Saturday, September 22, 2007

Miracle Cure or Fish Story?

In recent weeks,the benefits of daily doses of fish oil are making scientific headlines.

In Britain a recent study indicates:
The results showed the number of children achieving the national average in this year's Standard Assessment Tests had increased beyond expectation.

During the year-long trial 26 pupils sitting their SATs at Toft Hill Primary School in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, received a daily dose of the fish oil supplements.

In English, 68 per cent of them were expected to achieve the national average.

But after taking part in the trial 92 per cent met the required standard.

In maths, teachers expected 78 per cent of pupils would make the grade.

In fact 92 per cent attained the national average.
And in a Men's Healtharticle called, The Government's Big Fish Story, Sabrina Rubin Erdely reports;
There are three types of omega-3s: DHA and EPA, found in fish and marine algae (which is where the fish get them), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in plants, seeds, and nuts. All three have health benefits, but those attributed to DHA and EPA have sparked renewed interest in recent years. Studies show that this tag team may not only reduce a person's risk of heart disease and stroke but also possibly help prevent ailments as diverse as arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, asthma, autoimmune disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder--and those are just the A's. Researchers are now exploring if these multifunctional fats can, among other things, ward off cancer and even make prison inmates less violent. It's enough to make omega-3 geeks downright giddy.

"Omega-3s are fantastic!" says Jing X. Kang, M.D., Ph.D., a Harvard University researcher who made the news by genetically engineering pigs to produce omega-3s in their meat. "Not just for your heart but also for brain function, immunity function, women's health, children's health--I'm amazed at how important they are."
The article goes on to advise interested consumers as what to look for in a product;
Pick the Perfect Fish-Oil Supplement

Purity

When Consumerlab.com tested 41 fish-oil supplements, none was found to contain unsafe levels of mercury, PCBs, or dioxins. One explanation is that many brands are now molecularly distilled to remove any possible contaminants.

Dosage

Ignore the total milligrams (mg) of fish oil, and focus instead on the combined eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). You want a supplement that contains at least 500 mg per dose or serving. If you're on blood thinners, talk to your doctor about the best dosage.

Form

Your choice is basically capsules or a liquid. They're equally effective at delivering omega-3s to your bloodstream, so go with the form you think you'll take on a daily basis.

Fish Burp

Some people experience this as their stomachs dissolve the fish-oil capsule. Beat the burp by buying enteric-coated capsules or freezing regular capsules. Either strategy will cause the fish oil to be released in your intestine instead, says William Harris, Ph.D., a professor of medicine and biomedical sciences at the University of South Dakota.

Ratio

The ratio of EPA to DHA used in research varies, but most supplements are made with a 3:2 split. This translates to 300 mg EPA and 200 mg DHA in a 500 mg supplement.

Source

Any fish oil will do, be it from mackerel or menhaden, salmon or sardines. Supplements made from algae oil contain only DHA, and those made from flaxseed oil have alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), only a little of which can be converted into EPA and DHA by your body.

Antioxidants

Once inside your body, omega-3s can quickly lose their power due to oxidation. Look for vitamin E, a.k.a. tocopherol, an antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals.

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