Krill – a better form of Omega 3?

The health benefits of Omega 3 are well known for helping with cardiovascular and cholesterol support as well as anti-inflammatory properties which may help arthritis and joint pain and is linked to improvements in memory and brain function.

If you already are a convert then you certainly have a huge variety of supplements to choose from and here is a new one from Silvertown Health and their source is pure Antarctic Krill.

The Krill population of the world has been estimated as outweighing the human population of the world which certainly came as a surprise to me, as the only thing I really know about krill is that it is a favourite food of whales. This particular variety of small crustaceans is found in the Antarctic peninsula and apparently, their Omega-3 oils are in a phospholipid form which is suggested as far more beneficial and potent than the triglyceride structure found in normal fish oil supplements.

Krill oil, unlike fish oil, also contains Astaxanthin, one of the most powerful antioxidants known to man (or indeed woman) and said to be 300 times more powerful than the antioxidant vitamins A & E and 34 times more powerful than Co Q10.
Antioxidants are vital in supporting the immune system and reducing DNA damaging free radicals.

It seems that Silvertown Health Krill Oil is harvested ethically by a leading European krill oil harvester (though I would have thought that the whales had first claim on that as it is one of their most essential forms of food) and has Novel Food Approved status-whatever that may be. I would have thought anything that was essential to health was hardly novel, but perhaps the krill are great readers.  However, as they are monitored by the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Marine Stewardship Council to ensure strict environmental standards that probably balances itself out.

If you want to try Krill oil you should be able to find it in most good health stores and you only need one 500mg capsule a day to feel the effects. If you want to go the ethical route as well – buy it online from Silvertown here: Krill Oil

Butter Is Still Better

September 6, 2010 by  
Filed under featured, Food & Nutrition, Health

If there is anything better than butter in a baked potato or on a scone that I haven’t yet come across it, but I know that the margarine industry has spent a lot of time and money in persuading as that it is bad for our health. As I keep on saying (or nagging, if you prefer) there is nothing wrong with butter it’s all about the quantity you are using and if you want a healthy heart then switching to the new range of margarines that have been enriched with omega-3 fatty acids will not make a difference — in fact could make it worse.

A study carried out by Wageningen University in the Netherlands over a three-year period showed that using such margarines did not prevent second heart attacks in older men and women at risk for worsening heart disease. The initial results appeared to show that switching to such margarines did initially reduce cardiac events, but by 30 months the evidence of that benefit had disappeared, said Daan Kromhout, MPH, PhD, the lead researcher. He reported their results at the recent European Society of Cardiology meeting and their findings were simultaneously published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.

These findings have surprised some cardiologists as most of the data on omega-3 fatty acids come from epidemiologic studies and those were positive. Alfred Bove, MD, of Temple University in Philadelphia has likened the situation to hormone therapy, which had been widely recommended to reduce cardiovascular risk in postmenopausal women based on data from epidemiologic studies. Subsequent evidence however showed that HRT can be a major risk factor for heart attacks in women are relying solely on research — in whatever field — is never a good idea.

The margarines used in the trial were supplied by Unilever, and included the well-known “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter,” which I have to confess I have no trouble believing as I can see no resemblance in taste at all. This research should not be used to downplay the role of Omega 3 in the prevention and treatment of not only heart disease but also Type 2 Diabetes and depression, because it is clearly an important element in our diet. However this definitely indicates that margarine is not the vehicle to introduce it to your diet. Better sources include oily fish such as salmon and Flax seeds and walnuts.

How Fish Is Cooked Affects Omega 3 Levels

November 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Health


We know all about the heart benefits of eating fish high in Omega 3, but did you know that how you cook it can seriously affect the levels? Research carried out by the University of Hawaii and was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions on November 20 and found that if you want to get the maximum benefit your fish needs to baked or boiled, rather than fried, salted or dried.

You can also enhance the benefits by adding low-sodium soy sauce or tofu when cooking it. Frying does not generally get many health points and fish is no exception – despite the wonderful crisp batter from my local fish and chip shop – and in fact has several associated health risks.

The researchers studied the intake of various forms of omega 3 including tinned fish, soy products like tofu and shoyu and studied the results.

The Gender Difference

Men with a high Omega-3 intake from fish had a lower risk of death due to heart disease, but women got the same heart protection from both fish and plant sources. The researchers theorised that, for women, eating omega-3s from shoyu and tofu that contain other active ingredients such as phytoestrogens, might have a stronger cardioprotective effect than eating just omega-3s from fish alone. Also, that eating salted and dried fish was a risk factor in women, but not in men.

Before you start shaking that soy sauce bottle, please note that the benefits apply only when using a low salt version as the standard one is very high in salt which can raise blood pressure. You might do better to make tofu a regular part of your diet as that also seemed that eating it also had a cardio-protective effect. Personally I think it’s like eating your school eraser but without the added taste benefit of ink, so soak it in low salt shoyu before using it, or try smoked tofu instead as that has more flavour.

So, banish that frying pan and steam/bake your fish instead for a healthier option. Interestingly they didn’t study microwave cooking, and as this is a very fast way of cooking that essentially steams the food it would have been useful to see if that was also a good method for preserving the Omega 3.

