Category Archives: Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega-3 may be a promising intervention for childhood behavioral problems

disciplineWe’ve already come to understand that there are certain controversial ingredients that can play an important role in childhood behaviors like hyperactivity. Artificial dyes, names, have been found to cause hyperactivity and exacerbate ADHD behaviors in our kids. It is coming to light, however, that overall nutrition may play a larger role than we thought in negative childhood behaviors.

At the forefront of a field known as “neurocriminology,” Adrian Raine of the University of Pennsylvania has long studied the interplay between biology and environment when it comes to antisocial and criminal behavior. With strong physiological evidence that disruption to the emotion-regulating parts of the brain can manifest in violent outbursts, impulsive decision-making and other behavioral traits associated with crime, much of Raine’s research involves looking at biological interventions that can potentially ward off these behavioral outcomes.

A new study by Raine now suggests that omega-3, a fatty acid commonly found in fish oil, may have long-term neurodevelopmental effects that ultimately reduce antisocial and aggressive behavior problems in children.

He is a Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor with appointments in the School of Arts & Sciences and the Perelman School of Medicine.

Along with Raine, the study featured Jill Portnoy a graduate student in the Department of Criminology, and Jianghong Liu, an associate professor in the Penn School of Nursing. They collaborated with Tashneem Mahoomed of Mauritius’ Joint Child Health Project and Joseph Hibbeln of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

It was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

When Raine was a graduate student, he, his advisor and colleagues conducted a longitudinal study of children in the small island nation of Mauritius. The researchers tracked the development of children who had participated in an enrichment program as 3-year-olds and also the development of children who had not participated. This enrichment program had additional cognitive stimulation, physical exercise and nutritional enrichment. At 11 years, the participants showed a marked improvement in brain function as measured by EEG, as compared to the non participants. At 23, they showed a 34 percent reduction in criminal behavior.

Raine and his colleagues were interested in teasing apart the mechanisms behind this improvement. Other studies suggested the nutritional component was worth a closer look.

“We saw children who had poor nutritional status at age 3 were more antisocial and aggressive at 8, 11 and 17,” Raine said. “That made us look back at the intervention and see what stood out about the nutritional component. Part of the enrichment was that the children receiving an extra two and a half portions of fish a week.”

Other research at the time was beginning to show that omega-3 is critical to brain development and function.

“Omega-3 regulates neurotransmitters, enhances the life of a neuron and increases dendritic branching, but our bodies do not produce it. We can only get it from the environment,” Raine said.
Research on the neuroanatomy of violent criminals suggested this might be a place to intervene. Other brain-imaging researchers have shown that omega-3 supplementation increases the function of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a region Raine found to have higher rates of damage or dysfunction in criminal offenders.

Raine’s new study featured a randomized controlled trial where children would receive regular omega-3 supplements in the form of a juice drink. One hundred children, aged 8 to 16, would each receive a drink containing a gram of omega-3 once a day for six months, matched with 100 children who received the same drink without the supplement. The children and parents in both groups took a series of personality assessments and questionnaires at the start.

After six months, the researchers administered a simple blood test to see if the children in the experimental group had higher levels of omega-3 than those in the controls. They also had both parents and children take the personality assessments. Six months after that, the researchers had parents and children take the assessment again to see if there were any lasting effects from the supplements.

The assessments had parents rate their children on “externalizing” aggressive and antisocial behavior, such as getting into fights or lying, as well as “internalizing” behavior, such as depression, anxiety and withdrawal. Children were also asked to rate themselves on these traits.

While the children’s self-reports remained flat for both groups, the average rate of antisocial and aggressive behavior as described by the parents dropped in both groups by the six-month point. Critically, however, those rates returned to the baseline for the control group but remained lowered in the experimental group, at the 12-month point.

“Compared to the baseline at zero months,” Raine said, “both groups show improvement in both the externalizing and internalizing behavior problems after six months. That’s the placebo effect.

“But what was particularly interesting was what was happening at 12 months. The control group returned to the baseline while the omega-3 group continued to go down. In the end, we saw a 42 percent reduction in scores on externalizing behavior and 62 percent reduction in internalizing behavior.”

At both the six- and 12-month check-ins, parents also answered questionnaires about their own behavioral traits. Surprisingly, parents also showed an improvement in their antisocial and aggressive behavior. This could be explained by the parents taking some of their child’s supplement, or simply because of a positive response to their child’s own behavioral improvement.

