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Concentrated Fish Oil Supplements Make the Grade

One of the major advances in nutritional medicine is the ability to produce fish oil supplements that are a highly concentrated form of longchain omega-3 fatty acids and also free from lipid peroxides, heavy metals, environmental contaminants, and other harmful compounds. These “pharmaceutical grade” fish oil concentrates have literally revolutionized nutritional medicine because of the health benefits they produce by supplying clinical levels of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Just last year on July 10, 2013, major media headlines and news stories claimed “Too Much Fish Oil Might Boost Prostate Cancer Risk.” Experts from within and outside the natural products industry provided strong rebuttal to discredit the study and pointed out that in a previous detailed analysis of all published studies, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the National Cancer Institute concluded that higher intakes of fish oil were associated with a 63 percent reduced mortality due to prostate cancer.

Since the release of the results from the controversial study on prostate cancer, there have been a number of interesting studies that perhaps should have received media attention, but did not. This article contains just a few of these studies selected based upon their value to health food store retailers and their customers.

The Importance of Blood Measurements of EPA+DHA 

Many studies looking at fish and fish oil consumption rely on dietary recall. These studies have been shown to be fraught with inconsistencies. The better-designed studies also include blood measurements of EPA+DHA. The results from studies that look at the actual blood levels of EPA+DHA have shown tremendous consistency— higher levels are associated with significant health benefits and reduced risk for many diseases.

For example, in another study from the Harvard School of Public health higher blood levels of EPA, DHA, and total omega-3 fatty acid levels were found to be associated with lower total mortality.Subjects with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids were found to live an average of 2.22 more years after age 65 than those in the lowest quintile.

These results are quite significant and again highlight the importance of ingesting 1,000 mg of EPA+DHA for general health and 3,000 EPA+DHA for more therapeutic purposes.

The Omega Blood Test 

Consumers can now take advantage of this sort of measurement by getting a complete assessment of the levels of the various important fatty acids in your blood.This can be accomplished by getting a test done known as the Omega Blood Test (see www.myomegabloodtest.com). The kit comes with everything needed in collecting a small amount of blood from a simple skin prick of a finger that is placed on a special filter paper and sent to the lab. The complete results are available online as well as being sent directly by mail. The results come complete with an interpretation and recommendations.

The Omega Blood Test carries with it more significance than cholesterol measurements in determining your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, and can also predict your risk of many forms of cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease and also provides critical information in monitoring and dealing with such health conditions as autism, attention deficit disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and over 60 other serious illnesses.

Fish Oils Protect Against Breast Cancer 

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers and the leading cause of death from cancer among women, accounting for approximately 23 percent of the total cancer cases and 14 percent of cancer deaths each year.

A consistent finding from scientific studies is that omega-3 fatty acids protect against breast cancer while a higher intake of omega-6 fatty acids are linked to an increased risk for breast cancer. A recent meta-analysis was conducted to fully investigate the association between intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish and the risk of breast cancer; 26 publications that included 20,905 cases of breast cancer and 883,585 controls were evaluated. Results demonstrated that the risk of breast cancer was reduced by 5 percent per every 100 mg per day of EPA+DHA. Interestingly, no protective effect was noted for fish consumption of intake of the shorter chain omega-3 fatty acid alpha linolenic acid that is found in flaxseeds, walnuts, and canola oil.

Fish Oils for Dry Eye Syndrome 

Dry eye syndrome (DES) is an extremely common eye disease characterized by eye dryness caused by either decreased tear production or increased tear film evaporation. DES affects 5 to 6 percent of the general population, but its frequency increases with age. The prevalence rate in the elderly is roughly one in three.

As inflammation plays a central role in DES, researchers began looking at the effects of fish oils in this disorder. The long chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have been shown to reduce inflammation through a number of different mechanisms.

In a study published in the December 2013 issue of the International Journal of Opthamology, 264 patients with dry eye syndrome were randomized to receive 1,000 mg EPA+DHA (650 mg EPA and 350 mg DHA) daily or a placebo for three months. Results clearly demonstrated that 65 percent of patients in the EPA+DHA group and 33 percent of patients in placebo group had significant improvement in symptoms at three months. The improvement in symptoms was largely a result of reduced tear evaporation. Hence, it appears that the EPA+DHA help retain the water content of the lining of the eye.

The best results were seen in patients with inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis).More than 90 percent of the patients with chronic blepharitis showed improvements in tear function scores compared to less than 20 percent of patients in the placebo group.

Fish Oils Prevent Brain Atrophy Due to Aging 

A key goal to boosting brain function and fighting degenerative brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease is to bathe the brain in “super nutrition.” Particularly important are the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and fish oil supplements. Studies have shown that the EPA+DHA content in cell membranes in the brain directly influences brain chemistry through the manufacture of important brain compounds; transmission of the nerve impulse; uptake of serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters; and binding of neurotransmitters to their receptor sites.

In the famous Framingham trial, when blood levels of DHA were assessed, it was found that the participants in the top quartile had 37 percent lower risk of Alzheimer disease (AD) and 47 percent lower risk for all-causes of dementia. Several other studies have shown that EPA+DHA improved subclinical markers of risk for dementia. Specifically higher intakes of EPA+DHA were associated with improved brain MRI and tests for mental performance.

The latest study utilized data from the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study.The level of EPA+DHA in red blood cells (RBCs) along with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) the total brain volume, as well as the volume of the brain area associated with dementia, and AD were assessed in 1,111 postmenopausal women at baseline and after eight years.

The results provide striking evidence of the importance of EPA+DHA in fighting the ravaging effects of aging in the brain.

Fish Oils Help Kids Concentrate 

EPA and DHA are absolutely critical to optimal brain function. A 2013 study from the prestigious Oxford University in the UK found that the levels of EPA+DHA “significantly predicted” the ability of children between the ages of seven and nine to concentrate and learn.

The researchers took blood samples from nearly 500 children between the ages of seven and nine to determine their omega-3 fatty acid status. The study found that higher levels of omega- 3, particularly DHA, were associated with better reading and memory and fewer behavioral problems among the children examined. Lower levels were once again associated with more ADHD symptoms.

Dietary surveys collected from the parents showed that nine out of 10 children in the study ate fish less than twice a week, and nearly one in 10 never ate fish at all. Recommended weekly intake is a minimum of two fish portion. But, even then supplementation is advised by many health experts given the importance of EPA+DHA in children (and adults)—and not just for brain health, but also the health of the immune system, heart and vascular system, and every other body tissue.

Fish Oil Supplementation Improves Periodontal Health 

A study published in the February 2014 issue of the Journal of Periodontal & Implant Science showed EPA+DHA supplementation improves periodontal disease. Sixty otherwise healthy subjects with moderate and severe chronic periodontitis were enrolled in a double-blind, placebo- controlled trial to test the ability of fish oil supplementation to improve this condition.The control group was treated with the standard dental treatment of scaling and root planing (SRP) and given a placebo; the treatment group was treated with SRP and dietary supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids (providing 180 mg of EPA and 120 mg DHA daily for 12 weeks).

A significant reduction in all aspects of periodontal disease was found in the treatment group compared to the control group at the 12-week exam.The pocket depth improved from 4.26 mm at baseline to roughly half that value at 2.15 mm. These results show that fish oil supplementation is very much indicated in the treatment of periodontal disease.

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