Oh How I Love Virgins!…Oils

olive oilOlive oil is truly wonderful. I’ve been using it in many recipes since I was a kid. I can’t think of many dishes that I make that don’t have some olive oil and garlic in them in some amount. The flavor of a good olive oil can be different than what some people are used to. My grandma recalled to me once a story in which she was on a date with my Italian grandpa and he brought some chicken prepared by my great grandma. It had been cooked with olive oil and garlic. My grandma thought it had gone bad because “the flavor was strange to the uninitiated”. I initiated my palate many years ago and have never turned back.

Olive oil has definitely gained popularity here in the USA and I think part of that is due to the “Mediterranean Diet”. I put that in quotes because some aspects of what is preached about it here in the states is true and other parts are off. That’s a post in and of itself. Anyhow the oil is popular and lots of people use it. There has been lots of news over the past few years about the quality of the oil and I wanted to address this.

Terms

Terms like “Pure”, “Extra Virgin”, “Virgin”, and others are tossed around and can be complicated for a person who is buying olive oil. Lets sum these up shall we.

Extra Virgin: Mechanically pressed, not chemically treated, excellent odor and flavor, and has an acidity of less than 0.8% (acidity measures the amount of free oleic acid, in this case as less than 0.8gm/100ml)

Virgin: Mechanically pressed, not chemically treated, good odor and flavor, and acidity of less than 2%

Olive Oil: Mix of non-refined and refined oils.

Pure: Mix of virgin and extra virgin that have been chemically refined.

Olive Pomace: After the press of the olive, around 5-8% of the oil is still in the pulp and must be extracted using chemicals. This is olive pomace oil.

Light: Super low grade from chemical processing. Same amount of calories as any other oil. Remember fat is 9kcal/gm and light oil is fat.

So the term “Pure” is misleading. Anytime you buy pure olive oil, you’re getting a product that has been refined down and is likely missing many chemicals that make olive oil oh so wonderful. If you’re interested in a good quality oil, don’t purchase anything labeled pure.

Light oil is not light on calories as it has just as many as any other oil out there. Pomace may sound interesting and it would be if we could extract it without chemicals and heat. Virgin is ok but is a second tier to extra virgin. Extra virgin is the best quality there is. So that should be case closed right?

I wish!

To make this seemingly simple thing a bit more complicated is the fact that what might be on the label might not be what goes down your gullet. There have been plenty of reports out of Italy where the mob was involved in tainting oil with other oils. Here is one interesting read;

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2080079/The-great-olive-oil-scam-How-expensive-extra-virgin-dressing-actually-cheap-imitation.html

One Australian report found that many oils weren’t passing quality standards. That can be found here:

http://www.theglobalmail.org/feature/extra-virgin-international-mistress-of-disguise/265/

Another report from NPR discusses how authorities on the east coast have found olive oil labeled as extra virgin being adulterated with peanut, soy and hazelnut oils.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=98401360

I’ve seen other sites where they’ve claimed that canola oil has also been mixed in with olive oil which doesn’t surprise me since it doesn’t have any real flavor and would be hard to detect by the simple consumer.

UC Davis has done some testing on various brands to assess quality a couple of different times. From the study they showed that many brands that were labeled as extra virgin were really just virgin oils. From the study,

73 percent (66 of 90 samples) of the five top-selling imported brands failed international sensory standards for extra virgin olive oil by failing two International Olive Council-accredited taste panels. The samples had objectionable sensory attributes such as rancidity and “fustiness,” a fermentation defect.”1

Some of the brands that failed; Pompeian, Filippo Berio, Bertolli, Star, Colavita, Newman’s Own Organic and Rachael Ray.

Some that passed both sensory tests and chemical testing; California Olive Ranch, Cobram Estate, Kirkland Organic, Corto Olive, McEvoy Ranch Organic and Lucero

Not so extra virgin after all.

lineup

Kind of looks like a lineup from a police photo. Where’s the real virgin?

