omega 3Animal-based omega-3 fats could help some older adults protect their eyesight longer. Eating more foods rich in these fats appears to slow advanced macular degeneration, a common cause of age-related blindness.

An observational study that included close to 2,400 participants found that people who had advanced macular degeneration, including blood vessel problems and atrophy in the retina, were significantly less likely to consume foods high in omega-3’s.

According to Life Extension:

“The finding adds evidence to that of other research … concerning the benefit of nutritional components against macular degeneration. High amounts of omega-3s have been measured in the retina of the eye, and may be essential to eye health.”

Sources:

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness for people over the age of 50. Worldwide 60 million people suffer from AMD, including close to 2 million in the United States alone. Another 7.3 million Americans are currently at significant risk of losing their vision from AMD.

AMD is typically a gradual disease, and the condition may progress so slowly in some cases that you don’t notice your vision worsening until it’s too late. Ultimately, AMD can destroy your central vision, which is necessary for reading, driving and other daily functions. It’s also the leading cause of permanent impairment of close-up vision in those aged 65 and older.

However, your eyesight does not have to worsen with age, and research is showing that one of the best ways to protect your vision and ward off AMD is simply by getting plenty of animal-based omega-3s.

Omega-3 Fats Protect Your Eyes from AMD

Your retina is about the size of a postage stamp and your macula only about the size of a pencil tip.

Located in the macula — in the center of your retina — are your cone cells, which produce color vision, and are used for reading and fine central vision. Your rod cells, which are in the periphery of your retina, are used for night vision and side vision.

When your cones begin to degenerate, the result is macular degeneration and loss of your central vision. As AMD progresses, tiny, fragile blood vessels begin to develop in the retina. These vessels often leak blood and fluid that damages the retina even further.

Omega-3 fats may help protect and promote healthy retinal function. One type, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is concentrated in your eye’s retina and has been found to be particularly useful in preventing AMD. Further, inflammation is likely involved in AMD progression, and omega-3 fats have anti-inflammatory effects.

As the latest study showed, those who had the highest intake of animal-based omega-3 fats had a 60 percent lower risk of advanced AMD compared to those who consumed the least. A 2009 study also found that those with the highest consumption of omega-3 fats were 30 percent less likely to progress to the advanced form of the disease over a 12-year period.

Adding further support for omega-3 fats, another 2009 study showed that participants with diets high in omega-3 fats, along with vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin, had a lower risk of AMD as well.

Is Your Diet Helping to Prevent AMD?

Eating a healthy diet is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of AMD. What should that diet entail?

First, make sure you have a high-quality source of animal-based omega-3 fats.

Ideally you would receive all the animal-based omega-3s you’d need from eating seafood. Unfortunately, industrial pollution has contaminated most of the world’s waters, and the seafood it contains, with a variety of dangerous toxins like mercury and PCBs.

This leaves purified fish oil supplements and another marine oil, krill oil, as alternatives. Although I still recommend fish oil in some cases, I believe krill oil is the best option for most people, for several reasons.

Krill oil, like fish oil, contains omega-3 fats such as EPA and DHA. However, in fish oil these omega-3 fats are found in a triglyceride molecule that has to be broken down in your gut into its base fatty acids EPA and DHA.

Because of this, about 80-85 percent of it is never absorbed and instead is eliminated in your intestine. This is what causes about 50 percent of people to “burp up” the fish oil taste and not tolerate fish oil well at all.

Once the fatty acids are absorbed into your bloodstream your liver then has to attach it to phoshphatidyl choline molecule for it to be used by your body. The amazing beauty of krill oil is that they come right out of the bottle in the form your body can immediately use, phospholipid structure. Your body doesn’t process it at all and uses virtually 100 percent of the DHA and EPA.

Unpublished new data suggests krill oil is actually absorbed 10-15 times better than fish oil.

Additionally, krill oil has the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin, which prevents the perishable DHA and EPA from going rancid. The vast majority of fish oil being sold is actually rancid before you even open the bottle, as it doesn’t contain this protective antioxidant, which prevents the DHA and EPA from oxidizing.

Perhaps even more importantly, astaxanthin is emerging as an incredibly powerful eye antioxidant — so much so that it deserves to be mentioned in its own right.

Astaxanthin: The Most Powerful Antioxidant Ever Discovered for Eye Health

Scientists have studied lutein, zeaxanthin, canthaxanthin, and astaxanthin for their respective abilities to protect the retina. But none function to the degree that astaxanthin does, in terms of potency as a free radical scavenger and/or permeability across your blood-brain-retina barrier.

