The Best Fish for Your Health and the Earth


Best Fish to Eat

Story at-a-glance

  • Smaller fish like sardines, anchovies, and herring tend to be low in contaminants and high in omega-3 fats
  • Avoid farmed fish, which tend to be higher in contaminants, lower in healthy fats, and risky for the environment
  • To find sustainable seafood options, look for seafood certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

Fish has always been the best source for the animal-based omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, but as levels of pollution have increased you have to be very choosy about which types of seafood you decide to eat.

If you’re not careful, the toxic effects from the pollutants in the fish will outweigh the benefits of the omega-3 fats. Meanwhile, many fish species have been overfished and are dangerously depleted. When choosing seafood for your family, it’s important to take not only your health into consideration but also that of the environment. As reported by National Geographic:1

“Fisheries for the most sought-after species, like orange roughy, Chilean sea bass, and bluefin tuna have collapsed. In 2003, a scientific report estimated that industrial fishing had reduced the number of large ocean fish to just 10 percent of their pre-industrial population.

Faced with the collapse of large-fish populations, commercial fleets are going deeper in the ocean and farther down the food chain for viable catches. This so-called ‘fishing down’ is triggering a chain reaction that is upsetting the ancient and delicate balance of the sea’s biologic system.

A study of catch data published in 2006 in the journal Science grimly predicted that if fishing rates continue apace, all the world’s fisheries will have collapsed by the year 2048.”

Why Farmed Fish Are Not a Good Option

Industrial fish farming, or aquaculture, is the fastest growing form of food production in the world.2 About half of the world’s seafood comes from fish farms, including in the US, and this is expected to increase. At first glance, farmed fish may seem like a good idea to help protect wild seafood populations from overfishing.

In reality, however, the industry is plagued with many of the same problems surrounding land-based concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), including pollution, disease, and inferior nutritional quality.

It’s getting so bad that fish farms can easily be described as “CAFOs of the sea.” Many farmed fish are fed genetically modified (GM) corn and soy, which is a completely unnatural diet for marine life. Others are fed fishmeal, which is known to accumulate industrial chemicals like PCBs and dioxins.

Fish waste and uneaten feed litter the sea floor beneath these farms, generating bacteria that consume oxygen vital to shellfish and other bottom-dwelling sea creatures. Farmed fish waste promotes algal growth that harms the water’s oxygen content, posing risks to coral reefs and other aquatic life.

The close quarters where farmed fish are raised (combined with their unnatural diets) means disease can spread quickly, and because farmed fish are often raised in pens in the ocean, pathogens can spread like wildfire and contaminate any wild fish swimming past.

Concentrated antibiotics, pesticides, and other chemicals are also commonly used to fight diseases and parasites common to fish farms. One study found a drug used to kill sea lice also kills other marine invertebrates, can travel up to half a mile and persists in the water for hours…3

Farmed Fish May Contain Fewer Healthy Fats

If you’re eating fish you’re probably doing so, in part, to take advantage of their beneficial omega-3 fats. Fish in the wild, especially oily fish such as salmon, are a rich source of omega-3 fats. But levels of critical omega-3 fats may be reduced by about 50 percent in farmed salmon, compared to wild salmon, due to increasing amounts of grain feed.

That being said, farmed salmon are much fattier overall than wild salmon. The economic incentive to speed the growth of farmed salmon has led to the use of increasingly high-energy diets, which is why farmed grow so big.

High fat itself is not a problem, but what comprises that fat IS the problem. Farmed salmon are much higher in omega-6 fat—almost five times higher—and the typical American already gets 10 to 20 times too much omega-6 as they need.

It’s not only farmed salmon that has an unfavorable ratio of fats, either. One study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found farmed tilapia and farmed catfish also have much lower concentrations of omega-3s and very high ratios of omega-6 fats to omega-3 fats. According to the study:4

Taken together, these data reveal that marked changes in the fishing industry during the past decade have produced widely eaten fish that have fatty acid characteristics that are generally accepted to be inflammatory by the health care community.”

Further, when researchers looked into the effect of farmed trout on cardiovascular risk markers in men, they found trout raised on vegetable-based feed had a less pronounced impact on omega-3 levels.5

Farmed Fish May Be More Contaminated Than Wild-Caught Fish

Farmed salmon also has much higher concentrations of persistent, bioaccumulative contaminants than wild salmon.6 Scientists have concluded:7

“Consumption of farmed salmon at relatively low frequencies results in elevated exposure to dioxins and dioxin-like compounds with commensurate elevation in estimates of health risk.”

In a global assessment of farmed salmon published in the January 2004 issue of Science, 13 persistent organic pollutants were found.8 Some of the most dangerous are PCBs, strongly associated with cancer, reproductive, and other health problems. PCB concentrations in farmed salmon were found to be eight times higher than in wild salmon.