The researchers caution that this is still preliminary work in uncovering the role nutrition plays in the link between brain development and antisocial behavior. The changes seen in the one-year period of the experiment may not last, and the results may not be generalizable outside the unique context of Mauritius.

Beyond these caveats, however, there is reason to further examine omega-3′s role as a potential early intervention for antisocial behavior.

“As a protective factor for reducing behavior problems in children,” Liu said, “nutrition is a promising option; it is relatively inexpensive and can be easy to manage.”

Follow-up studies will include longer-term surveillance of children’s behavioral traits and will investigate why their self-reports did not match the parental reports.

Omega-3s have already shown a number of beneficial health effects. It wouldn’t surprise at all if further study does show that one of those health benefits is improved behavioral problems in at-risk children. Any number of parents of ADHD children have turned to Omega-3s as a natural treatment and have attested to its positive effects for their kids.

Foods with real nutritional value do positive things for our bodies and brains. That’s always been true. It’s our own awareness of that truth that’s really just now being recognized.

New research shows smoking habits can be curbed with Omega-3s

omega 3Whether you’re trying to kick the habit or trying to help a loved one or a friend, there’s great new research out that links a simple supplement to curbing smoking habits.

Taking omega-3 supplements reduces craving for nicotine and even reduces the number of cigarettes that people smoke a day, according to a new study conducted at the University of Haifa. “The substances and medications used currently to help people reduce and quit smoking are not very effective and cause adverse effects that are not easy to cope with. The findings of this study indicated that omega-3, an inexpensive and easily available dietary supplement with almost no side effects, reduces smoking significantly,” said Dr. Sharon Rabinovitz Shenkar, head of the addictions program at the University of Haifa’s school of criminology department and of the psychopharmacology laboratory at Bar-Ilan, who conducted this study.

Chronic exposure to smoke-derived toxicants is the primary cause of progressive pulmonary and immune dysfunctions, as well as carcinogenesis Cigarette smoking is connected not only to cardiovascular dysfunction, immune system dysfunction and cancer, it also reduces the levels of essential fatty acids in the brain, especially that of omega-3. A deficiency in omega-3 damages the cellular structure of nerve cells and interrupts neurotransmission in areas of the brain involved with feeling pleasure and satisfaction. These areas are essential in reward and decision-making, and are very important in the process of the development, maintenance and relapseof the addiction and to the inability to stop smoking. In simpler terms, omega-3 deficiency makes it harder for the smoker’s body to deal with its craving for another cigarette. “Earlier studies have proven that an imbalance in omega-3 is also related to mental health, depression and the ability to cope with pressure and stress. Pressure and stress, in turn, are associated with the urge to smoke. It is also known that stress and tension levels rise among people who quit smoking. Despite all this, the connection between all these factors had not been studied until now,” Dr. Rabinovitz Shenkar said.

The current study adhered to a strict methodology (double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled) and included forty-eight smokers aged eighteen to forty-five who smoked at least ten cigarettes a day during the previous year, and an average of fourteen cigarettes a day. They were diagnosed as having a moderate dependency on nicotine. In total, the average age of the participants was twenty-nine and the average age they began smoking was under eighteen (in other words, they had been smoking for an average of eleven years). The participants were divided into two groups: One group received omega-3 capsules — “Omega-3 950″ produced by Solgar who donated the capsules for the study; the second group received a placebo. The participants were asked to take five capsules a day for thirty days and in total reported taking more than ninety-four percent of the capsules. At no stage in the study were the participants asked to stop smoking.

The levels of nicotine craving and consumption were checked using a series of scales regarding various aspects related to smoking urges, such as lack of control over tobacco use, anticipation of relief and satisfaction from smoking, and to the number of cigarettes smoked each day. These levels were measured at the beginning of the study, after thirty days (of treatment) and after sixty days (i.e., thirty days after stopping to take the capsules). Each time the study participants were tested they abstained from smoking for two hours and were then exposed to smoking-related cues images in order to stimulate their craving for nicotine.

