Something fishy in the research

Healthy by Nature radio show this week: Dr. Paris Kidd and I will pick up where we left off last time talking about the relationship between calcium and magnesium. That means we will talk about not only bone health, but also health of the cardiovascular system and the brain. In Andy’s segment he will talk with a nutritionist about diabetes. Don’t let me do all the questioning–please call in with your thoughts at 1-800-281-8255. Click here to find podcasts, show archives and how to listen nationwide.
Something fishy indeed
We’ve seen too many times how the news media picks on supplements. It is frustrating that they typically do not bother to challenge the conclusions or to put what might seem a negative result into the proper historical context of positive studies. A recent victim of one such drive-by attack was fish oils. The media reported on a review of several studies. Although the review acknowledged that fish oil lowers blood pressure, reduces triglycerides, and prevents heart rhythm abnormalities, most media ignored those benefits and instead focused on the review’s conclusion–that those improvements in risk factors didn’t seem to prolong life.

Wait just a minute. The studies lumped together in that review had different dosages, different intervention times (some much too short to show potential) and included patients with different levels of disease. Why didn’t the media ask if it was reasonable to jump to such a conclusion? And, did they ask if pharmaceutical drugs  given to reduce those same risk factors offer any better end result? In September when I heard the report, I just rolled my eyes at the media’s bias in favor of drugs and against supplements. But when I saw the following new studies showing various benefits of omega-3 oils, I decided to speak up:

Omega-6 to Omega-3 Balance Might Impact Cell Aging. In a randomized placebo-controlled trial of 106 healthy sedentary overweight middle-aged and older adults, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation was found to improve inflammation, oxidative stress and a measure of immune cell aging. LINK

Fish Oil May Protect Against Chronic Heart Failure. A combination of 7 randomized controlled trials found that fish oil may reduce inflammation in patients with chronic heart failure. Higher doses and longer durations showed even greater improvement. LINK

Omega-3 May Reduce Body Fat & Improve Metabolism in Severely Obese Non-Diabetics. A randomized clinical trial was conducted with 55 severely obese patients who were scheduled to undergo bariatric surgery (a weight loss stomach operation). Researchers found that omega-3 fatty acids reduced body fat, inflammation, triglycerides and cholesterol in comparison to a control group. LINK

DHA Supplementation May Improve Reading and Behavior. Healthy children aged 7-9 years who were under-performing in reading were supplemented with 600 mg of DHA per day. (DHA is a component of fish oil.) Those with the worst reading scores improved significantly and parents appreciated the kids’ improved behavior. LINK

Since there are by now thousands of studies on fish oil covering a wide range of benefits, I could go on and on and on (but you wouldn’t hold still that long). Even the mainstream medical community has had to take notice, in part because drug reps have called on them promoting a prescription fish oil, Lovaza. In my opinion, we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that it is somehow better just because it is quite expensive and harder to get. You see, in order to be eligible for a patent, the natural fish oil had to be chemically changed. Therefore, it just isn’t safe to assume that the benefits found in those thousands of fish oil studies would also apply to this different substance. You can’t find better or fresher omega-3 products than what I take personally–products from Nordic Naturals. And they are available (without prescription) in virtually every natural food store in the US. They are also reasonably priced.
Last Week
LINK to Archive. Nutritionist Rob Martin joined us to talk about energy, leanness, skin texture, libido, low testosterone and combating high stress hormones. His answer is a product I like and use, Twist25 DHEA cream. Also Mary Ellen Dorey discussed how aromatherapy can put us in a romantic mood or even help us heal. She has unique gift baskets for the weekend warrior, a romantic interest, someone who needs pampering or someone who needs to get well. Check out her great ideas for many people on your gift list.

Please help spread the good word-forward this newsletter to friends and family.
My first book : Natural Alternatives to Nexium, Maalox, Tagamet, Prilosec & Other Acid Blockers. Subtitle: What to Use to Relieve Acid Reflux, Heartburn, and Gastric Ailments.

My latest book: Aloe Vera-Modern Science Sheds Light on an Ancient Herbal Remedy

The information contained in this newsletter has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The contents are for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

Copyright 2012 Martie Whittekin, CCN

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