Those contamination levels are deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but not by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Researchers postulated that if EPA guidelines were applied to the farmed salmon they tested, recommendations would be to restrict salmon consumption to no more than once per month.

Certain types of farmed fish, including farmed catfish imported from China and farmed shrimp from China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Indonesia are on the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) watch list for illegal drug residues, including antibiotics and anti-fungal compounds.9

Most Shrimp Is Farmed… and Should Be Avoided

Shrimp is the most popular seafood in the US, but the vast majority of shrimp (over 90 percent) come from industrial shrimp farms off the coasts of India, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and other countries where industry regulations may be less strict than in the US.

For example, the US does not permit the use of antibiotics in shrimp farming, but many other nations use antibiotics in their operations. It’s illegal to import shrimp raised on antibiotics into the US.

But in one recent study Consumer Reports detected antibiotics in 11 of 342 samples of imported raw farmed shrimp.10 A lack of enforcement of the laws is part of the problem. Bacteria were also detected on 60 percent of the shrimp tested, including bacteria that can cause staph infection and food poisoning, which is suggestive of poor hygiene among food processors.

Aside from potential contamination, farmed shrimp is unsustainable. Carnivorous sea animals such as prawns need fish in their diet, and dwindling fish stocks in the wild has led to illegal fishing; some of it within national park waters off the coast of Thailand—an area that now supplies much of the fish meal to feed factory farmed animals, including farmed shrimp and prawns.

Trawling for “trash fish” along the coast of Southeast Asia to meet the demand for shrimp feed is having devastating effects on the ecosystem. All sorts of tropical fish, and even rare shark species, sea sponges, starfish, and octopi end up as fish feed in this process.

They also catch small, immature fish reduces overall fish stocks, as bigger fish are left without a suitable food source. The end result is rapidly decreasing fish stocks for human consumption.

In short, the entire balance in nature is being destroyed. Illegal toxic pesticides are also routinely used to farm shrimp in some of these areas, including endosulfan, a broad-spectrum insecticide that is banned in more than 80 countries due to its environmental and human toxicity.

Shrimp Products Are Often Misrepresented

Adding to the controversy, it’s not always possible to tell whether the shrimp you’re eating is farm-raised or wild-caught. A 2014 report by the ocean conservation group Oceana revealed that over 30 percent of shrimp products sold in US grocery stores and restaurants are misrepresented.11 Fifteen percent were mislabeled in regard to production method (farm-raised or wild-caught) or species.

Farmed species were often labeled as “Gulf shrimp,” and different species were often mixed together in one bag, or otherwise mislabeled. One sample of frozen shrimp salad even contained a type of aquarium pet shrimp that is not intended for human consumption.

Ironically, if you’re looking for wild-caught shrimp, you may be best off purchasing products labeled simply as “shrimp,” as two-thirds of such packages contained wild-caught Gulf shrimp, while more than one-third of those labeled as “Gulf shrimp” were actually farm-raised. Assuming it’s labeled accurately, wild shrimp is a generally healthy and sustainable choice, but this excludes wild shrimp caught in Mexico or Louisiana. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program:12

“Wild shrimp from Louisiana and Mexico are on the ‘Avoid’ list for poor management, illegal fishing or heavy bycatch loads that include sea turtles and many other species.”

Why You Should Be Wary of Canned and Sushi Tuna

The larger a fish is, the longer it has lived and the more time it has had to bioaccumulate toxins like mercury from the ocean. One study from the US Geological Survey found that ALL tuna tested contained fairly high amounts of mercury. The contamination may be even worse in restaurants, which suggests that eating restaurant tuna is a risky proposition. In a separate study, toxicological testing revealed that tuna sold in restaurants actually contained HIGHER amounts of mercury than the store-bought variety.13

The reason for this is because restaurants tend to favor certain species of tuna, such as bluefin akami and bigeye tuna, which had significantly higher levels of mercury than bluefin toro and yellowfin tuna. Unfortunately, mercury tends to accumulate to a greater degree in muscle than in fat, rendering these highly prized, leaner species of tuna more susceptible to high contamination. As for canned tuna, albacore has been found to contain about three times more mercury than light chunk tuna (0.353 ppm vs. 0.118 ppm).14

Independent testing by the Mercury Policy Project found that the average mercury concentration in albacore canned tuna was typically even greater than that, with most samples exceeding 0.5 ppm.15 The rate of mercury contamination in tuna and other Pacific fish increased 30 percent between 1990 and 2009. About 40 percent of all US exposure to mercury comes from eating contaminated tuna from the Pacific, and roughly 75 percent of all human exposure to mercury in general comes from eating fish.