Dr. Mark Tso of the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University (considered by most professionals to be the most prestigious ophthalmology training center in the world) has clearly demonstrated that astaxanthin is the clear winner when it comes to protecting your eyes. He discovered that astaxanthin easily crosses into the tissues of the eye and exerts its effects safely and with more potency than any of the other carotenoids, without adverse reactions.

Specifically, Tso determined astaxanthin could improve or prevent light-induced damage, photoreceptor cell damage, ganglion cell damage, and damage to the neurons of the inner retinal layers.

He concluded that astaxanthin supplementation could be effective in preventing or treating a whole host of eye diseases, including:

  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Cystoid macular edema
  • Central retinal arterial and venous occlusion
  • Glaucoma
  • Inflammatory eye diseases (i.e., retinitis, iritis, keratitis, scleritis, etc.)

Remember, krill oil naturally contains astaxanthin, but if you are going to give astaxanthin a try, I recommend starting with 2 mg per day. If you are on a krill oil supplement, take that into consideration — different krill products have different concentrations of astaxanthin, so check your label.

Other Important Foods for Your Eye Health

Along with taking high-quality animal-based omega-3 fats, following my dietary recommendations, based on your nutritional type, is one of your best ways to help prevent AMD, in part because it will automatically limit or eliminate your intake of grains and sugars, which have been linked to this leading cause of blindness.

It will also help you to increase your intake of vegetables, and people who eat large amounts of vegetables and fruits have a 43 percent risk reduction of age-related macular degeneration.

Finally, you’ll want to be sure you’re getting plenty of lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients found in eggs, spinach, and other leafy green vegetables. Keep in mind, though, that once you heat spinach or eggs the lutein and zeaxanthin become damaged — and they will not perform as well in preventing degeneration of your macula.

So one of the absolute best ways to take advantage of these powerhouse nutrients is by eating RAW egg yolks. There is about 0.25 mg each of lutein and zeaxanthin in one egg yolk, and it’s in a highly absorbable, nearly ideal, form.

Together, a fresh varied diet with plenty of raw vegetables, egg yolks and animal-based omega-3 fats will go a long way toward keeping your vision sharp well into your 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond.

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omega-3 capsulesA clinical study in children with ADHD showed that they significantly improved both their clinical scores and identified EEG patterns when their diets were supplemented with krill oil for a period of 13 weeks.

The EEG patterns of the study participants were compared to a database of more than 400 children with an established ADHD diagnosis, providing ample comparative data.

Dr. Hogne Wik said, “This is an important observation identifying positive effects on the central nervous system (CNS) after supplementation of krill oil in humans. For the first time objective EEG-measurements — before and after a 90 day intervention period with krill oil-have confirmed observed improvements in a clinical CNS condition.”

NPI Center reports:

“… Krill is a pure, natural source of the health-promoting EPA & DHA omega-3 essential fatty acids and the naturally occurring antioxidant astaxanthin.”

Sources:

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

I first started hearing about the benefits of krill oil — a high-quality source of animal-based omega-3 fats – for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) back in 2006.

The following year, in 2007, a clinical study examining the effects of krill oil on adults diagnosed with ADHD also showed positive results. In that study, patients improved their ability to concentrate by an average of over 60 percent after taking a daily 500mg dose of krill oil for six months.

They also reported a 50 percent improvement in planning skills, and close to 49 percent improvement in social skills.

These latest findings, which involve children and teens with ADHD, have not yet been published, but the results are again very promising. Additional clinical follow-up studies are also planned, to further investigate the beneficial impact of krill oil on attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

This is all great news!

Granted, of the 4.5 million American children who have been diagnosed with ADHD, an estimated 20 percent have likely been misdiagnosed, but an enormous amount of children do have neurological problems – the exact cause of which has yet to be teased out by science.

Diet and Brain Health

Unfortunately, the conventional drug treatments most often employed can do far more harm than good. Safe, effective treatment options are sorely needed for the millions of children and adults stricken with ADHD.

I’ve repeatedly said that one of the key factors to effectively treat ADHD is nutrition, and healthful omega-3 fats are a MAJOR component of a brain-healthy diet.

We know the food choices of most people today are incredibly poor, and you simply cannot expect a child to have normal behavior if he is fed refined grains, sugars, processed foods loaded with chemicals and genetically engineered ingredients, and juices and sodas instead of pure water.

Our modern diet also contains an overabundance of highly processed, damaged omega-6 fats while being deficient in omega-3’s.

Not only are processed omega-6 fats harmful in and of themselves, but making matters even worse, they also interfere with your body’s attempt to utilize the tiny amount of omega-3 fats that it gets.

When you add all these dietary factors together, neurological and behavioral issues are not far behind…

You simply cannot have a healthy functioning brain when the proper ingredients to develop or maintain a healthy brain are not provided, and animal-based omega-3 fats are essential for a well-functioning brain.

