Posts Tagged ‘Omega-3 fatty acid

07
Nov
13

What to Look for in a Fish Oil Supplement


fish-oil-supplements-200-300We see articles everywhere these days about the benefits of omega-3 for everything from improving cardiovascular health to warding off the risk of Alzheimer’s. Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of our daily requirement of nutrients and something that the body does not produce on its own, so it must be absorbed from the foods we eat. If you do not eat foods that are sufficiently high in omega-3 (vegetarians and vegans fall into this category), then you should probably consider a fish oil supplement. But which one?

There are many brands and types of fish oil supplements available, but some are better than others. You want to be sure you are getting the best kind of omega-3 fatty acid in the supplement you take, without the risk of ingesting toxic mercury. First, let’s see what makes some omega-3s different from others.

There are basically three types of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, EPA and DHA.

ALA is a short-chain fatty acid that is commonly found in flaxseed and other plant sources such as some nuts. The body does not convert ALA to EPA and DHA very efficiently, so taking only a plant-based supplement may not provide you with enough EPA and DHA, depending on how much omega-6 you are getting in your diet (we will explain this below).

EPA is a long-chain fatty acid that is primarily found in fatty fish, with some found in eggs and a tiny amount in seaweed and has been found to reduce inflammation, blood clotting, cholesterol and high blood pressure.

DHA is found in the same sources and amounts as EPA, but its benefit is to be a critical component of cell membranes, the retina, testes and sperm.

The primary reason why some people do not get enough omega-3, particularly if they are vegetarian, has to do with the importance of the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in the diet. While omega-3 fatty acid reduces inflammation, omega-6 tends to promote inflammation. The typical American diet has from 14 to 26 times more omega-6 than omega-3, as it contains foods high in omega-6-rich vegetable oils, meat and processed food. Reducing your intake of omega-6 will help to keep your ratios at a healthier level.

The first thing you want to be sure of when looking to buy a fish oil supplement is that it does not contain hazardous metals. Most fish oil supplements are made from small oily fish, such as anchovies, herring and sardines, which do not accumulate the amount of toxins as that of larger fish like salmon and tuna. Nevertheless, you should be sure that the fish oil you buy states that it is molecularly distilled. While it tends to be more expensive than regularly purified fish oil, there are a few advantages.

Molecularly distilled fish oil is boiled under high vacuum conditions, which effectively removes all impurities, including mercury, PCB, Dioxins and other heavy metals, leaving only the omega-3 EPA and DHA. It is also more concentrated, so you get more omega-3 per capsule, and it is less prone to oxidation and rancidity, with less of a “fishy” smell.

DHA concentration is important too. Many fish oils do not have the DHA component in a high enough concentration to be effective without taking a ridiculous number of capsules every day. You should look for a supplement that has 200-300mg per capsule. And keep in mind that this recommendation is not per serving. Some products advertise themselves as having 400mg per serving, however, if you read the label, a serving is often considered three capsules.

If you are low in vitamin A or vitamin D, you may want to consider a molecularly distilled cod liver oil supplement, as it provides these two vitamins along with EPA and DHA. Just be aware that taking too much of either of these vitamins can be toxic, so at some point you may want to switch back to regular fish oil supplements.

 

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01
Aug
13

The Benefits of Calcium


Just about everyone has heard about the importance of calcium in maintaining strong bones and teeth. In fact, 99 percent of the calcium in our body is stored in our bones. However, the remaining one percent that is located in our blood and cells is just as important. It is milk-bottles-200-300necessary to maintain many of the body’s vital functions, and if you do not get adequate calcium from your diet to keep the required amount in your blood, the mineral will be taken from your bones to meet the need.

Heart rhythm, muscle contraction, wound healing, blood clotting and transmission of messages between nerves and between cells are some of the important things that calcium facilitates. In addition to helping prevent osteoporosis, calcium may also reduce the risk of colon cancer, lower high blood pressure, reduce symptoms of PMS (bloating, food cravings, pain and mood swings) by 50 percent, and protect against breast cancer.

The recommended daily intake of calcium for different groups is as follows:

Infants 0-6 months: 210 mg/day

Infants 7-12 months: 270 mg/day

Children 1-3 years: 700 mg/day

Children 4-8 years: 1,000 mg/day

Adolescents 9-18 years: 1,300 mg/day

Adults 19-50 years: 1,000 mg/day

Adults 51+ years : 1,200 mg/day

Most signs of calcium deficiency do not appear until it has become a serious problem. Increased bone fractures are the most common sign. Severe calcium deficiency can cause tingling or numbness of the fingers, an abnormal heart rhythm and convulsions. However, these cases are rare. Most people are able to meet their daily calcium requirement through their diet, but supplementation may be recommended for some people. Those who drink large amounts of caffeinated beverages, soda or alcohol, and postmenopausal women may benefit from calcium supplements.

