Delivering prostaglandins that reduce inflammation
Think about it…
The same internal processes that carry oxygen, blood and nutrients to your major organs are also responsible for nourishing your skin…and that’s why skin is often an important external clue about your internal health.
Even so, it’s the first thing your body ignores when it’s not happy.
In fact, the second you run out of EFAs that “fuel” your important body parts — your skin starts to show visible signs of damage.
EFAs are essential for healthy skin
EFA and omega-3 deficiencies routinely show up months or years in the form of premature aging, dry skin, eczema, and blemishes before turning into chronic health problems.
Similarly, EFA imbalances, like too much omega-6 are typically associated with problems like acne and psoriasis, and wrinkles.
You can get this score by taking a standard blood test that measures total EFAs. A reasonable goal to aim for is 50% total omega-3s, and can easily be achieved through supplementing with high quality fish oils. A score of 75% is even better.
An easier and much cheaper way to estimate your omega-3 levels is to look in the mirror…which you probably do a million times a day anyway.
Common skin problems that are normally viewed as minor nuisances can clue you in that something isn’t right. Watch for these warning signs the next time you’re in the mirror:
Early wrinkles and fine lines
The Fact Is, you’ll probably be interested in skin care long before you start caring about things like preventing heart attacks or lowering cholesterol. You have a lot of control over the health and appearance of your skin, use it!
The average reader on this site has probably heard that vegetables oils increase inflammation and wreak havoc on your body’s immune system.
Usually, people take this seriously — while others simply dismiss this nutritional fact because they aren’t sure what it means or (more likely) wonder if there’s any real science to support this claim.
Here’s the thing, though…
Vegetable Oils DO Increase Inflammation.
In scientific communities, this claim is not up for debate. Rather, it’s a well known fact that consuming too many vegetable oils will trigger your body’s inflammation response.
Let’s talk about why.
Vegetable Oils Are Loaded With Omega-6
As it turns out, vegetable oils are packed full of omega-6s in the form of linoleic acid, or LA.
Specific sources of “BAD”, or inflammatory omega-6s include:
At this point, you might be wondering….
What About Supplements That Advertise Omega-6s?!
In small amounts, omega-6 is a good thing.
Yep, no joke.
But that’s not the whole story…
In and of itself, omega-6 really isn’t too bad because when it’s in the form of LA, it can be converted into GLA — which is one oddball omega-6 that happens to have positive health benefits.
Your body can actually convert some of this GLA into DHA (yep – an ingredient you can get directly from fish oil) and that’s why you sometimes see omega-6 included in supplements.
Sources of “good”, or anti-inflammatory omega-6s are:
Black currant seed oil
But, we started out talking about why vegetable oils increase inflammation.
Let’s get back to that.
The downside with vegetable oils is that it has too many omega-6s in the wrong form. And, too much omega-6 will cause the body to produce an excess of hormone-like chemical signals. That’s a major problem because inflammation is largely responsible for chronic conditions like obesity, crohn’s disease, arthritis, etc.
So What Happens After You Eat Vegetable Oils?
When fish and vegetable oils are digested something of a chain reaction happens inside your body. During this process, prostanoids (which are a particular class of eicosanoids, which you can read more about here) are released.
These special eicosanoids tell your body whether to increase or reduce inflammation. In small amounts, these signals help your body fight off allergies, regulate blood pressure, and defend against illness.
In large amounts, these signals can lead to chronic health conditions. Too many signals will force markers of inflammation (such as C-reactive proteins, tumor necrosis factor, and IL-6) through the roof.
Many different chemical reactions start occurring in the body and quality of life goes down the drain.
What’s more, research indicates that women are more susceptible to inflammation caused by vegetable oils. According to an article published in the journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who consumed vegetable oils had inflammation markers that were anywhere from 45-76% higher than those who did not.
But Fish Oil Lowers Inflammation, Right??
Plenty of people think taking fish oil is enough to protect you from the harmful side effects of vegetable oils.
But, they’re only half right…
Sure, fish oil is an anti-inflammatory. However, important new studies (like this one) show that taking fish oil only *lessens* the anti-inflammatory effects of vegetable oils; it does not completely mitigate them.