Krill Oil Benefits Those with ADD/ADHD

Certainly, we already know omega-3 fats are essential for proper brain function and as I mentioned earlier, krill oil, specifically, has now been shown effective for both children and adults with ADHD.

Previous research using fish oil has also confirmed that animal-based omega-3 fat can improve the symptoms of ADHD more effectively than drugs like Ritalin

omega 3Even moderate amounts of omega-3 fats may help ward off gum disease, according to new research.

Researchers divided nearly 9,200 adults into three groups based on their omega-3 consumption.

Dental exams showed that those in the middle and upper third for consumption of the omega-3’s DHA and EPA were 23 percent to 30 percent less likely to have gum disease.

Business Week reports:

“About 54 percent of men and 46 percent of women over age 30 in the United States experience gingival bleeding, the earliest sign of periodontal disease … In the general population, about 11 percent of adults aged 50 to 64 have moderate or severe periodontitis, rising to 20 percent of those over age 75.”

Sources:

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

Oral health is a fundamental part of optimal health, and there’s convincing evidence linking the state of your teeth and gums to your overall health.

While good dental hygiene — brushing, flossing and regular cleanings with your biological dentist — is important, research is showing that some of the most important factors for your teeth and gum health have nothing to do with a toothbrush, and everything to do with your diet.

Omega-3 Fats are Great for Your Gums

The animal-based omega-3 fats EPA and DHA show strong promise for keeping your gums healthy. In the new study above, those with mid- to high consumption of omega-3s had up to a 30 percent lower risk of gum disease.

This makes perfect sense because chronic inflammation is a hallmark of gum disease, and omega-3 fats are effective in reducing chronic inflammation.

Periodontal disease involves both bone and the tissue that is in contact with that bone. From this contact, bacteria and toxic inflammatory compounds can easily enter your bloodstream.

Once in your bloodstream, these toxic compounds can harm the lining of your blood vessels, which can lead to both strokes and heart attacks, among other problems. So, reducing inflammation is of primary importance for your overall health and warding off gum disease as well.

In turn, every step you can take to keep gum disease at bay is worth it, as gum disease increases your risk of several other serious diseases, including:

How to Make Sure You’re Getting Plenty of Omega-3 Fats

Plant-based omega-3 fats are highly beneficial and should be consumed, but the evidence is very clear that they are not an acceptable substitute for animal-based omega-3 fats.

This is primarily related to the fact that your body does not easily convert the ALA in plant-based fats to the longer fats of EPA and DHA that are found in animal-based omega-3s. And if you have diabetes, are overweight, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol or are elderly, your body has even more difficulty converting these fats.

It’s EPA and DHA, not ALA, that are pivotal in preventing heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases, like gum disease.

Ideally you would receive all the animal-based omega-3s you’d need from eating seafood. Unfortunately, industrial pollution has contaminated most of the world’s waters, and the seafood it contains, with a variety of dangerous toxins like mercury and PCBs.

This leaves purified fish oil supplements and another marine oil, krill oil, as alternatives. Although I still recommend fish oil in some cases, I believe krill oil is the best option for most people, for several reasons.

Krill oil, like fish oil, contains omega-3 fats such EPA and DHA. However, in fish oil these omega-3 fats are found in a triglyceride molecule that has to be broken down in your gut into its base fatty acids EPA and DHA.

Because of this, about 80-85 percent of it is never absorbed and instead is eliminated in your intestine. This is what causes about 50 percent of people to “burp up” the fish oil taste and not tolerate fish oil well at all.

Once the fatty acids are absorbed into your bloodstream your liver then has to attach it to phoshphatidyl choline molecule for it to be used by your body. The amazing beauty of krill oil is that they come right out of the bottle in the form your body can immediately use, phospholipid structure. Your body doesn’t process it at all and uses virtually 100% of the DHA and EPA.

Unpublished new data suggests krill oil is actually absorbed 10-15 times better than fish oil.

Additionally, krill oil has the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin, which prevents the perishable DHA and EPA from going rancid. The vast majority of fish oil being sold is actually rancid before you even open the bottle, as it doesn’t contain this protective antioxidant, which prevents the DHA and EPA from oxidizing.

The Importance of Your Diet for Teeth and Gum Health

In the 1900s, Dr. Weston A. Price did extensive research on the link between oral health and physical diseases. He was one of the major nutritional pioneers of all time, and his research is just as relevant today as it was back then.

He discovered that native tribes that still ate their traditional diet had nearly perfect teeth and were almost 100 percent free of tooth decay. Certain diseases were also nearly unheard of, such as chronic diseases of the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, joints, and skin — the types of diseases currently plaguing our society.

