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;…
Read More

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…
Read More

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…
Read More

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.…
Read More

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…
Read More

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…
Read More

10 Best Foods for Your Heart

Heart Health, Nutritional Health
As we head into the Easter weekend, I wanted to offer you some blogs on healthier nutrition choices. Here are ten choices that you can make that will be heart healthy and are adapted from an article at Health.com. 1) Oatmeal Start your day with a steaming bowl of oats, which are full of omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. This fiber-rich superfood can lower levels of LDL (or bad) cholesterol and help keep arteries clear. Opt for coarse or steel-cut oats over instant varieties—which contain more fiber—and top your bowl off with a banana for another 4 grams of fiber. 2) Salmon Super-rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can effectively reduce blood pressure and keep clotting at bay. Aim for two servings per week, which may reduce your risk of…
Read More

Understanding the California Law Suit Over PCBs in Fish Oil Supplements

Alternative Medicine, Medical Economics, Nutritional Health
Long-time readers to this blog and my best selling book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook, know of my enthusiasm for fish oil (omega-3 fatty acid foods and supplements). And, you've read where I've written that no fish oil supplements have been found "to contain detectable levels of mercury, PCBs, or dioxins." Now comes news about a law suit over PCBs in fish oil supplements. Who are you to believe? Here are the facts: According to a report in ConsumerLab.com, "A lawsuit was filed on March 2, 2010 by a group that tested ten fish oil supplements and found that all violated California's Prop 65 labeling requirement because they contained PCBs.  While it raises legitimate concerns, the suit may have created some confusion." Here are some points to keep in mind:…
Read More

Farmed or wild fish: Which is healthier?

Nutritional Health
CNN has a nice report about a question that I'm often asked, "Which is healthier -- farmed or wild fish?" These days, it's hard to know what underwater life you should be eating. There's talk of great benefits from fish-originating omega-3 fatty acids but worries about contamination and concerns about the environmental impact of farmed fish. PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, even launched a campaign last year to discourage people from killing and eating fish, suggesting that they be called "sea kittens" instead. In answering a recent reader question about the relative benefits of farmed and wild salmon, CNNHealth's nutrition expert, Dr. Melina Jampolis, urged the reader to "limit farmed salmon consumption to once a week at most if you are unable to find fresh, wild salmon."…
Read More

Fish oil may stave off psychiatric illness

Alternative Medicine, Mental Health
The AP reports that "fish oil pills may be able to save some young people with signs of mental illness from descending into schizophrenia," according to a study published in the February issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. For the study, investigators "identified 81 people, ages 13 to 25, with warning signs of psychosis," then randomized 41 of them "to take four fish oil pills a day for three months" at a "daily dose of 1,200 milligrams." The Los Angeles Times "Booster Shots" blog reported that "for a year after" the study "was completed,12 weeks of dietary supplementation with omega-3 fish oil reduced progression to full-blown psychosis in a large group of adolescents and young adults," while simultaneously improving "many of the symptoms that identified these young patients as likely schizophrenics…
Read More

Readers ask about my response to the Zetia / Vytorin study that is all over the news

Heart Health, Men's Health, Woman's Health
Cholesterol Drug Controversy Continues Some of you are wondering about my response to this news. First of all, you should know that I'm on Vytorin. My doctor had recommended a statin, along with omega-3 fatty acids for my increasing triglycerides and decreasing LDL (lethal) cholesterol. When my cholesterol particle counts (we don't just follow my lipid profile) didn't meet goal, my doctor added Zetia (using the statin and Zetia combination drug of Vytorin). Voilà, my particle counts are way normal. Does this new information change my view about the reasonableness of adding either nyacin or Zetia to a statin as add-on drugs? Absolutely not. You can read my previous blogs on Zetia here: Cholesterol Drug Controversy Continues A trusted expert speaks out on the Vytorin fiasco (for doctors) In the…
Read More

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…
Read More

How to buy the best fish for your family

Children's Health, General Health, Heart Health, Men's Health, Nutritional Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
Fish, which is high in “good fat,” omega-3 fatty acids, confers multiple health benefits, but it can be challenging to find freshest fish as so often fresh fish has been frozen. A surprising tip can be to try whole fish: it shrinks less than fillets when cooking and gives more value. In this article, you’ll find tons of suggestions on how to buy the best fish for your family. More Information: (more…)
Read More

Red yeast rice, fish oil fight high cholesterol

Alternative Medicine, Health Headlines, Heart Health, Men's Health, Woman's Health
Reuters Health is reporting new research showing that a regimen of supplements and lifestyle coaching is just as effective as a statin medication for reducing levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "lethal" cholesterol. Not only that, the combination was shown to be more effective in helping people lose weight. My Take? (more…)
Read More