DF Archive

One of 2007’s hottest food additives will be: omega-3.

January 4th, 2007 — Submitted by MJG
Omega-3 pours into cereal, orange juice, eggs, pet food

By Bruce Horovitz

It’s barely January, but there’s no doubt what one of 2007’s hottest food additives will be: omega-3.

The name may sound like a sci-fi film, but omega-3 — fatty acids found, for example, in fish and some nuts and oils — are increasingly being added to other foods, often via fish oil or flax seeds.

Tropicana this month will roll out the first national orange juice with omega-3. Kellogg put it into a Kashi cereal. Unilever put it in I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.

Food marketers’ primary target is the 79 million baby boomers, because omega-3 has been shown to cut risks of heart disease and maybe other diseases, including Alzheimer’s. Four in 10 adults are seeking more omega-3s in their diets, according to a HealthFocus USA Trend Survey.

“It’s become the miracle food,” says Maureen Putman, marketing chief at The Hain Celestial Group, which puts omega-3 in Health Valley cereal. It’s also about to add it to an Earth’s Best infant formula, since some studies show it can aid in brain development.

Two years ago, omega-3 showed up in 120 new food products, but in 2006, it appeared in about 250, estimates Mintel, the product research specialist.

“Omega-3 is the hot ingredient,” says Lynn Dornblaser, analyst at Mintel.

The American Heart Association and the Food and Drug Administration give omega-3 a thumbs-up. Not all nutritionists, however, encourage consuming it as an additive rather than in foods such as salmon, where it is found naturally. “It isn’t good nutrition to cram a lot of ingredients into a single food,” says registered dietitian Robyn Flipse.

Omega-3 is in:

•Orange juice. Consumers are used to fortifications, from vitamins to calcium, in OJ, says Jim McGinnis, marketing chief at Tropicana. Since 75% of adults don’t get the amount of omega-3 they need, he says, Tropicana put it into its Healthy Heart with Omega-3s.

•Butter substitutes. Unilever’s I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Mediterranean Blend, introduced in November, contains 400 milligrams of omega-3 per serving. Print ads tout: a new way to enjoy omega-3.

“We see a rise in consumer awareness of health benefits,” says brand manager Stephen McDermott.

•Dairy products. Omega Farms adds omega-3 to milk and cheese, and this month will add it to yogurt and orange juice. Because of special processing, there is no taste or smell of fish oil, says CEO Stephen Gaddis.

•Eggs. Eggland’s Best sells eggs boosted to 100 milligrams of omega-3 per egg, vs. 37 mg. for a regular egg. It’s done by giving hens feed that’s high in canola oil, says Bart Slaugh, director of quality assurance.

•Cereal. Kashi GoLean Crunch Honey Almond Flax cereal, introduced in July, has 500 milligrams of omega-3 per cup, says Kellogg spokeswoman Jill Saletta.

•Pet foods. Procter & Gamble’s Eukanuba added omega-3 in 1993, and Iams followed in 1994. Last year, Iams Smart Puppy added it for brain development.

SOURCE: USA Today

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December 21st, 2006 — Submitted by MJG
Fish oil gives babies head start: study

Toddlers born to women who consume fish oil during pregnancy know more words and longer phrases than other children, a study has found.

New Australian research also found that these children have better hand-to-eye coordination than their peers, adding more strength to support the use of supplements.

Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, special fats found to protect the heart and improve neurological function in adults.

To see whether they can also benefit unborn children, University of Western Australia researchers enlisted about 80 pregnant women and fed half a daily four-gram dose of fish oil in the 20 weeks before birth.

The other half were given olive oil capsules as a dummy substitute.

Tests at two-and-a-half years old found that toddlers in the fish oil group scored more highly on measures of comprehension, average phrase length and vocabulary.

And children whose mothers had taken fish oil supplements scored significantly higher in hand-eye coordination than those whose mothers had taken the olive oil supplements.

This finding held true even after taking into account other potentially influential factors, such as the mother’s age and duration of breast feeding.

Previous research has shown that infants with high levels of omega-3 in their umbilical cord blood have better visual abilities.

But this research, published in the British journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, is the first to prove the benefits go further.

“These preliminary data indicate that supplementation with a relatively high-dose fish oil during the last 20 weeks of pregnancy is not only safe but also seems to have potential beneficial effects that need to be explored further,” the authors wrote.

Omega-3 fats are found naturally in oily fish like salmon and mackerel.

But the authors say concerns about mercury content in certain types of seafood has prompted more people to consume the oil in supplement form.

SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald

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December 20th, 2006 — Submitted by MJG
Heart Health and Depression: Linked Through Omega-3s?

In his book, the Omega-3 Connection, Dr. Andrew Stoll theorized a link between depression and heart disease. This link was also studied by Dr. Joseph Hibblen at the U.S.’s National Institutes of Health. Now researchers in Australia are looking into these thoughts in more depth:

A group of Australian researchers thinks there could be links between depression and heart disease. They note that people with depression are more likely to develop heart problems than individuals without depression. When they do, they suffer more and are more likely to die than people who are not depressed. Interestingly, low omega-3 fatty acid status is often present in heart disease and depression. Moreover, when people with heart disease or depression increase their intake of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, their condition often improves.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales point out that there are reasonable explanations for how the metabolism of omega-3s could affect both conditions. So, they decided to look at the omega-3 fatty acid status in patients with acute coronary syndrome according to whether the patients had depression or not. Acute coronary syndrome includes symptoms such as acute ischemia (restricted blood supply) in the heart muscle and angina pectoris (acute chest pain). Patients were assessed for depressive symptoms shortly after enrolment in the study and had blood samples taken for EPA and DHA measurements. Twelve of 97 patients met the criteria for depression. At first, there seemed to be no relationship between EPA or DHA in the blood plasma and the occurrence of depression, but upon close inspection of the data, one depressed patient had omega-3 levels far above the average of the others. That patient had been consuming fish oil supplements, so those values were omitted from the analysis.