Not to mention, like shrimp, tuna is also often mislabeled. According to Oceana, nearly 60 percent of the fish labeled “tuna” in the US is not actually tuna.16 And, 84 percent of “white tuna” sold in sushi venues was actually escolar, a fish associated with acute and serious digestive effects if you eat just a couple of ounces.

What Are the Best Fish to Eat?

Among the safest in terms of contamination, and the highest in healthy omega-3 fat, is wild-caught Alaskan and sockeye salmon. Neither is allowed to be farmed, and are therefore always wild-caught. The risk of sockeye accumulating high amounts of mercury and other toxins is reduced because of its short life cycle, which is only about three years.

Additionally, bioaccumulation of toxins is also reduced by the fact that it doesn’t feed on other, already contaminated, fish. The two designations you want to look for on the label are: “Alaskan salmon” (or wild Alaskan salmon) and “Sockeye salmon.”

Canned salmon labeled “Alaskan salmon” is also a good choice and offers a less expensive alternative to salmon fillets. A general guideline is that the closer to the bottom of the food chain the fish is, the less contamination it will have accumulated, so other safer choices include smaller fish like sardines, anchovies, and herring. Sardines, in particular, are one of the most concentrated sources of omega-3 fats, with one serving containing more than 50 percent of your recommended daily value.17

They also contain a wealth of other nutrients, from vitamin B12 and selenium to protein, calcium, and choline, making them one of the best dietary sources of animal-based omega-3s. From a sustainability perspective, you’ll want to avoid Atlantic sardines that come from the Mediterranean in favor of Pacific sardines. According to the Seafood Watch program:18

“As a result of ineffective management and overfishing, consumers should ‘avoid’ Atlantic sardines from the Mediterranean. Instead, choose the relatively abundant and well-managed Pacific sardines from U.S. waters – a Seafood Watch ‘Best Choice.’”

Finally, no matter what type of fish you’re considering, look for varieties that have received the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. This certification assures that every component of the manufacturing process – from how the raw materials are harvested to how the product is manufactured – has been scrutinized by MSC and has been independently audited to ensure it meets sustainable standards.

All of my krill products, for example, are MSC certified, allowing you to track where the krill oil came from in the Antarctic Ocean, as each batch of krill is carefully monitored all the way through, from catch to sale. Seafood Watch can also guide you in the direction of more sustainable seafood choices. They have a searchable database to find more sustainable seafood options, and they even offer a Sustainable Seafood app for your smartphone. Other labels that signify more sustainable products include:

  • Whole Foods Market Responsibly Farmed 3rd Party certification
  • Fishwise: The Fishwise label identifies how the fish was caught, where it came from, and whether the fish is sustainable (or environmentally threatened).
  • Seafood Safe: The Seafood Safe label involves independent testing of fish for contaminants, including mercury and PCBs, and recommendations for consumption based upon the findings.

Your Practical Guide to Omega-3 Benefits and Supplementation


Time and again, I have emphasized that omega-3 fats are essential to your overall health. And I am not alone – other health experts stress the same, and decades of research have been devoted to discovering the many health benefits of omega-3. Omega-3 comes from both animal and plant sources, most notably from krill oil and fish oil. They have become a multibillion-dollar business, with Americans spending about 2.6 billion dollars on nutritional supplements and foods fortified with omega-3 fats.1

Get the lowdown on omega-3 – its different types and sources, the omega-3 and omega-6 balance you should strive to achieve, and how to know if you are getting the highest-quality omega-3 fats for the wealth of health gains.

Types of Omega-3 Fats

Omega-3 fats are acquired from both animal and plant sources, but there is a lot of confusion when it comes to what type you should take to get the best omega-3 benefits.

Marine animals such as fish and krill provide eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are mostly promoted for their protective effects on your heart. Flaxseed, chia, hemp, and a few other foods, on the other hand, offer alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). 2

You would want to choose an animal-based variety – most of the health benefits linked to omega-3 fats are linked to the animal-based EPA and DHA, not the plant-based ALA.

Furthermore, ALA is converted into EPA and DHA in your body at a very low ratio. What this means is that even if you consume large amounts of ALA, your body can only convert a relatively small amount into EPA and DHA, and only when there are sufficient enzymes.

Remember, though, that plant-based omega-3 fats are NOT inherently harmful or should be avoided. Ideally, what you want to do is include an animal-based form in your diet. For instance, you can combine flax and hemp in your diet with animal-based omega-3s.

A Rundown of Omega-3 Benefits

Omega-3 ranks among the most important essential nutrients out there today.3In 2008, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition4, 5, 6 published three studies investigating the role of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids in elderly populations.