The findings show that while no difference was found between the groups at the beginning of the study, after thirty days the smokers who had taken omega-3 reduced their cigarettes by an average of two a day (an eleven-percent decrease), even though they were not asked to change their smoking habits in any way. No less important, they showed a significant decrease in nicotine craving. After another thirty days of not taking anything, cigarette cravings increased slightly but still remained significantly lower than their initial level. In other words, the craving to smoke cigarettes did not return to the baseline level even a month after stopping to take the supplement. In the meantime, the group receiving the placebo did not show any significant changes in their craving levels or in the number of cigarettes they smoked a day during the sixty days.

According to Dr. Rabinovitz Shenkar, the finding that people who were not interested in stopping to smoke showed such a significant change reinforces the assumption that taking omega-3 can help smokers to regulate their addiction and reduce their smoking. Further research will indicate whether the supplement is also effective in stopping to smoke. knows that most in our community are exceptionally health conscious and aware. But we all know people who have had a problem quitting smoking. It’s not an easy challenge and many of those we love can’t seem to overcome their addiction. This is great information to pass on. Omega-3 supplements are relatively inexpensive and easy to incorporate into one’s lifestyle. You don’t need a prescription. You aren’t putting more nicotene into your system and you won’t be inhaling controversial ingredients. Omega-3 supplements to reduce smoking frequency — let’s make sure this one gets around!

Canola oil … heart healthy or not?

200017_10150140302023407_7125221_n.jpgOlive oil comes from olives. Peanut oil comes from peanuts. Coconut oil comes from coconuts. Did you ever stop to think where canola oil comes from? Is there any such thing as a canola plant?

The answer to that question is, “sort of.”

Let’s make this clearer. Today’s canola plant is a biologically modified cousin of the rapeseed plant, which is part of the mustard family. Rapeseed plants produce a substance called erucic acid that can be toxic in large amounts. So rapeseed oil is not actually fit for human or animal consumption. It is used, however, as a lubricant, fuel, soap and synthetic rubber base. It can also be found in insect repellents. The canola plant was developed in Canada during the 1960s and 70s in order to assure its safety for human consumption. That’s where the name comes from. It stands for Canadian Oil Low Acid.

So today there is a canola plant that exists because of the rapeseed plant, whose oil is inedible. The oil from the canola plant is not only edible, but, according to most sources, is better for consumption than many other available oils. It’s a good source of monounsaturated fats, the kind that, when used to replace saturated fats like butter and cheese, can help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease. Canola oil is also a source of omega-3 fatty acids that have also been linked to heart health.

Still, there’s plenty of conflicting information out there. And because believes in consumer education, we thought it would be beneficial to report on the “other side” of canola oil.

Let’s begin with how the oil is extracted from the seeds of the canola plant. It appears that most canola oil is processed using hexane, which is a known carcinogen. The industry actually admits that trace amounts of hexane can be found in the finished product, but these amounts are insignificant. To be fair, many different vegetable oils, including soybean oil are processed the same way.

In addition to the use of hexane, the oil is removed using high temperature mechanical pressing. The presence of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the oil cause it to become foul-smelling during this high-heat process. It then becomes necessary to deodorize the oil. Because of the high-heat involved, both processes remove much of the omega-3s by turning them into trans fatty acids. The Canadian government lists the trans fat content of canola at just .2 percent.

And to add more conflicting information into the discussion, there are further reports that heating canola oil above 120 degrees will cause the formation of more trans fatty acids, again because of the breakdown of the remaining omega-3s. Most cooking classes teach that in order to saute protein properly, fat should be introduced into a pan heated to at least 212 degrees, depending on the fat used. So if the reports about heating canola oil over 120 degrees causing the formation of trans fats are realistic, we’re consuming more trans fat every time we cook using the oil.

These are just a few of the arguments against canola oil and its current status as a healthy fat for cooking. There are plenty of arguments out there in its favor though. Regardless of those, does think it’s important to repeat that nature didn’t create a canola plant. People did. As the FDA is considering a ban on trans fat in the food supply, we certainly think we could all use more clarity here.

Looking for more Omega-3s? Organic Milk packs 62% more than its conventional counterpart!

There have been a few studies published in the last year or so that have pointed to the idea that organic food options may not be all that different from non-organic choices. certainly understands that there may be any number of reasons that organic doesn’t work for every consumer. Cost is certainly at the top of that list. But we’ve always liked organic options. Most meaningful for us here at, the ingredient lists detailed on most organic products are by and large vastly better than those found for non-organic products. But what about nutritional benefits?