Total omega-3s and DHA in the blood plasma were significantly lower in the heart patients with depression than in the non-depressed patients. EPA concentrations were not associated with depression. It is known that the heart accumulates DHA but not EPA. These observations do not tell us whether the two conditions are actually linked, but they suggest the possibility. It could be that having too little DHA increases the chance of developing either heart problems or depression and, if one develops, the possibility of developing the other increases. Regularly eating fish, one of the best sources of EPA and DHA, could save headaches and heartaches.

SOURCE: Fats of Life

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November 28th, 2006 — Submitted by MJG
More support omega-3 may protect against colorectal cancer

A diet rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) could reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 85 per cent, suggests a new study from Japan.

But high consumption of saturated fatty acids (SFAs) could increase the risk by a whopping 700 per cent, said the researchers from the Aichi Cancer Center Hospital and Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya.

“We could clearly show decreased and increased risks for colorectal cancer related to PUFAs and SFAs compositions in erythrocyte membranes, respectively,” wrote lead author, Kiyonori Kuriki in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (Vol. 15, pp.1791–1798).

Omega-3 has been identified as one of the super-nutrients taking the food and supplements industry by storm. Much of its healthy reputation that is seeping into consumer consciousness is based largely on evidence that it can aid cognitive function and may help protect the heart against cardiovascular disease.

But one area in which the evidence is controversial is the fatty acid’s role in reducing the risk of cancer.

The new research investigated the link between the fatty acid compositions of red blood cell membranes (erythrocytes) for 74 people with colorectal cancer (cases) and 221 healthy controls free from cancer. The controls were matched by age and sex.

Dietary intakes were assessed for fish, fat and fatty acid intake, and while no link between meat, fish, fat, and fatty acids in general was observed, the researchers do report a significant association between the docosahexaenoic acid concentration in the blood cell membranes and a reduced risk of the cancer (74 per cent reduction between the highest and lowest concentrations).

Similar beneficial associations were observed for arachidonic acid (AA) and PUFA concentrations, as measured by an accelerated solvent extraction and gas-liquid chromatography (GLC) – risk reduction of 68 and 85 per cent, respectively, between the highest and lowest concentrations.

Negative associations, indicating an increase in the risk of colorectal cancer, were observed for red blood cell membrane concentrations of SFA (720 per cent increase) and palmitic acid (546 per cent) and between the highest and lowest ratio of SFA/PUFA concentrations in the cell membrane (845 per cent).

The researchers did not study the underlying mechanism, but Kuriki and co-workers suggest that their results challenge with the theory that DHA inhibits the arachidonic acid (AA) cascade that has been linked to cancer formation and cell proliferation.

Metabolism of fatty acids produces compounds called prostaglandins, which can be either pro- or anti-inflammatory. The prostaglandins derived from omega-3 fatty acids are said to be anti-inflammatory and may protect against the development of cancer, while prostaglandins derived from omega-6 fatty acids, like AA, are proposed to be pro-inflammatory.

“Further research is needed to investigate the discrepancy between our findings and the generally accepted role of the AA cascade,” said the researchers.

The potential protective benefits of omega-3 fatty acids against cancer was the subject of a review, published in January 2006 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 295, pp. 403-415).

Researchers scrutinized 38 studies published between 1966 and October 2005 that investigated the purported link between omega-3 and different types of cancer and met certain criteria. The studies had to describe the effects of omega-3 fatty acid consumption on tumour incidence, be prospective cohort in design, and be conducted on a human population.

Despite finding 65 estimates of association across 20 different cohorts for 11 different types of cancer and six different ways of assessing omega-3 consumption, only eight of these were found to be statistically significant.

Three studies showed decreased risk of breast cancer with omega-3 consumption, one for colorectal cancer, one for lung cancer and one for prostate cancer. But for each type there were also significant associations for decreased risk, and more estimates that did not identify any association.

Indeed, commenting at the time, Josephine Querido, science information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “The jury is still out as to whether eating more omega-3 fatty acids will reduce your risk of developing cancer.”

A study published in the June issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (Vol. 97, no 12) concluded from data from 1 million participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) trial that people eating less than 14g of fish a day were 40 per cent more likely to develop colorectal cancer than those eating more than 50g per day.

However the researchers were unable to differentiate between fatty fish, which contains the majority of omega-3 fatty acids, and other fish.

SOURCE: NutraIngredients.com

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November 14th, 2006 — Submitted by MJG
Fishy answer to depression

ADDING fish oil to the diet is the most promising supplement-related treatment for depression, a new review has found.

Sydney University dieticians have trawled recent research to judge the benefits of a range of dietary supplements for relief from depressive symptoms.

The review, published today in the Australian journal Nutrition & Dietetics, rated vitamins B6 and B12, folate, the chemical S-Adenosyl Methionine (SAMe) and the essential amino acid tryptophan as showing some promise in the field.

The herbal extract St John’s Wort was also reviewed positively.

But researchers found omega-3 fatty acids, found naturally in oily fish and some grains and nuts, to be the “most promising” nutrition-based treatment for the condition.

“We have found evidence of the potential therapeutic benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid incorporation in the diet which may contribute to an eventual recovery in the long term,” said lead author and dietician Dr Dianne Volker.

“This is definitely a valuable add-on to the psychosocial and pharmacological treatment therapy depression-sufferers undergo.”

The polyunsaturated fatty acids have been found to have cardiovascular benefits and a role in brain development and mental health.

The review found that three meals a week of oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel or fresh tuna, or the equivalent in fish oil supplements, was optimum.

The National Heart Foundation recommends two fish meals a week.

Depression is the leading non-fatal disability in Australia, with one in five people developing it at some point in their lives.

The World Health Organisation believes depression will become the second leading cause of morbidity worldwide by 2020.

SOURCE: Herald Sun (Australia)

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November 4th, 2006 — Submitted by MJG
Heart attack survivors to be given fish oil supplements

On the heels of the recent New York Times article, which reveals that European heart patients receive pharmaceutical-grade fish oil as first-line treatment post heart attack, comes formal recommendation by England’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence that the UK’s doctors should prescribe 1 gram of fish oil daily for heart attack patients. The article follows:

Millions of heart attack survivors will be prescribed fish oil supplements for life on the NHS in a bid to prevent further seizures.

