Celeb Doctors Sound Off
Garey: Every now and then an article will appear on the wires downplaying Omega-3s and their benefits. One such article surfaced this past week. Generally, they are “studies of studies” where the variables and details of the actual original studies are convoluted and therefore findings are less than convincing. Here we have a solid question which Dr. Oz answers in detail.
Q You’re always saying omega-3s are so good for you, but I heard some news about a study that claims they don’t keep your brain healthy. Should I bother to take the DHA omega-3 supplements that you both take? – Sam B. Portland, Ore.
A We’re glad you asked! The truth lies in the study’s details, but sometimes, what gets reported is just the broadest summary of the information, and that can glide over facts you need to make an informed decision.
First, some background. Omega-3s come in three forms: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are in cold water fish, such as salmon, mackerel, halibut and sardines, as well as trout (aim for two to three 3-ounce servings a week), and in the algae they eat. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is in avocados, canola oil, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, soybeans and soy oil, and walnuts and their oil. DHA-omega-3 builds cell membranes in the brain and protects against macular degeneration and colon cancer and eases inflammatory bowel disease and autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. EPA helps control blood clotting and protects against heart attack and stroke, while all three types decrease inflammation. Only about 2 percent of ALA converts to EPA, and only about 2 percent of EPA converts to DHA, so we get all the omega-3’s we can from food, and add a 900 milligram daily supplement of DHA from an algal oil.
Now, about the study that says omega-3s don’t prevent cognitive decline. Where to start?
No. 1: The new study (a review of three studies, not an original study) says nothing about the brain benefits of long-term supplementation of omega-3s, begun when you’re younger than 60.
No. 2: The participants under review didn’t display enough difference or decline in cognitive ability to really assess omega-3s’ benefits during the (too-short) span of the studies.
No. 3: No one cited the type of omega-3 used in the three studies! DHA, the brain-active one, is the one we want to get into you. It makes a difference!
Bottom line: MIDAS (Memory Improvement with Docosahexaenoic Acid [DHA] Study) showed taking DHA omega-3 supplements at the first sign of cognitive decline can make your brain function as if it were six years younger! And since there are no known risks and so many benefits from taking DHA supplements, we’ll keep on taking them every day. And we hope you start, too! *end of news article*
Summary: So we learn from this that both EPA and DHA have benefits in various areas of the body. ALA vegetarian derived Omega-3s have serious conversion problems to convert to epa/dha. Dha is building material for brain cells. Also helps with avoidance of macular degeneration. EPA helps with cardiovascular benefits. Don’t let anyone dissuade you from taking your Omega-3 supplements. They are safer than eating farm raised or wild fish that can be contaminated.
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