At least for milk, we’re now learning that there is a difference between organic and non-organic options. A new study is reporting that whole milk from organic dairies contains far more of some of the fatty acids that contribute to a healthy heart than conventional milk. Drinking whole organic milk may likely lessen the risk factor for heart disease.

The study was headed by Charles M. Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources. It is the most clear-cut finding of nutritional advantage of organic food over its non-organic counterpart. Previous studies comparing organic and non-organic fruits and vegetables have not been as conclusive.

Benbrook says that drinking whole organic milk “will certainly lessen the risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”

“All milk is healthy and good for people,” he continued, “but organic milk is better, because it has a more favorable balance of these fatty acids” — omega-3, typically found in fish and flaxseed, versus omega-6, which is abundant in many fried foods like potato chips.

Government regulations for organic labeling require that dairy cows must spend a certain amount of the time in the pasture, eating grassy plants high in omega-3s. Conventional milk comes from cows that are mostly fed corn, which is high in omega-6s. Nonorganic cows that graze in pastures also produce milk with greater amounts of omega-3s.
While this research was largely funded by Organic Valley, a farm cooperative that sells organic dairy products, experts not connected with the study said the findings are credible — though they noted that the role of milk in a healthy diet and the influence of fatty acids in preventing or causing cardiovascular disease are far from settled.

“I think this is a very good piece of work,” said Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, a nutritional neuroscientist at the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers looked at 384 samples of organic and conventional whole milk taken over 18 months around the country. Although the total amount of fat was almost the same, the organic milk contained 62 percent more omega-3 fatty acids and 25 percent fewer omega-6s.

The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the organic milk was 2.28, much lower than the 5.77 ratio in conventional milk. (The figures do not apply to nonfat milk, which strips away the fatty acids.)

Nutrition experts broadly agree that omega-3 acids offer numerous health benefits. But experts disagree sharply whether omega-6 consumption should be reduced.
In ancient times, people ate roughly equal amounts of the two fatty acids. Today most Americans now eat more than 10 times as much omega-6, which is prevalent in certain vegetable oils and thus also fried foods, as omega-3.

While omega-6 is essential, some health studies suggest that such a wide disparity is associated with many ills, Dr. Benbrook said. A shift to drinking organic whole milk — and raising consumption from the currently recommended three servings a day to 4.5 — would take a big step to lowering the ratio, he said, although adjustments would have to be made elsewhere in the diet to offset the added calories of the milk fat.

Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, did not question the underlying data in the study. But he said the conclusions and recommendations were based on the “false assumption” that omega-6 fatty acids are harmful.

Dr. Willett said omega-6s were actually associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and he called the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s “irrelevant.” People should try to eat more of both, he said.

But Dr. Hibbeln of the National Institutes of Health, who has conducted research on the effects of fatty acids on heart disease, said animal studies showed that high levels of omega-6s interfered with omega-3s.

At the same time, though, he cautioned that the mix of omega-3s in milk is different from that in fatty fish. The simple ratio, he said, “is not as meaningful as we would like it to be.”

Still, he endorsed the organic milk recommendation. “You’re heading in the right direction,” he said.

This is great information – even with the differences of opinion noted here. We’re happy to see that although a manufacturer contributed funding for this study; third party experts are comfortable with its methodology and endorsing its results. thinks it’s perfectly reasonable to discover that dairy cows fed a different diet will produce milk offering a different nutritional profile. Organic whole milk appears to offer a distinct nutritional advantage. So if you’re considering where to start incorporating organic products into your diet, organic whole milk may be a great place to begin!

Reading difficulties may be related to low levels of Omega-3

While it isn’t in the news often, is aware that there are millions of school-aged children worldwide who have difficulty learning to read and mastering proficiency of this basic life skill. We’re also very aware that often reading difficulties can severely affect a child’s self-esteem, make them more prone to bullying by other kids and change their perception of learning in general. Our hearts go out to these kids. We know that their parents, caregivers and teachers work very hard to help them develop their reading skills and that they are required to work much harder than their peers to achieve the same learning levels. It can’t be easy. Today we read about new research coming out of the United Kingdom that may hold some significant information (and eventually help) for kids with reading challenges.

