Archive for November, 2009

How do you get your Omega 3 fatty acids if fish is contaminated?

If you’re beginning to find out about the health benefits of Omega3 essential fatty acids you’ll find out that 2 primary Omega3 fats, namely DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), are found primarily in fish oil. And of course fish oil comes from fish. So the obvious conclusion if you wish to increase your intake of Omega3 essential fatty acids is to increase the amount of fish in your diet.

However although Omega3 oils are found in fish there are also some powerful reasons to avoid eating too much fish. One of these risks is Mercury contamination of fish, and for this reason the FDA recommend that many of us should avoid eating too much fish because of contamination with Mercury as well as other toxins.

So today lets look at Mercury contamination of fish, and consider whether fish is your best source of Omega3 fatty acids, or whether taking Omega3 supplements is a better alternative.

A 2009 study was one of the first to seriously examine Mercury levels in our marine environment and in our fish.
Mercury in Fish

The conclusions of the study were concerning. It was found that 40 percent of Mercury exposure in people in the US came from tuna consumption, and that levels of Mercury in the Pacific were rising. The study found that Mercury levels in the North Pacific were 30 percent higher in 2006 than they were in 1996.

The Mercury was present in the form of methylmercury. It was found that the Mercury came primarily from 2 sources, from Asia and also from the atmosphere. It has been known for some time that atmospheric emissions of Mercury can contaminate the oceans, and this is now being combined with other Mercury sources.

Mercury is a serious toxin and can contribute to developmental problems in the fetus and the infant and has other serious health implications as well.

It was found that the methylmercury formed in mid depth water in the ocean and sank to the bottom with the help of algae, and that small organisms then picked it up, and it was then transported up the food chain to the large predators such as sharks and tuna. And of course it is these fish that we eat.

The FDA has issued warnings in the past about Mercury contamination of fish, although it has also suggested that the negative effects of Mercury intake may be outweighed by the positive effects of the Omega3 oil content of the fish.

However it seems clear that the levels of Mercury, as well as other toxic chemicals, in our fish are rising.Fish oil and mercury

Therefore there is a bit of a conundrum for those seeking to increase their Omega3 essential fatty acid intake. Do we eat more fish and risk increasing our intake of Mercury but also increasing our intake of Omega3 fish oil, or do we eat less fish to reduce our intake of Mercury thereby reducing our intake of Omega3?

Or is there another way?

This is of course an individual decision and there are no government guidelines telling us the best way to increase our Omega3 intake. However there are some considerations which should be taken into account.

The first is this. Fish is expensive, and getting increasingly more expensive over time, and fish is a declining resource. It seems quite clear that our oceans are over fished, and only recently there has been a reduction in the legal tuna catch for a number of nations involved in the tuna industry for this reason.

For these reasons, and also because of the risks of Mercury intake, people may choose not to increase their intake of fish if there is a better way to increase their Omega3 intake safely and cost-effectively. Why diminish a declining resource when there is a better way, particularly if you don’t like eating expensive fish that much?

Certainly there is a better way. There are clean and high quality Omega 3 supplements, or what are also known as fish oil supplements, that are a cost-effective way to increase your intake of Omega3 without eating more fish. The best Omega 3 supplements are contamination free and tests show no detectable levels of Mercury at all. For this reason it is both cost effective and safe to take the best Omega3 capsules daily.

However if you like eating fish, and are prepared for the expense of eating more, together with the risks of increasing your Mercury intake, then eating fish is a good way to increase your Omega3 intake. But be extremely careful about which type of fish you choose to eat.

Of course it varies from person to person, however Omega3 supplements are the fastest-growing nutritional supplement in history, and so it would seem that the majority are voting with their wallets by buying Omega3 capsules rather than eating more fish. Fish intake levels in the US are still way too low to provide an adequate level of essential fatty acids in our diet.

To find out more about Peter

Can fish oil tablets help prevent colon cancer?

The health benefits of Omega 3 essential fatty acids found in fish oil tablets are well documented, and studies are now showing a link between an increase in intake of Omega3 fats and preventing colorectal cancer.

Studies have shown that increasing your intake of Omega3 fats is a part of cancer prevention. There are studies showing a link between fish oil and breast cancer prevention and also between fish oil and prostate cancer prevention. Now studies also showing that increasing your intake of Omega 3 essential fats can help in preventing colon cancer.