Low concentrations of EPA and DHA resulted in an increased risk of death from all causes, as well as accelerated cognitive decline. The studies also suggest that a higher intake of omega-3s may bring certain health benefits that short-term supplementation cannot give.

Here are other evidence of omega-3 benefits:

    1. Omega-3 benefits your heart health. An Italian study (GISSI)7 of 11,324 heart attack survivors found that patients supplementing with fish oils markedly reduced their risk of another heart attack, stroke, or death. In a separate study, 8 American medical researchers reported that men who consumed fish once or more every week had a 50 percent lower risk of dying from a sudden cardiac event than do men who eat fish less than once a month.
    2. Omega-3 normalizes and regulates your cholesterol triglyceride levels. Compared to a statin, both fish oil and krill oil are more efficient in doing this. According to a study comparing the efficiency of krill and fish oils in reducing triglyceride levels,9 both oils notably reduced the enzyme activity that causes the liver to metabolize fat, but krill had a more pronounced effects, reducing liver triglycerides significantly more.

Fasting triglyceride levels are a powerful indication of your ability to have healthy lipid profiles, which can be indicative of your heart health.

Studies have also shown that omega-3 fats are anti-arrhythmic (preventing or counteracting cardiac arrhythmia), anti-thrombotic (prevents thrombosis or a blood clot within a blood vessel), anti-atherosclerotic (preventing fatty deposits and fibrosis of the inner layer of your arteries), and anti-inflammatory (counteracting inflammation – the heat, pain, swelling, etc).

    1. DHA affects your child’s learning and behavior. Do you want to maximize your child’s intellectual potential? A study published in Plos Onein June 201310 linked low levels of DHA with poorer reading, and memory and behavioral problems in healthy school-age children. In another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August 2013,11children who consumed an omega-3 fat supplement as infants scored higher on rule learning, vocabulary, and intelligent testing at ages 3 to 5.

Previous research also found that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related behavior or learning disabilities are more likely to have low omega-3 fat levels.

Omega-3 has such great impact on your brain health – EPA and DHA keep the dopamine levels in your brain high, increase neuronal growth in the frontal cortex of your brain, and increase cerebral circulation.

    1. Omega-3 has been found to save the lives of children going through short bowel syndrome (SBS), which is uncommon but impacts thousands of people in the United States. SBS can occur from birth (when a portion of the intestine fails to develop) or due to an infectious inflammatory disease striking premature newborns. In adults, it can be caused by surgery for Crohn’s disease or injury.

Alarmed by the situation, Dr. Mark Puder, surgeon at Children’s Hospital Boston,12 said that they knew most of the children with SBS were going to die. Then the physicians noted that when the kids were given the nutritional supplement Omegaven (made of fish oil), they began to improve drastically.

The fish oil treatment was given to 112 children at the hospital, where more than 90 percent of the children with SBS are still alive. There has been striking results that the fish oil supplement is also made available at 70 hospitals worldwide.

Omega-3 benefits cover many areas of health, from mental and behavioral health to preventing premature death from disease, including the following:

Coronary heart disease and stroke Essential fatty acid deficiency in infancy (retinal and brain development) General brain function, including memory and Parkinson’s disease
ADHD Autoimmune disorders, e.g. lupus and nephropathy Osteoporosis
Crohn’s disease Cancers of the breast, colon, and prostate Rheumatoid arthritis

You May Be Running Low on These Beneficial Fats

Omega-3 Deficiency Affects the HeartMost people fail to consume sufficient amounts of omega-3 fats, which makesomega-3 deficiency likely the sixth biggest killer of Americans. This deficiency can cause or contribute to serious mental and physical health problems, and may be a significant underlying factor of up to 96,000 premature deaths each year.

In fact, dietary fat intake has been among the most widely studied dietary risk factors for breast and prostate cancers. Two studies from 2002 explain how omega-3 can protect against breast cancer. BRCA1 (breast cancer gene 1) and BRCA2 (breast cancer gene 2) are two tumor suppressor genes that, when functioning normally, help repair DNA damage, a process that also prevents tumor development.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fats have been found to influence these two genes – omega-3 tends to reduce cancer cell growth, while highly processed and toxic omega-6 has been found to cause cancer growth.

Considering that omega-3 deficiency is a common underlying factor for cancer and heart disease, it is no longer surprising for statistics to show that this deficiency may be responsible for nearly 100,000 deaths every year.

Special attention should also be given to the fact that most women have major deficiencies of omega-3. A 1991 study at the Mayo Clinic focused on 19 “normal” pregnant women consuming “normal diets,” and it showed that all were deficient in omega-3 fats. Another study compared Inuit (Eskimo) women to Canadian women, and it revealed omega-3 deficiency in the milk of the Canadian nursing moms.