Taking too much calcium can also cause problems, so don’t take any more than is appropriate for your age group. Excess calcium intake (most often by taking too many supplements) has been implicated in a higher risk of kidney stones, heart attack, stroke and hardening of the arteries.

Calcium is best absorbed when taken with a meal, along with vitamin D. Magnesium is also necessary for the proper integration of calcium into the bones, but it should be taken separately from when you take your calcium, as it (and iron) can interfere with calcium absorption. So take any magnesium and iron supplements at the opposite end of the day from when you take your calcium.

Foods highest in calcium include dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, and dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens and bok choy. Other good sources of calcium are sardines, oysters, broccoli, almonds, Brussels sprouts and seaweed.

 

Dr Dubois, DC, CCSP

Pierre DuboisDr. Dubois, a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.

01
Aug
13

Dieting in the U.S.—A Statistical Snapshot of What Works and What Doesn’t


If there is one thing that Americans are obsessed with, it’s dieting. Just turn on any television and you are bombarded with ads for weight loss drinks, programs and foods that are guaranteed to have you looking slim and trim in a matter of weeks. But given the enormous amount of money spent on the quest for a smaller waistline (upwards of $69 billion each year), the growing obesity epidemic suggests measuring waistthat diets generally do not generally work.

Following are a few facts about dieting in the US:

  • At any given time, 50% of women and 25% of men are on a diet.
  • Dieters lose between 5% and 10% of their starting weight within the first six months, but 66% of them gain it back within a year, and 95% of them have regained all the weight they lost, and more, within 5 years.
  • The average diet costs 50% more than what the average American spends on food each week.
  • Between 40% and 60% of American high school girls are on a diet at any given time.
  • Both men and women who participate in a formal weight loss program gain significantly more weight over a two-year period than those who do not participate in a formal program.

Dieting is actually unhealthy. Studies have shown that repeatedly gaining and losing weight causes damage to the immune system and increases rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke. This is not to say that there is nothing you can do to lose weight, but it’s important to find a way of eating that does not involve dieting.

What does seem to work, according to the most recent research, is changing what we eat. In contrast to what we have heard for years, a calorie is not just a calorie. One calorie of sugar is not metabolized by the body in the same way as one calorie of broccoli. The first raises insulin levels, causing that calorie to be stored as fat, and the second does not, so it gets used as immediate energy, along with providing important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association compared the effects of three different types of diet consisting of the same number of calories: a standard low-fat diet (60% carbs, 20% protein, 20% fat), an ultra-low-carb (Atkins) diet (10% carbs, 30% protein, 60% fat) and a low-glycemic diet (40% carbs, 20% protein, 40% fat). The low-fat dieters fared worst. The Atkins dieters burned 350 more calories per day than the low-fat dieters, and those following the low-glycemic diet burned 150 more calories per day than their low-fat diet counterparts. However, the Atkins type diet causes inflammation and raises cortisol, which can damage the heart, so your best bet is to follow a diet consisting mostly of low-glycemic foods.

Although the percentage of carbs in the low-glycemic diet were just slightly less than those in the low-fat diet, those carbs consisted of vegetables, fruit, legumes and minimally processed grains, whereas the low-fat diet included processed foods. Processed foods have had many of the compounds removed (such as fiber) that slow the release of sugar into the blood. A diet consisting of whole foods, minimally processed grains and moderate amounts of fat is still delicious, and you won’t have to feel that you are starving yourself. Over time you will find that you are slowly losing weight, and in a way that is healthy and more likely to become permanent.

 

Dr Dubois, DC, CCSP

Pierre DuboisDr. Dubois, a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.

08
Jan
13

The Link Between DHA and Memory


For some time now, nutritionist have recommended that we eat fish on a regular basis in order to get sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids (specifically DHA and EPA).  Not only are these nutrients good for the circulatory system, but they have also been proven to boost brain function, including both cognitive function and memory.  Until fairly recently, scientists have not understood the mechanism by which omega-3 provides these effects.finger-with-string-200-300

A study to be published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism by researchers at the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada found a specific link between docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and memory.

The researchers fed one group of mice a diet supplemented with DHA and fed a second group a normal, healthy diet with no DHA supplementation.  When the mice that received DHA supplements were examined later, it was found that the part of their brain responsible for short-term and long-term memory, the hippocampus, contained levels of DHA nearly 30 percent higher than their counterparts in the control group.  The cells in the hippocampus communicated better with each other and relayed messages more efficiently in the mice supplemented with DHA.