A study undertaken in Scotland studied the effects of increasing the intake of Omega3 fatty acids on the risk of contracting colorectal cancer. The scientists undertaking the study found a significant relationship between increasing the dose of omega 3 fats DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and reducing the risk of colon cancer. As the intake of omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids rose the risk of bowel cancer fell by up to 37 percent.

Interestingly the researchers also studied the effects of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) on the risks of contracting bowel cancer and found no relationship between increasing intake of ALA and the risk of colon cancer. ALA is an omega 3 fatty acid found in plants.
Fish oil and bowel cancer

Research has established that ALA can be converted into DHA and EPA in the body however this is only true to a limited degree, and the 2 important omega 3 fatty acids are DHA and EPA. Both of these are found in fish oil and the most convenient way to increase your intake of these essential fats is to take fish oil supplements

It was found that high intakes of EPA were associated with a reduction in the risk of cholera rectal cancer of up to 41 percent.

Because DHA and EPA are found primarily in fish oil the researchers examined the relationship between consumption of fish and the risk of colorectal cancer and concluded that those with the highest consumption of fish exhibited a 24 percent lower risk for developing colorectal cancer compared to those who ate the least fish.

It would seem from these results that there is a clear link between fish oil and preventing colon cancer. That is not to say at all that if you take fish oil tablets you will prevent bowel cancer. It is way more complicated than that however it would seem clear from this study that taking fish oil tablets containing DHA and EPA is an important part of an overall strategy to help prevent bowel cancer.

Of course there are many other things that you can do including examining your overall diet, examining your levels of exercise and more, however for the purposes of this website it would seem clear that increasing your consumption of fish oil is a valid part of an overall strategy to prevent cancer, including bowel cancer.

In another study in the Netherlands the authors conducted a review of a number of studies on the incidence of colo rectal cancer and the intake of fish oil. In all 14 studies were examined and the combined results show that the risk of cholera rectal cancer was 12 percent lower for those who consumed the highest level of fish compared to those who consumed the lowest.

In fact the authors calculated that for every meal of fish eaten per week the risk of bowel cancer was reduced by an estimated 4 percent. In other words those who ate 2 meals of fish per week had an estimated 8 percent reduction in the risk of bowel cancer.

Currently the average intake of fish in the US is way below that which would be adequate to achieve these results in helping to prevent bowel cancer.

The health benefits of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids were established initially around 40 years ago when observations were made that populations of people who ate high levels of fish and seafood generally seemed to have much better health, and in particular heart health, then populations of people who ate a diet low in fish. Studies commenced to determine whether there was a link between fish consumption and health, and in particular whether increased fish consumption reduced various health risks.

This was in fact found to be the case and there is now significant scientific evidence that increasing your intake of Omega 3 essential fatty acids found in fish can reduce your risk of a wide range of health problems, and now that it can also help prevent cholera rectal cancer.

The authors of this website have personal experience with bowel cancer. We don’t have it ourselves, but a close personal friend of ours does, and has for some time.

It’s not been a pleasant experience watching a friend battle bowel cancer. It’s been an ongoing fight for some years and we’re not sure he’s winning. And there’s been many unpleasant situations along the way.

The causes of bowel cancer are not fully established, only yesterday did we hear on the radio that a new study from the UK is showing that excess consumption of red meat may well have a role in causing bowel cancer.

But again, like all these things, who knows. All you can do is be sensible and follow the recommendations of the authorities. Eat sensibly, drink sensibly, exercise sensibly, don’t smoke and make sure you have an adequate intake of essential fatty acids.

It’s too late for our friend but it might not be too late for you. We certainly take our fish oil capsules every single day of the year.

To read more about this Scottish study about Omega 3 intake and bowel cancer click here.

To find out more about Peter

Can fish oil lower blood pressure?

High blood pressure, or what is otherwise known as hypertension, effects a significant proportion of our population, particularly, though not confined to, men. Today we want to examine whether there is an Omega 3 blood pressure link.

For people with coronary heart disease the American Heart Association recommends a minimum intake of Omega 3 essential fatty acids as there is now significant evidence that a higher intake of Omega3 fats found in fish oil reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease. This includes helping prevent heart disease in people who do not have it.