New guidelines being drawn up for doctors recommend heart patients get a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce the risk of a second attack.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) currently advises that patients who have suffered a heart attack should eat a Mediteranean-style diet and increase their consumption of oily fish to between two and four portions a week.

However, the new guidance will say doctors should prescribe a one gram capsule of fish oil a day to heart attack survivors to prevent a second attack, at a cost to the NHS of less than £1 a day.

The move comes as an increasing number of studies have highlighted the benefits of eating oily fish or taking fish oil supplements. It has been shown to cut the risk of heart disease, help children’s growth and improve performance at schools.

The panel making the latest recommendation says it is based on ‘robust’ research evidence, citing a study of 11,000 heart attack survivors which showed those taking fish oil supplements regularly had a lower risk of death and non-fatal heart attack and stroke.

The health service spends £1.73 billion annually caring for heart disease victims and it is thought the move would save money for the NHS in the long-term – particularly if patients took the capsules for life.

The guidance has been put out for consultation to professional bodies and heart charities and will take effect early next year.

Coronary heart disease is the most common cause of death in the UK accounting for 125,000 deaths each year.

Around 270,000 Britons each year have a heart attack, with up to three-quarters surviving but at higher risk of having another one.

London GP Dr Sarah Jarvis, who is also chairwoman of the International Cod Liver Omega-3 Foundation, said the guidance marks a turning point in preventing recurrent heart attack.

She said: “Fish oil omega-3 should be actively recommended and prescribed for all patients being discharged from hospital following a heart attack.

“It is much healthier and more cost effective for the NHS to recommend fish oil supplements to patients than some drugs that are widely prescribed to patients for many other conditions.

“I would hope eventually they will be prescribed not just for the thousands of new patients who survive a heart attack each year, but those who’ve had a heart attack in the past,” she added.

Fish oil supplements are approved for prescribing on the NHS to patients after a heart attack, or who have metabolic syndrome or high triglycerides – unhealthy blood fats.

The proposals to prescribe them will bring the UK in line with some other European countries where patients are prescribed purified fish oil following numerous research studies showing the health benefits.

Dr Jarvis, who already prescribes fish oil capsules for heart patients, says few GPs currently do so despite professional guidelines showing they reduce harmful blood fats by 30 per cent.

Dr Jarvis said she agreed to chair the International Foundation because its sponsorship from the industry comes with “no strings attached”.

“There is an abundance of evidence which supports the use of fish oil supplementation in heart disease and I want to make more people aware of this.

“Unfortunately 75 per cent of people don’t eat fish so we need to get the message across about supplements,” she added.

Dr Ray Rice, a Foundation panel member, said: “Currently every patient in cardiac care units in Italy who survives a heart attack goes home with a prescription for purified fish oil and this is the way we want things to go here.

“It is clearly recommended in international guidelines and I’m shocked we are so far behind in the UK.”

Patrick Holford, founder and chief executive of the Food For The Brain Foundation charity, said it was well recognised that eating at least two oily portions of fish a week halved the risk of a second heart attack.

He said omega-3s were truly a “super food” because they were healthy fats critical to maintaining a wide range of body functions.

He said ‘For far too long we have been digging our own graves with a knife and fork.

“Heart attacks will not be stopped by taking medication but by giving up the wrong foods, and the wrong kind of fats.”

A spokesman for Heart UK charity said: “We have contributed to the consultation on NICE guidelines for secondary prevention of heart attack and look forward to the final version.”

A spokesman for the British Heart Foundation charity said it could not comment until the final guidelines are produced.

Omega-3 fatty acids are natural polyunsaturates found in oily fish such as mackerel, herring, salmon, sardines or trout – and fish oil supplements – soya bean, rape seed oil, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.

Omega-3 fats are important throughout adult life for mental well-being but in particular help heart patients, and those with arthritis, by blocking the body’s response to inflammation.

They work in several ways to reduce heart attack risk by cutting blood fats, reducing the chances of a blood clot and blocking dangerous heart rhythms that might otherwise prove fatal.

White fish is also a healthy food including cod, haddock and plaice although it contains lower levels of essential fatty acids.

Research shows regular fish eaters are 30-40 per cent more likely to survive a heart attack. Omega-3 has been shown to have huge benefits in a number of areas. It helps babies grow in the womb and aid are critical for brain, nerve and eye development.

They have also been found to help young people improve results at school and improve the concentration of children with conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD.

SOURCE: London Evening Standard

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October 13th, 2006 — Submitted by MJG
New Nationwide Study Will Evaluate Effect Of Antioxidants And Fish Oil On Progression Of AMD

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced a nationwide study to see if a modified combination of vitamins, minerals, and fish oil can further slow the progression of vision loss from AMD, the leading cause of vision loss in the United States for people over age 60. This new study, called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2), will build upon results from the earlier Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS). The original study results were released five years ago today. The study found that high-dose antioxidant vitamins and minerals (vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper), taken by mouth, reduced the risk of progression to advanced AMD by 25 percent, and the risk of moderate vision loss by 19 percent.

AREDS2 will refine the findings of the original study by adding lutein and zeaxanthin (plant-derived yellow pigments that accumulate in the macula, the small area responsible for central vision near the center of the retina) and the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA (derived from fish and vegetable oils) to the study formulation. The main study objective is to determine if these nutrients will decrease a person’s risk of progression to advanced AMD, which often leads to vision loss. Previous observational studies have suggested these nutrients may protect vision.

“Vision loss from AMD is an important public health issue. This study may help us find a better way to treat this devastating disease,” said Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., director of the NIH.

AMD damages the macula. As the disease progresses, it blurs the patient’s central vision. AMD can take two forms, wet and dry. Wet AMD is caused by the abnormal growth of blood vessels under the macula. This leads to rapid loss of central vision. Wet AMD is considered to be advanced AMD and is more severe than the dry form. Dry AMD, the more common form, occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down. Untreated dry AMD can progress into wet AMD.

Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Eye Institute (NEI) at NIH, said, “Nearly two million Americans have vision loss from advanced AMD, and another seven million with AMD are at substantial risk for vision loss. In the AREDS study, we found a combination of vitamins and minerals that effectively slowed the progression of AMD for some people. Now, we will conduct this more precisely-targeted study to see if the new combination of nutrients can reduce AMD progression even further. This study may help people at high risk for advanced AMD maintain useful vision for a longer time.”

Emily Y. Chew, M.D., study chair and deputy director of the Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Research at the NEI said, “The AREDS2 study is seeking 4,000 people between 50 and 85 years of age with AMD in both eyes, or advanced AMD in one eye. They must be available for yearly eye examinations for at least five years. Until we get the results from AREDS2, we encourage people with AMD to visit their eye care professional to see if they need to take the AREDS vitamin and mineral formulation. This alone could save more than 300,000 people from vision loss over the next five years.”

For a list of study centers, eligibility requirements, and other information, go to: http://www.nei.nih.gov/AREDS2, or call 1-877-AREDS-80 (1-877-273-3780).

SOURCE: NIH/National Eye Institute

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October 3rd, 2006 — Submitted by MJG
In Europe It’s Fish Oil After Heart Attacks, but Not in U.S.

By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL

ROME — Every patient in the cardiac care unit at the San Filippo Neri Hospital who survives a heart attack goes home with a prescription for purified fish oil, or omega-3 fatty acids.

“It is clearly recommended in international guidelines,” said Dr. Massimo Santini, the hospital’s chief of cardiology, who added that it would be considered tantamount to malpractice in Italy to omit the drug.

In a large number of studies, prescription fish oil has been shown to improve survival after heart attacks and to reduce fatal heart rhythms. The American College of Cardiology recently strengthened its position on the medical benefit of fish oil, although some critics say that studies have not defined the magnitude of the effect.

But in the United States, heart attack victims are not generally given omega-3 fatty acids, even as they are routinely offered more expensive and invasive treatments, like pills to lower cholesterol or implantable defibrillators. Prescription fish oil, sold under the brand name Omacor, is not even approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in heart patients.

“Most cardiologists here are not giving omega-3’s even though the data supports it — there’s a real disconnect,” said Dr. Terry Jacobson, a preventive cardiologist at Emory University in Atlanta. “They have been very slow to incorporate the therapy.”

The fact that heart patients receive such different treatments in sophisticated hospitals around the world highlights the central role that drug companies play in disseminating medical information, experts said.

Because prescription fish oil is not licensed to prevent heart disease in the United States, drug companies may not legally promote it for that purpose at conferences, in doctors’ offices, to patients or even on the Internet.

“If people paid more attention to guidelines, more people would be on the drug,” Dr. Jacobson said. “But pharmaceutical companies can’t drive this change. The fact that it’s not licensed for this has definitely kept doctors away.”

For example, on Solvay Pharmaceutical’s Web site for Omacor, www.solvay -omacor.com, the first question a user sees is, “Are you a U.S. citizen?”

If the answer is yes, the user is sent to a page where heart attacks are not mentioned. (In the United States, Omacor is licensed only to treat the small number of people with extremely high blood triglyceride levels.)

So community doctors do not learn how to use the drug. Lack of F.D.A. approval also means that insurers will not pay for treatment with Omacor. Approval from the agency for the use of the drug in heart disease is not expected soon.

A study published last month in The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that only 17 percent of family doctors were likely to prescribe fish oil to their patients, including patients who had suffered a heart attack. There was a great need, the authors concluded, to “improve awareness of this important advice.”

The fact that fish oil is also sold as a nutritional supplement has made it harder for some doctors to regard it as a powerful drug, experts said.

“Using this medicine is very popular here in Italy, I think partly because so many cardiologists in this country participated in the studies and were aware of the results,” said Dr. Maria Franzosi, a researcher at the Mario Negri Institute in Milan. “In other countries, uptake may be harder because doctors think of it as just a dietary intervention.”

In the largest study of fish oil — conducted more than a decade ago — Italian researchers from the Gissi Group (Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell’Infarto), gave 11,000 patients one gram of prescription fish oil a day after heart attacks. After three years, the study found that the number of deaths was reduced by 20 percent and that the number of sudden deaths by 40 percent, compared with a control group.

Later studies have continued to yield positive results, although some scientists say there are still gaps in knowledge.

This summer, a critical review of existing research in BMJ, The British Medical Journal, “cast doubt over the size of the effect of these medications” for the general population, said Dr. Roger Harrison, an author of the paper, “but still suggested that they might benefit some people as a treatment.”

Dr. Harrison said he believed that people should generally increase their intake of omega-3 acids, best done by eating more fish.

Still, he acknowledged that it was difficult to eat foods containing a gram of omega-3 acids each day. “If you ask me do I take omega-3 supplements every day, then, embarrassingly, the answer is yes,” said Dr. Harrison, a professor at Bolton Primary Care Trust of the University of Manchester in England.

“I, too, am caught up in this hectic world where I have little time to shop and prepare the healthy foods I know I should be eating,” he said.

It seems natural for Italy to be at the forefront of the fish oil trend and home to the largest clinical trials. Scientists have long noted that Mediterranean diets are salubrious for the heart and theorized that the high content of broiled and baked fish might be partly responsible.

But the landmark Gissi-Prevenzione trial of fish oil had methodological weaknesses: the patients treated with prescription fish oil pills were compared with untreated patients, rather than with patients given a dummy pill. This meant that, despite impressive results, the trial did not meet the F.D.A.’s standards for approval. Yet by 2004, regulators in almost all European countries, including Spain, France and Britain, had approved Omacor for use in heart attack patients.

Marylou Rowe, a spokeswoman for Reliant Pharmaceuticals, which owns the license for the drug in the United States, said that further trials of Omacor would be needed for it to be licensed for heart attack patients in the United States. But she refused to discuss a timetable.