The gist here is that if you go to WalMart to buy some olive oil you probably aren’t going to purchase a quality product, although I did manage to find some California Olive Ranch at my local Walmart so you never know unless you look. Fortunately there is also Costco nearby so I can grab some Kirkland Organic. It’s interesting to note that Australian tests found that australian oils were the best and that California tests found California oils the best. I don’t think this is bias but rather the fact that local generally is much better and they don’t have to go through the shipment process.

So what do you look for? Look for a dark bottle. This of course doesn’t ensure anything but dark bottle lets less light pass through. Olive oil is sensitive to light and can oxidize in it’s presence.

Look for a harvest date, not a use by date. The harvest date lets you know when they were harvested (no brainer) and gives you an idea of when the oil is no longer good.  According to Selena Wang of the UC Davis team, the oil is no good after 4-6 months after opening.2 I’ve read about 2 years after bottling is all you’ll get out of it if it isn’t opened, but I wouldn’t wait that long.

Here is a website for award winning olive oils

http://www.fairplex.com/wos/olive_oil_competition/AwardsCelebration/winners.asp

You can pretty reliably choose any one of these for quality.

Another thing to look for is the California Olive Oil Council Seal on the bottle. If it is a domestic product, especially from California, this is an oil that has passed testing and quality controls.

Taste is a big indicator. If it has a “peppery” and/or fruity flavor it is probably good. It doesn’t need to be smooth going down to be quality and in fact many have some strong pungent burning in the back of the mouth flavors. Those are polyphenols (antioxidants) that are beneficial.

Another thing to look for is if the producer posts the acidity level of the oil on the label. While this just like everything else can be fudged, it will give you a better idea of what quality you’re looking at. I’ve noted the inferior brands don’t post it at all.

CIAO

1. http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=9819

2. http://www.fairplex.com/wos/olive_oil_competition/AwardsCelebration/winners.asp

DHA, Your Brain, and You

fish oilIn this final installment into DHA we should talk about DHA and your neurons. I’m sure it won’t be the last time I discuss it but  for now we’ll leave it for a while. In the last 3 we talked about cardiovascular disease, cancer and arthritis. DHA has some interesting potential as being a useful agent for neurological health. Lets take a look and see what has been looked at.

Children with phenylketonuria have low protein intake and thus have low omega-3 intake. For fine motor skills it can be problematic because omega-3 is low and DHA is an important part of neurotransmission. In a study of children with PKU and controls who were supplied with fish oil, PKU children had improvement in motor skills where and controls did not. 1

DHA is important in fetal development and there appears to be a need for proper ratio of DHA and arachidonic acid (AA). This sounds much like the need for us adults to have a proper omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. Children who had higher levels of these in cord blood were deemed to have more “neurologic optimality”. 2 I think this was the way the researchers were trying to say that they were more neurologically developed at birth.

In a small study looking at patients with peroxisomal disorders (a disorder where the organelles in the cells are not functioning properly) researchers gave DHA ethyl ester because in these patients DHA is significantly reduced. After giving DHA liver function, vision and brain myelin images improved.3 Myelin is a sheet that covers nerves to produce action potentials which is an essential part of nerve transmission.

One the Alzheimers front, one study looking at patients with DHA levels found that patients with the lower levels of DHA had a 67% increased chance of developing alzheimers. They concluded that maintaining adequate levels of DHA is important, especially in the elderly. 4

In several studies of rodents (I know) use of DHA improved various outcomes including glial cell survival, decreased oxidative stress and improved function after injury. 5

In a review of epidemiological studies, low DHA intake is associated with pro-inflammatory conditions. Alzheimers, Parkinsons and severe depression also all show low levels of DHA. 6 Increasing intake in these at risk populations may be beneficial.

One extensive summary was done that looked at several studies and concluded that more studies are needed of longer duration and better quality. Many showed benefits, and many showed no benefit in various neurologic diseases. 7

Epidemiological studies don’t give us the whole picture though. It’s important to remember that because so many other factors may be at work. All we can really say from those is that there is an association. We know DHA is really important in brain function and we’re guessing that not enough DHA might be a problem with brain health.

Remember that fish is a great natural source of DHA, just the way nature intended.

