Monday, August 13, 2018

The Importance of Omega-3 Testing

The Importance of Omega-3 Testing

The Importance of Omega-3 Testing

By Dr. Mercola
Mounting research drives home the importance of animal-based omega-3 fats for heart health. After reviewing this topic carefully, I am convinced that maintaining a healthy level of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may be one of the most important food priorities.

DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are long-chained omega-3 fats (22 and 20 carbons respectively) found in fatty fish like wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies and certain other sea creatures, including krill. The featured video by AkerBioMarine is part of a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of measuring your omega-3 level. Indeed, along with vitamin D, I believe measuring your omega-3 level is a truly vital health test that should be done on an annual basis.

Like vitamin D, being deficient in omega-3 will leave you vulnerable to all sorts of chronic disease. Optimizing your omega-3 is a truly foundational component of good health. Unfortunately, many still do not even realize such a test exists. It does, but first, let's review why animal-based omega-3 fats are so important for health in the first place.

Plant- Versus Marine-Based Omega-3

Omega-3 fats can be obtained from both marine animal and plant sources, but they are not interchangeable. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an 18-carbon omega-3 fat found in plants like flax and chia seed does not readily convert to DHA. Typically, just 1 to 3 percent of ALA is converted to DHA, which is nowhere near the amount you need for brain and heart health. Some studies have found the conversion rate to be as 0.1 to 0.5 percent.1

And, while plant-based omega-3 fats are important for health, the animal-based DHA is the one most strongly associated with heart health and other important health benefits. EPA and DHA are both considered "essential" fats as your body cannot make them from scratch, and hence you must get them from your diet. Omega-3 ALA on the other hand is quite ubiquitous in the diet and therefore there is no real need to supplement.

DHA and EPA Protect Your Heart Health

Research suggests eating fatty fish and other omega-3 rich foods may lower your risk of a fatal heart attack by 10 percent.2,3,4 Taken after a heart attack, omega-3 fats can also significantly improve your odds of survival. In one large trial, heart attack survivors who took 1 gram of omega-3 fat every day for three years had a 50 percent reduced chance of sudden cardiac death.5

As noted in the featured video, exercise is not enough to protect your heart. You also need to be mindful of your omega-3 level. Animal-based omega-3 fats, especially DHA, protect and support your cardiovascular health by:

  • Lowering blood pressure and counteracting or preventing cardiac arrhythmia
  • Improving endothelial function (which helps promote growth of new blood vessels)
  • Lowering triglyceride concentrations and preventing fatty deposits and fibrosis of the inner layer of your arteries
  • Helping prevent thrombosis (a blood clot within a blood vessel)
  • Counteracting inflammation

DHA and EPA are also important for digestion, muscle activity, blood clotting, visual acuity, memory and learning, basic cell division, function of cell receptors and more. Importantly, animal-based DHA and EPA:

  • Are structural elements, not just a source of energy. DHA is particularly vital, as it is a component of every cell in your body. There are specific transporters for long-chained omega-3s in your blood-brain barrier, the placenta (in pregnant women) and likely also in your liver, which transport these molecules in a very precise way into the cell membranes where they belong
  • Regulate communication within the cell and between cells
  • Play a role in helping your body properly utilize sunlight
  • Have a profoundly important influence on mitochondrial health

Get Tested Today

In terms of how much omega-3 fat you need, the best way to determine your required dose is to measure your omega-3 level with an omega-3 index test. This test has consistently been found to provide the most accurate measurement of the omega-3 level in your body. Ideally, your index should be above 8 percent. If you're below 8 percent, increase your omega-3 intake and retest until you find the dosage that allows you to reach and maintain an ideal level. Ideally, you'll want to wait three to six months between each test.

Rather than depending on recommended dosages, getting your level tested is really the only way to ensure sufficiency, because requirements for omega-3 will vary depending on your lifestyle; your intake of fatty fish, for example, and your level of physical activity. Athletes tend to burn off their omega-3 quite rapidly, as the DHA gets burned as fuel rather than being used as a structural component of their cell membranes. Hence, they will need higher dosages.

GrassrootsHealth has created a convenient and cost-effective combination test kit that measures both your vitamin D and omega-3 index. This third-party test kit is part of its consumer-sponsored research project. By gathering information on the population's vitamin D and omega-3 levels, we will better understand how these nutrients impact health. The data (which will not include any identifying personal information) will also allow researchers to study the links between these two nutrients.

vitamin d and omega-3 testing kit

Ideal Omega-3 Sources

Seafood is your best source of long-chained omega-3 fats. However, it's important to realize that not all fish contain these fats. Tilapia, for example, contains no EPA or DHA. The fish needs to be harvested from cold water, as this is where the fish richest in omega-3 fats are found. Some of your best options for clean fats are wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines and anchovies.