In fact, fish oil only blocks HALF of the negative effects from vegetable oils.
Here’s something else that might surprise you…
Vegetable Oils Can ‘Prime’ You To Crave MORE Inflammatory Foods
It’s true. Consuming lots of vegetable oils can also have the effect of making you want more inflammatory foods. Studies show that high levels of omega-6 found in vegetable oils may be linked to emotional eating, poorer impulse control, and depression.
Perhaps more importantly, the link between depression and essential fatty acids is strongest not when omega-3 is low — but when omega-6 is HIGH.
So Should You Give Up Vegetable Oils?
There was a time when the average American diet was closer to the healthy ideal — when people consumed less processed meats, more vegetables, and fewer foods cooked in pro-inflammatory vegetable oils.
Now, figures suggest the typical American diet is 10x higher in omega-6s. This imbalance is not without consequence, either. Scientific literature is replete with evidence showing unbalanced omega-3s contribute to depression and other mental disorders.
In my opinion, swearing off entire food categories (no matter how nutritionally bankrupt they are) is the easiest way to set yourself up for failure.
Instead, aim for an omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of 1:2. The easiest way know what your levels actually are is to get an SIP test. You can also estimate your levels by using your fasting cholesterol levels — drop Marshall a line for instructions.
After questions about fish oil benefits, dosage is one of the more popular areas that health conscious consumers want to know more about.
If you, yourself, have ever tried to look up the appropriate dosing recommendations for omega-3 supplements, you know it’s not exactly easy to decipher all the facts.
Why All The Confusion About Fish Oil Dosage?
First of all, it helps to understand how exactly fish oil works. In spite of what you may have heard, fish oil is no miracle supplement. It contains omega-3s, a special type of essential fatty acid that your body needs in order to function properly.
Now, if you think you can just start gobbling up omega-3s morning, noon, and night…well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news.
Our bodies are far more complex than that!
Many of the foods you and I eat every day contain omega-6s in the form of vegetable, soybean, and even certain seed oils. These omega-6s compete and basically “un-do” all the health benefits of omega-3s. That’s why coming up with the perfect dose of fish oil can be tricky.
To make matters worse, not all fish oil is the same. Surely, you’ve seen many different brands of fish oil and other omega-3 supplements on the grocery shelves. Some of these brands have their own blend of omega-3s, and all of them have different “grades” or standards for measuring the quality of essential fatty acids. All of this can make it difficult to evaluate a fish oil supplement on your own.
On top of that, healthy adults, kids, and people with health problems require very different dosages to achieve similar effects. Let’s take a look:
How Much Fish Oil Should Healthy Adults Take?
A number of guidelines have been established for “healthy adults”, or those without existing medical problems.
At the lower end of the spectrum, the American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week to achieve an adequate level of omega-3s. This dose is equivalent to 500 mg of omega-3s per day. At the other end, some health authorities recommend doses equaling 2.9 grams per day.
What About Kids? How Much Fish Oil Is Safe For Children?
Countless studies from researchers suggest that omega-3s are necessary and even critical to the healthy development of children.
Yet, according to the Mayo Clinic, fish oil and omega-3 dosage guidelines for kids is even less clear than it is for healthy adults. Today, numerous manufacturers are fortifying infant formulas and prepackaged meals with omega-3s, yet official dosage recommendations concerning fish oil for kids have not clearly been established. Experts in various fields recommend levels from .7 grams to 2.5 grams, depending on the exact age of the child.
How Much Fish Oil Should You Take If You Have Health Problems?
People with health problems like heart disease, high cholesterol and/or triglycerides, arthritis, and strokes tend to see the greatest health benefits from taking a high quality fish oil supplement. Every day new studies are published regarding the most effective dose for each specific condition. You can download my free A to Z Guide to Fish Oil Benefits for more information (located at the top of this page).
Alright, So How Much Fish Oil Should YOU Take?
Hopefully by now you can see why fish oil dosage is often tricky. Finding an appropriate dose depends on a host of factors like how much omega-6 you’re consuming on a daily basis, your age, and your current level of health. For more information on precautions & tips, recommendations, and dosage guides just ask me!