Remember that fish is a great natural source of DHA, just the way nature intended.

Another potential problem with all of these studies, whether they’re looking at fish consumption, fish oil consumption or other forms of DHA is that they aren’t really looking at other parts of the diet. High levels of omega-6 fatty acids can decrease the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA. Too much omega-6 is also proinflammatory so for a person who is consuming too much of it, no amount of omega 3 will do much to help the inflammation.

This situation is similar to others. Too much vitamin E has shown to be pro-inflammatory, at least when given as alpha tocopherol only. So if a person ingests regular amounts of alpha tocopherol for x, y or z, should he also ingest loads of vitamin C to counteract the oxidant effects of the alpha tocopherol? Probably better just to back off on it. I believe the same hold true for omega 6 fatty acids. Backing off is probably the better route to take than compensate with omega 3. This is why it will likely be impossible to do an adequate study. You have to control everything else that goes into a patient’s mouth.

Reducing soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower and other junk oils from a diet is actually a huge dietary change. Take a look at your labels in the pantry and just see what has those oils in it. I’m willing to bet if you have problems of any kind and eliminate those you might just start feeling better.

CIAO

Disclaimer: All info on this website is for education purposes only. Any dietary or lifestyle changes that readers want to make should be done with the guidance of a competent medical practitioner. The author assumes no responsibility nor liability  for the use or dissemination of this information. Anyone who chooses to apply this information for their own personal use does so at their own risk.

1. Koletzko, Berthold, et al. “Does dietary DHA improve neural function in children? Observations in phenylketonuria.” Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids 81.2 (2009): 159-164.

2.Dijck-Brouwer, D. A., et al. “Lower fetal status of docosahexaenoic acid, arachidonic acid and essential fatty acids is associated with less favorable neonatal neurological condition.” Prostaglandins, leukotrienes and essential fatty acids 72.1 (2005): 21-28.

3. Martinez, Manuela, and Elida Vazquez. “MRI evidence that docosahexaenoic acid ethyl ester improves myelination in generalized peroxisomal disorders.” Neurology 51.1 (1998): 26-32.

4. Kyle, D. J., et al. “Low serum docosahexaenoic acid is a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s dementia.” Lipids 34 (1999): S245-S245.

5.Michael-Titus, Adina T. “Omega-3 fatty acids and neurological injury.” Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids 77.5 (2007): 295-300.

6.Orr, Sarah K., and Richard P. Bazinet. “The emerging role of docosahexaenoic acid in neuroinflammation.” Current opinion in investigational drugs (London, England: 2000) 9.7 (2008): 735-743.

7. MacLean, Catherine H., et al. “Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary.” (2005).

Busting Up Arthritis with Fish Oil

Ifish oiln the last 2 articles we looked at how DHA seems to be beneficial in cardiovascular disease and how it doesn’t cause cancer. If you missed those you can access them here:

Cardiovascular disease: https://pharmacybrute.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/does-dha-work/

Cancer: https://pharmacybrute.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/does-dha-cause-cancer/

Arthritis, specifically rheumatoid arthritis seems to be a problem throughout all the world affecting an estimated 1% of the global population. 1% of 7 billion is 70 million. That’s a lot of people. The disease is autoimmune in nature. There are several theories as to why it starts in the first place. I personally happen to think it is related to the gut and gut bacteria. Whatever the cause, it can be seriously debilitating and alter the course of ones life forever. On top of that, medications to treat it aren’t without side effects and some can be incredibly expensive.

I’m hoping I can offer some hope to those who have suffered from rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I don’t think this is a magic bullet but anything to reduce pain and inflammation is a plus in the quality of life department in my book.

In a mouse study (yes I know we don’t like these but bear with me), mice that were experimentally given rheumatoid arthritis did better with consumption of krill oil as assessed by hind paw swelling. They also saw a decrease in infiltration of immune cells in the synovia and joint spaces and reduced hyperplasia. 1 This means that the immune cells responsible for creating the problems weren’t getting into the spaces to cause the problems in the first place.