When Dr. Price analyzed his findings, he found that the native diets contained 10 times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins, and at least four times the amount of calcium, other minerals, and water-soluble vitamins as that of Western diets at that time.

Their diets were also rich in enzymes because they ate fermented and raw foods (enzymes help you to digest cooked foods), and contained at least 10 times more omega-3 fat than modern diets, and FAR fewer omega-6 fats.

Once these tribal populations were introduced to sugar and white flour, their health, and their perfect teeth, rapidly deteriorated.

His classic book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration details his fascinating findings and is well worth reading.

It’s virtually impossible to have wholly undamaged teeth and gums without an optimal diet, no matter what other preventive methods you use, so make sure that in addition to eating plenty of animal-based omega-3 fats, you find out your nutritional type and eat accordingly. This will tell you which foods are ideal for your unique biochemistry.

You can also learn how to eat right for healthy teeth and gums, and overall health, with my comprehensive nutrition plan.

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Dr. Rudi Moerck is a drug industry insider and an expert on omega-3 fats.

In this interview, Dr. Rudi Moerck explains why fish oil may not be your best source of otherwise healthful omega-3 fats.

Sources:

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

There’s a tremendous amount of confusion about omega-3 oils and it is my intention to help clear up some of the confusion with this article.

First let me preface this with saying that fish oil really started the omega-3 market, and most of the research on the benefits of animal-based omega-3 fats (DHA and EPA), even to this day, are based on studies using fish oil.

Fish oils are typically extracted from menhaden, sardines, and herring; fish that are generally not consumed by the average person. These types of fish are indeed very high in EPA and DHA, and the health benefits of these fats are well established.

Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fat

In fact, most of the health benefits associated with omega-3 fats are linked to animal-based omega-3 fats like EPA and DHA, not plant-based omega-3 fats like ALA.

Even the US FDA, which denies most nutritional claims, acknowledges the cardiovascular benefits of animal based omega-3 fats:

  • Antiarrhythmic: counteracting or preventing cardiac arrhythmia
  • Antithrombotic: tending to prevent thrombosis (a blood clot within a blood vessel)
  • Antiatherosclerotic: preventing fatty deposits and fibrosis of the inner layer of your arteries from forming
  • Anti-inflammatory: counteracting inflammation (heat, pain, swelling, etc.)
  • Improves endothelial function: a major factor in promoting the growth of new blood vessels
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers triglyceride concentrations

Researchers are also attributing a number of other health benefits to omega-3 fat, including:

Unfortunately, the majority of people who take supplemental omega-3 to protect and improve their health are taking fish oil.

I say unfortunately, because as you will find out, at least 25 percent and maybe even as much as half of the fish oil on the market are damaged products that can do more harm than good.

Why Fish Oil Isn’t Your Ideal Source of Omega-3

Yes, despite all the established health benefits of animal-based omega-3 fats, fish oil is actually NOT the ideal source of these fats.

The primary drawback with fish oil is the problem with oxidation, which can occur at any point during the processing, or after you open the bottle. Dr. Moerck explains:

“There are a number of ways in which fish oil can be processed. One is by just simply squeezing the fish — in some cases with cod liver oil to actually remove the livers from the cod — and then remove the oil from those by classical mechanical techniques.

In some cases, to get the last few ounces of oil out of the fish, they use solvents, or they use fish oil as a solvent by taking fish oil that’s already been processed, using it as an extraction method to get more fish oil out.

Every time fish oil is subjected to contact with oxygen, however, it starts going rancid. It starts oxidizing.”

Omega-3 Fats are Incredibly Fragile

Omega-3 fats are extremely fragile and are VERY easily damaged by oxygen. This is true for ALL omega-3 sources, whether animal-based or plant-based.

However, this is where krill oil stands out as a clear winner.

Krill oil would also be highly unstable if it wasn’t for the fact that it contains the antioxidant astaxanthin, which keeps it safe from oxidative damage. In fact, in tests performed by Dr. Moerck, the krill oil remained undamaged after being exposed to a steady flow of oxygen for 190 hours!

Compare that to fish oil, which went rancid after just one hour.

That makes krill oil nearly 200 times more resistant to oxidative damage compared to fish oil!

When purchasing krill oil, you’ll want to read the label and check the amount of astaxanthin it contains. The more the better, but anything above 0.2 mg per gram of krill oil will protect it from rancidity. Astaxanthin also has other more specific health benefits, such as protecting against:

  • Cataracts
  • Age related macular degeneration
  • Sunburn

Fish Oils Contain Higher Amounts of Contamination

Another primary concern that is not widely recognized is that many of the fish oils on the market are contaminated with relatively large amounts of metals and toxic chemicals. And not just heavy metals. In fact, toxins like mercury are typically screened for, at least in higher quality brands.