The information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use this information for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem. You should consult with a health care professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication or if you suspect you might have a health problem. And of course, you should never stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician.
This guide was designed to be a definitive guide for parents with children who have ADD, or ADHD type symptoms. If you find yourself short on time, I’ve posted a shorter version of this guide here.
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD occurs in a fairly large subset of school aged children. Over the years, numerous studies and news reports have asked the question “Is your teen’s diet giving them ADHD?“, and continue to explore the possible relationship between ADHD and Polyunsaturated fatty acids, in particular the omega-3s. There are two different types of omega-3s. They are short-chain and long-chain, both of which describe the length of the carbon chain on each acid. The two long- chain fatty acids are Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) which contains 20 carbons, and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) which contains 22 carbons. Together these long- chain fatty acids are the omega-3s that we take fish oil for. This purpose of this guide is to focus on this relationship between omega-3s and ADHD symptoms.
What are the symptoms of ADHD?
While it may be harder to detect in very early childhood, the symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattentiveness characterizing this disorder are often pervasive and cause significant disruptions both at home and in school for many children. Although there is no simple and straightforward test for ADHD, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) has established specific criteria for diagnosing the disorder. These criteria include:
(1) Inattention (at least 6 required from category 1 or 2 for diagnosis)
failure to pay attention to details or carelessness at home or school
inability to remain attentive during play or other tasks
difficulty following instructions
trouble with organization
avoidance of tasks/activities requiring focus
frequently losing things
is distracted easily
difficulty remembering daily tasks
(2) Hyperactivity-Impulsivity (at least 6 required from category 1 or 2 for diagnosis)
fidgeting or squirming
frequently getting up from seat
running or climbing excessively
difficulty playing quietly
answers questions prematurely
inability to wait for his/her turn
frequently interrupts others
In addition, some of these symptoms must be present in early childhood (before the age of 7, but not before the age of 3), must effect the child in multiple settings, and lastly, must cause significant disruptions in social, academic, or work performance
It is estimated that an average of 5% of school aged children suffer from some form of ADHD. Unfortunately, this is not a disorder you can “grow out of”. Instead, many individuals carry the disorder with them into adulthood (DSM-IV-TR).
While ADHD appears to be more common among families with relatives who also have the disorder, a wide variety of external influences such as home life, academic settings, and friends appear to have some impact on the severity of the symptoms as well as the likelihood of another disorder being present (DSM-IV-TR). One of the external influences currently under intense scrutiny is that of omega-3 fatty acids.
Some researchers, like Stevens et al (1996) discovered in a clinical study of nearly 100 boys, that those with lower levels of omega-3s demonstrated more learning and behavioral problems (such as temper tantrums and sleep disturbances) than boys with normal omega-3 levels. In animal studies, low levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to lower the concentration of certain brain chemicals (such as dopamine and serotonin) related to attention and motivation.
One of the reasons ADHD is so difficult to diagnose early in childhood is because very young children are often not expected to endure long periods of self-restraint and attention. As a result, when children enter a formal school setting these attention-deficits and hyperactivity symptoms may seem to appear out of the blue, catching many parents off guard.
Frequently, these symptoms quickly escalate into behaviors that cause significant academic impairments. It is these types of problem-behaviors that cause many parents to feel pressured into experimenting with treatments like stimulants so their children do not fall behind at school. Fortunately, current research suggests fish oil for kids may be a safer alternative parents can try first.
For example, one clinical study led by Richardson & Montgomery (2005) used omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplementation in 117 children with DCD (a disorder very closely related to ADHD). The study did not reveal any changes in motor conduct, however significant improvements in reading, spelling, and behavior were seen in the children following the 3 months of therapy.
In another study by Richardson (2006), he concluded that both theoretical and applied research seem to suggest omega-3 plays a part in childhood pervasive developmental disorders such as ADHD. Controlled studies offer a variety of outcomes, however many of these studies do not focus on the same populations and/or treatment details. The one thing that is clear at this point is that ADHD symptoms can be effectively treated in a subset of these children.