In a small study in humans (yes humans), researchers gave participants capsules filled with EPA and DHA at 171mg and 114mg respectively. 64 patients with RA were followed for a year who had been stable with NSAID therapy after they had been divided into two groups, treatment and placebo. 10 of these capsules were given or air-filled placebo. Those who got the 10 caps were able to significantly reduce their NSAID usage with no worsening of RA. 2

Another study used 3.6gm of n-3 in RA patients for a 12 week period. Only 1 marker seemed to decrease in the active supplement group, interleukin 1 beta. The clinical status of the active group improved with the n-3.3

olive oil

Olive oil is my favorite thing to put on my salad

In another study (this one is my favorite of the one’s listed so far in this article, I’ll explain why in a minute) subject were given a placebo (soybean oil….blah), 3gm/day fish oil, or 3gm/day fish oil and 6.4gm/day olive oil. This study was also small, 43 patients. Those in the fish oil group had clinical improvements in pain, stiffness, grip strength and bending.4 The group with both fish oil and olive oil had even greater improvements. At 24 weeks the olive oil group showed better ability to turn faucets on and off then the fish oil group. The reason why this was my favorite study…because they got to eat olive oil on salads. What better treatment than to get to eat a great salad with some oil to improve RA!

In another fish oil/olive oil study, a low dose fish oil, high dose fish oil, and olive oil groups were compared. Swollen joint number was decreased in both fish oil groups at 12, 18 and 24 weeks. Clinical measures of the disease were modified in the olive oil group (5 of 45), low dose fish oil (8 of 45) and high dose fish oil (21 of 45). The low dose fish oil was 27
mg EPA and 18 mg/kg DHA per day. High dose was 54 mg/kg EPA and 36 mg/kg DHA per day. Olive oil was 6.8gm/day or just around 10ml. 5

In a epidemiologic study there was an inverse correlation of incidence of RA with olive oil consumption and cooked vegetable consumption.6 This doesn’t prove that eating lots of vegetables and olive is going to prevent the disease, just that if you eat these you seem less likely to. Remember epidemiology doesn’t equal causation!

So if you are suffering from RA, fish oil and olive oil may be beneficial in helping you feel better. The thing I can’t say from these studies is that it was DHA by itself. The fish oil had its full complement of EPA as well. It would also be nice to get a big juicy fish…..I mean study to really pound the effect home to clinicians, but smaller studies will have to do for now, at least as far as RA is concerned. One other thing is that in these studies it took up to 12 weeks for manifestation of relief. If this is something you willing to try remember it probably won’t do much over a week or two, let alone over night. Patience! If anyone has any stories about this please share. And may you all enjoy some fish with a side salad covered in some good olive oil!

CIAO

Disclaimer: All info on this website is for education purposes only. Any dietary or lifestyle changes that readers want to make should be done with the guidance of a competent medical practitioner. The author assumes no responsibility nor liability  for the use or dissemination of this information. Anyone who chooses to apply this information for their own personal use does so at their own risk.

1. Ierna, Michelle, et al. “Supplementation of diet with krill oil protects against experimental rheumatoid arthritis.” BMC musculoskeletal disorders 11.1 (2010): 136..

2. Lau, C. S., K. D. Morley, and J. J. F. Belch. “EFFECTS OF FISH OIL SUPPLEMENTATION ON NON-STEROIDAL ANTI—INFLAMMATORY DRUG REQUIREMENT IN PATIENTS WITH MILD RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS—A DOUBLE-BLIND PLACEBO CONTROLLED STUDY.” Rheumatology 32.11 (1993): 982-989.

3. Espersen, G. T., et al. “Decreased interleukin-1 beta levels in plasma from rheumatoid arthritis patients after dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.” Clinical rheumatology 11.3 (1992): 393-395.

4. Espersen, G. T., et al. “Decreased interleukin-1 beta levels in plasma from rheumatoid arthritis patients after dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.” Clinical rheumatology 11.3 (1992): 393-395.