The American College of Cardiology now advises patients with coronary artery disease to increase their consumption of omega-3 acids to one gram a day, but it does not specify if this should be achieved by eating fish or by taking capsules. But over-the-counter preparations of fish oil have much less rigorous quality control and are often blends of the two fish oils know to be beneficial in heart disease with other less useful fatty acids.

For that reason, Dr. Jacobson of Emory gives the prescription drug, “off label,” to cardiac patients, even though the F.D.A. has not approved it for that use. “Then I know exactly what they’re getting, and there is no mercury,” he said.

He said he tells patients who cannot afford the prescription version that they can take the over-the-counter supplements, although there is uncertainty about the dose and they probably need three to four pills a day.

In Europe, meanwhile, research on prescription fish oil, which is now thought to act by stabilizing cell membranes, has gained momentum. The Gissi Group is conducting two huge trials using fish oil in patients with abnormal heart rhythms and in patients with heart failure.

SOURCE: New York Times

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October 2nd, 2006 — Submitted by MJG
Highlights from ISSFAL 2006

The International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL) held its biennial meeting in Cairns, Australia, July 23-28. Over 400 scientists, health professionals, educators and others interested in fatty acids and lipids attended. Highlights included:

Cardiovascular Health

* Lowering blood cholesterol may not reduce cardiac mortality. Two presenters analyzed published data from the U.S. and Japan, concluding that cholesterol-lowering may have no effect on mortality in primary prevention.

* Heart muscle concentrates DHA, whereas atherosclerotic lesions accumulate EPA. EPA-fed animals had fewer lesions, smaller lipid deposits, less macrophage infiltration and thicker fibrous caps on lesions, all of which were associated with less severe and more stable atherosclerosis. Carotid plaque also accumulates more EPA than DHA.

* Carriers of the apoE genotype respond to EPA and DHA with reduced triglycerides, but those having the apoE4 allele had less triglyceride lowering and higher LDL levels compared with those having the apoE3 allele. This suggests that carriers of the apoE4 allele may be less responsive to some of the cardiac effects of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (n-3 LC-PUFAs).

Maternal and Infant Health

* Population-based evidence suggests that breast milk trans fatty acids are inversely related to n-3 LC-PUFA concentrations and may interfere with their availability to the infant. Maternal smoking also appears to adversely affect n-3 PUFA metabolism in fetal development.

* More sensitive measures of cognitive development in infants and toddlers than widely used global assessments are needed. Assessments such as distractibility can be measured before age 3, but more complex executive functions such as card sorting on two dimensions (e.g., color and object) cannot be reliably assessed until the frontal cortex has accumulated sufficient DHA.

* Nine-month old infants of mothers supplemented with 200 mg of DHA from 24 weeks of gestation until delivery had significantly improved problem-solving compared with infants of placebo-supplemented mothers..

* Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder not taking medication were supplemented with high EPA-fish oil for 15 weeks. There were significant improvements in scores for inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity in the fish oil, but not the placebo-supplemented group..

Brain Composition and Function

* Measures of the metabolic loss of AA and DHA in rat brain, which is equivalent to the daily need for these PUFAs, suggest a requirement for AA and DHA of about 4:1. Deprivation of n-3 LC-PUFAs did not increase the conversion of ALA to DHA in rat brain, but did so in the liver. Animals deficient in n-3 LC-PUFAs increased the half-life and reduced the loss of DHA compared with control animals. Deficiency of n-3 LC-PUFAs increased phospholipase A2 activity, suggesting an upregulation of AA metabolism. Some mental disorders are treated with drugs that alter AA metabolism in ways which mimic the effects of n-3 LC-PUFA deficiency.

* n-3 LC-PUFA deficiency reduces phosphatidylserine in neuronal membranes, whereas provision of DHA increases its synthesis from phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine. Reduced phosphatidylserine diminishes cell signaling at the membrane, thereby compromising neuronal cell survival. DHA also prevents neuronal cell apoptosis and promotes neurite growth.

* Current levels of DHA supplementation of infant formula may be inadequate. Term baboon infants fed formula supplemented with 3 times the DHA level (0.96% by wt) added to US infant formula had significantly increased DHA concentration in the precentral gyrus compared with those fed the approved amount (0.32% by wt).

Clinical Conditions

* An observational study examined the relationship between postpartum depression, n-3 PUFA status at 12 weeks gestation and behavioral problems in the offspring at 5-7 years of age. Children’s behavior scores were associated with maternal depression scores and life-stress events, but not maternal n-3 PUFA status. Low maternal n-3 status was related to more behavioral problems in boys, but not in girls.

* n-3 PUFA-deficient diets were associated with increased intraocular pressure in aging, the underlying cause of glaucoma. Animals fed sufficient n-3 PUFAs had no increase in intraocular pressure as they aged.

* Transgenic mice (fat-1 mice) able to convert n-6 to n-3 LC-PUFAs provide a model for studying alterations in the concentrations of these fatty acid families. Fat-1 mice have significantly reduced development and growth of melanoma tumors, increased production of anti-inflammatory resolvins, reduced colon cancer, increased mammary gland n-3 PUFAs and enhanced anti-inflammatory activity compared with wild-type mice.

SOURCE: PUFA Newsletter

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September 13th, 2006 — Submitted by MJG
Increased dietary fish oil may prevent many deaths

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Fish oil could potentially save more lives than cardiac defibrillators, devices used to revive individuals whose hearts have stopped beating and to prevent and treat life-threatening heart arrhythmias, researchers estimate in a new report.

Past research has linked the omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish to a lower risk of fatal heart rhythm disturbances. This latest study tried to estimate the potential public health impact of raising adults’ omega-3 levels with fish oil supplements.

Using a computer-simulated community of 100,000 Americans and data from past medical studies, the researchers calculated that raising omega-3 levels would save 58 lives each year.