An Oxford University study has shown that a representative sample of UK schoolchildren aged seven to nine years had low levels of key Omega-3 fatty acids in their blood. Furthermore, the study found that children’s blood levels of the long-chain Omega-3 DHA (the form found in most abundance in the brain) ‘significantly predicted’ how well they were able to concentrate and learn.

The study was presented at the conference by co-authors Dr Alex Richardson and Professor Paul Montgomery from Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention in the Department of Social Policy and Intervention. It is one of the first to evaluate blood Omega-3 levels in UK schoolchildren. The long-chain Omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA) found in fish, seafood and some algae, are essential for the brain’s structure and function as well as for maintaining a healthy heart and immune system. Parents also reported on their child’s diet, revealing to the researchers that almost nine out of ten children in the sample ate fish less than twice a week, and nearly one in ten never ate fish at all. The government’s guidelines for a healthy diet recommend at least two portions of fish a week. This is because like vitamins, omega-3 fats have to come from our diets — and although humans can in theory make some EPA and DHA from shorter-chain omega-3 (found in some vegetable oils), research has shown this conversion is not reliable, particularly for DHA, say the researchers.

Blood samples were taken from 493 schoolchildren, aged between seven and nine years, from 74 mainstream schools in Oxfordshire. All of the children were thought to have below-average reading skills, based on national assessments at the age of seven or their teachers’ current judgements. Analyses of their blood samples showed that, on average, just under two per cent of the children’s total blood fatty acids were Omega-3 DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and 0.5 per cent were Omega-3 EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid), with a total of 2.45 per cent for these long-chain Omega-3 combined. This is below the minimum of 4 per cent recommended by leading scientists to maintain cardiovascular health in adults, with 8-12 per cent regarded as optimal for a healthy heart, the researchers reported.

Co-author Professor Paul Montgomery said: ‘From a sample of nearly 500 schoolchildren, we found that levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in the blood significantly predicted a child’s behavior and ability to learn. Higher levels of Omega-3 in the blood, and DHA in particular, were associated with better reading and memory, as well as with fewer behavior problems as rated by parents and teachers. These results are particularly noteworthy given that we had a restricted range of scores, especially with respect to blood DHA but also for reading ability, as around two-thirds of these children were still reading below their age-level when we assessed them. Although further research is needed, we think it is likely that these findings could be applied generally to schoolchildren throughout the UK.’
The current findings build on earlier work by the same researchers, showing that dietary supplementation with Omega-3 DHA improved both reading progress and behavior in children from the general school population who were behind on their reading. is enthusiastic about the future implications of these important findings. We already understand the significance of a healthy diet for children. We know that childhood obesity is a rampant, worldwide problem and that poor diet during childhood can set up a generation of children for severe health problems later on in life. The importance of Omega-3 fatty acids in a child’s diet, however, may have a strong influence on their educational abilities and might just promote the “ease of learning” that every child deserves.

Dietary adjustments help children produce their own insulin knows that everyone in our community is painfully aware of the tremendous increase in diabetes in the worldwide population. Most disturbing, however, is the startling rise in the incidence of Type 1 diabetes in children. While there has been research conducting trying to pinpoint the reason for the sharp increase, we still don’t have a conclusive reason for the increasing problem. Type 1 diabetes is almost always diagnosed between infancy and young adulthood, according to the American Diabetes Association. The body’s pancreas is unable to produce adequate amounts of the hormone insulin, required to metabolize food properly and create energy for the body’s cells.

Today we learned of some especially encouraging news coming out of the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It appears that by adding foods rich in specific amino and fatty acids to the diets of children, teens and young adults with Type 1 diabetes, their bodies can be encouraged to produce some of their own insulin for up to two years after their diagnosis. While participants still required supplemental insulin, they may have reduced risk of diabetes complications because of the ability to produce some of their own insulin.

The study (Nutritional Factors and Preservation of C-Peptides in Youth with Recently Diagnosed Type 1 Diabetes) involved over 1,300 young people ranging from toddler age to 20. They are part of a multi-center “SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth,” the largest United States study of childhood diabetes.

