Archive for the 'Omega-3 – Fish Oil' Category

Apr 10 2009

Omega-3 protect prostates from cancer

Increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids protect against advanced prostate cancer, according to new research from the University of California San Francisco.
According to findings published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, omega-3 essential fatty acids may reduce prostate cancer risk by modifying a specific variant of the COX-2 gene, a known contributor to chronic inflammation.
The variant known as rs4647310 is linked to a five-fold increased risk of advanced prostate cancer, report the researchers, but high intakes of omega-3 may reduce the risk, even if people carry the COX-2 variant.
The highest average intakes of omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a 63 percent reduction in the risk of aggressive prostate cancer, compared to men with the lowest amount of long chain omega-3 fatty acids, said the researchers.
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The study adds to a growing body of evidence linking omega-3 to potential cancer benefits. Results in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention reported that higher intake of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) may cut the risk of developing prostate cancer by 40 per cent. Interestingly, the new study reports no relationship between fish intake and the risk of prostate cancer.
Over half a million new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed every year worldwide, and the cancer is the direct cause of over 200,000 deaths. More worryingly, the incidence of the disease is increasing with a rise of 1.7 per cent over 15 years.

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Jan 20 2009

Grape Seed Extract May Stop Bacteria Involved in Bad Breath and Gum Disease

A new study suggests that grape seed extract may inhibit the bacteria known to cause bad breath and gum disease.

Periodontitis is a gum disease that destroys the soft tissue and bone supporting the teeth. Thirty to 50 percent of the US population suffers from the condition, which is thought to be the second most common disease worldwide.

In an in vitro study, researchers investigated whether grape seed extract could inhibit Porphyromonas gingivalis and Fusobacterium nucleatum, bacteria responsible for both periodontitis and bad breath. The researchers tested the effects of grape seed extract (97 percent polyphenols) on these two anaerobic bacteria.

The results indicated that grape seed extract exhibited antibacterial activity against the two strains. Moreover, the grape seed extract could penetrate the biofilm that surrounded the bacteria. Biofilms serve to protect bacteria against antimicrobial agents and dental plaque’s biofilm is particularly complex.

Grape seed extract also had an antioxidant activity higher than vitamins C and E, according to measures taken with the Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) test. This was important to the findings of the study because gum disease originates due to the bacteria’s presence and its biofilm protection, but the disease progresses because of an excess release of reactive oxygen species that trigger the inflammatory process. Grape seed extract’s antioxidant abilities may quench the free radicals implicated in the progression of gum disease.

The researchers concluded, “These findings indicated that GSE could be used in oral hygiene for the prevention of periodontitis.”

Reference:

Furiga A, Lonvaud-Funel A, Badet C. In vitro study of antioxidant capacity and antibacterial activity on oral anaerobes of a grape seed extract. Food Chemistry. 15 April 2009;113( 4);1037-1040. Available online prior to April publication date.

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Jan 20 2009

Low Antioxidant Levels Linked to Asymptomatic Coronary Artery Disease

Low plasma concentrations of the antioxidant vitamins A and E and the carotenoids beta carotene and lycopene are significantly associated with atherosclerosis of the carotid arteries, a new study has found.

Atherosclerosis remains clinically mute for a long time and frequently manifests itself with an acute cardiovascular event. The possibility of detecting this disease in a subclinical phase and reducing or reversing its progression is therefore an issue of relevance.

Researchers studied 220 consecutive, asymptomatic participants and examined their carotid arteries by ultrasound to determine the thickness of the arteries and whether the arteries had developed pre-atherosclerotic lesions. A medical history also was taken, a physical examination was performed and blood samples were analyzed for concentrations of antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids.

The scientists found that low concentrations of vitamin A, vitamin E, lycopene and beta carotene were significantly associated with carotid atherosclerosis as measured by increased thickness of the carotid arteries. In addition, marginally higher body mass index and low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol were also associated with carotid atherosclerosis. Other factors considered in the study (total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides and C-reactive protein) were not significantly associated with carotid atherosclerosis.

According to the researchers, “Low plasma concentrations of antioxidant vitamins (vitamins A, E and beta-carotene) and lycopene were associated with early carotid atherosclerotic lesions as measured by carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT). Regular intake of foods rich in lycopene and antioxidant vitamins may slow the progression of atherosclerosis.”