Animal cells cannot form omega-3, so a fetus must obtain all of its omega-3 fatty acids from its mother’s diet. A mother’s dietary intake and plasma concentrations of DHA directly influence the DHA level of the developing fetus, impacting the child’s brain and eye health.

So remember that if you are pregnant, your baby is dependent on the omega-3 from your diet via breast milk. It is then crucial that you maintain adequate omega-3 supply.

The Omega-3-Omega-6 Balance You Should Maintain in Your Body

omega 3 capletsOmega-3 and omega-6 are two types of fat that are essential for human health. However, the typical American consumes far too many omega-6 fats in her diet while consuming very low omega-3 levels.

The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 1:1. Our forefathers evolved over millions of years on this ratio. Today, however, our ratio averages from 20:1 to 50:1 – this spells serous dangers to your well-being! In fact, mainstream media has finally reported that lack of omega-3 is among the most serious and pressing health issues plaguing our world.Omega-6 is primarily sourced from corn, soy, canola, safflower, and sunflower oils. These are overabundant in the typical diet, which accounts for excess omega-6 levels.

Omega-6 fats predominate the diet in the US, and this encourages the production ofinflammation in your body. Many scientists believe that one reason there is a high incidence of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, premature aging, and some cancer forms today is this profound omega-3-omega-6 imbalance.

Sources of Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats

Perhaps you are wondering what animal-based omega-3 options are available for you. Here are the primary ones:

    • Fish – In a perfect world, fish can provide you all the omega-3s you need. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the fish supply is now heavily tainted with industrial toxins and pollutants, such as heavy metals, PCBs, and radioactive poisons. These toxins make eating fish no longer recommended.

About the only exception are wild-caught Alaskan salmon and very small fish like sardines. The highest concentrations of mercury are found in large carnivorous fish like tuna, sea bass, and marlin. You may need to be especially cautious canned tuna as well, as independent testing by the Mercury Policy Project found that the average mercury concentration in canned tuna is far over the “safe limits” of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

It is also important that you avoid farmed salmon, which contains only about half of the omega-3 levels of wild salmon. It may also harbor a range of contaminants, including environmental toxins, synthetic astaxanthin, and harmful metabolic byproducts and agrichemical residues of GMO corn- and soy-based feed they are given.

    • Fish oil – Fish oil is among the primary ways that people enhance their intake of omega-3 fats. High-quality fish oils can certainly provide many health benefits. However, this oil is weak in antioxidants. This means that as you increase your omega-3 intake through fish oil consumption, you actually increase your need for added antioxidant protection.

This happens because fish oil is a bit perishable, and oxidation leads to the formation of harmful free radicals. Antioxidants are therefore necessary to ensure that the fish oil doesn’t oxidize and become rancid in your body.

    • Cod liver oil – I no longer recommend this because of the potential for problematic ratios of vitamins A and D.
    • Krill oil – This is my preferred choice for animal-based omega-3 fats. Its antioxidant potency is 48 times higher than fish oil. It also contains astaxanthin, a marine-source flavonoid that creates a special bond with the EPA and DHA to allow direct metabolism of the antioxidants, making them more bioavailable.

Krill Oil BenefitsKrill – or “okiami” as the Japanese call it – are small, shrimp-like creatures that are a cherished food source in Asia since the 19th century or earlier.

Krill harvesting is a completely sustainable and one of the most eco-friendly on the planet. Krill are the largest biomass in the world and can be found in all oceans. Antarctic krill, by far the most abundant, is under the management of an international organization of 25 countries known as the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

Antarctic krill biomass is using strict international precautionary catch limit regulations, reviewed regularly to assure sustainability. No shortage of krill has ever been forecasted by CCAMLR.

Fish oil and krill oil are the two major players in the realm of animal-based omega-3 fats. But I have plenty of reasons to believe that krill oil offers superior benefits. In fact, two studies illustrate this:

  • A January 2011 study in Lipids13 found that the metabolic effects of the two oils are “essential similar,” but krill oil is as effective as fish oil despite containing less EPA and DHA.
  • Another data, still unpublished in that year, suggests that krill oil is absorbed up to 10 to 15 times as well as fish oil. Its molecular composition14 is said to account for this better absorbability.

This Mercola infographic will provide a summary of why I choose krill over fish oil.

Giving Omega-3 Fats to Your Child

From the time of your pregnancy through your child’s later life, omega-3 fats DHA and EPA have a radically important role in her brain health and other functions. I recommend supplementing with krill oil before and during pregnancy, and while you breastfeed. Babies receive DHA through your breast milk, so continuing breastfeeding through the first year will give your child a great headstart for health and success.