But there are other contaminations that are more unlikely to be identified or removed.

Some of the most common contaminants found in fish, aside from mercury, include:

  • PCBs
  • Dioxin
  • PDEs
  • PCP’s
  • Radioactive substances like strontium
  • Toxic metals such as cadmium, lead, chromium and arsenic

In fact, a lawsuit filed earlier this year brought the issue of contaminated fish oil to the forefront. Environmentalists in California claim that popular brands of fish oil supplements contain unsafe and illegal levels of carcinogenic chemicals.

They tested a number of products and found that levels of PCBs in fish oil supplements varied wildly, from about 12 nanograms per recommended dose to more than 850 nanograms in the most contaminated product.

Smaller fish, such as herring, sardines, and anchovies fare better than larger fish since they don’t have time to bioaccumulate metals and other toxins in their tissues.

“The further down the food chain and the shorter that lifespan of the fish, the less metal it’s going to have in it,” Dr. Moerck explains.

“So for instance, a salmon is going to have less metal in it than a grandfather tuna. Tuna has a lot of more mercury and other heavy metals in them because they’re older fish. They accumulate these things in their body.

Accumulation of these in our own bodies causes all kinds of things like autoimmune diseases.”

How to Identify High Quality Fish Oil

According to Dr. Moerck:

“[A]ll the reputable fish oil companies, the big boys in the industry. refine the fish oil and remove as many of the metals as they can.

When you buy fish oils always pay the highest possible price. Usually a price in this case is a good indicator of quality. A very cheap fish oil is not okay,” Dr. Moerck warns.

“Don’t ever buy it in the clear plastic bottle, or giant bottles like you see at some of these mall-type stores… because the light goes right through them. It’s UV damaged. It’s rancid. Also, if you have a big bottle of it, you better keep it in a refrigerator because it’s going to go rancid.

. I believe very strongly that you do have some excellent fish oil being made. But it’s very expensive. If you’re going to buy that, you should buy it from a distributor that will ship it to you directly. You don’t want to buy it off the grocery shelf because you don’t know how long it’s been there…

. As far as the fish oils we’ve seen out there, it’s a very wide gamut of quality and stability and rancidity. I would say [25 to] 50 percent of them are rancid.”

This is important to realize, because taking a cheap poor quality rancid fish oil will surely do you more harm than good.

“I think that there is some mislabeling going on,” Moerck says, “[in] that the expiration date put on there is arbitrary and that the actual shelf life is less. I would bet my reputation on that that is the case – that there is fish oil that is mislabeled as far as expiration date.

We have tested these and we have found a very wide range of rancidity even in the same brand.”

However, it may also be an artifact from the processing and manufacturing of the oils, or due to improper storage. The type of bottle used also impacts the oil’s tendency to go rancid. Ideally, fish oil should be stored in glass or PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles, as they offer the best protection against oxygen.

As a general rule, brands with high turnover also tend to have less rancidity.

To summarize, here are several guidelines you need to follow to ensure you’re getting a high-quality, non-rancid fish oil:

  • Avoid fish oil in clear containers, because they will let through ultraviolet and fluorescent light that oxidizes the oil, turning it rancid
  • Buy smaller bottles
  • Have them shipped overnight to your home, directly from the manufacturer
  • Buy from a company with high product turnover to minimize the possibility of getting a product that’s been in storage for an extended period of time
  • Store the fish oil in your refrigerator

Some Fish Oil Contain Large Amounts of Added Saturated Fat

Another problem that I was personally unaware of before Dr. Moerck told me, is that some fish oils contain added saturated fats; some in surprisingly high concentrations.

“A few years ago, there was a big controversy in England where people were buying fish oil and then reselling it by adding — or as they say in the illegal arena, they were “cutting it” — with a cheaper oil,” Moerck explains.

“Fish oil is a relatively inexpensive oil anyway, but then people were adding. lard, to the fish oil. It’s important to understand that most fish oil already has some saturated fat, 20 to 35 percent is a saturated fat naturally occurring in the fish. Through processing, you really can’t separate it out.”

This is one of the reasons why your fish oil turns toward a solid when you put it in the refrigerator.

But how do you know if your fish oil contains extra, added fat?

Dr. Moerck suggests:

“[I]f you look at the label of fish oil, you can usually tell if it’s got any added fats by looking at the ratio of total weight and EPA/DHA.

But most people aren’t sophisticated enough…They can’t really tell. So if you buy, you must buy from somebody that’s reputable. [N]ot a mass market-type of product.”

What’s Your BEST Omega-3 Source?

As far as I’m concerned, unless you can verify the purity and freshness of the fish oil, I recommend you avoid it.