Reference:

Riccioni G, Bucciarelli T, D’Orazio N, Palumbo N, di Ilio E, Corradi F, Pennelli A, Bazzano LA. Plasma Antioxidants and Asymptomatic Carotid Atherosclerotic Disease. Ann Nutr Metab. 2008 Oct 21;53(2):86-90.

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Jan 20 2009

The Latest Research on Fatigue, Heart Health, Cognitive Function and More

Omega-3s Linked to Prostate Health

Men who increase their intake of omega-3-rich fish have a greater chance of surviving prostate cancer, according to a new study.

Researchers studied 20,167 men who were participating in the Physician’s Health Study. The subjects were free of cancer in 1983, when the study began. During follow-up, 2,161 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer and 230 died of the disease.

Although intake of omega-3-rich fish was unrelated to prostate cancer incidence, it was linked to survival from the disease. Among the men diagnosed with prostate cancer, those consuming fish five or more times per week had a 48 percent lower risk of prostate cancer death than did men consuming fish less than once weekly.

In this study the scientists found no link between fish consumption and a reduced incidence of prostate cancer, but the same researchers conducted an earlier study that found higher intake of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) may reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer by 41 percent.

Reference:

Chavarro JE, Stampfer MJ, Hall MN, Sesso HD, Ma J. A 22-y prospective study of fish intake in relation to prostate cancer incidence and mortality. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Nov;88(5):1297-303.

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May 21 2008

Quality Assurance Alert – Toxic Chemicals in Raw Materials

As you know by now, Griffin Medical Group only prescribes pharmaceutical vitamins and supplements. We are one of only a few medical groups that seek quality in all the products we recommend. We feel that we are the leader in quality assurance. Contamination in natural products is a huge issue, whether the material comes from China, India, Europe or the United States. It is not where the material comes from that matters, but how thoroughly it was tested for purity before it gets put into a product and sold. Here are a few of the solvent tainted raw materials that we have been advised of by the pharmaceutical companies we work with. The following raw materials were deemed unacceptable to pharmaceutical supplement companies. Continue Reading »

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Nov 08 2007

Don’t Buy Omega 3 Supplements Before Reading This …

Published by under Omega-3 - Fish Oil

Not all Fish Oil and Omega 3 supplements are the same. Most supermarket and health food store brands are useless at delivering the essential fats that your body needs. Worse still, some are rancid and contaminated with toxic levels of mercury and organic pollutants. Supplement companies do not perform the stringent testing that is required to certify that their fish oil is ULTRA-PURIFIED and does not contain pollutants or contaminants. It takes 100 gallons of health food supplement grade fish oil to produce 1 gallon of ultra-purified pharmaceutical grade fish oil.

Not All Omega 3’s Contain DHA and EPA

 

Not all Omega 3’s will provide you with DHA and EPA. This is because these essential fatty acids are not present in a lot of Omega 3 products. For example, ground flax seed is an excellent oil for certain uses and contains Omega 3’s but does not actually contain any DHA or EPA at all. Instead it contains ALA which your body has to convert to DHA and EPA.

In many people, particularly the elderly this conversion process is very inefficient. To give you an idea, it is estimated that most adults would have to consume 10 – 40 grams of flaxseed oil to produce just 0.2 grams of DHA.

So, if you want to get the proven benefits of DHA and EPA, which include opening of blood vessels, decrease in blood clotting, decrease in inflammation and pain, killing cancer cells, improving immune system, improving mental function, stopping heart irregularities and sudden death and preventing heart disease,  don’t rely on getting your Omega 3’s from vegetable oils such as flaxseed.  Griffin Medical Group prescribes to their patients, an ultra-purified pharmaceutical grade omega 3 fish oil that is loaded with high quality DHA and EPA so patients can achieve an optimal level of health.

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Nov 08 2007

How much fish oil or DHA/EPA do I really need?

Published by under Omega-3 - Fish Oil

The Best Source and Optimal Dosing of this Anti-inflammatory Nutrient

When recommending fish oil to my geriatric and baby boomer patients the most common response I get is, “My grandmother used to make me take cod liver oil from a spoon.” As it turns out, grandma was right.

