Fish oil supplements do not boost babies’ cognitive development or prevent postpartum depression

Children's Health, Mental Health, Nutritional Health, Woman's Health
The New York Times reports, "Many women take fish oil supplements during pregnancy, encouraged by obstetricians, marketing campaigns, or the popular view that a key fish oil ingredient -- docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA -- is beneficial to a baby's cognitive development." However, a study published "in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that the DHA supplements taken by pregnant women show no clear cognitive benefit to their babies." What's more, researchers "found no evidence that DHA can reduce postpartum depression, except perhaps for women already at high risk for it." "In the new study, 2,399 women at the midpoint of their pregnancies were divided into two groups," the Los Angeles Times reports. "One took a daily capsule of 800 mg of DHA derived from fish oil until giving birth;…
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ConsumerLab.com Finds Quality Problems with Nearly 30% of Fish Oil Supplements Reviewed; “Fishy” Claims Identified

Nutritional Health
Fish, krill, and algal oil supplements now account for approximately $1 billion in sales in the U.S. To help consumers choose among products, ConsumerLab.com selected 24 of the best-selling oil supplements and tested them for EPA and DHA, contamination, freshness, and, if applicable, proper release by enteric coatings. Amazingly, nearly 30% of the fish oil supplements that they selected for testing failed to meet minimum quality standards. As discussed in the news release below, ConsumerLab found PCBs in all fish oil supplements (including krill and algal oil supplements) but typically at extremely low levels (addressing questions raised by the California lawsuit in March that I discussed here). ConsumerLab also we found that price is not an indicator of quality with fish oil and that a person need not pay more…
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Omega-Enhanced Margarines a Heart-Saver? Or Not?

Heart Health, Nutritional Health
They taste like butter and offer a boost of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but these omega-enhanced margarines may NOT actually help your heart, according to new research from the Netherlands. Now, before you read the details, this study examined only older patients (age 60 - 80) living in the Netherlands and thus may not be applicable to the general United States population or to younger people as our diets, lifestyles, and risk factors differ. That said, this new study of almost 5,000 patients who had previously had a heart attack, eating a daily serving of omega-3 charged margarine had NO effect on the likelihood of a second heart attack. In other words, it didn't help or hurt. So, what should you do? Here are the details from ABC News: Margarines…
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Is Krill Oil Better Than Fish Oil?

General Health
Krill oil is now being promoted as a better alternative to fish oil supplements. Krill are tiny shrimp-like crustaceans. Promoters say that krill oil provides similar cardiac benefits as fish oil, but with fewer capsules and no fishy taste. However, krill oil supplements contain less of the omega-3s EPA and DHA than fish oil supplements. Nevertheless, manufacturers claim krill oil is better absorbed because the omega-3s are in a phospholipid form. According to the experts at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, "Preliminary evidence shows that a specific krill oil product (Neptune Krill Oil NKO, Neptune Technologies & Bioresources, Inc) can lower cholesterol and triglycerides." "But," they add, "overall there's much better evidence that fish oil can lower triglycerides and cardiovascular risk." Furthermore, krill oil usually costs more than fish oil.…
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Should Kids take Fish Oil Supplements?

Children's Health, Mental Health, Nutritional Health, Parenting
All the talk about the benefits of omega-3s has parents asking whether CHILDREN should take fish oil supplements. Omega-3s are important for neurodevelopment ... and they're now showing up in many prenatal vitamins, infant formulas, and foods. Fish oil supplements for kids are often promoted as improving visual acuity, brain function, or intelligence. But, according to the experts at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, "there's no proof that omega-3 supplements make kids 'smarter'...or have any cognitive benefit in most kids." In fact, according to the NMCD, "... many of these claims will be removed ... due to pressure from the feds." The NCMD recommends this to physicians and healthcare professionals who care for kids: Tell parents that most kids don't need fish oil supplements. Instead, suggest that kids eat about 4 oz/week…
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Omega-3 Fatty Acid Protects Against Polyps

Cancer, Nutritional Health
Fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) have been shown effective in treating high levels of triglycerides and in preventing primary and secondary cardiovascular disease. Now comes a new study showing that the fatty acid found in fish oil (EPA) has shown promise in the prevention of colorectal cancer in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis. The study was a randomized study. Although the study was performed in patients with a genetic predisposition to colorectal cancer, the benefits might also extend to non-inherited, or sporadic, colon cancer. Here are the details from  MedPage: An omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid significantly reduced both the number and size of rectal polyps in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis, a randomized trial found. Six months of treatment with the free fatty acid formulation of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) led to…
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What are the facts about cow’s, goat’s, soy, almond, rice, and hemp milk?

Heart Health, Nutritional Health
Poring over facts about milk: cow's, goat's, soy, almond, rice and hemp http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-milk19-2009oct19,0,486524,full.story Full-fat, low-fat or skim? Used to be, there weren't many choices to make over what to pour on your cereal. But the number of alternatives to cow's milk -- soy, goat's, hemp milk, more -- has steadily grown. Each has its fans: those who swear by goat's milk's creamy texture or who love almond milk's subtle, nutty flavor. But when it comes to nutrition, there's no clear winner. Cow's milk is a good source of protein but can be high in saturated fats. Hemp milk offers little protein but is rich in certain essential fatty acids. For some, an allergy is the main concern when choosing milk. For others, digestibility drives the decision. "There are dozens of…
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Vaccine Myth #8: A Preservative Contained in Many Vaccines Harms Children

Children's Health, Parenting
In 1999, a study revealed that the preservative thimerosal, a mercury-containing compound present in many vaccines, caused several infants to have levels of mercury in their blood that exceeded guidelines recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Preservatives are used in vaccines to reduce the risk of contamination by bacteria once the vial is opened. Exposure to high levels of mercury, especially in the developing child before birth, is associated with neurological disturbances. Therefore, parents began to fear that thimerosal may cause neurological difficulties, like autism. When this study was first described, physicians, scientists, and public health officials quickly assessed the situation and found that: (more…)
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