A far better omega-3 alternative — your safest and most cost effective choice — is to take high-quality krill oil on a regular basis.

Research has established the similarities and differences between fish- and krill oil, in terms of being beneficial sources of omega-3 fats. This is explained in further detail in an August 24 article in Functional Nutrition.

Nutritionally, both contain DHA and EPA, but their compositions are unique.

According to Functional Nutrition, krill oil typically provides 14 percent EPA and DHA, along with 0.2 percent naturally-occurring astaxanthin.

Fish oil typically provides 30 percent EPA and DHA.

At first glance, it may appear as though fish oil is better simply because it contains a higher ratio of omega-3 fats. However, krill oil is far more efficient, so you actually need far less.

Functional Nutrition explains:

In fish oil, the omega-3 molecules are attached to triglycerides, which means they must undergo hydrolysis before being absorbed into cells. Krill, in contrast, is attached to phospholipids, [and]. our cell walls contain fats in the phospholipid form.

. The phospholipid structure of the omega-3s in krill oil therefore makes them more rapidly absorbable and allows for easier entry of the omega-3s into our cells and on to the mitochondria and nuclei. The rapid absorption has an added benefit for consumers: There is virtually no aftertaste or fishy reflux that some experience with fish oils.”

The conjugation of phospholipids – mainly phosphatidylcholine – with DHA and EPA gives krill oil an edge over fish oil in a number of ways. The phospholipids, by virtue of their connection with omega-3s, are exactly right for proper brain function. Furthermore, they are a part of the eicosanoids system – an extremely important hormone-messenger system in the cells of the body.”

I used to recommend taking fish oil or cod liver oil (and I still do in some cases), but aside from the problems discussed above, you also have the issue of overfishing to the point of near extinction, and the potential of toxic contaminations in the oil.

And, as you increase your intake of omega-3 fats by consuming fish oil, you actually increase your need for even more antioxidant protection. This happens because fish oil, as I explained above, is highly perishable.

You have to have sufficient antioxidants to ensure that the fish oil doesn’t oxidize and become rancid inside your body, as oxidation leads to the formation of unhealthy free radicals.

This is one of the main reasons I now recommend getting your omega-3 fats from Antarctic krill oil.

With krill oil, you can ensure that you’re getting these incredibly healthy fats (EPA and DHA) without having to worry about oxidation issues. Additionally, your risk of getting any mercury contamination is extremely low since krill are so small they don’t have the chance to accumulate toxins before being harvested.

I personally take krill oil every day. I particularly appreciate the fact that the omega-3 is attached to phospholipids that dramatically increase its absorption, especially into brain tissue.

Are Krill Sustainable?

Many have been deceived by the fish oil industry atttempt to villify krill by having people believe that using krill is taking food from whales. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For more information on this please review the article I previously wrote last year that addresses this

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/07/21/Krill-Sustainability.aspx

Potency versus Bioavailability

I had known of krill for about three years before I started to recommend it. The reason I dismissed it initially was I made a simplistic evaluation, like many others do, and merely compared the DHA and EPA concentrations in fish and krill and fish oil was by far a more cost effective choice.

However I am now beyond convinced that this was a mistake.

This is because it is not a straightforward comparison. The amount of DHA and EPA that you need to be concerned with is the amount that actually winds up in your cell and your cell membranes.

This is where krill is the clear winner

Unpublished new data suggest krill oil is absorbed 10 to 15 times better than fish oil. This is because the triglyceride molecule that fish oil is in must be broken down in your gut to its base fatty acids of DHA and EPA. About 80-85 percent is never absorbed and is eliminated in your intestine, which causes about 50 percent of people to have burp back and not tolerate fish oil.

Then once the fatty acids are absorbed into your blood stream, your liver has to attach it to phoshphatidyl choline for it to be used by your body. The amazing beauty of krill is that all of it is in the correct form in the original pill so your body uses virtually 100 percent of it. Additionally it has the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin which prevents the perishable DHA and EPA from going rancid.

And as Dr. Moerck stated above, a large percentage of the fish oil being sold is actually rancid before you even open the bottle as it doesn’t contain this protective antioxidant.

Many doctors in Europe are switching from conventional drugs to krill oil to support healthy, normal lipid levels and cardiovascular health. And the great news is that it seems to work at a lower dose, so you may only need one 500 mg capsule per day.

Remember, You Can’t Substitute with Plant-Based Omega-3.

Plant-based omega-3 sources like flax, hemp, chia and perilla seeds are high in ALA – the third type of omega-3 fat. ALA is an absolutely essential fatty acid. It is converted in small quantities to EPA and DHA in your body.