Because of their health-promoting abilities, omega-3 fatty acids have received recognition from some of the top medical organizations in the world including, the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, World Health Organization, United Kingdom Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, European Society for Cardiology, and The British Nutrition Foundation.

Fish Oil and Health
The health benefits of fish oil boil down to a few simple concepts.

First and foremost, EPA and DHA are absolutely essential for proper cellular health. EPA and DHA are required constituents of ALL cell membranes from our head to our toes and inside out. As constituents of cell membranes EPA and DHA are determinants of cell receptor action, hormone binding, cell fluidity, signal transduction, ion channel function, and membrane-bound enzyme activity.1

Let’s pause for a second to ponder the significance of these actions.

There are literally thousands of prescription drugs designed to modify one or more of the cellular functions mentioned above. In regards to fish oil, we are talking about one single non-toxic health promoting substance that can influence ALL of these actions.

The second major benefit of EPA and DHA is related to their function as precursors to eicosanoids. In my years of providing technical support for nutritional supplement companies and talking with doctors about eicosanoid production I have come to the conclusion that few doctors really appreciate the power and complexity of the eicosanoid cascade.

Eicosanoids are short lived, potent, hormone-like molecules that act as messengers and mediators of the immune/inflammatory response. There is a wide variety of eicosanoids produced during an immune response each with a different action and intensity.

Every cell in the body is surrounded by a cell membrane, which consists of a lipid bilayer and embedded proteins and glycoproteins. The lipid bilayer is made-up of individual fatty acids arranged in such a manner to create a semi-permeable barrier that protects a cell from its surroundings. Fatty acids within the cell membrane not only provide a protective envelope, but also serve as a reservoir of individual fatty acids for making eicosanoids.

When the immune system is triggered into action, phospholipase A2 releases individual fatty acids from the cell membrane. While in the extra-cellular space these fatty acids are taken up by enzymes such as cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX) and converted into eicosanoids.

The predominant fatty acids consumed via the Standard American Diet are the omega-6 linoleic acid and arachidonic acid. Americans consume excess linoleic acid by eating a variety of vegetable oils including corn, soy, safflower, and sunflower that are ubiquitous in our food supply. Arachidonic acid comes mainly from animal products such as meat and eggs.

All dietary fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are incorporated into cell membranes. When the immune system is stimulated by allergens, injury, or infection fatty acids are released from cell membranes. Omega-6 fatty acids are converted into eicosanoids by the same enzymes (COX and LOX) that act on omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are actually in competition for binding sites on the COX and LOX enzymes. The critical difference is that the corresponding eicosanoids synthesized from omega-6 fatty acids drive a very aggressive and potent inflammatory response.

On the flip side when omega-3 fatty acids are converted into corresponding eicosanoids, these eicosanoids direct an anti-inflammatory response. Studies have shown that EPA blocks the release of arachidonic acid from cell membranes and reduces the production of prostaglandin E2, a very potent inflammatory and platelet aggregatory eicosanoid.2

The relative amount of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids found within cell membranes will determine the body’s inflammatory status. Excess omega-6 consumption results in a high omega-6:omega-3 ratio in cell membranes. When the immune system is challenged by allergy or infection, predominantly omega-6 eicosanoids are formed. This results in an aggressive and sustained inflammatory response. When optimal omega-6:omega-3 ratio (2:1) is maintained, a balanced immune/inflammatory response occurs.

In my years of following fish oil research I have often wondered why only EPA gets recognition for having anti-inflammatory activity. What about DHA? EPA and DHA are molecularly similar. They both reside in the cell membrane, and both are released from the cell membrane by phospholipase A2. I have always been suspicious that DHA may play a role in the inflammatory/immune response as well.

Conventional wisdom up to this point has told us that DHA functions only as a structural component of cell membranes. It helps with cell membrane fluidity and signal transduction. DHA has a clinical reputation for treating conditions involving the eyes, brain, and nervous system where DHA is found in higher concentrations within those cell membranes.