Long term studies also seem to yield promising results. For instance, in a placebo-controlled study, 75 children and adolescents (age 8-18) were given an omega-3/6 supplement for 6 months. At the study’s conclusion, Johnson et al (2009) found that fish oil cuts ADHD symptoms by nearly half, as 47% of all participants“responded with meaningful reduction of ADHD symptoms”.
Another clinical study found that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation helped to decrease physical aggression in school children with ADHD. More studies, including comparisons with drug therapies (such as stimulants), should be performed (see review article by Kidd, 2007).
Diet & Nutrition
Research findings suggest that one of the reasons children with ADHD may have low levels of essential fatty acids (including EPA and DHA) in their bodies because they are deficient in the minerals needed to convert them into a useable form (Dufault et al 2009).
While there is certainly anecdotal evidence to support the view that omega-3 fatty acids result in a decrease of ADHD symptoms, randomized control studies have shown that a subset of ADHD children may actually benefit the most from omega-3 supplements. With that said, they can also be the most difficult to give it to! Many parents find that liquids are not ideal because their children have taste buds that are only receptive to the“yummy” food groups, and large capsules are hard to swallow.
I should note here that a high-quality liquid fish oil should never taste “fishy,” however if you have a picky-eater (and aren’t they all?!) they probably will not like it. Lots of brands will flavor the supplements with tastier flavors like lemon or strawberry to hide any off-putting flavor, but this may not be enough. Other creative delivery systems include mixing into yogurt or even oatmeal. Some brands are now also offering gummies, which are much more appealing to children (and even taste good!).
The exact fish oil dosage recommended for treatment of ADHD has not yet been established. However, researchers Sinn & Bryan (2007)found “medium to strong treatment effects of omega 3 fatty acids on symptoms of ADHD” after administering PUFAs on the order of 1 gram for three to six months.
Other researchers (Sorgi et al, 2007) at the Hallowell Center in Sudbury, MA have concluded that high concentrations of EPA/DHA may also be successful with treating ADHD symptoms. In a blind pilot study examining the effects of high-dose EPA and DHA supplementation on nine children, a psychiatrist (unaware of the supplements) noted significant improvements in behavior (inattention, hyperactivity, oppositional/defiant behavior, and conduct disorder)just after eight weeks. The initial dosage was 16.2 g/d. Scientist also noted a significant correlation between the reduction in the AA:EPA ratio and global severity of illness scores.
Apart from trying a more natural alternative to prescription drugs, parents of children with ADHD may find it helpful to encourage physical exertion before asking their children to endure long periods where they’ll need to remain attentive.
Additionally, the National Institutes of Health (2008) offer the following tips:
organized schedules for daily activities
a behavioral system emphasizing positive & negative rewards
family time involving praise & encouragement
joining groups with other families who share similar situations
Adults, too, may find it easier to concentrate and focus for longer periods if they engage in moderate exercise before activities which will require full mental attention.
Aben A, Danckaerts M.Tijdschr Psychiatr. 2010;52(2):89-97.[PubMed]
DSM-IV-TR workgroup. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Dufault, R,Schnoll, R, LeBlanc, B.,Cornett, C.,Patrick, L.,Wallinga, D.,Gilbert, S., Crider, R. Mercury exposure, nutritional deficiencies and metabolic disruptions may affect learning in children. Behavioral and Brain Functions. 2009;5:1744-9081[PubMed]
Kidd PM. Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical
findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids.
Altern Med Rev. 2007 Sep;12(3):207-27. Review. PubMed PMID: 18072818.
Johnson M, Ostlund S, Fransson G, Kadesjo B, Gillberg C. Omega-3/omega-6 fatty acids for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a randomized placebo-controlled trial in children and adolescents. J Atten Disord. 2009;12:394–401. [PubMed]
Richardson AJ, Montgomery P. The Oxford-Durham study: a randomized, controlled
trial of dietary supplementation with fatty acids in children with developmental
coordination disorder. Pediatrics. 2005 May;115(5):1360-6. PubMed PMID: 15867048.
Richardson AJ. Omega-3 fatty acids in ADHD and related neurodevelopmental
disorders. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2006 Apr;18(2):155-72. Review. PubMed PMID:
Sinn N, Bryan J. Effect of supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids
and micronutrients on learning and behavior problems associated with child ADHD.