This amounts to a 6.4-percent total death reduction — mostly by preventing sudden cardiac death in apparently people, according to the study authors, led by Dr. Thomas E. Kottke of the Heart Center at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Conversely, the researchers estimate that far fewer lives would be saved by defibrillators, devices that deliver a “shock” to restart the heart or to resolve ventricular fibrillation, an otherwise fatal heartbeat irregularity in which the heart quivers instead of contracting normally.

For example, the study found, even if automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were available in every home and public area, the devices would lower a community’s annual death rate by less than 1 percent.

AEDs are portable devices that can be used by lay people to shock someone in cardiac arrest. They are frequently available in public places such as large stores or on airplanes. Though the devices do save lives, the researchers note that AEDs would make little difference in the overall rate of sudden cardiac death.

Kottke’s team estimates that implantable defibrillators would lower the cardiac death rate by 3.3 percent, still not as much as the 6.6-percent lower death rate achieved by increasing the use of fish oil supplements.

Though the implantable devices are effective, the researchers point out that about half of adults who die suddenly from cardiac arrest have no warning signs beforehand — and would, therefore, never be candidates for an implanted defibrillator.

The study, which is published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, has its limitations, as a computer simulation. Though the researchers based their estimates of fish oil benefits on two large studies, it’s not yet clear that omega-3 fatty acids prevent sudden cardiac death in apparently healthy people.

Ongoing trials in Italy and England may help answer this question, Kottke and his colleagues note.

If fish oil is as effective against fatal heart arrhythmias as evidence suggests, the researchers conclude, it would have more widespread benefits than either AEDs or implanted defibrillators.

SOURCE: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, October 2006.

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Posted in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Cardiovascular Health | No Comments »

August 31st, 2006 — Submitted by MJG
Fatty acid supplementation helps children’s academics and behavior

Dr. David Rabiner of Duke University publishes Attention Research Update monthly via the Internet. He does an excellent job of reviewing and presenting the latest research concerning ADHD and its treatment. The following article was featured in his August 2006 issue and covers the latest research concerning the positive effect of fatty acids (EPA and some DHA) on children’s behavior and learning:

Although medication treatment is helpful for an estimated 70 to 90% of children with ADHD, the development of effective alternative treatments is important for several reasons. First, even for children who respond well to medication, there often remain residual difficulties that need to be addressed. Second, some children experience intolerable side effects that preclude the ongoing use of meds. Finally, most studies documenting the beneficial effects of stimulant medication treatment are relatively short-term, and data showing that stimulant medication improves the long-term prognosis for children with ADHD is still scarce.

Dietary supplementation of long-chain fatty acids as an intervention for ADHD has generated considerable interest in recent years. Certain highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs) are known to play an important role in many aspects of physical health, and may also play a role in a wide range of neuro-developmental and psychiatric conditions. For example, children with ADHD have been shown in several studies to have low blood levels of HUFAs. Because HUFAs are important for healthy brain development and functioning, some researchers have suggested that increasing HUFA levels via dietary supplements could enhance brain functioning and reduce ADHD symptoms.

In a prior issue of Attention Research Update – www.helpforadd.com/2002/june.htm – I reviewed 2 studies examining the impact of fatty acid supplementation on ADHD symptoms. In the first study, 63 children who were being treated effectively with stimulant medication were randomly assigned to receive Docasahexaenoic acid (DHA, a type of long-chain fatty acid) or a placebo over a 4-month period. Computerized tests of attention and parents’ ratings of children’s ADHD symptoms did not differ for treatment vs. placebo groups at 4 months; the authors interpreted this as evidence against the benefit of fatty acid supplementation for children with ADHD.

A problem with this conclusion, however, is that participants remained on medication during the trial. Because these children were all positive medication responders, their symptoms would already have been substantially reduced, thus making it difficult to demonstrate additional benefits of an additional intervention. In children with ADHD who were not being treated with meds, however, DHA supplementation might provide benefits that could not be detected here.

In the second study previously reviewed, 41 8-12 year-old children with developmental dyslexia were randomly assigned to receive either HUFA supplementation, containing both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, or an identical-looking placebo. None had been formally diagnosed with ADHD, although all had above-average scores for high levels of ADHD based on parent responses to the Conners Rating Scale. After 12 weeks, children receiving active treatment had significantly lower ratings for inattention and global ADHD symptoms than children who had received the placebo. Average scores for treated children now fell towards the upper end of the “normal” range while average scores for children in the placebo group remained elevated. The degree to which the results would generalize to children carrying a formal diagnosis of ADHD was not clear.

At the time, my overall conclusion on the effects of fatty acid supplementation on children’s ADHD symptoms was the following:

“At this point in our knowledge, it seems premature to conclude either that fatty acid supplementation has no benefits for children with ADHD, or that such benefits are clearly established. Hopefully, research will soon be available that will permit a more definitive evaluation.”

A study published in the May 2005 issue of Pediatrics (Richardson, A.J., et al. The Oxford-Durham Study: A randomized, controlled trial of dietary supplementation with fatty acids in children with developmental coordination disorder, Pediatrics, 115, 1360-1366) provides important new data on this interesting issue. This study was conducted in England, and involved 117 5-12 year old children – about one-third were girls – diagnosed with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). Many of these children had elevated levels of ADHD symptoms, although they were not formally diagnosed with ADHD as part of the study.

DCD involves specific impairments of motor coordination that interferes significantly with a child’s academic achievement and/or activities of daily living. DCD is believed to affect approximately 5% of children, and frequently overlaps with ADHD dyslexia. Manifestations of the disorder in school-age children frequently include difficulties with the motor aspects of handwriting, playing ball, assembling puzzles, etc. In the school setting, children with DCD frequently struggle with written language and/or problems with organizational skills and attention. Thus, although this is a different disorder from ADHD, children with DCD experience many similar problems in school.

Participants were randomly assigned to receive dietary fatty acid supplementation treatment or a placebo. The initial assignment to treatment vs. placebo lasted for 3 months. At the end of 3 months, those in the treatment group continued to receive fatty acid supplementation for 3 additional months while children who had been receiving placebo were switched to active treatment as well.