Fish Oil and Blood Pressure Blood pressure also, it seems, responds to an increase in the Omega 3 fats.

There have been studies that have asked the question can you lower blood pressure with fish oil. For instance the American Heart Association refers a study conducted on 120 men who were given a 12 week dietary intervention using fish oil, fish or a combination. There were 5 groups that were assigned to take various combinations of fish oil capsules or fish, or both, or a placebo.

The conclusion of the study was that there was a bigger fall in systolic and diastolic blood pressure in subjects who were allocated fish or fish oil compared to the control group.

Other studies also suggest a link between fish oil and lowering blood pressure although the studies suggest that DHA may have a more beneficial effect on lowering blood pressure than EPA. This study concluded that EPA had no significant effect on blood pressure but that DHA reduced blood pressure in mildly hyperlipidemic men. The conclusion was that it is DHA which is responsible for the blood pressure lowering effects found from increasing Omega 3 intake.

A further study studied the effects of Omega 3 on ambulatory BP in hypertensive men who were already overweight. As obesity contributes to hypertension (as well as cardiovascular disease) it is clearly a risk factor for many people. The conclusion of the study was that regular consumption of fish and Omega 3 fatty acids can lower blood pressure and reduce cardiovascular risk in overweight subjects.

And in particular a significant result of the study was that the requirements of overweight people for taking antihypertensive drugs would be lowered “substantially” by increasing the intake of Omega 3 fatty acids together with a weight loss regime in overweight hypertensives who were already medicating for hypertension.

These studies give us encouraging results about the abilities of Omega 3 fatty acids to lower blood pressure and demonstrate a clear link between blood pressure fish and Omega 3 essential fatty acid intake. Anyone who suffers from high blood pressure should take these results seriously.

Other than lowering blood pressure there are powerful reasons to take daily fish oil capsules. As previously mentioned the American Heart Association clearly indicates a minimum requirement for Omega3 intake for cardiovascular health, and there are also a range of other health conditions would benefit from an increase in intake of essential fatty acids.

Studies suggest that over 90 percent of the US population, including children, are deficient in their dietary intake of Omega3 fats and for this reason almost all of us should be increasing our intake of the Omega 3 fats. Blood pressure reduction, where needed, and good cardiovascular health are just the start of the health benefits that follow from an adequate intake of essential fatty acids.

So it is clear, if you suffer from hypertension, that there are good reasons to increase your intake of fish oil. Blood pressure results should be positive and you also have a wide range of other health reasons to supplement your diet with daily fish oil capsules.

And of course lowering your blood pressure is not just about taking more Omega 3 essential fatty acids in your diet, there’s a whole host of things you can do to help lower your blood pressure. And of course many of these things you should do for your overall health as well.

Losing weight and stopping smoking are 2 of the most important things that you can do, and of course it’s no coincidence that both these are also extremely beneficial to your health in a wide range of other areas. Getting more exercise is also extremely important, and again it’s certainly no coincidence that this is also a big part of improving your health and other ways.

Ultimately it comes down to your choice. Whilst high blood pressure has some genetic components there are some clear lifestyle choices that you can make to help reduce your blood pressure, and to benefit your health generally. However making those choices isn’t necessarily easy. But then what’s more important to you than your health?

To find out more about some of the things you can do here’s a link to an excellent article about lowering blood pressure.

To find out more about Peter

Children, Omega 3 and the healthy development of our kids. Our kids need fish oil for brain development, and more.

The benefits of increasing our intake of omega 3 essential fatty acids are well-established, for both adults and children. Omega 3 essential fatty acids are very important for a wide range of health reasons.

Omega 3 fats are found in fish oil. Kids, or at least their parents, need to ensure that there is an adequate supply of Omega3 fats in their diet. Lets examine the link between Omega 3 and children’s health.

A new Australian study from the University of Wollongong’s School of Health Sciences, undertaken by associate Professor Barbara Meyer, has found that most children do not eat enough fish and are deficient in the Omega 3 essential fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) , both found primarily in fish oil. Professor Meyer has now submitted a paper for publication in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition publishing her findings.