Yves Sauvé, co-author of the study, said the researchers were interested in learning what it was about fish intake that improved memory.  He remarked, “What we discovered is that memory cells in the hippocampus could communicate better with each other and better relay messages when DHA levels in that region of the brain were higher.  This could explain why memory improves on a high-DHA diet.”

This study and others have noted that the body stores DHA in the brain, which is likely the reason why an increased intake of omega-3 is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  The early stages of the disease first affect the hippocampus.  Researchers have discovered that DHA is vital to the brain development of fetuses and young children.  It then seems to become important again as we age—brains with lower amounts of DHA have been shown to be smaller in volume.

Since the body does not produce its own DHA, experts recommend that people eat oily fish (such as salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies) twice a week  and that they consider taking a fish oil supplement containing DHA and EPA once a day.  By getting enough DHA as an adult, it’s possible that you’ll be able to enjoy your later years a bit more and have an easier time remembering where you left your car keys!

Dr Dubois, DC, CCSP

Pierre DuboisDr. Dubois, a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.

24
Sep
12

What to Look for in a Fish Oil Supplement


 

We see articles everywhere these days about the benefits of omega-3 for everything from improving cardiovascular health to warding off the risk of Alzheimer’s. Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of our daily requirement of nutrients and something that the body does not produce on its own, so it must be absorbed from the foods we eat. If you do not eat foods that are sufficiently high in omega-3 (vegetarians and vegans fall into this category), then you should probably consider a fish oil supplement. But which one?

There are many brands and types of fish oil supplements available, but some are better than others. You want to be sure you are getting the best kind of omega-3 fatty acid in the supplement you take, without the risk of ingesting toxic mercury. First, let’s see what makes some omega-3s different from others.

There are basically three types of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, EPA and DHA.

ALA is a short-chain fatty acid that is commonly found in flaxseed and other plant sources such as some nuts. The body does not convert ALA to EPA and DHA very efficiently, so taking only a plant-based supplement may not provide you with enough EPA and DHA, depending on how much omega-6 you are getting in your diet (we will explain this below).

EPA is a long-chain fatty acid that is primarily found in fatty fish, with some found in eggs and a tiny amount in seaweed and has been found to reduce inflammation, blood clotting, cholesterol and high blood pressure.

DHA is found in the same sources and amounts as EPA, but its benefit is to be a critical component of cell membranes, the retina, testes and sperm.

The primary reason why some people do not get enough omega-3, particularly if they are vegetarian, has to do with the importance of the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in the diet. While omega-3 fatty acid reduces inflammation, omega-6 tends to promote inflammation. The typical American diet has from 14 to 26 times more omega-6 than omega-3, as it contains foods high in omega-6-rich vegetable oils, meat and processed food. Reducing your intake of omega-6 will help to keep your ratios at a healthier level.

The first thing you want to be sure of when looking to buy a fish oil supplement is that it does not contain hazardous metals. Most fish oil supplements are made from small oily fish, such as anchovies, herring and sardines, which do not accumulate the amount of toxins as that of larger fish like salmon and tuna. Nevertheless, you should be sure that the fish oil you buy states that it is molecularly distilled. While it tends to be more expensive than regularly purified fish oil, there are a few advantages.

Molecularly distilled fish oil is boiled under high vacuum conditions, which effectively removes all impurities, including mercury, PCB, Dioxins and other heavy metals, leaving only the omega-3 EPA and DHA. It is also more concentrated, so you get more omega-3 per capsule, and it is less prone to oxidation and rancidity, with less of a “fishy” smell.

DHA concentration is important too. Many fish oils do not have the DHA component in a high enough concentration to be effective without taking a ridiculous number of capsules every day. You should look for a supplement that has 200-300mg per capsule. And keep in mind that this recommendation is not per serving. Some products advertise themselves as having 400mg per serving, however, if you read the label, a serving is often considered three capsules.

If you are low in vitamin A or vitamin D, you may want to consider a molecularly distilled cod liver oil supplement, as it provides these two vitamins along with EPA and DHA. Just be aware that taking too much of either of these vitamins can be toxic, so at some point you may want to switch back to regular fish oil supplements.

For Any Question Regarding this Article, Call us at 919-484-1400

 

Dr. P. Dubois, DC, CCSP.

 

Dr. Dubois, a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.

 

19
Sep
12

Are Supplements Dangerous? Part II


 

This is the second part of three of the article written by my good friend, Professor Steve Chaney.

“I covered the first six of those warnings in the last article. In summary, all of those warnings were true, but they pertained to such a small portion of the food supplements in the market that they were almost meaningless. The only value of the first six warnings in the Consumer Reports article would be that they might make some consumers more discerning when they shop for food supplements – by that I mean they might be better able to avoid the ones that are either worthless or dangerous or both.