Active treatment was a supplement containing 80% fish oil and 20% evening primrose oil in gelatin capsules. The daily dose of 6 capsules (2 capsules in the early morning, at lunch, and in the late afternoon provided both omega-3 fatty acids (Dose received: 558 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid and 174 mg of docosahexaenoic acid) , omega-6 fatty acids (Dose received: 60 mg of y-linoleic acid), plus vitamin E (Dose received: 9.6 mg). Note: Although this information reflects the doses used in the study, the authors specifically comment that the optical dosage and combination of fatty acids remains unknown and that additional studies are required to determined this. Placebo treatment consisted of olive oil capsules that were carefully matched to the active treatment in both appearance and flavor. Capsules were administered by teachers during the week and by parents on the weekend.

MEASURES

Several different measures were collected at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months to determine whether fatty acid supplementation improved children’s functioning. First, teachers completed the Conners Rating Scale, a widely used behavior rating scale to assist in the assessment of ADHD and other behavioral/emotional problems in children. Children’s reading and spelling achievement was assessed using a standardized measure of academic achievement. This measure of reading achievement focused on the ability to read single words and did not examine reading comprehension. Finally, motor functioning was assessed with the Movement Assessment Battery for Children.

RESULTS

The authors first compared children in the treatment and placebo groups after 3 months to determine whether fatty acid supplementation was associated with improvements in motor and academic functioning and with reductions in ADHD symptoms. Results of these analyses indicated the following:

* There was little change in children’s motor skills and no indication that treated children showed greater improvement than children receiving placebo.

* Before treatment, average reading and spelling achievement scores were about 1 year below age level for children in both groups. After 3 months, children receiving fatty acid supplementation gained an average of 9.5 months in reading and 6.6 months in spelling. Children receiving placebo, in contrast, gained only 3.3 months in reading and 1.2 months in spelling. Thus, compared to the placebo group, gains made by treated children were highly significant.

* At baseline, the average score on the ADHD scale of the Conners was elevated in both groups. Scores for treated children showed a significant decline while scores for placebo children were essentially unchanged. Within the treated group, 16 children initially had scores on the ADHD scale in the clinically elevated range; after 3 months, 7 no longer fell in this range. Among children in the placebo group, only 1 of 16 children showed this same improvement.

Recall that after 3 months, children in the placebo group began receiving fatty acid supplementation and treated children continued receiving the supplement. Assessments of motor functioning, academic achievement, and ADHD symptoms were examined again 3 months later. Here is a summary of what was found:

* As before, gains in motor functioning were modest.

* Children who began receiving treatment showed an average gain of 13.5 months in reading and 6.2 months in spelling. Children who continued on active treatment continued to make substantial gains as well: 10.9 months in reading and 5.3 months in spelling.

* ADHD symptoms declined significantly in children who began receiving supplementation. Scores continued to decline among children continuing on active treatment.

SUMMARY AND IMPLICATIONS

The results of this double-blind, placebo controlled study are exciting: among 117 children with developmental coordination disorders, dietary supplementation of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids was associated with substantial gains in reading and spelling as well as significant reductions in ADHD symptoms. Although these children were not diagnosed with ADHD, many had elevated levels of ADHD symptoms, and may have qualified for an ADHD diagnosis had they been formally evaluated.

The gains in children’s reading and spelling achievement were particularly noteworthy: children who received 6 months of treatment showed an average gain of over 20 months and a spelling gain of about 12 months. Thus, despite not receiving any specific academic intervention during this time, they went from being about a year below age level to essentially catching up with their peers.

Although this is a very important finding, as with all exciting new findings, replicating this result in a second study would be very important to do. In addition, because the measure of reading achievement focused on single-word reading, the extent to which comparable gains may have occurred in children’s reading comprehension is unknown. This would be an important issue to examine in subsequent research. The authors also note that additional studies are needed to establish the optimal composition of fatty acid treatments – they used a 4:1 ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids – as well as the optimal dosage.

It is important to emphasize that this was a carefully conducted and well-controlled study, in which neither participants, teachers, parents, or those administering the achievement tests were aware of when children were receiving active supplementation and when they were receiving placebo. Because of these controls, the benefits reported can confidently be attributed to the effects of the fatty acid supplementation. As the authors note, however, the study was not designed on the possible mechanisms by which these effects were obtained (e.g., what specific changes in brain functioning were induced by the supplements that resulted in children’s gains).

It is also important to emphasize that although many children in this sample of children with DCD showed elevated levels of ADHD symptoms, and that ADHD symptoms improved with treatment, participants in this study did not carry an ADHD diagnosis. Thus, the extent to which children with ADHD would benefit from this treatment approach is unclear, and, as noted above, a prior study of fatty acid supplementation in children with ADHD failed to find such benefits. In this study, however, children were already being managed effectively on medication, making additional gains hard to document, and only a single fatty acid was supplemented rather than both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as was done here.

Given the extremely positive results of the current investigation, it would appear that new research on the impact of fatty acid supplementation on the behavior and academic functioning in children with ADHD would be extremely important to carry out. To my knowledge, the gains in academic achievement that were demonstrated here have not been reported in any prior study of ADHD interventions, and are truly exciting. Learning whether children with ADHD, many of whom struggle academically, would also benefit from fatty acid supplementation should thus be a high research priority.

SOURCE: Attention Research Update

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Posted in Children’s Behavior and Learning, EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid), Omega-3 Fatty Acids, ADHD | No Comments »

August 4th, 2006 — Submitted by MJG
MorEPA Mini Now Available

In response to your requests, I’ve added Minami Nutrition’s MorEPA Mini product to the Fattyacidtrip Store.

MorEPA Mini

MorEPA Mini comes highly recommended by Dr. Alex Richardson of Oxford University and Food and Behavior Research in the treatment of dyslexia, ADHD and other learning and behavioral issues. The product recently was awarded Best Fish Oil in the UK Daily Mail comparison of children’s fish oil supplements.

Many parents like this product because it’s strawberry flavoring makes it easy for your children to swallow.