Omega-3 health benefits for babies

September 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Childrens Health


Despite the known benefits of omega-3 for a healthy heart, immune support and guarding against dementia, less than a quarter of British adults fail to reach even their basic requirement needs.

Now it seems that it is even more important for babies, but they need to have their supply from their mother while in the womb. In a detailed review of existing published scientific papers, published in Nutrition and Food Science Journal, leading dietician Dr Carrie Ruxton and Dr Emma Derbyshire, senior lecturer in Human Nutrition at Manchester Metropolitan University, examined the role and scope of omega-3 EFAs on health, as well as the likely intake needed to produce good results.

Baby asthma and eczema can be very distressing for new parents, and one discovery from their research has suggested that women who take fish oil capsules during pregnancy, and while breast feeding, may reduce the risk of asthma and eczema in their babies and aid normal brain and eye development. It also has benefit for the mother as having a good intake of Omega-3 can also reduce post-natal depression.

The benefits for the baby continue into childhood as it seems that children whose mothers had taken cod liver oil capsules (containing DHA and EPA) during later pregnancy scored considerably higher on mental processing tests than children whose mothers had taken a placebo during the research.

You may think you get enough Omega-3 from your diet, but the omega-3 content of certain foods is becoming more limited due to changes in farming practice, and if you eat fortified foods then they contain very little. Additionally, in the UK we are not meeting the Food Standards Agency’s recommended levels of fish intake by a long margin – and that’s another good source of Omega-3. Most adults would benefit from an Omega-3 supplement, and certainly anyone planning a family, or pregnant, needs to be its benefits in mind.

Folic acid can boost birth weight for healthier babies

April 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Vitamins & Supplements, Womens Health


I mentioned a few weeks ago the benefits of Omega-3 for premature babies and now there is further help to boost your baby’s birth weight by over 60 grams – and this is very good news for their long-term health. The British Journal of Nutrition has reported that supplementing the mother’s diet with of 400 micrograms of folic acid during the pregnancy is important for two reasons:

The prime reason is that babies with a low birth weight (defined as less than 5lb 8oz) have an increased risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, ADD and depression later in life and sadly their number is increasing. Secondly, being underweight indicates that they have not had their maximum growth potential in the womb as this is dependent on their receiving the correct balance of nutrients during the pregnancy and folic acid has an essential role to play in the normal production of protein, lipids and DNA. Taking the supplement while already pregnant was seen to result in a 40 per cent lower risk of having a child with low birth weight and in fact was even more marked in women having their second child as when they supplemented before conception they saw a 240g higher birth weight compared with first time mothers who didn’t take folic acid at all.

It is recommended in the UK that women take a 400 microgram folic acid supplement daily from the time of conception to the 12th week of pregnancy, in order to cut the rate of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. This is in addition to the 200 micrograms of folate that should be obtained from a healthy diet from sources like brown rice, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, peas, and – interestingly – low calorie beer. Unfortunately, it seems that more than 90 per cent of women looking to start a family don’t have anywhere near this amount and so potentially are putting their children’s’ future health at risk.

Premature babies benefit from Omega 3

March 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Childrens Health, Vitamins & Supplements


Having a premature baby can be a time of great worry, and although medical knowledge has hugely increased the survival rate, there are still potential health problems for such babies that can affect how they develop. The major concern is for their mental development as they may be slower than babies that go to full term, as well as not having fully developed lungs and digestive systems.

A clinical trial in Australia however offers a simple solution that could help, and although it has only been running for 18 months they are claiming interesting results. For adults, the benefits of omega-3 are well known but so far no one has thought to see if they could also help such young babies. The Australian study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and carried out at the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

They used normal omega-3 supplements from fish oil that you would buy in any health store and gave them to 272 nursing mothers of premature babies. They were trying to duplicate the amount of omega-3 that full-term babies usually receive in the womb during the third trimester of pregnancy and that premature babies miss out. They found that just 6 pills a day improved the cognitive ability of the babies when tested 18 months after birth.

Interestingly, the benefit seemed to apply solely to girls as the mothers of boys who took the supplements didn’t see any substantial difference. The doctors believe however that this is not due to a problem with the supplements but to the fact that boys generally develop slightly later than girls so a test over a longer period may show the same results. Differences are really going to persist.

BUT please don’t think that getting your omega-3′s naturally from fish and seafood during pregnancy is a precautionary measure as most doctors advise pregnant women to avoid these foods. However, it certainly couldn’t hurt to take the supplements and if it doesn’t improve the baby’s health it will certainly help the mother’s.

Natural help for eyes

As we get older our eyes become vulnerable, and around 1 in 7 over 55 year olds will suffer from macular degeneration. This is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision impairment worldwide, and a study in the Archives of Ophthalmology reports on the benefits of Omega-3 for reducing the risk.

Macular degeneration (MD) affects central vision and this gradually deteriorates causing functional blindness. Peripheral vision is not at first greatly affected; but over time peripheral vision is also reduced. A study of 8,000 people in the Netherlands found that those who developed the disease were more likely to be smokers and have high cholesterol and that because free radical damage has been linked to MD that antioxidants can reduce the disease’s progress.

