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The Growing Importance of Fish Oil


From Baby's to Baby Boomers

Information and statistics regarding the healthy benefits of consuming fish have been around for ages. Within the last 40-50 years these beneficial properties prompted the use of fish oil supplementation in the form of oils and capsules. As modern research starts to catch up with this age old elixir we are starting to learn how fish oils, specifically the omega 3 fatty acids, benefit our health.

Fish Oil for Babies:
In a study soon to be published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood (Fetal and Neonatal Edition) researches found that when fish oil was supplemented to mom's during the second half of pregnancy some amazing things happened to their babies.

The study included 98 pregnant women and divided them into 2 groups. One group received 4g of fish oil daily while the other group received 4g of olive oil both starting the supplementation at 20 weeks of pregnancy to birth. Once the children had reached two and a half years of age, they were assessed using validated tests to measure growth and development.

All 72 (33 in fish oil group and 39 in olive oil group) children were assessed for language skills, behavior, practical reasoning and hand-eye coordination.

Fish oil babies scored significantly higher on all tests related to hand-eye coordination. These children also scored higher on measures of language comprehension, average phrase length and vocabulary.

These findings support previous research that shows how important the omega 3 fatty acids are to a developing brain and nervous system.

Fish Oil for Baby Boomers:
A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed 38 middle aged men and women with elevated cholesterol. Subjects were either given a fish oil supplement or a placebo and followed for 7 weeks.

At the end of the study the researches examined the elasticity of the subject's arteries. Stiffer arteries or hardening of the arteries is commonly correlated with increased blood pressure and greater risk of heart disease.

Those people taking fish oil showed significant changes in arterial compliance and a trend toward lower pulse pressure while the placebo group showed no changes.

The present study adds another potential benefit of fish oil to already recognized cardiovascular benefits such as lowering triglycerides and regulating heart rhythm.

Fish Oil Safety:
Many people have concern over taking fish oil because of the warnings they hear about fish being contaminated with high levels of mercury and other toxins. New studies conducted by ConsumerLab showed that fish oil supplements lack the contaminants found in commonly consumed fish, such as mercury in albacore tuna and PCB's in farmed salmon.

The lab studied 41 samples from numerous companies with rigorous laboratory analysis. The company president speculated that the reason supplements are free of these contaminants is related to the fact that most of the contaminants are in the meat of the fish and not the oil, that the species of fish used to make supplements are typically not those likely to accumulate mercury, and that the distillation processes used in making supplements helped remove contaminates.

It is always wise to make sure the fish oil supplement you are consuming has been molecularly distilled and has been third party tested to be free of heavy metal and other contaminants. Most should say it on the label or in the product literature.