5. Kremer, Joel M., et al. “Dietary fish oil and olive oil supplementation in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis clinical and immunologic effects.” Arthritis & Rheumatism 33.6 (1990): 810-820.

6.Linos, Athena, et al. “Dietary factors in relation to rheumatoid arthritis: a role for olive oil and cooked vegetables?.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 70.6 (1999): 1077-1082.

Does DHA Cause Cancer?

fish oilIn the last article we discussed a bit about the cardiovascular benefits of DHA and fish oil. Today we look at a drawback….if you believe the media hype. That is the cancer causing effect of consuming DHA. Does DHA cause cancer?

No it doesn’t, at least not in this man’s opinion!

A study came out a few months back that associated higher blood levels of DHA with prostate cancer in men. Headlines made the news and I received some alerts from various organizations about how DHA is your prostate’s worst enemy blah blah blah. You get the picture. I really didn’t give it much thought because usually when the media grabs onto something like this and blow it out of proportion like they did, it usually isn’t what they’re reporting on. So lets look at a few things.

First this study was a case cohort study meaning that the researchers took a picture, so to speak, of men and their lab results measuring various things to see if they could come up with any associations.1 What they found were men that had the highest levels (relatively speaking compared to others in the study) of DHA also had significant associations of cancer in the prostate. It’s almost analogous to me taking a picture of you on a cloudy day and if you happen to have gout, ipso facto the cloudy day must be the cause of your gout. You can see the problem with this logic. There was no time component to this study and since it wasn’t a prospective randomized trial we can’t assign blame to DHA or anything else for that matter, we can only say, “In this snapshot of men we took, the ones that had higher levels of DHA also had more prostate cancer”. It is not causation.

Correlation does not equal causation. You could say that having prostate cancer increases your risk for having high DHA levels based on this evidence, as if having DHA in your blood is bad. An earlier study with the same group found no correlation between omega-3’s or DHA and cancer. 2 One commenter posited that it may be possible that by simply having cancer one might turn to fish oil for an anti-cancer effect they may have heard of and this would explain the difference. But the real reason that these men had high DHA and cancer at the same time…sorry folks, we just don’t know.

It’s important to remember that these studies aren’t worthless. They give us information on which we can ask some good questions. Those questions form a basis for more prospective trials that really look at causation rather than correlation and that’s important. But the next time you see anything in the media relating to health (or probably anything else for that matter) and they are blowing it up, it’s likely because it was small to begin with and the news has to make things big in order to make money.

Some other studies of interest have been done that are favorable to DHA. One was done in mice where two diets were fed of n-6 and n-3 fatty acids to look at changes in colon carcinoma and found that DHA inhibits around 81% growth and 41% cell proliferation in a strain of that cancer.3

Another study found that DHA enhanced apoptosis with 5-fluorouracil (a cancer drug) and decreased the concentration required of the drug to treat the cells.4 This is really important seeing as how if we can use lower amounts of cancer drugs we could significantly lower the side effects associated with them.

Another in-vitro study found that DHA helps to down regulate Her2/neu in breast cancer cells and like the study above, enhanced the effects of the antineoplastic drugs against those lines.5 Of course we need to test these in vivo situations to see if they pan out in a fully functioning human, but the results are promising. It is results like these, if they get into the public’s ear, that could explain why levels might be high with a person who has prostate cancer, because they want it to get treated and take supplements. But again we don’t know for sure.

An in vivo study was done with paclitaxel (cancer drug) and DHA in combo for later stage lung cancer patients. They didn’t look at cancer therapy vs cancer therapy + DHA so it’s hard to know if there was any real benefit. The response rate of 4.5% didn’t meet the requirements of 10% by the researchers and they rejected the idea of using DHA as a useful therapy in non small cell lung cancer.6 I’m not sure why they set up the study the way they did and by their own admission they had small numbers, but at least for non small cell lung cancer DHA might not be what the doctor ordered. I think it important to note that these were later stages of cancer and that might have been enough to tip the scales in the favor of the cancer, but this is speculation.