Dr. Moerck recommends men to consume a minimum of 1.6 grams a day; women 1.2 grams daily. However, you do not want to consume more than 5 grams a day.

This means that if you eat just 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, you’ve actually exceeded your daily dose.

Still, I do not recommend using these plant-based sources as a substitute for animal-based omega-3 (DHA/EPA), or as your only source of omega-3.

Why?

Because the conversion of ALA to the far more essential EPA and DHA is typically severely impaired by inhibition of delta 6 desaturase. This is an enzyme that is necessary to produce the longer chain EPA and DHA from ALA.

Elevated insulin levels impair this enzyme, and over 80 percent of Americans have elevated insulin levels. So from that perspective alone, plant-based omega-3 simply will not work well for most people.

There are also studies that indicate ALA from flaxseed might actually increase your risk of cancer. In addition, flax seed oil is also used in industrial manufacturing, such as paint, so it can be trickier to ensure that the flax seed you get is actually fit for human consumption, since paint manufacturing does not have to worry about damaging the omega-3…

For these reasons, Dr. Moerck and I agree that flax seed oil is best avoided.

If you want to use flax seed, buy organic, whole seeds, then grind them just before consuming them to ensure freshness. This is also important because, just like fish oil, plant-based omega-3 fats are also highly perishable. For this reason you want to avoid buying pre-ground seeds, because you can be guaranteed that they have been damaged by the time you even get them home from the store.

Personally, I regularly include ALA omega-3 plant based foods, like flax and hemp in my diet, but I always use them in combination with animal based omega-3 fats.

For more information about omega-3 fats, both plant- and animal based, please listen to the interview in its entirety, or read through the transcript.

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You may have seen a story in the news claiming a study found that consuming more omega-3 fats doesn’t help heart patients. How did the researchers come to this conclusion? They fed their human guinea pigs margarine — otherwise known as the extremely heart unhealthy form of fat called trans fat.

Essentially, the researchers gave heart attack survivors margarine enhanced with omega-3s. Unsurprisingly, it did little to offset the heart-damaging hydrogenated oil already present in the margarine.

There were additional problems with the study as well. According to the Alliance for Natural Health:

“Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic said it may have been a matter of too little, too late – the dose was so tiny and the patients were enrolled many years after their initial heart attack – on average four years.”

In a separate study, researchers have identified the molecular mechanism that makes omega-3 fats effective in reducing chronic inflammation and insulin resistance.

The scientists identified a key receptor on macrophages found in obese body fat. Omega-3 fats activate this macrophage receptor, resulting in anti-inflammatory effects and improved insulin sensitivity.

Eurekalert reports:

“Macrophages are specialized white blood cells that engulf and digest cellular debris and pathogens. Part of this immune system response involves the macrophages secreting cytokines and other proteins that cause inflammation … Obese fat tissue contains lots of these macrophages producing lots of cytokines. The result can be chronic inflammation and rising insulin resistance.”

Sources:

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

Animal-based omega-3 fats (fish oil and krill oil) have amazing benefits to heart health, benefits that have been well studied and proven for years. So when a new study came out in August claiming that omega-3 didn’t help heart patients after all, it raised more than a few eyebrows.

But even a quick review of the study makes it very clear why it got such flawed and misleading results, and it has nothing to do with the role of animal-based omega-3 fats, which remain an unchallenged hero for your heart.

What Made the Study so Flawed?

In two words, trans fats.

In case you’ve forgotten, trans fats are formed when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil during food processing in order to make it solidify. This process, known as hydrogenation, makes fats less likely to oxidize and spoil, so foods  have a longer shelf life and also have a less greasy feel.

But the process is also a disaster for your health. Many have known for a few decades now that margarine is not healthy for you but unfortunately this propaganda still has some people convinced and they actually choose to use margarine as their spread of choice.

The end result of the hydrogenation process is a completely unnatural fat that causes dysfunction and chaos in your body on a cellular level, including in your heart where it can cause major clogging of your arteries.

Among women with underlying coronary heart disease, eating trans fats increased the risk of sudden cardiac arrest three-fold!

Trans fats are also known to interfere with your body’s use of omega-3 fats.

So what does this have to do with the study in question?

The researchers fed their volunteers margarine enriched with plant- or animal-based omega-3 fats. Margarine is made by hydrogenation, and it is notorious for containing loads of heart-damaging trans fats.

There are newer trans-fat-free margarines available, and the study did not specify whether they were used or not, but they would still contain trace amounts of trans fats plus contain rancid vegetable oils, which are pro-inflammatory and therefore harmful to your heart. These oxidized fats actually raise your risk of heart disease and blood clots!