J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2007 Apr;28(2):82-91. PubMed PMID: 17435458.
Sorgi PJ, Hallowell EM, Hutchins HL, Sears B. Effects of an open-label pilot
study with high-dose EPA/DHA concentrates on plasma phospholipids and behavior in
children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Nutr J. 2007 Jul 13;6:16.
PubMed PMID: 17629918; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1971271.
Stevens LJ, Zentall SS, Abate ML, Kuczek T, Burgess JR. Omega-3 fatty acids in
boys with behavior, learning, and health problems. Physiol Behav. 1996
Apr-May;59(4-5):915-20. PubMed PMID: 8778886.
U.S. department of health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health. 2008. NIH Publication No. 08-3572.
Over the past few years, research documenting the relationship between essential fatty acids (EFAs) and health has exploded. Many people now know that the 12 kinds of omega-3s are perhaps the most important of these EFAs, and as a result have received a great deal of attention for their wide ranging health effects. Having said that, necessary to point out that not all omega-3s are alike. The purpose of this report is to focus on one specific omega-3: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Read on to learn what EPA is, how it works, and see what has been published about it.
What is EPA?
First, consider the fact that your brain is mostly made up of fat. In fact, your brain’s white matter (this is the stuff that coats the neurons in your brain for speedier communication between regions) is made up of approximately 70% fat! We are not talking about just any fat, though. Your body does not produce this fat on its own, yet slows brain aging when it’s consumed through your diet. This is where EFAs come in!
Basically, there are two distinct types of EFA. You have the short-chain and long-chain flavors. It’s helpful to know that the “short” and “long” part describes the length of the carbon chain on each EFA. Stay with me here! You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand this, I promise. Just know that EPA is one of the long-chain fatty acids and has 20 carbon atoms.
How Does EPA Work?
You will not be surprised to learn that there is no magic involved with the process of how EPA works. It’s actually a fairly simple process. Researchers have discovered that omega-3 and omega-6 actually compete with one another as soon as your body starts to break them down. More specifically, it is the EPA (from omega-3), linoleic acid and arachidonic acid (from omega-6) that results in the most important changes in your body.
At the most simplified level, this competition results in the production of eicosanoids, which your body uses to fight off the inflammation process. However, this process depends very heavily on the *right* balance of arachidonic acid (AA) to EPA. In fact, it is so important it has a special name: the AA to EPA ratio.
If AA is too high, inflammation runs rampant in your body wreaking havoc on your immune system. Too low, and your brain doesn’t have the right tools to function properly. You can take a test called the Silent Inflammation Profile, which measures how much EPA you need.
At this point, you may be thinking to yourself: “I don’t have any inflammation”…in which case you really need my post: What Is Silent Inflammation? So, let’s move on to some of the other research published on EPA.
What Has Been Published About EPA?
Apart from their anti-inflammatory role, EPA also appears to be key in the development and treatment of several conditions.
Cancer is defined by the American Cancer Society as not one disease, but a whole grouping of them (you can read more about breast cancer in one of my other posts). Most cancers involve the faulty life-cycle of cells in the body, where division and mutations are sped up and lead to tumors which can cause serious problems. Some of the existing treatments for cancer are taxing on the body and are not effective in some cases. However, there is strong evidence suggesting the positive effects of omega-3 effects on cancer. For instance, in one study involving non-human subjects, EPA was found to significantly reduce the growth of tumors and even lessen the extent to which subjects were negatively effected by the tumor (such as weight loss). The researchers who led this study added that effects were not seen with doses less than five grams.
EPA & Heart Health
Heart health is a term commonly used to talk about ways of preventing risk factors such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke that are normally associated with heart disease. There was a lot of buzz when news came that Consumer Reports Votes ‘Yes’ on Fish Oil and recent findings suggest that EPA may be more responsible for the prevention of blood clots which are commonly seen in cases of heart attacks or stroke. Analysts note that higher levels of EPA actually help the body produce a substance that stops blood from clotting.
Further evidence for the positive effects of EPA on the circulatory system can also be seen in Eskimos whose diet is rich in EPA. Eskimos have a significantly lower risk of developing heart attacks and also tend to be free from blood clots.