There is no proof in my mind that DHA causes cancer. In fact it may be useful in treating cancer. So if you have cancer, taking that fish oil is likely doing nothing to harm you further and may be helping you. And remember, anytime you see anything big in the news relating to something big, in this case cancer, take it with a grain of salt and do some research. News companies are trying to make money, not necessarily take care of your health.

CIAO

Disclaimer: All info on this website is for education purposes only. Any dietary or lifestyle changes that readers want to make should be done with the guidance of a competent medical practitioner. The author assumes no responsibility nor liability  for the use or dissemination of this information. Anyone who chooses to apply this information for their own personal use does so at their own risk.

1.Brasky, Theodore M., et al. “Plasma phospholipid fatty acids and prostate cancer risk in the SELECT trial.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 105.15 (2013): 1132-1141.

2.Kristal, Alan R., et al. “Diet, supplement use, and prostate cancer risk: results from the prostate cancer prevention trial.” American journal of epidemiology 172.5 (2010): 566-577.

3.Kato, Taeko, Nicole Kolenic, and Ronald S. Pardini. “Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a primary tumor suppressive omega-3 fatty acid, inhibits growth of colorectal cancer independent of p53 mutational status.” HNUC 58.2 (2007): 178-187.

4.Calviello, Gabriella, et al. “Docosahexaenoic acid enhances the susceptibility of human colorectal cancer cells to 5-fluorouracil.” Cancer chemotherapy and pharmacology 55.1 (2005): 12-20.

5.Menendez, J. A., R. Lupu, and R. Colomer. “Exogenous supplementation with ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22: 6n-3) synergistically enhances taxane cytotoxicity and downregulates Her-2/neu (c-erbB-2) oncogene expression in human breast cancer cells.” European journal of cancer prevention 14.3 (2005): 263-270.

6.Payne, Miranda, et al. “DHA-paclitaxel (Taxoprexin) as first-line treatment in patients with stage IIIB or IV non-small cell lung cancer: report of a phase II open-label multicenter trial.” Journal of Thoracic Oncology 1.9 (2006): 984-990.

Does DHA Work?

fish oilDHA…..does it really do anything? Does it help cardiovascular disease? Does it help inflammation? Does it help with weight? Does it work? I occasionally get a question about fish oil in the pharmacy and outside of the pharmacy as well. Does DHA live up to the hype?

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega 3 (n-3) fatty acid that is important in proper function of the body. DHA is converted from alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) in the body. EPA is also a product of ALA metabolism and can be converted into DHA. The conversion of ALA and EPA in the body to DHA is low. 1, 2 Relying on ALA alone and thinking this will help increase EPA and DHA is not a sound strategy for adequate levels.

DHA is also now thought to be one of the main chemicals responsible for the evolution of the human brain. 3 It is one of the major components of the brain and retina as well as neurons. DHA is most significantly obtained through fish, hence all of the claims for fish oil.

One study looked at the amount of n-3 in salmon and trout, both farmed and wild. Salmon seemed to have a bit more DHA per 100gm of fish than the wild while the opposite was true for the trout. Both were good sources and comparable. 4 So you can get supplementation through capsules or good ol fish. But the questions remain. Lets focus on some of the claims and evidence behind them.

Heart Health

This is no doubt one of the main controversies behind fish oil supplementation. Does DHA really help cardiovascular disease?

In the GISSI-Prevenzione Trial, researchers looked at patients with recent myocardial infarction and divided them up into groups of n-3, vitamin e, both, or control. This was a large study with 11,324 patients. The amount of EPA and DHA was 850/882 mg respectively. After being followed for 3.5 years, the researchers found that the n-3 group did the best with a 2.3% absolute risk reduction of death, non-fatal MI, and non-fatal stroke. 5 There was also a 2.5% risk reduction from cardiovascular death, non-fatal MI and non-fatal stroke. DHA and EPA combined seemed to do the trick. An interesting note is that blood lipid levels were the roughly the same.

