The Daily Mail publishes an interesting article on Omega 3 DHA / EPA, essential fats and their importance for brain health and optimal cognitive function. ( Daily Mail: Fat lot of good: How eating more cheese and milk could make you brainier )
More fats for our brains, not more fats for our bottoms!
Despite the obligatory Daily Mail red herring headline advising us all to eat cheese to get brainier, there is a good summary of Omega-3 studies in the article. It’s a shame they don’t go into the benefits of Omega-3 DHA and EPA from Algae but it’s only recently that purified forms of algae have allowed higher doses of plant based DHA that now rival the dosages in fish oil.
With the study on cheese there could be a number of points overlooked. Organic milk has up to 71 percent more Omega-3 than non-organic milk, according to a?study by the University of Aberdeen so the type of cheese may play a part. Also if more of the participant’s calorific content is from cheese, it is likely they are replacing meat with cheese, typical of?many vegetarians who use cheese as a protein replacement for meat. In this case, one would hope they are also eating a higher percentage of fruit and vegetables. “The study was published in the International Dairy Journal, and did not conclusively establish the link between dairy and fatty diets and brain power”,?say the Daily Mail
More relevant is a U.S. study, published in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology,? involving 104 pensioners, where scientists found older people with higher levels of (Omega-3 essential fats) in their blood had less brain shrinkage typical of Alzheimer?s disease.? Relevant because it measured Omega-3 in blood, rather than relying on food diaries.
A study published in the journal Archives of Neurology found that people with the highest levels of DHA in their blood had a 50 percent lower risk of developing dementia from any cause. After nine years, they were also shown to be less prone to Alzheimer?s.
The article is right to point out the perils of very low fat diets, we need essential fat for the integrity of all cell membranes and for optimal inter cellular communication a dysfunction of which is linked to diabetes and heart disease. The type of fat is essential, as is the type and balance of cholesterol in the blood. Too little of good cholesterol could be almost as harmful as too much bad cholesterol. This is why the medical profession are now looking at triglycerides as a more reliable method of assessing chronic disease risk.? Meta analysis of algae Omega-3 DHA studies have shown algal oil to be useful in reducing triglycerides
Another? study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found the children of women who had high levels of DHA in their red blood cells around the time they gave birth, scored above average on the intelligence tests at age six. Other studies on fish oil supplements have struggled to prove the benefits of fish oil but this could be because many fish oil supplement research studies are on Cod Liver Oil and this may skew the meta analysis into a neutral conclusion.
Cod liver oil is not the optimum source of Omega-3, it’s cheap but not necessarily good value. Firstly cod liver oil is over 70% not Omega-3. Cod liver oil is mainly saturated and mono-unsaturated fats, already abundant in our diets and found to thwart Omega-3 conversion in our bodies. Cod liver oil is only around 22% Omega-3 and even less than that of DHA. There are also numerous citations of Cod liver oil found to be contaminated with illegal levels of mercury,?PCBs and dioxins. We feel it’s?detected contamination would logically be more frequent?if it were tested more frequently.
Another problem are trans fats in the diet, the? subject of many new laws and legislation to ban or seriously restrict their use especially in restaurants.
Dr Alex Richardson, a research fellow at the University of Oxford and an authority on the impact of nutrition on the brain, is particularly concerned by trans-fats. ?They should have been banned years ago,? she says. ?They are toxic.?
One of the most damaging things about these fats, she adds, is that they actually stop essential fats, such as Omega 3, from being absorbed in the brain.
Leading health consultant and Nutritionist in London Yvonne Bishop-Weston reveals “It’s not just trans-fats that make it difficult to attain the optimum balance of Omega-3 fats from our diet. We need a number of vitamins and minerals such as b vitamins and zinc to process basic Omega-3 fats into longer chain EPA and DHA. The modern half food diet of junk food rather than whole food? is deficient in these nutrients. The balance and ratio of triglycerides and Omega-6 and Omega-3 plays a part too as they need similar nutrients and enzymes to be processed. If your little bit of Omega-3 is crowded out and last in the queue at the bus stop it won’t get to your brain where its’ needed.? If you get tested and find you have insufficient DHA for optimal health and reduced risk of disease, combined with a healthier diet a very pure EPA/ DHA supplement is the most reliable to get you back on track.
Read the Daily Mail article: Fat lot of good: How eating more cheese and milk could make you brainier