As soon as your child can safely swallow a capsule, she can start taking a high-quality krill oil supplement, which should be kid-sized or about half the size of a regular capsule. The supplement should also be odor-free, making it easy and palatable for children to swallow.

Final Recommendations

Make sure that you and your children get the right type of omega-3 fats. Go for a pollution-free, eco-friendly, and highly sustainable source, like krill oil. The good news is that krill oil appears to work at a lower dose, and this results in major cost savings, making it more affordable than fish oil.

I always emphasize making healthy, wholesome food choices to get all the nutrients you need. In this case, supplementing your diet with a high-quality source of omega-3 fats, such as real krill oil, is a surefire way to help optimize your health.

Omega-3s boost brain health by improving neuron cell membrane functionality .


Most Americans have an omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid imbalance due to the prevalence of unsaturated omega-6 fatty acids from polyunsaturated processed oils in processed foods.

omega-3

It should minimally be three to one omega-6 to omega-3, while one to one is considered ideal by experts. But it’s estimated that many SAD (standard American diet) consumers are at around 20 to 1 omega-6 to omega-3 or worse.

This imbalance creates chronic inflammation that invites obesity and even more serious autoimmune diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids from eggs, whole organic raw milk, and meat and fish from healthy sources provide instantly usable omega-3 fatty acids that are important for heart health and optimal brain function, despite medical dogma and “common knowledge” to the contrary.

Plant-based polyunsaturated seeds or oils, such as flax oils or ground seeds, hemp oils or seeds and chia seeds, do provide additional health benefits and elements of usable omega-3.

But the process of converting plant based ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) into usable omega-3 as EPA and DHA is less efficient among diabetics and wanes as we grow older.

EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are already formed for us by fish and animal sources, and they are very supportive of heart and brain health and reduce rheumatoid arthritis issues. [1]

But it would be wise to balance those out with plant sources as well, since they offer other nutritional advantages that we all need. Omega-3s have provided amazing results for brain protection and restoration in animal studies and in real-life human brain damage recoveries.

Animal (in vivo) and lab (in vitro) studies

A study comparing mice with omega-3-rich diets to those without was conducted at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology and published in the journal Stroke.

The researchers determined that omega-3s in brain-damaged mice brought about brain-damage repair and neuroprotection by suppressing an inflammatory process. [2]

The exact mechanics of this neuroprotection and reconstruction were explored more recently in 2014. Three Paris universities collaborated on in vitro (lab cultures) studies using high magnification.

That study proved that the presence of omega-3 lipids makes the brain cell membranes more malleable and therefore more sensitive to deformation and fission by proteins.

This might seem like a bad thing, but malleability, deformation and fission are elements of endocytosis, a vital function enabling brain cells’ membranes to transport hormones and nutrients and provide efficient neurotransmitter pathways for optimum brain function.

The study results were published in the journal Science on August 8, 2014. [3] [4]

And now for something more dramatic

In Virginia a couple of years ago, a high school teenager whose brain was so damaged in a car accident that his parents were informed that he would be vegetative for the rest of his life if he ever came out of his coma while on life support.

The teen’s dad refused to give up. An old Army buddy, now MD, told him about a recent similar case in neighboring West Virginia where a 26-year-old man brain-damaged and in a coma was flirting with death after a coal-mining accident. He was treated with high-dose fish oil through his feeding tube, 20 grams a day. One gram a day is considered normal supplementation, with three grams a day the limit. [1]

The West Virginia hospital’s neurosurgeon knew omega-3s were an important part of brain cell structures. He courageously broke the boundaries of the American Medical Association’s “standard of care” and helped the young coal miner walk out of the hospital just three months after the mining accident.

The Virginia hospital didn’t have that courageous neurosurgeon, so the teenage boy’s father’s efforts to convince the hospital to duplicate that West Virginia neurosurgeon’s protocol on his own son was an uphill drama.

But he ultimately succeeded with getting the hospital to duplicate that mega-dose fish oil feeding protocol to restore his son’s ability to walk and even formally address his high school classmates on graduation day. [5]

Sources for this article include:

[1] http://umm.edu

[2]http://science.naturalnews.com

[3] http://www2.cnrs.fr [PDF]

[4] http://www.sciencedaily.com

[5] http://www.naturalnews.com

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/046544_omega-3_fatty_acids_neurons_cell_membranes.html#ixzz3BDv44jad

DHA Linked to Intelligence in Children.