These findings include that 3 year old children in Australia consumed, on average, just 47 milligrams of Omega 3 essential fats and 4 to 8 year olds just 55 milligrams. Her description of these intakes of Omega3 fats was that they were “desperately low”. And these figures represent less than 10 percent of the Australian National Heart Foundation recommended intake of 500 milligrams per day. She says that only 6 percent of Australian children are meeting the recommended dietary intake.

Clearly our kids should increase their intake of Omega 3. Kids can do this by increasing their intake of fish, as well as increasing their intake of some Omega 3 fortified foods. For example there are Omega 3 fortified eggs available, though they are sometimes hard to find.
Children and Omega 3

The best way to increase the dietary intake of Omega3 fats is from supplementation with fish oil. Kids can take fish oil supplements, though in some cases may struggle with the capsules, these often being too large for kids to take. The author of this article has children, and overcomes this problem by cutting the end off the capsule and pouring the fish oil into a teaspoon, and giving it to his children with their breakfast.

So let’s examine some more of the information provided by Professor Meyer about the importance of increasing the intake of the essential fatty acids in children. The essential fatty acids are important to a whole range of children’s health issues.

Firstly Professor Meyer suggests that children’s intake of Omega3 fats should begin during pregnancy, and that pregnant women should ensure they ate fish during pregnancy, though she warns about the problem of mercury contamination in fish. This can be overcome conveniently by supplementing the diet of pregnant women with high quality fish oil supplements, many of which (though not all) are adequately decontaminated and do not harbor nasty toxins like mercury, PCBs, pesticides and heavy metals routinely found in fish.

Professor Meyer also points out that the last trimester of pregnancy is extremely important to the growing fetus as this is the time when the fetus is developing its brain, and Omega 3 essential fats are highly important to brain development. And Professor Meyer also notes that the first 2 years of an infants life are equally important to brain development. However it is not just brain development that is benefited by an increased intake of fish oil. Children have other developmental requirements that are also benefited by an adequate level of Omega3 intake.

An inadequate level of intake of Omega 3 in children can place them, over time, at increased risk of asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), retarded brain development, reduced development of the vision and even at the risk of heart disease, and more.

Clearly there are powerful reasons for us to ensure that our kids have sufficient dietary intake of fish oil. Kids, in our modern society, do not eat enough fish, if any, and this is placing their health and proper development at risk.

It is too late to start fatty acid supplementation when children are old enough to start taking Omega 3 capsules. As the author does, it is better to ensure, right from birth, that we are maximizing the chances of children’s brain development and better health in our children. Omega 3 can be conveniently given to them merely by removing the oil from the capsule and sprinkling it on their breakfast. They don’t even know it is there.

Of course it is quite possible to increase children’s intake of fish. However there are some issues with this. The obvious one is mercury contamination of fish, as previously mentioned, and for this reason the FDA recommends that we limit our intake of fish. Pregnant women should be especially careful, and some cans of salmon carry warnings about intake by pregnant women.

Secondly, in the author’s experience, it can be particularly difficult to convince young children to eat fish. Of course fish can be disguised in food however it is difficult to ensure an adequate intake of fish every week in this way.

The best way to ensure an adequate level of intake of omega 3 in children is supplementation. That is why the author supplements the diet of his own children with fish oil.

It is also important to understand that there are big differences between the various Omega 3 capsules available on the market. There are differences in the amount of DHA, (the most important of the omega 3 fatty acids) found in most capsules. Some capsules have way more DHA than others, and for this reason it is very difficult to compare the price of the different Omega 3 capsules available, because one capsule cannot adequately be compared with another.

There are also issues to consider about the effectiveness of the fish oil in the capsules, and in particular its freshness, as many Omega 3 supplements use stale fish oil. Fish oil can oxidise very quickly, and this causes the often so called “fishy burps” that some people experience, and this can put children off taking the capsules if they are taking capsules.

As you can see there are powerful reasons to increase the intake of the essential fatty acids in children. Omega 3 essential fatty acids are important to our health from conception right through to our old age. And although this study focused on Australian children there is no doubt that American children are also equally deficient in the essential fatty acids known as omega 3. Kids need their good fats just like the rest of us.

To find out more about Peter
 Page 1 of 2  1  2 »