However, a more recent study has shown a clear link between consumption of Omega-3 and reduction in age-related MD. Dr Chong of the University of Melbourne did a meta-analysis of nine studies which covered 90,000 people, and 3000 of those had age-related MD.

Back to the benefits of fish again, because her study found that eating just one portion of Omega-3 rich fish may reduce the risk of contracting MD by over 50%. In fact increasing your daily intake by 300 mg per day of the Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, reduces the risk of MD by about 70%.

If fish really isn’t your favourite then you can get Omega-3 from flaxseed oil which is also rich in lutein and that’s one of the antioxidants that boosts eye health and prevents cataracts and macular degeneration. These are the essential elements for good eye health:

BETA-CAROTENE which destroys free radicals and helps keep eye tissue healthy.

VITAMIN C and VITAMIN E are antioxidant and protect the eye from sun damage

ZINC and COPPER are antioxidant and protect our eyes

B VITAMIN complex to fight free radicals in your eyes, particularly the cornea and the myelin sheath around the optic nerve

TAURINE is an essential amino acid for retina health and blocks out UV rays and environmental toxins.

EYEBRIGHT is a herb that been traditionally used to relieve irritated eyes and strengthen blood vessels in the eyes.

Otherwise it’s the usual mix of dark green leafy vegetables, particularly spinach, and a varied daily diet to keep your eyes sparkling.

Omega 3, dieting and depression

Studies in the US have linked a low dietary intake of omega 3 fatty acids and dieting with growing rates of depression. Interestingly, the risk of developing depression has increased at a rate similar to the rise in consumption of omega 6 fatty acids from sources like vegetable seed oils and is relative to the decrease in omega 3 fatty acids from fish, walnuts, and flaxseed. Many nutritionists feel that this is a direct result of the increased consumption of processed foods as opposed to eating ‘real’ food.

The study gave either a fish oil capsule or a sugar pill in addition to their antidepressant medication to the participants. Just two weeks into the study, there was an improved sense of well being and sleeping patterns in the omega 3 supplement group. After four weeks a substantial had a significant reduction in the symptoms of depression as compared to those taking the sugar pill. The study concluded that the fatty acid EPA may be used as an antidepressant booster, but I would go further and suggest that it can be used proactively to help anyone with a tendency to depression before they start medication. Dietary changes have already been substantiated as helping depression, and adding in adequate amounts of Omega 3 can definitely help.

Statins update

A new trial has shown that taking an omega-3 fish oil capsule outperforms a statin drug in reducing mortality and hospital admissions for chronic heart failure.

The results of the recent Italian study were given at the European Society of Cardiology meeting and published online by The Lancet on 31 August 2008. The patients on omega-3 supplements showed a lowered risk of mortality compared to those heart failure patients who received 10 mg/day of a potent statin drug and others given a placebo. The patients given the statin showed no benefit and in fact had the same outcome as taking the placebo.

What this study suggests is that a daily intake of omega-3 fatty acid supplement for close to four years may provide a slight reduction in mortality or hospitalizations for patients with chronic heart failure and that treatment with statins does not appear to be beneficial in patients with chronic heart failure. The American College of Cardiology has predicted that the results would soon be rapidly incorporated into their guidelines on heart failure. This is the second trial to demonstrate benefit for omega-3 in cardiovascular disease: the first trial found that omega-3 reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events following a heart attack whereas the second appears to lower the risk of mortality from heart disease.

If you are concerned about your risk for heart disease and want to take preventive measures, the suggested supplemental daily dose of omega-3 is equivalent to a gram day, taken for at least four years continuously – or seriously increase your intake of sardines and other oily fish!

Celebrate Sardines!

Although National Sardine Day falls on the 25th of November 2008, yes really, I thought I would encourage you to look ahead and plan for later in the year to celebrate this remarkable fish. The humble sardine isn’t something people usually rave about, but in terms of the health benefits per square inch they really are quite something. Whether you opt for the fresh fish, delicious grilled and stuffed with lemon, or the tinned variety in oil – not sauce – they are packed with inexpensive, high- yielding health benefits and nutritional value.

For such a small fish they can have a big impact as they contain substances that are proven to benefit your skin, joints, memory, and even boost your energy. Sardines are rich in omega 3 fatty acids — the crucial long chain variety you can only find in seafood, not vegetable matter high – and also have good levels of calcium and vitamin D.

Sardines also contain high levels of Coenzyme Q10 which is essential for so many important functions in the body. It is a supernutrient that’s great for heart health, energy, immune support, and healthy brain function. It is also an effective antioxidant and has been used for decades in Cancer treatment.

CoQ10 is also very important for cardiovascular health as it has many of the antioxidant properties of vitamin E. Inadequate levels of CoQ10 have been linked to heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and arrhythmias. In addition, CoQ10 is believed to lower blood pressure, prevent the oxidation of low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), and help with irregular heartbeat. CoQ10 is also good for the teeth and gums, helping to fight oral infection.

Sardine sandwich anyone?