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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Eat Fish! - all about Omega-3

I did put one very well-known therapy on my list to investigate; that of omega-3 fish oil supplementation.  This is the territory of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and maybe not surprisingly there is a lack of high quality research.  This is a pity, because there are some very good scientific reasons why it just might work.

There is only one study that was carried out like a serious clinical drug trial and seemed to show a serious positive result.  It was carried out at the Medical University of Vienna and involved 1.5 g per day of EPA/DHA (0.84g EPA and 0.7g DHA).

It seems nobody else has been able to repeat this result with a similar randomized controlled trial.  What does that tell you?  Maybe those Austrians have a special kind of fish oil ?  Or maybe there is a chemical reaction going on with all that Apple Strudel they were eating?

Even this study did not convince the serious scientists at the University of California, San Francisco.  They did a review of all omega 3 trials from 1966 to September 2008, mentioning autism and omega-3.  It is very readable and their full report  Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Autistic Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review  is available free (just click it). A summary, in table form, is on page 1148.  But if you are in a hurry, their conclusion was:-






“there is currently insufficient scientific evidence to determine if omega-3 fatty acids are safe or effective for ASD”

I still have not finished my research, but I can already say with 90% certainly, I know what my final conclusion is likely to be;  Eat Fish ! and I have already implemented it.
 
Here are some undisputed facts:-

1.    Autistic children have lower levels of omega 3 relative to omega 6 and lower levels of the good cholesterol HDL, than typical children.  This implies a lipid metabolism disorder.  If you read my Glutathione (GSH) Part II you will know that such a  lipid disorder should be expected in people with a GSH Redox problem.  NADP/NADPH which is required for lipid and cholesterol synthesis is also required for the GSH Redox chemical reaction.  So if there is a GSH Redox problem (proved already by serious scientists),  NADP/NADPH are highly likely to be involved and if they are, then it is no surprise if omega 3 and cholesterol levels are way off where they should be.  We are already getting side-tracked into the details, just to tell you that NADP is Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide Phosphate and NADPH is the reduced form of the same chemical.  For more info click here.

2.    Omega-3 is proven to be good for the heart, in just about everyone.  The main benefits are related to cholesterol (Hypertriglyceridemia to be precise), cardiovascular disease prevention and high blood pressure.  For a full list of conditions for which Omega-3 has a benefit, to those where it is proved to have no benefit, we have a ready-made solution from the US National Institutes of Health. (Just click and read on), if you are curious to know more.

3.    Always read the label.  There are only two omega-3 oils that seem to have any potential medical benefit; eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  Nobody seems to know which is better than the other or what the optimal ratio is.  To do much good to your heart, the research shows you need something like 2g of EPA/DHA daily, note that 2g = 2000 mg. 

Now go look on the label of those expensive fish oil tablets you have in the bathroom cabinet.  For a start you can forget about Omega-6 oil, your diet already has way too much and also ALA, you do not need any more of that either.  It also looks like any Omega-9 is not going to do much either, your body can make that itself. Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils are considered “essential” fatty acids, since your body cannot make them, and it does need them.  Western diets have far too much Omega-6 and too little Omega-3. It seems that the ration is often 10:1, when it should be much closer to 1:1.  Processed junk food is full of omega-6.

 

 

one capsule contains  180 mg of EPA /DHA ( no data given is it mainly EPA or DHA)
one capsule contains 192 mg of EPA / DHA (24g EPA and 168g DHA)



 
Eye q liquid.  5ml contains 244mg of EPA / DHA (186g EPA and 58g DHA)
  • Entire 200ml bottle has 9.8g EPA/DHA.
  • 500g of farmed atlantic salmon contains 10.7g EPA/DHA
 
If you do want to give EPA/DHA to your child why not give them fish to eat?  It may be true that tuna and swordfish have high levels of mercury, this is because they are large fish.  Large fish eat small fish and then accumulate mercury.  Large sea fish tend to be very expensive and beyond your budget anyway.  There are smaller cheaper fish that are full of EPA/DHA.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (go on, click it) produces a great list of hoe much EPA/DHA is in 80+ types of fish.  Note that tinned tuna has almost no EPA/DHA because it is cooked before it is canned.
 
  • A cheap fish like farmed trout has 1.15g EPA/DHA per 100g
  •  Herring has even more oil; it has 2g EPA/DHA per 100g
  •  Farmed salmon has 1.2g EPA/DHA per 100g
  •  Don’t forget sardines, anchovies, mackerel, whitebait etc.
 
Depending on where on the planet you live, the price of both supplements and fish varies greatly; but by my calculations it is much cheaper to eat the fish.  Fortunately for me, Monty just loves to eat all kinds of fish, not just fish fingers.
 
Conclusion
 
There is currently no proven scientific case to give expensive omega 3 supplements as a treatment in autism.  It would be pretty straightforward to conduct such research; the fact that it has not been done, must tell you something.
 
There is a single interesting study that has not been replicated.  Even that study used dosage  levels of EPA/DHA that are 6 times higher than the supplement makers are recommending.  So a EUR 20 bottle of Eye Q would last you just 6 days.

 
There is plenty of evidence that fish is good for you and your son.  So just eat fish, and plenty of it. Maybe it will help with his autism, maybe not; it is certainly much healthier than red meat, processed meat and even his favourite chicken nuggets.
 
 
 
 

4 comments:

  1. My conclusion too. May I say how much I enjoy your blog

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    Replies
    1. I am glad you like it. The only reason I write it, is that I found out I had been lied to. Once I had my epiphany, by trialling Bumetanide, it was clear as day that autism can be reversed (at least partially) pharmacologically. So I feel the need to tell the world; whether anybody chooses to listen, it is up to them.

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  2. The only thing that I would add to that would be I wondered if the EPA/DHA balance (different in all the research) was the cause of the differing results.

    After reading all the stuff I could find (some time ago so I may not be up to date) I added more fish to her diet (mackerel as it happens) and invested in some VegEPA on the can't do harm and may do good principle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. EPA and DHA have completely different functions. A serious scientist would test 100% EPA, then 100% DHA and then look at different combinations. Also, if the researchers in the Medical University of Vienna, who produced the only study to really endorse the use of omega-3, were serious people they might want to revisit their findings in the light of the fact that their study now looks like a fluke result. While there are some really brilliant medical researchers, like the ones now growing artificial kidneys, in the field of autism there seem to be a certain percentage of amateurs, to put it mildly.

      I got inspired yesterday, while waiting for my car to be fixed, to start writing a post referring to the relatively well known “garbage can model of decision making”, and make my own version regarding autism research. It will appear shortly; much of the research/commentary goes straight into the garbage.

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