Story at-a-glance

  • Low levels of the omega-3 fat DHA were associated with poorer reading, memory and behavioral problems in healthy school-aged children
  • Children who consumed an omega-3 fat supplement as infants scored higher on rule learning, vocabulary and intelligence testing at ages 3-5
  • Previous studies have also found children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related behavior/learning disabilities are more likely to have low omega-3 fat levels, as well as benefit from supplementation
  • I recommend supplementing with animal-based omega-3 fats like krill oil before and during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding (infants receive DHA through breast milk); as soon as your child can safely swallow a capsule, he or she can start taking a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 supplement
  • dha
  • If you want your child to reach his or her maximum intellectual potential, the research is clear that plentiful intake of the omega-3 fat DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is essential.
  • In the US, most kids get hardly any of this healthful fat, found primarily in seafood, in their diets, and may be missing out on this simple opportunity to boost brain performance.
  • Most recently, two new studies have confirmed that boosting your child’s intake of DHA as an infant and into the school-age years may be a simple way to generate measurable improvements in their brain function.
  • The first study involved children aged 7-9 who had below-average reading scores. In these kids, low levels of DHA and other omega-3 fats were associated with poor reading, memory and behavioral problems.1
  • Previous studies have also found children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related behavior/learning disabilities are more likely to have low omega-3 fat levels that could benefit from supplementation.
  • The new study was unique in that it looked at healthy children without learning disabilities, but with poor reading skills, and still found a link with low omega-3 levels.
  • “These findings require confirmation, but suggest that the benefits from dietary supplementation with Omega-3 LC-PUFA [long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids] found for ADHD, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, and related conditions might extend to the general school population,” the researchers concluded.
  • In the second study, a group of infants received either an omega-3 fat supplement or a placebo.2 Tests to evaluate their cognition were given every six months starting at age 18 months and continuing until they were 6 years old.
  • While no changes were noted in the early test done at 18 months, the study found that infants consuming omega-3 fats consistently outscored the placebo group later, between 3 and 5 years old.
  • Specifically, the omega-3 fat group scored higher on rule learning, vocabulary and intelligence testing, which suggests early omega-3 fat supplementation, during the key period when your child’s brain is still developing, may translate directly into greater intelligence in the pre-school and school-aged years. The researchers noted:
  • “ … although the effects of LCPUFAs [omega-3 fats] may not always be evident on standardized developmental tasks at 18 mo[nths], significant effects may emerge later on [for] more specific or fine-grained tasks.”
  • Sixty percent of your brain is made up of fat. DHA alone makes up about 15 percent to 20 percent of your brain’s cerebral cortex. It’s found in relatively high levels in your neurons – the cells of your central nervous system, where it provides structural support.
  • Because your brain is literally built from omega-3 fats, it makes sense that it would play an integral role in brain function (and even may help support healing after a brain injury).
  • Still more research found, for instance, that DHA supplementation might affect functional cortical brain activity in 8-10-year-old boys.3
  • The study included 33 healthy boys who were randomly assigned to receive a daily dose of either 400 milligrams (mg) of DHA, 1,200 mg of DHA, or a placebo, for two months. Researchers then measured the boys’ brain activation patterns, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), while the boys were playing video games.
  • In the group receiving the highest daily dose, the DHA levels in the membrane of red blood cells (erythrocytes) increased by a whopping 70 percent. The lower dose group saw an increase of 47 percent, while the placebo group had an 11 percent reduction in DHA levels while performing this type of sustained attention task.
  • The fMRI data indicates that there were significant increases in the activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex part of the brain in the groups receiving supplemental DHA. This is an area of your brain that is associated with working memory.

    They also noticed changes in other parts of the brain, including the occipital cortex (the visual processing center) and the cerebellar cortex (which plays a role in motor control). The researchers noted:

  • “These findings suggest that this imaging paradigm could be useful for elucidating neurobiological mechanisms underlying deficits in cortical activity in psychiatric disorders associated with DHA deficiencies, including ADHD and major depression.”
  • A high-quality, animal-based omega-3 supplement is something that I recommend for virtually everyone, especially if you’re pregnant, as the benefits likely begin in utero. Research has, in fact, linked inadequate intake of omega-3 fats in pregnant women to premature birth and low birth weight, in addition to hyperactivity in children. So not only is this one healthful fat your children should be consuming, but you should likely be consuming as well – and this includes in later life, too.
  • It is a point well worth emphasizing that omega-3 fats are considered essential because your body cannot produce them, and must get them from your daily diet. DHA-rich foods include wild fish, liver, and brain—all of which are no longer consumed in great amounts by most Americans. When your omega-3 intake is inadequate, your nerve cells become stiff and more prone to inflammation as the missing omega-3 fats are substituted with cholesterol and omega-6 instead. Once your nerve cells become rigid and inflamed, proper neurotransmission from cell to cell and within cells become compromised.
  • It’s thought that the unsaturated fatty acid composition of normal brain tissue is age-specific, which could imply that in addition to their importance during brain development, the older you get, the greater your need for animal-based omega-3 fat to prevent mental decline and brain degeneration becomes.4
  • For example, low DHA levels have been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, and research suggests degenerative conditions can not only be prevented but also potentially reversed. For example, in one study, 485 elderly volunteers suffering from memory deficits saw significant improvement after taking 900 mg of DHA per day for 24 weeks, compared with controls.5 The point is, consuming omega-3 fats is a lifelong habit you should get into, just as important as drinking plenty of pure water and eating vegetables…
  • While a helpful form of omega-3 (ALA) can be found in flaxseed, chia, hemp, and a few other foods, the most beneficial form of omega-3 — containing the two fatty acids, DHA and EPA, which are essential to brain function — can only be found in fish and krill. While your body can convert ALA into DHA/EPA, it does so at a very low ratio, and only when sufficient enzymes (that many people are deficient in) are present.
  • Unfortunately, nearly all EPA- and DHA-rich fish are now severely contaminated with toxic mercury, which is why I generally don’t recommend consuming fish on a regular basis. About the only exception to this rule is wild-caught Alaskan salmon or very small fish, like sardines. Alaskan salmon is really the ONLY fish I eat regularly, and the only one I feel comfortable recommending as a good source of healthful fats. AVOID farmed salmon, as it contains only about half of the omega-3 levels of wild salmon. Farmed salmon may also contain a range of harmful contaminants, including environmental toxins, synthetic astaxanthin, and dangerous metabolic byproducts and agrichemical residues of genetically engineered organisms from the corn- and soy-based feed they’re given.
  • My latest recommendation for a source of high-quality omega-3 fats is krill oil. The omega-3 in krill is attached to phospholipids that increase its absorption, which means you need less of it, and it won’t cause belching or burping like many other fish oil products. Additionally, it contains naturally occurring astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant—almost 50 times morethan is present in fish oil.
  • This prevents the highly perishable omega-3 fats from oxidizing before you are able to integrate them into your cellular tissue. In laboratory tests, krill oil remained undamaged after being exposed to a steady flow of oxygen for 190 hours. Compare that to fish oil, which went rancid after just one hour. That makes krill oil nearly 200 times more resistant to oxidative damage (i.e. rancidity) compared to fish oil! When purchasing krill oil, you’ll want to read the label and check the amount of astaxanthin it contains. The more the better, but anything above 0.2 mg per gram of krill oil will protect it from rancidity.
  • As for your kids, I recommend supplementing with krill oil before and during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. Infants receive vital DHA through your breast milk, so if you can continue breastfeeding through the first year, you will give your child a great head start for success in life.
  • Then, as soon as your child can safely swallow a capsule, he or she can start taking a high-quality krill oil supplement. The capsules should be kid-sized – about half the size of a regular capsule – and odor-free, making them easy and palatable for kids to swallow.

·         Low DHA Levels May Impact Reading, Memory and Behavior

·         DHA Supplementation Early in Life Increases Intelligence as Older Children

·         Omega-3s Found to Alter and Boost Brain Function

·         Omega-3 Fats Are Essential During Pregnancy (and Later in Life) Too

·         What’s the Optimal Source of Omega-3 Fats?

·         Tips for Giving Omega-3 Fats to Kids

Source: mercola.com

 

 

Serum long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, methylmercury and blood pressure in an older population.


Fish or fish oil consumption has been associated with lower blood pressure. Fish may also contain methylmercury, which has been associated with cardiovascular diseases and higher blood pressure. Our aim was to study the associations of serum long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), mainly reflecting fish or fish oil intake, and hair mercury concentration with blood pressure. Data were available for 848 men and 909 women from the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, aged 53–73 years. We excluded participants with ischemic heart disease, stroke, diabetes or hypertension treatment, leaving 396 men and 372 women. Log-transformed values were used to study the associations. The mean serum concentrations were 1.63% (s.d. 0.91) for EPA, 0.77% (s.d. 0.16) for DPA and 2.73% (s.d. 0.90) for DHA of all serum fatty acids. Multivariate-adjusted serum EPA+DPA+DHA was associated with lower systolic blood pressure (β=−4.50, 95% confidence interval (CI) −8.02–−0.99) and pulse pressure (β=−4.41, 95% CI −6.95–−1.87), but not with diastolic blood pressure (β=−0.45, 95% CI −2.31–1.52). The associations were similar with EPA, DPA and DHA evaluated individually. The mean hair mercury concentration was 1.42 μg g−1 (s.d. 1.54). Hair mercury was not associated with blood pressure and it did not modify the association between PUFA and blood pressure. These results suggest that higher serum long-chain n-3 PUFA concentration has a modest inverse association with blood pressure in older men and women.

Source: Hypertension Research/nature.