Other researchers have noted that another reason for this observation may be in EPA’s ability to improve the elasticity of red blood cells, which may play some role in allowing them to pass more freely through veins.
EPA & Mental Health
Mental health is one of the newer and more popular areas of fish oil research now, and exactly how fish oil helps depression is a top question among researchers. The causes for mental illness are widely varied, but modern day scholars agree that a dynamic model makes more sense than a strictly nature vs nurture approach. In light of this holistic approach to psychology, researchers are very interested in recent discoveries of a link between lower levels of EPA and Depression. In particular, researchers have found that AA:EPA ratio is negatively correlated in at least some cases of self reported symptoms of depression.
The notion that the AA:EPA ratio is correlated with depression has been further supported in findings from additional researchers. In a study involving nearly 1,400 participants, researchers looked at the relationship between EPA and depressive symptoms. The results revealed that individuals with depression related symptoms had EPA levels that were .16% lower than people without such symptoms.
EPA also appears to play a role in the treatment of more severe types of mental illness. In at least one study9, EPA was found to be superior to DHA when treating schizophrenia symptoms. The findings showed a significant decrease in “positive”, or outward manifestations of the disorder when participants were treated with EPA for a period of three months.
EPA & High Cholesterol
Cholesterol levels are another important part of heart health, and higher levels are frequently seen in individuals with heart disease. Some researchers now believe EPA may be just as effective as statins, the drugs normally given to treat high cholesterol. Evidence for this claim comes from a study with 18,000 patients with unhealthy cholesterol levels. Following treatment with 1,800 mg of EPA/day, researchers noted a 25% reduction in LDL (the bad kind of cholesterol) in both the experimental group, and a group receiving statins alone. Moreover, the researchers noticed there was also a 19% decrease in the number of heart related problems, when compared to the “statin-only” group.
EPA & Skin Health
UV rays from the sun are one of the main culprits in producing wrinkles. In a recent study, researchers decided fish oil prevents wrinkles after they applied EPA to human skin cells. They then applied UV radiation to the skin cells to simulate the effects of sun exposure, which results in wrinkles and sagging of the skin. They concluded from the study that fish oil is “a potential agent for the prevention and treatment of skin aging.”
Inflammation of the skin, psoriasis in particular, is arguably one of the most difficult to treat types of skin condition. However, new research suggests that EPA may be a suitable alternative treatment. Following a twelve-week study, researchers concluded that giving participants 1.8grams of EPA/day resulted in a reduction of scaly skin, itchiness, and severity of symptoms.
Lax environmental policies throughout most of the 20th century have led to the dumping of all kinds of waste products into rivers, lakes and oceans, making it impossible to get the amount of omega-3s we need without exposure to dangerous amounts of toxins. A safer way for the average healthy person is to obtain about 2.5g of omega-3 fatty acids a day, provided they have no existing health conditions.
If you would like to see full citations on this post please email me.
ADHD is pretty common in school-aged kids. Lots of scientists think there might be some relationship between this condition and an omega-3 deficiency. This is scary stuff! Let’s take a closer look at ADHD and see how diet and nutrition might play a role in developing this condition.
What are the symptoms?
ADHD stands for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. This disorder’s name pretty much describes the symptoms. Kids with ADHD are very hyper and have a hard time controlling themselves or following directions.
There really is no simple test to see if you or your child has ADHD, but doctors will look for a long pattern of problem behaviors that usually cause trouble at school or work.
How Common Is It?
About 5% of school children have ADHD, which means almost 5 million people between 4 and 17 are affected. Most people will not grow out of this disorder, but will continue to have it as adults. Also, it is about 3 times more common in boys than girls.
What Causes It?
No one really knows what causes ADHD, but it’s more common in families of people who also have it. Other things, like school setting and friends might also have something to do with it.
It’s also true that low levels of omega-3s are common in people with ADHD. This doesn’t mean that low omega-3 causes the disorder, it might just be that people who are very hyperactive don’t have the time to choose healthy foods that contain omega-3s. If you’re worried about whether your teen’s diet is giving them ADHD, read more about the diet and ADHD relationship.
What Are Scientists Saying?