My intuition was correct. Recently researchers have discovered that DHA is also a substrate for COX-2. A newer class of compounds, known as resolvins, docosatrienes, and neuroprotectins has been identified in healing inflammatory tissue. It has been determined that these compounds are generated from EPA and DHA and posses anti-inflammatory, protective, and immunoregulatory properties.3 As more data becomes available we may discover that DHA is a partner to EPA in dampening inflammation and neutrophil mediated injury.4

Proper Dosage
When speaking to doctors about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids the most common question I receive is, “What is the dose?” In my earlier days I would comb through Medline and investigate published studies, looking for information on the particular condition in question, and try to figure out the correct dose.

Anyone who has tried these same steps knows the number of published articles pertaining to fish oil is currently in the thousands with a wide range of doses being investigated. To add to the confusion institutions such as the American Heart Association heed caution with doses higher than three grams per day while influential physicians such as Barry Sears recommend mega-doses in the 10 gram and higher range.

A further complication to the dosing question is that not all fish oil provides the same amount of EPA and DHA. There is cod liver oil, fish body oil, and fish oil concentrates with a broad range of EPA and DHA. Some doctors recommend fish oil in grams and forget to specify if they are referring to grams of total oil or grams of elemental EPA + DHA (total milligrams of EPA and DHA combined). As you can see the dosing question is as murky as the ocean waters.

Recently, I was lucky enough to hear a presentation by Dr. Alex Richardson who shed some light into these murky waters. In his presentation Dr. Richardson made a profound, yet simple, correlation between the optimal dose of omega-3 and its direct correlation to the background intake of omega-6. It finally all made sense to me—clinical benefits, cell membrane function, and the inflammation/immune connection are all based on getting the correct balance of omega-6:omega-3 within the cell membrane.

We need omega-6 fatty acids. In and of themselves, they are not villains. The key is in the relative amounts of omega-6:omega-3. We have all heard how the Paleolithic diet was closer to a 2:1 omega-6:omega-3 ratio while our modern diet is closer to a 20:1. The high omega-6 ratio drives excess inflammation, which is possibly the single biggest underlying cause of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, autoimmune diseases, and cancer.

As physicians we discuss the notion of “balancing our fatty acid intake” but Dr. Richardson took it one step further. He did a thorough analysis of the amount of omega-6 fatty acids consumed by different cultures throughout the world and estimates the amount of omega-3 fatty acids necessary to achieve a target ratio of omega-6:omega-3 (approximately 2.5:1 omega-6:omega-3). Amongst the cultures he analyzed he found the intake of omega-3 fatty acids necessary to achieve a protective tissue level varied more than 10-fold. (Figure 1)

This information has helped to shape my dosing recommendations tremendously. Based on the average consumption of omega-6 oils in the American diet, he has shown that it takes approximately 2 grams of elemental EPA + DHA daily to achieve a protective balance. Dr. Barry Sears, originator of the Zone Diet, has recommended 2.5 grams/day of EPA+DHA for a healthy maintanance dose, 5.0 grams/day for excellent cardiovascular protection, 7.5 grams/day for treatment of chronic pain / chronic inflammatory disease, and over 10+ grams/day for treatment of neurological diseases such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Bipolar depression, etc. Dr. Nicholas Perricone has recommended over 6 grams/day for optimal thermogenesis / fat-burning heat production and optimal skin complexion.

Remember, a 2-gram per day recommendation does not simply mean take two 1,000 mg capsules. We are talking about 2 grams of elemental EPA + DHA, which can range from around 3 to 9 capsules depending on the concentration of EPA and DHA in the capsule. (Figure 2)

In my practice the most common fish oil recommendation I make is Vital Nutrients RS Fish Oil 2 teaspoons twice a day or 1 1/3 tablespoons once a day (20ml) for 6 grams of EPA+DHA with a simultaneous reduction of dietary soy, corn, safflower, and sunflower oils.

Rancid Fish Oil: More Harm Than Good?
Recently I was taking the history of a new patient who is a pharmacist. When reviewing his supplements, I learned that he was taking a commodity grade fish oil purchased at a discount grocery store. I encouraged him to do a taste test and chew a Nordic Naturals EPA capsule, then chew one of his commodity grade capsules.

To no great surprise the EPA Capsules tasted great and the commodity oil had the characteristic rank taste and smell of a bad fish oil product. The surprise was that the pharmacist’s response was, “This fish oil is very inexpensive and fish oil is fish oil—right?” My response: “WRONG!”