After eating about four teaspoons of margarine a day for nearly 3.5 years, the researchers found no difference in heart attacks or heart problems among those who ate plain margarine or margarine enriched with omega-3 — but how they were attempting to gauge any benefit from omega-3 given the source or method they used is beyond me.

They might as well have given the volunteers their fish oil pills stuffed inside jelly doughnuts or French fries and called it a day!

All the study really found out was that eating margarine enriched with omega-3 is no better for you than eating plain margarine, and is in no way a beneficial way to increase your levels of this valuable fat.

What do OTHER Studies Say About Omega-3 for Your Heart?

If you’re looking for a wonder “pill” to keep your heart healthy, omega-3 fats, in the form of fish oil and, especially, krill oil, are about as close as you’re going to get. Studies have shown these fats to be:

  • Antiarrhythmic: counteracting or preventing cardiac arrhythmia
  • Antithrombotic: tending to prevent thrombosis (a blood clot within a blood vessel)
  • Antiatherosclerotic: preventing fatty deposits and fibrosis of the inner layer of your arteries from forming
  • Anti-inflammatory: counteracting inflammation (heat, pain, swelling, etc.). This new study actually shows how omega-3 fats result in such broad anti-inflammatory effects.

Omega-3 fat also:

  • Improves endothelial function: a major factor in promoting the growth of new blood vessels
  • Has beneficial effects on the heart’s electrical system, preventing potentially life-threatening heart rhythm disorders
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers triglyceride concentrations

One study even found that fish oil supplements worked better than a popular cholesterol-reducing drug to help patients with chronic heart failure.

Omega-3 deficiency may actually be a significant underlying factor of up to 96,000 premature deaths each year, including some of those from coronary heart disease and stroke. Even the FDA allows claims for omega-3 for heart disease; it is one of the few food health claims that the FDA allows.

All Omega-3 Fats are Not Created Equal

Another flaw to the aforementioned study — some of their volunteers were eating omega-3 from plant-based sources, which will not give them the heart benefits they were hoping for.

Plant-based omega-3 fats are highly beneficial and should also be consumed, but the evidence is very clear that they are not an acceptable substitute for animal-based omega-3 fats.

This is primarily related to the fact that your body does not easily convert the ALA in plant-based fats to the longer fats of EPA and DHA. And if you have diabetes, are overweight, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol or are elderly, your body has even more difficulty converting these fats.

Animal-based omega-3 fats contain two fatty acids crucial to your health, DHA and EPA. These two fatty acids, not ALA, are the ones that are pivotal in preventing heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases.

But even among animal-based omega-3 fats, there are major discrepancies that can impact performance.

What’s the Best Type of Animal-Based Omega-3 Fat?

Ideally you would receive all the animal-based omega-3s you’d need from eating seafood. Unfortunately, industrial pollution has changed the landscape, turning most of the world’s waters, and the seafood it contains heavily contaminated with a variety of dangerous toxins like mercury and PCBs.

This leaves purified fish oil supplements and another marine oil, krill oil, as alternatives. Although I still recommend fish oil in some cases, I believe krill oil is the best option for most people, for several reasons.

Personally, I take krill oil every day.

Krill oil, like fish oil, contains omega-3 fats such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). However, in fish oil, these omega-3 fats are found in a triglyceride molecule that has to be broken down in your gut into its base fatty acids EPA and DHA.

Because of this, about 80-85 percent of it is never absorbed and instead is eliminated in your intestine. This is what causes about 50 percent of people to “burp up” the fish oil taste and not tolerate fish oil well at all.

Once the fatty acids are absorbed into your bloodstream your liver then has to attach it to phoshphatidyl choline molecule for it to be used by your body. The amazing beauty of krill oil is that they come right out of the bottle in the form your body can immediately use, phospholipid structure. Your body doesn’t process it at all and uses virtually 100% of the DHA and EPA.

Unpublished new data suggests krill oil is actually absorbed 10-15 times better than fish oil.

Additionally, krill oil has the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin, which prevents the perishable DHA and EPA from going rancid. The vast majority of fish oil being sold is actually rancid before you even open the bottle, as it doesn’t contain this protective antioxidant, which prevents the DHA and EPA from oxidizing.

Another Important Reminder to Always “Read Between the Lines”

I’d hate to think that this latest study’s bad science is going to turn people away from the omega-3 fats that will protect their heart. But the headlines touting omega-3’s lack of benefit for heart health may do just that.

Only those who dig below the surface will get to the real conclusion, which is that margarine is not heart-healthy, even if it’s laced with omega-3.

Omega-3 fats in their pure, animal-based form, on the other hand, continue to provide incredible health benefits to people of all ages. Omega-3 fat deficiency is the sixth biggest killer of Americans, according to Harvard University researchers, so please make sure you’re getting yours each day.

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