Just because ADHD is interfering with your daily activities, you don’t have to immediately start taking scary stimulants. There’s even research to showing fish oil proves more effective than ritalin for ADHD. Studies show that taking a fish oil supplement can help in areas like reading, spelling, and behavior after only three months.
Taking fish oil for a longer period of time is helpful, too. After six months, many children see a huge drop in the problem behaviors associated with ADHD, especially fighting and roughhousing.
More About Diet & Nutrition
Scientists think that kids with ADHD might have lower levels of omega-3 because their bodies are missing an important vitamin needed to get omega-3s from what they eat.
How Much Fish Oil Should You Take For ADHD?
Finding out what fish oil dosage is right for you or your child might seem a little tricky. Studies show that a typical dose can range from one to sixteen grams per day. A good rule of thumb is to start out with 2 grams/day. This is the dose most commonly given on the bottle of fish oil supplements.
After about one month you should start seeing some changes, and might need to increase the daily amount after that.
Other Helpful Tips
If you or your child has ADHD, try doing some exercise or physical activity before you have to sit for a long period of time. Also, get support from other families living with ADHD. You can find testimonials from parents using fish oil for ADHD and Asperger’s, or visit communities online by using forums and popular websites like Facebook and Myspace.
Now you know a little bit more about ADHD and what might cause it. That should get you thinking about what kinds of foods and supplements you’re putting into your body! If you want to read a more detailed guide to ADHD, you can read one of my other posts like A Parent’s Guide to ADHD and Fish Oil Supplements.
For a full version of this article with references to scientific studies, please contact me by e-mail.
I just saw this article, “A Cure To Lung Cancer May Be In Fish Oil” (you can read it here) and just couldn’t help but share it. It’s about a study was first published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer.
The full study is not available as free text online, but a quick google scholar search will get you the summary (or read it here). It raises some pretty interesting questions about the anti-cancer properties of omega-3 fish oil and definitely opens the door for more research in this field.
Here’s the basic story:
A man in his late seventies is diagnosed with lung cancer. Because of the advanced stage of his cancer and his age, his doctors gave him mere months to live.
Rather than follow the traditional treatment plan involving chemotherapy and radiation, the man (who is referred to as only “D.H.”) opted for a more natural approach. With the help of Pardini, D.H. went on a fish oil diet. He increased his omega-3 intake to 15g per day, and nearly completely cut out all vegetable oils and other foods rich in omega-6s.
According to article, D.H. was still alive 5 years later when Pardini’s report was published. In the actual study, CT scans and x-rays “revealed remarkably a slow and steady decrease in the size and number of bilateral nodules”. This is pretty exciting news as this is the first study of it’s kind.
Does This Mean Fish Oil Cures Lung Cancer?
Not exactly. This is a case study involving a single person, so that means any conclusions about the effectiveness about using omega-3s to treat lung cancer must be limited to the actual gentleman in the study.
However, we can certainly add this to the abundance of research on fish oil and lung cancer already in existence.
What Else Is Known About Fish Oil & Lung Cancer?
To date, all of the studies on fish oil and lung cancer have involve animal models because it allows scientists a more ethical way to identify and study the way cancer progresses. I will review some of the most important findings:
Recent findings published in the journal of Nutrition and Cancer found that fish oil supplements, combined with a diet low in omega-6 decreases lung tumors in mice by 80%. This effect is not seen with dietary changes alone.
There is overwhelming research supporting fish oil’s preventative cancer effects in mice; some scientists believe any weak link seen in humans is likely because its easier to ensure mice take the supplements.
Clearly, science has not yet reached a point to state unequivocally that fish oil can cure lung cancer. But, research like Pardini’s case study certainly shows that there is potential on the horizon.
Berquin IM, Edwards IJ, Chen YQ. Multi-targeted therapy of cancer by omega-3 fatty acids. Cancer Lett. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):363-77. Epub 2008 May 13.
MacLean CH, Newberry SJ, Mojica WA, Khanna P, Issa AM, Suttorp MJ, Lim YW, Traina SB, Hilton L, Garland R, Morton SC. Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on cancer risk: a systematic review. JAMA. 2006 Jan 25;295(4):403-15.
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