Any oil exposed to light, heat, or oxygen is subject to free radical attack and oxidative damage. Fish oil is made up of many long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which have many double bonds in the chain. Everywhere there is a double bond there is good opportunity for free radical attack.

Recently researchers have discovered that free radical catalyzed peroxidation of omega-3 fatty acids leads to the formation of a family of compounds that may be harmful to the body. For instance, free radical damage to DHA leads to the formation of neuroprostanes. Neuro¬ prostanes are currently being investigated as markers for oxidative stress in the brain that may contribute to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’ s.5 Rancid oil will simply add to the body’s oxidative stress load and expose it to molecules such as neuroprostanes.

The best fish oil manufacturers test their oil for freshness by analyzing it for peroxide value, anisidine value, and totox value. These measurements give a good indication of how much free radical damage has occurred in the oil. In addition, if fish oil smells or tastes rank, it should be thrown out.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: The Best Sources
Fish oil is unequivocally the best source for omega-3 fatty acids. Some purists still recommend eating fish to achieve optimal omega-3 levels. Unfortunately contamination of our oceans has made reaching optimal omega-3 levels via eating fish a potential health hazard. Both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have sounded the alarm regarding the potential dangers of consuming too-much fish because of the associated toxins.6 In addition, studies have compared levels of mercury and organochlorines in fish versus fish oil supplements and concluded fish oil provide the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids without the risk of toxicity.7-8

Because there are no fish oil quality standards in the United States, individuals must determine what standards a manufacturer is voluntarily following—if any—to ensure the fish oil is without contamination. The highest standards in the industry today are the Norwegian Medicinal Standard (NMS) and the European Pharmacopoeia Standard (EPS). By following these standards a manufacturer can guarantee quality products by setting maximum allowances on peroxides, heavy metals, dioxins, furans, and PCBs.

During new patient visits I am dismayed to find patients still take flax oil as a source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. Flax and flax oil can be a part of a healthy diet, but it is not an adequate source of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.

Flax oil is an excellent source of the long chain omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This 18-carbon fatty acid is a precursor to EPA (a 20 carbon omega-3 fatty acid) and DHA (a 22-carbon omega-3 fatty acid). ALA is not associated with the many health benefits attributed to EPA and DHA. To get EPA and DHA from consuming ALA requires several metabolic steps (elongation and desaturation) that are governed by two important enzymes known as delta-6 desaturase (D6D) and delta-5 desaturase (D5D).

Metabolic studies have shown that the enzymatic activity of D6D and D5D are impaired by intake of saturated and trans fatty acids, alcohol, stress-hormones, smoking, viral infections, ionizing radiation, and aging. It is hard to find a patient without these obstacles to converting ALA to EPA and/or DHA.

In general, the exact rate of conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is a matter of debate. A thorough review of the literature reveals a range of estimated conversions of ALA to EPA with a maximum being around 15 percent and a minimum of 2-3 percent. The estimates are even less promising for conversion to DHA.

Therefore, in conditions that have been shown to be supported by EPA and/or DHA, pre-formed EPA and DHA from fish oil is the most effective means to nourish the body with these essential fatty acids.

Griffin Medical Group Center for Anti-Aging & Aesthetics 714 549-6550

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References
1. Lerman R. Essential Fatty Acids. Integrative Medicine. 2006;5:34-44.
2. James MJ, Gibson RA, Cleland LG. Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammatory mediator production. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71(1 Suppl):343S-348S.
3. Serhan CN, et al. Resolvins, docosatrienes, and neuroprotectins, novel omega-3 derived mediators, and their aspirin-triggered endogenous epimers:an overview of their protective roles in catabasis. Prostaglandins Other Lipid Mediat. 2004;73:155-172.
4. Serhan CN. Novel omega-3-derived local mediators in anti-inflammation and resolution. Pharmacol Ther. 2005;105:7-21.
5. Montine KS, Quinn JF, Zhang J, et al. Isoprostanes and related products of lipid peroxidation in neurodegenerative diseases. Chem Phys Lipids. 2004;128:117-124.
6. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency WEBSITE: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/fishadvice/advice.html
7. Melanson SF, et al. Measurement of organochlorines in commercial over-the-counter fish oil preparations: implications for dietary and therapeutic recommendations for omega-3 fatty acids and a review of the literature. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2005;129:74-77.
8. Foran SE, et al. Measurement of mercury levels in concentrated over-the-counter fish oil preparations: is fish oil healthier than fish? Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2003;127:1603-1605.