The study identified Leucine, one of the branched-chain amino acids that is known to stimulate insulin secretion. Leucine is found in dairy products, meats, soy products, eggs, nuts and whole wheat products. In addition, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon, were also associated with the insulin production. The researchers made specific note that the effects were found when the subjects ate actual foods rich in these nutrients. The effects were not associated with taking supplements. is especially encouraged by the association between diet and insulin production. We know that fresh, whole foods impart many benefits to our health and well being. But, we are always thrilled to find out how simple dietary changes can help chronic health problems and disease. We’re excited by the idea of a future where we need less drug-related intervention and enjoy more nutritional intervention. Natural solutions to health conditions will help the worldwide population enjoy longer, more fulfilling and happier lives.

Fish is great food has been keeping up with the latest research regarding Omega-3 fatty acids and their benefits to our overall health and well being. Today we found some interesting research from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena and Jena University Hospital that helps us to better understand how Omega-3 fatty acids positively affect our bodies.

We’ve known for a long time that eating fish is a healthy choice. Fish is an easily digestible source of lean protein. And the Omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish bring added benefits for us all. Omega-3 fatty acids are found mostly in fatty fish like herring, salmon, and whitefish. They are linked with lowering blood pressure, strengthening our immune systems and being beneficial to our nervous systems and cardiovascular systems.

While we have evidence of all of these positive effects of Omega-3 fatty acids, we’ve never had a true picture of how they work for our benefit on a molecular level. This new study does just that. In articles published in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA,” the scientists involved in the research describe how they analyzed the impact of Omega-3 fatty acids on a systemic level.

They were able to show that the “SLO1” potassium channel is an important component in the effectiveness of Omega-3s. These channels act like receptors for DHA (the most complex form of Omega-3) and are opened by the binding of Omega-3 fatty acids. The researchers explored the effects on the SLO1 channels on the cardiovascular systems of mice. Lab experiments found that administering DHA to the mice expanded their blood vessels and resulted in a drop in blood pressure. The same effect did not occur in genetically modified mice who lacked the ability to produce the SLO1 channel. So the findings confirmed that DHA has an impact on blood pressure that is mediated through SLO1 channels.

In addition, the researchers were surprised to find that a variant of DHA, often found in nutritional supplements, doesn’t seem to have the same effect on blood pressure. In fact, it appeared to suppress the effect of the natural DHA. So that consumption of non-natural Omega-3 fatty acids might actually counter the positive effects of the natural substance. This will be important for the supplementation patients and may alter clinical requirements in the future. has always been a proponent of the inclusion of fish on our menus.  Fish offers great taste and variety to meals and important nutritional benefits.  We’re happy to see the confirmation of those benefits on a very meaningful level.  You can read more about this fascinating study here:

Possible nutritional help for Alzheimer’s immunity … Vitamin D and Omega-3 may help us fight the disease. found very exciting news regarding the role of nutrition in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a concern for a large portion of the population and robs family’s of their loved ones every day. We’re pleased to see the research being done to combat the disease highlight nutrition as a possible bright light in an otherwise fairly dark landscape.

A small pilot study coming out of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA has identified how Vitamin D3 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids may aid the body’s immune system, enhancing its ability to clear amyloid plaques from the brain. Amyloid plaques are a major feature of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study identified the genes regulated by Vitamin D3 and the Omega-3 Fatty Acid, DHA that might control inflammation and boost plaque clearance. Previous laboratory work by the team helped shed light on how Vitamin D3 can clear amyloid-beta. That’s the abnormal protein in the plaque that builds up in the brains of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease. This new study builds on that research and goes on to highlight the role of Omega-3 DHA.

The researchers took blood samples from a population of Alzheimer’s patients and a population of healthy patients. They isolated macrophages (important immune cells) from the blood. These are the immune cells that absorb amyloid-beta and other waste products in the brain and the rest of the body. Those immune cells were incubated overnight with amyloid-beta — and in addition, some of them were also incubated with an active form of Vitamin D3  and some of them with an active form of Omega-3 Fatty Acid DHA.

The immune cells from Alzheimer’s patients that were incubated with Vitamin D3 and the Omega-3 Fatty Acid DHA had an increased ability ability to absorb the amyloid-beta. They also inhibited the death of the immune cells that is induced by amyloid-beta.

While pleased with the results, researchers pointed out that more study is needed. They seek to clarify the balance of supplementation with Vitamin D3 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids to maximize the clearing of amyloid-beta. They are looking to conduct a larger study to confirm these initial findings. is encouraged by these findings as science seeks to find an answer for this serious and heartbreaking condition affecting older and younger populations worldwide. Nutrition can hold keys to solutions for a variety of different conditions and we are hopeful that this new research points to new hope for Alzheimer’s Disease.