The seventh warning is that the heart and cancer protection of food supplements is not proven. In a sense, that statement is also true. It is extremely difficult to definitively prove the efficacy of food supplements. However, the article is written in such a way that one might be led to believe that food supplements have definitely been proven not to be effective. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is that some experts have an anti-supplement bias. They require multiple studies before they will admit that a supplement might be beneficial. However, they accept a single study suggesting that a supplement doesn’t work or that it might be harmful as the absolute truth. These reports are picked up by the media, and after they’ve been repeated often enough they take on a life of their own. They become “urban myths”, and become generally accepted as true.

So I would like to take a little more time and discuss some of the claims that in this section of the Consumer Reports article.

The first claim is that calcium supplements inevitably increase the risk of heart attack. I have discussed this claim in detail in a previous “Tip From the Professor” titled “Designing the Perfect Calcium Supplement”. You will find this article and other previous “Tips From the Professor” as free resources at www.socialmarketingconnection.com .

In short, I have argued that the problem is likely one of calcium supplement design rather than a characteristic of all calcium supplements. Those calcium supplements designed solely to get calcium into the bloodstream quickly are problematic because all that excess calcium has to go somewhere – and calcification of our arteries is not a good thing.

What you should look for is calcium supplements that are designed to maximize the incorporation of calcium into your bones. Not only is that likely to decrease the risk that the calcium ends up somewhere where it shouldn’t be, but it also increases the probability that the calcium ends up where it should be – in your bones.

The second claim is that omega-3 fatty acids don’t actually decrease the risk of heart attack or stroke. The authors of the Consumer Reports article did note that several previous studies had shown that omega-3 fatty acids decreased the risk of heart attack, but seemed to suggest that those studies were invalidated by a recent study showing no effect of omega-3 supplementation in people at high risk for heart attack and stroke.

I have covered that study in my previous “Tip From the Professor” titled “Omega-3s: The Wrong Question”. In short, the problem with the most recent study was that the patients in the study were already on 3 to 5 drugs that lowered the risk of heart disease. All this study showed was that omega-3 fatty acids did not offer any incremental benefit for patients who were already maxed out on medications.

This study was silent on the important question of whether omega-3 fatty acids by themselves might decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. Thus, this most recent study does not invalidate the several previous studies showing a beneficial effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

The third claim is that antioxidant supplements might actually increase the risk of cancer, especially prostate cancer.

I have addressed the issue of whether antioxidants in general increase the risk of cancer in my “Tip From the Professor” titled “Antioxidants and Cancer“. In short, that claim is based on a single, flawed meta-analysis.
That study excluded any studies showing beneficial effects of antioxidants. In addition, the increased cancer risk reported in the meta-analysis was almost entirely due to a single study in which vitamin E was combined with estrogen replacement therapy – which is known to increase the risk of cancer.

The authors of the Consumer Reports article completely ignored a second publication that reanalyzed the data and pointed out the flaws in the previous study. They also ignored a recent study showing that antioxidants significantly decreased cancer risk. The details for all of this information can be found in my “Antioxidants and Cancer” article.

I addressed the issue of whether vitamin E increases the risk of prostate cancer in my previous article titled “Another Day, Another Study”. In short, I pointed out that the study suggesting that vitamin E increased the risk of prostate cancer had several flaws, and was directly contradicted by two previous studies showing that vitamin E significantly decreases the risk of prostate cancer.

In summary, I don’t mean to suggest that studies claiming that certain supplements could do some harm are completely baseless. In fact, I have long warned that high potency, high purity individual nutrients, such as pure alpha-tocopherol or pure beta-carotene, do have the potential to cause more harm than good. That is because they can interfere with the absorption of similar nutrients that have beneficial effects themselves. I have long advocated for a holistic approach to supplementation rather than relying on individual high potency, high purity supplements.

Based on the recent research with calcium supplements I would add the warning that supplements that are solely designed on the basis of how fast the nutrients can get to the bloodstream, without any consideration of where they go once they get into the bloodstream, also may have the potential to do more harm than good.

However as a scientist I am appalled that single studies suggesting lack of efficacy or the potential for harm are given more weight than multiple studies suggesting the benefits of supplementation. I think much more research is needed before we start to tell people to avoid antioxidant supplements or that supplements don’t really provide any benefits. If we look at the total body of published literature, the evidence for the benefits of supplementation far outweighs the evidence for risk.”

Written by Prof. S. Chaney.

 

About the Author: Dr. Chaney has a BS in Chemistry from Duke University and a PhD in Biochemistry from UCLA. He did hold the rank of Professor at a major university where runs an active cancer research program and has published over 100 scientific articles and reviews in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

 

 

 




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