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Nov 08 2007

Fish Oil Helps Childhood Depression

Published by under Omega-3 - Fish Oil

A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry analyzed the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in pre-adolescent children diagnosed with depression. The researchers investigated 28 depressed children between the ages 6 and 12 years old and were randomly assigned to omega-3 fatty acids or a placebo. A combination of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was used. At the end of their trial, 7 out of 10 children in the treatment group and none of the children in the placebo group had a reduction in depression scores of more than 50%. The researchers found significant improvement in subject’s scores on depression inventory tests.According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, as many as one in every 33 children may suffer from clinical depression and depression in adolescents could be one in eight.

The balance of omega-3 fatty acids in the brain may be imbalanced in depressed individuals. Fish oils may influence serotonin function in brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates emotion and is deficient in depressed brains. The Western diet has lower omega-3 intake than in other countries and tends to have higher depression rates.  A study linked fish consumption by country with low depression. (NY Reuters 9/3/98.). Other fatty acid benefits were found in studies for children with learning difficulties, behavioral problems and ADHD. A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry  have shown that a daily dose of 1 gram of an omega-3 fatty acid for 12 weeks reduce symptoms of depression. Another study from Crete showed that higher long-term dietary intake of DHA from fish or fish oil is associated with a decreased risk for depression in adults.

Fish oils have been known to provide many benefits for the body. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help reduce the risk of heart disease and have anti-inflammatory effects.

Please consult your physician before beginning fish oil supplementation.
Consume Omega -3 for the health of your brain!
We can balance our own brain chemistry through proper diet and supplementation. Call Griffin Medical Group to get your body and mind on the right path to total health.
(949) 549-6550

References:

Nemets H, Nemets B, Apter A, Bracha Z, Belmaker RH. Omega-3 treatment of childhood depression: a controlled, double-blind pilot study. Am J Psychiatry. 2006 Jun;163(6):1098 100

Mamalakis G, et al. University of Crete, Iraklion, Crete, Greece. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 8 February 2006

Archives of General Psychiatry October 2002; 59: 913-919

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Griffin Medical Group – Center for Anti-Aging & Aesthetics (714) 549-6550

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Nov 08 2007

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Decrease Anxiety in Substance Abusers

Published by under Omega-3 - Fish Oil

A new study has found that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil decrease feelings of anxiety in substance abusers, adding to the mounting evidence that fish-oil-derived fatty acids can improve well-being.

Past studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids have a role to play in alleviating depression and that their deficiency is associated with bipolar disorder. Preclinical studies also have shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease anxiety-like behaviors. Because there is a strong association between anxiety disorders and substance use disorders and because substance abusers have poor dietary habits, researchers investigated the theory that omega-3 supplements would decrease anxiety in a group of substance abusers.

In the three-month, randomized, double-blind trial, researchers gave 13 patients capsules containing 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid plus docosahexaenoic acid) per day. Eleven patients received placebo capsules.

At the study’s start and on a monthly basis thereafter, the researchers administered a scale assessing anxiety feelings. Six patients consuming the omega-3 supplements and 8 placebo group patients were followed for an additional three months after treatment discontinuation and administered the same questionnaire monthly.

Subjects who received the omega-3s for three months showed a progressive decline in anxiety scores. This same improvement was not noted in the placebo group. A comparison of the two groups showed that there was a significant difference between those taking the omega-3s and the subjects taking the placebo. Furthermore, for three months after treatment discontinuation, anxiety scores remained significantly decreased in the omega-3 group.

“In conclusion,” the researchers wrote, “these preliminary data indicate that n-3 PUFA [omega-3 fatty acid] supplementation could be beneficial in the treatment of some patients with anxiety disorders.”

Reference:
Buydens-Branchey L, Branchey M. n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Decrease Anxiety Feelings in a Population of Substance Abusers. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. December 2006;26(6):661-665.

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