatty acids to the diet in conjunction with taking the blood thinning drugs.

This study was undertaken at Jagiellonian University in Poland, and was specifically looking at the possibility of improving the outcome for patients who already had a stent in place for pre-existing coronary artery disease. Find out more about the details of the study here.

A stent is a very small tube made out of mesh that can be placed in arteries in the body to assist in their ability to successfully carry blood. It is used in instances where there is a possibility or a likelihood of a restriction in the flow of blood through a particular blood vessel, and a stent helps prop open that blood vessel to keep the blood flowing.

Commonly people with coronary artery disease are given stents to open clogged arteries where this may increase the likelihood of some form of cardiac events such as a heart attack.

In this study patients who had a stent, or who were being given a stent, and who were taking blood thinning drugs, were also given Omega 3 capsules as well as encouraged to eat oily fish, for it’s Omega 3 content. The amount of Omega 3 given was 1000 milligrams per day for the study group, and of course a placebo for the control group.

The patients were taking aspirin and clopidogrel. Aspirin in particular is well known now for its ability to thin the blood, and is on occasion prescribed to people who have suffered a stroke for its blood thinning capacity.

The intention of the study was to examine whether the efficacy of these blood thinning drugs could be improved by the use of the essential fatty acids which are also known to their blood thinning properties.

The conclusion drawn from the study was that adding Omega 3 to the intake of patients on blood thinning medications “improved clot properties and decreased thrombin [a clot promoter] formation after treatment with the fish oil capsules”.

Of course that’s just one of the health benefits to your heart from increasing your intake of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids. There’s many others.

And almost every month new research is being published, and undertaken, about ways to improve your health, including your heart health, from a daily dose of essential fatty acids.

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More and more you can find DHA baby foods, including DHA infant formula. But should you be using it?

If you’re familiar with the benefits of Omega 3 essential fatty acids you may well have come across a range of foods that are supplemented with DHA. An example of this is DHA infant formula . Now that the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids to the fetus and developing infants are established it is possible to buy a range of baby products which include DHA. It’s even possible to buy baby cereal with DHA.

Many well known baby foods are fortified with DHA, (Docosahexaenoic Acid). It is now common to find DHA in baby formula because the baby food industry is, of course, quick to respond to consumer demand. Expect to see more baby foods with DHA fortification.

But what are the benefits of DHA infant formula and should you be using DHA fortified baby foods?

This question was recently addressed in a lecture given by Peter Williat, a child psychologist from the University of Dundee. It was a lecture to a group of mainly doctors, pharmacists and nutritionists given on behalf of SMA Nutritional, an infant formula manufactured and sold by Wyett Nutrition.DHA Infant Formula

This lecture was to mark an improvement in this brand of baby formula. DHA is now included in this infant formula. It was interesting to note that Mr. Williat cited some of the research relating to DHA and baby and infant development. Amongst these benefits to child development, according to Mr. Williat, were improvements in “cognitive development, improved visual acuity, memory retention and ability to communicate and solve problems as well as psychomotor development”.

He also noted a number of interesting facts, including that studies have shown that DHA levels differ wildly amongst populations of different countries and that some of the lowest levels of DHA are in residents of the US and Canada.

Mr. Williat advised that pregnant women and nursing mothers get an adequate supply of DHA in their diet so that these benefits can be passed on to the infant through breastfeeding. If the mother’s intake of DHA is adequate then the DHA is present in adequate quantities for the baby in her milk.

If the mother’s intake of DHA is inadequate this obviously means that the supply of DHA to the baby or infant will also be inadequate.

As he was promoting a new baby formula with DHA you would expect him to promote the benefits of DHA baby formula, however in fact when pressed on the benefits of DHA infant formulas compared to the benefits of breastfeeding he said “No infant formula can ever substitute breast milk. It will take years before anybody can tell us how to add the hormones in breast milk to infant formula”.

Of course breastfeeding is superior to feeding the baby or infant with formula for many other reasons as well however it now seems that even the manufacturers of DHA baby formula, through their representatives, admit that breastfeeding is superior.

However this does rely on the mother getting adequate supplies of DHA in her diet and as we previously noted the average American mother has very low levels of DHA. This is a result of a very low consumption of fish.

Whilst eating one or two meals of oily fish a week is recommended that too has its problems. Only certain types of fish have adequate levels of DHA, particularly oily fish. And fish is usually very expensive and out of the reach of some families, particularly families with a new baby. There is a further problem as well.

It is now well known that fish is generally contaminated with various toxins such as mercury, PCBs, pesticides and other heavy metals, and pregnant and nursing women have to consider the health of their babies when eating possibly contaminated fish, as any toxins could be passed on to the baby.

Then of course there are Omega3 supplements. The best of these, though not all, are free of contaminants and can be safely taken daily at a lower cost than buying fresh fish.

The supplementation of baby and infant foods with DHA will continue, however it seems clear that pregnant women and nursing mothers should be taking some form of DHA supplementation to the benefit of their developing infants and that they should be breastfeeding rather than using DHA infant formula. But it is important that the mother herself have adequate levels of DHA, both for her own health and that of her child.

Virtually all medical professionals advise young mothers that breastfeeding is better than bottlefeeding using formula, for a range of reasons. Of course that doesn’t mean that young mothers can all breastfeed, there are other issues to be considered as well.

However, where possible, breastfeeding is better. The American Academy of Paediatrics says that infants should be breastfed for the first 6 months of life exclusively.

Breastfeeding, or more specifically breastmilk, has constituents which help the baby beyond merely providing nutrients. Breastmilk can help prevent infections as well as allergies and also chronic health conditions.

Of course there are all sorts of issues to think about when mothers are considering how best to feed their babies, and if you’re interested in finding out more about breastfeeding compared to bottle feeding generally you can do so right here.

And this doesn’t address the issue of how much DHA is found in many fortified foods. Not much according to some. But that’s an issue for another day.

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