January 30, 2013
Do fish oils do more
harm than good?
I was recently deluged with emails from around the world about an interpretation of a report on fish oil vs. plant omega 3 oil (ALA). The author of the analysis felt that the controversy of fish v. plant oils should be "put to sleep" by the findings, with his conclusions that fish oil is both better and safe, and "necessary for your health."

Obviously, I don't agree with my good friend Frank Shallenberger, MD on this issue. So we've agreed to have a friendly debate through our newsletters. We'll let you decide who is right.

In this short email alert, I'm dealing with only one aspect of this study. In an upcoming newsletter, I'll look into it in more detail.

Dr. Shallenberger rightly sees what the researchers in this study saw – that taking fish oils dramatically increased EPA and DHA (long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids or LCPUFAs) in cell membranes. And he rightly sees that this can cause oxidative damage. However, he insists that the damage is minor and won't cause any problems for those taking the fish oils.

While that was true for this study, this was a short study – only six weeks – and it was only one study. Other studies show that increasing EPA and DHA may be a very undesirable outcome. In one such study, researchers fed lab animals diets enriched with fish oil. They also saw that the fish oils increased EPA and DHA in their mitochondrial (energy furnaces) membranes. And, like the study Dr. Shallenberger discusses, it led to oxidative damage in these high-energy structures. However, in this mitochondrial study, the oxidative damage was high enough to damage their respiration (oxygen consumption and energy production). In another study on monkeys, their livers (not just red cells like in this limited study) suffered extensive oxidative damage from marine oils.

As you can see, I'm already having difficulty with Dr. Shallenberger's conclusions. Yes, taking fish oil will likely increase your EPA and DHA levels in your cells (and mitochondria). But this might not translate to better health or even safety. The essential parent oils I favor do not cause any oxidative damage and give many other benefits, which I'll tell you about in my newsletter and in future alerts.

Continued Below...

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In the meantime, I recommend you abandon fish oil and start taking Advanced EFA Formula instead. Your body will love you for it.

Ref: Proc. Nati. Acad. Sci. USA, vol. 87, pp. 8845-8849, November 1990; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Lindenmeier%20%20omega%203

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