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Chia, the hottest newest health trend has a very clear memory of the first time we ever heard of Chia. It was on television commercials advertising a unique novelty plant called a Chia Pet. It took off right away … and was spun off into many different forms. The original pet was a ceramic animal with seeds that a person would water and Chia grass would sprout on its body. They’re still sold. You can even buy a Chia Dinosaur.

Today, the Chia seed is the newest health trend. This tiny seed contains antioxidants, protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. It has all the properties of a “superfood.” The Chia seed is only a bit larger than a poppy seed, so it has a wide array of uses. It has binding properties, so it can even be used as an egg replacement in baking for people with egg allergies. One tablespoon of Chia powder dissolved in a quarter cup of water equals one egg. It’s gluten-free and contains anti-inflammatory properties. It has no discernible flavor, so you can’t have any real problem with the taste.

Looking at the nutritional content of one tablespoon of Chia seed, it’s easy to see why it’s becoming such a popular addition to the diets of so many people. It contains 60 calories, 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein and 2.4 grams of Omega-3, 64 mg of calcium and 40 mg of magnesium. One tablespoon of Chia seed actually contains the same amount of Omega-3 as does four ounces of salmon. It is important to note that the body can absorb Omega-3 from fish more easily than plant-based Omega-3.

Because of the high fiber content of Chia, it’s of great use to people trying to lose weight, as it will help you stay fuller for a longer period of time. In addition you can keep it in your pantry for about five years. The high levels of antioxidants it contains prevent it from becoming rancid.

So what can you use Chia seed for? In addition to an egg substitute in baking (as was mentioned previously), Chia seeds can be sprinkled over salads, cereal, or yogurt. They can be used as a thickener in sauces and gravies. Because of their binding properties, Chia seeds can be used to make fruit “gels” … puree the fruit of your choice and add some ground seeds. You can use the “gel” to top ice creams or cake. Mix them into hot cereal. There are so many ways to add these tiny nutritional giants into your diet, we could go on and on.

Look for white or black/gray Chia seeds. Brown seeds are not yet ripe, so you won’t gain all the nutritional benefits you would from the white or black/gray seeds.

All of us at are excited to try the myriad of different ways to incorporate Chia seeds into our diet. We bet the Chia Pet had no idea all those years ago that it would be the precursor the latest healthy diet and nutrition news!

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Link between Omega-3s and postpartum depression found some helpful information today regarding Omega-3s and postpartum depression.

A new study out of the University of Montreal has shown a possible link between levels of Omega-3s and this debilitating depression that occurs after giving birth in some women. Previously a link had been found between Omega-3 deficiencies and depression in mice.

Because omega-3 fatty acids are transmitted from the mother to her child while in utero and then after birth through breastfeeding, a deficiency can develop in the mother. This can cause an omega-3 deficiency to develop in the mother. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fatty fish and in certain nuts and seeds.

The research analyzed the data collected in 75 earlier studies on Omega-3 fatty acid levels and a gene known as the 5-HTT gene. This is the gene that controls the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a mood regulator in our brain. Typically, serotonin levels drop in pregnant women because tryptophan, the chemical used to produce serotonin is redirected to support the growing fetus. The research explored the idea that perhaps raising the levels of Omega-3 fatty acids might increase the 5-HTT gene and raise serotonin levels in the brain of the expectant mother … thereby alleviating depression.

It does appear that increased levels of Omega-3 fatty acids found in certain fish, nuts and seeds can, in fact, have a positive effect on postpartum depression. Gabriel Shapiro, who led the study, commented, “The literature shows that there could be a link between pregnancy, omega-3 and the chemical reaction that enables serotonin, a mood regulator, to be released into our brains. So much of what we know about postpartum depression has to do with risk factors that are difficult, if not impossible to change – things like socioeconomic status, personal history of depression or genetic exposures.” This study would seem to point to a new direction, one which might be more easily treatable, and ultimately, solvable.

While understands that more research must be done to conclusively prove these findings, it would seem fairly simple for pregnant women to up their consumption of Omega-3 fatty acid rich fish, nuts and seeds – or to safely supplement with appropriate nutritionals under the guidance of their doctors.

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