Another study showed that just 5 days of pre-op treatment with n-3 for atrial fibrillation (AF – which is a bad rhythm in the heart) was beneficial. Analysis revealed that there was an 18.1% reduction in absolute risk of getting AF after CABG surgery compared to control. 6

One review discusses the role of n-3 in the rhythms of the heart as the mode of protection. Sudden cardiac death can result from arrhythmias and n-3 seems to be protective of that. Notice that it is a combo on EPA and DHA and not DHA alone.

In the women’s health study it was found that women who ate more fish seemed to be more protected from coronary heart disease (CHD). 7

One review looked at the studies of n-3 and ALA and found that while n-3 seemed to be beneficial to CHD, ALA appeared to have no effect. Again this could be attributed to the fact that we don’t convert it very well in our bodies. 8

A meta-analysis shows that n-3, either from diet or supplements is beneficial on CHD and death. 9

Yet another review recommends around 1gm of n-3 daily and maybe a higher dose with supervision of a physician. 10

There is a pharmaceutical preparation called Lovaza which some of you might be familiar with. I wouldn’t bother as it has hydrogenated oils in it. This makes zero sense to me. I mean seriously, c’mon! Hydrogenated oils in a purified n-3 prep? There is no curse or swear sufficient to explain that stupidity in any language that I’m aware of. There is another called Vascepa which is an ethyl ester of EPA. They both are to treat high triglycerides. Vascepa is under scrutiny right now because they are failing to show reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Stick with the fish!

Sockeye Salmon is delicious and full of DHA and EPA

Sockeye Salmon is delicious and full of DHA and EPA and tastes great after a good broil!

So yeah, n-3 rocks!….unless you are a purified and bastardized form of it. Just want to point out a few other things here.

1. Fish oil, krill oil, or whatever oil you may supplement with can have deceptive labeling. The label may say 1000mg of fish oil, but only have 200mg of EPA and DHA. Be sure to check the label if you decide to supplement so you know how much you’re actually getting.

2. N-3 are polyunsaturated oils, which means that they have some double bonds at the third carbon and then some. What the heck do you care? Because those bonds are far easier to break and interact with simple things like the air and light that they go rancid very easily. Don’t get fish oil that looks like it’s been sitting on the shelf for a year. And store it in your fridge to help prevent oxidation.

3. Some people have this idea that if some fish oil is good then tons is probably awesome. Not so fast. While n-3 are absolutely important for us to be healthy and are useful as supplements if we don’t have access to good fish, lots doesn’t necessarily help more. Remember that we don’t need a lot of n-3 to be healthy and we don’t need much n-6 to be healthy either. I’ve read that people who consume lots of n-6 prefer to down loads of fish oil to keep the balance right. How bout you just lower your n-6 and spare yourself blood thinning and possible bleeding.

4. If you’re taking anticoagulants such as warfarin (Coumadin), talk with your doc about supplementation because n-3 can increase the potential for bleeds.

5. Fish oil can cause fish burps. Fish can cause fish burps. Take your caps right before eating so there is less chance it will be floating on top of your food belching its way to the nose of your significant other.

6. Fish is the better source because its a whole food. But oil is a good option if you can’t afford or don’t have access to the fish.

In the next article we’ll talk about some of the neurological functions of DHA.

CIAO

Disclaimer: All info on this website is for education purposes only. Any dietary or lifestyle changes that readers want to make should be done with the guidance of a competent medical practitioner. The author assumes no responsibility nor liability  for the use or dissemination of this information. Anyone who chooses to apply this information for their own personal use does so at their own risk.

1. Brenna, J. Thomas, et al. “α-Linolenic acid supplementation and conversion to n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in humans.” Prostaglandins, leukotrienes and essential fatty acids 80.2 (2009): 85-91.

2.Brenna, J. Thomas. “Efficiency of conversion of [alpha]-linolenic acid to long chain n-3 fatty acids in man.” Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care 5.2 (2002): 127-132.
3.Crawford, M. A., et al. “Evidence for the unique function of docosahexaenoic acid during the evolution of the modern hominid brain.” Lipids 34.1 (1999): S39-S47.
4.Blanchet, Carole, et al. “Fatty acid composition of wild and farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).” Lipids 40.5 (2005): 529-531.
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