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August 3rd, 2006 — Submitted by MJG
Fish oil linked to kids’ spelling skills

Fish oil can improve kids’ spelling skills and stop them missing school, according to a new research.

South African researchers have told an Australian scientific conference that primary school children who were given daily doses of fish oil as part of a study showed improved learning and memory.

Fish oil, rich in Omega 3 and special polyunsaturated fatty acids, is believed to play a role in the brain development and function of the fetus and young child.

Scientist Dr Marius Smuts, from the Nutritional Intervention Research Centre in South Africa, tracked the development of 355 children aged between six and nine.

Half of the children were given two slices of bread covered with 25 grams of spread enriched with fish oil but flavoured with either chicken, curry or tomato sauce.

Dr Smuts told the Congress of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids in Cairns, he found the children were able to retain information better and were less inclined to take sick days.

“The study indicated that an Omega 3 fatty acid rich spread not only improved verbal learning, memory and spelling ability among the experimental subjects, but also lessened the number of days the children were absent from school through illness,” he was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald, as saying.

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August 1st, 2006 — Submitted by MJG
Altering Dietary Ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Reduce Prostate Cancer Growth Rate and PSA Levels

CLA researchers found that altering the fatty acid ratio found in the typical Western diet to include more omega-3 fatty acids and decrease the amount of omega-6 fatty acids may reduce prostate cancer tumor growth rates and PSA levels.

Published in the Aug. 1 issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research, this initial animal-model study is one of the first to show the impact of diet on lowering an inflammatory response known to promote prostate cancer tumor progression and could lead to new treatment approaches.

The omega-6 fatty acids contained in corn, safflower oils and red meats are the predominant polyunsaturated fatty acids in the Western diet. The healthier marine omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fish like salmon, tuna and sardines.

“Corn oil is the backbone of the American diet. We consume up to 20 times more omega-6 fatty acids in our diet compared to omega-3 acids,” said principal investigator Dr. William Aronson, a professor in the department of urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a researcher with UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center. “This study strongly suggests that eating a healthier ratio of these two types of fatty acids may make a difference in reducing prostate cancer growth, but studies need to be conducted in humans before any clinical recommendations can be made”

Scientists used a special mouse model for hormone-sensitive prostate cancer that closely mirrors the disease in humans. Researchers fed one group of mice a diet comprised of 20 percent fat with a healthy one-to-one ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. A second group of mice were fed the same diet but with the fat derived from mostly omega-6 fatty acids.

The study showed that tumor cell growth rates decreased by 22 percent and PSA levels were 77 percent lower in the group receiving a healthier balance of fatty acids compared with the group that received predominantly omega-6 fatty acids.

The most likely mechanism for the tumor reductions, according to researchers, was due to an increase of the prostate tumor omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA and a lowering of the omega-6 acid known as arachidonic acid. These three fatty acids compete to be converted by cyclooxgenase enzymes (COX-1 and COX-2) into prostaglandins, which can become either pro-inflammatory and increase tumor growth, or anti-inflammatory and reduce growth.

Researchers found that pro-inflammatory prostaglandin (PGE-2) levels were 83 percent lower in tumors in the omega-3 group than in mice on the predominantly omega-6 fatty acid diet, demonstrating that higher levels of DHA and EPA may lead to development of more anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.

“This is one of the first studies showing changes in diet can impact the inflammatory response that may play a role in prostate cancer tumor growth,” Aronson said. “We may be able to use EPA and DHA supplements while also reducing omega-6 fatty acids in the diet as a cancer prevention tool or possibly to reduce progression in men with prostate cancer.”

Currently, the research team is conducting a clinical trial with men who are undergoing prostate removal due to cancer to compare the effects of a low-fat diet using omega-3 supplements and a balanced Western diet. Aronson said that positive findings from this study may lead to larger clinical trials.

In addition, Aronson said that further study might show that COX-2 inhibitors or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) combined with omega-3 supplements also may lower the inflammatory response in prostate cancer development.

The study was funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institute of Health Grants: Specialized Programs of Research Excellence and UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center.

Other study authors include: Naoko Kobayashi, R. James Barnard, Susanne M. Henning, David Elashoff, Srinivasa T. Reddy, Pinchas Cohen, Pak Leung, Jenny Hong-Gonzalez, Stephen J. Freedland, Jonathan Said, Dorina Gui, Navindra P. Seerum, Laura M. Popoviciu, Dilprit Bagga, David Heber, and John A. Glaspy.

SOURCE: UCLA News

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July 31st, 2006 — Submitted by MJG
Australian study finds fish oil helps weight loss

Fatty acids, which are found in fish, can help in weight loss when combined with moderate exercise, an Australian study found.

The University of South Australia study found that daily doses of fish oil containing omega-3 fatty acids helped obese people burn off excess weight.

“The omega-3 found in fish oil increases fat-burning ability by improving the flow of blood to muscles during exercise,” university researcher Alison Hill told Reuters.

The university’s study monitored 68 overweight and obese people, divided into four groups, over three months.

One group took small daily doses of fish oil and another was given sunflower oil with no other alteration to their normal diet. Both groups undertook moderate exercise programs of a 45-minute walk or run three times a week. Another two groups received either fish oil or sunflower oil but did no exercise.

The study found that those who took the fish oil doses and exercised lost an average of 2 kg (4.5 lb.) over the three months.

The groups that took sunflower oil, which does not contain omega-3 fatty acids, and exercised did not lose any weight. The two groups that did not exercise also lost no weight, the study found.

“We were very surprised to see it was so effective, especially since these people were still eating whatever they wanted,” Hill said.

A six-year study by the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found last year that omega-3 fatty acids helped boost brain functioning as well as cut the risk of stroke. It also helped protect the brain as people age, the Chicago study found.

Hill said future studies were planned that would take place over longer periods and with increased exercise.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Posted in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Weight Management | No Comments »

July 10th, 2006 — Submitted by MJG
Fish Oil May Help Save Your Sight

By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang, M.D.

To help save your vision as you age, you may want to give fish oil the thumbs up and cigarettes the thumbs down, according to a new study.

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