An excellent alternative, if you do not want to eat fatty fish, is to take a krill oil supplement. I firmly believe krill oil is superior to fish oil. Although both contain EPA and DHA,  krill oil is bound to phospholipids, which allows the EPA and DHA to travel more efficiently through your bloodstream. Hence, it's more bioavailable. This means you need far less of it than fish oil, as confirmed by a 2011 study published in the journal Lipids.6

Researchers gave subjects less than 63 percent as much krill-based EPA/DHA as the fish oil group, yet both groups showed equivalent blood levels, meaning the krill was more potent. Phospholipids are also a principal compound in high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which you want more of, and by allowing your cells to maintain structural integrity, phospholipids help your cells function properly.

Meanwhile, fish oil is bound to triglycerides and ethyl esters, which must be broken down in your gut to its base fatty acids of DHA and EPA. Krill oil also contains natural astaxanthin, which prevents rancidity of these highly perishable oils. Regular fish oil does not contain this antioxidant, and is therefore far more prone to oxidation.

Algae — A Vegan Source of DHA

Not surprisingly, vegans will typically have half the omega-3 level of people who allow themselves some marine fats,7 and this can have serious health implications. If you're die-hard vegan and refuse to eat seafood, then algal oil, made from a specific strain of microalgae, is a vegan-friendly option.

Most recently, a 2014 scientific review8 concluded algal oil can be an effective alternative source of DHA for vegetarians and vegans, noting that many studies have found ALA from nut and seed oils are not converted to DHA at all, and therefore cannot be relied on. An earlier study, published in 2008, found that algal oil and oil from salmon appeared to be bioequivalent: 9

"We compared the nutritional availability of … DHA from algal-oil capsules to that from assayed cooked salmon in 32 healthy men and women, ages 20 to 65 years, in a randomized, open-label, parallel-group study. In this two-week study comparing 600 mg DHA/day from algal-oil capsules to that from assayed portions of cooked salmon, mean change from baseline in plasma phospholipids and erythrocyte DHA levels was analyzed and DHA levels were compared …

DHA levels increased by approximately 80 percent in plasma phospholipids and by approximately 25 percent in erythrocytes in both groups. Changes in DHA levels in plasma phospholipids and erythrocytes were similar between groups …

These results indicate that algal-oil DHA capsules and cooked salmon appear to be bioequivalent in providing DHA to plasma and red blood cells and, accordingly, that algal-oil DHA capsules represent a safe and convenient source of non-fish-derived DHA."

Omega-3 Requirements Increase During Pregnancy

There is no set recommended standard dose of omega-3 fats, but some health organizations recommend a daily dose of 250 to 500 mg of EPA and DHA for healthy adults. If you're pregnant or breast-feeding, your body will likely require additional omega-3. I know from experience that eating a can of sardines and salmon roe for a few months put my omega-3 Index at 10, which is very healthy.

The American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada recommend pregnant and lactating women (along with all adults) consume at least 500 mg of omega-3s, including EPA and DHA, daily. The European Commission recommends pregnant and lactating women consume a minimum of 200 mg of DHA, in particular, per day.10 Again, if you're pregnant or planning a pregnancy, now is the time to get your level checked to make sure you're not deficient.

More than 90 percent of the omega-3 fat found in brain tissue is DHA, making it very important for your child's brain development. Studies have shown omega-3 fats lowers the risk for learning disorders, behavioral disorders,11,12,13 ADHD,14 autism and dyslexia.15 Omega-3s are also needed for proper eye development,16 and for the prevention of premature delivery. Low levels of DHA may increase the risk for a reduction in cognitive processing speed and poor eye hand coordination by age 4.17

Other Health Benefits of Animal-Based Omega-3

Aside from heart and brain health, omega-3 fats are also important for:

Healthy, strong bones, reducing your risk of osteoporosis18

Mood regulation

Reducing your risk of Parkinson's disease

Reducing your risk of death from ALL causes

Lowering your risk for lupus19

Reducing your risk of kidney disease20

Reducing your risk of Alzheimer's disease

Delaying progression to psychosis among patients at high risk for schizophrenia

Protecting against osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA)21,22,23

Protecting against metabolic syndrome,24 including obesity, fatty liver,25 insulin resistance26 and Type 2 diabetes

Improving in premenstrual syndrome (PMS), dysmenorrhea27 and reducing menstrual pain28,29

Lowering your risk for neurological/cognitive dysfunction, including memory loss and brain aging

Reducing your risk of Crohn's disease

Reducing your risk of colon cancer.30 Colon cancer patients who consumed a minimum of 0.3 grams of omega-3 from fish each day also reduced their risk of dying over the next decade by 41 percent31

Building healthy muscle mass, including people suffering from cancer who may experience cachexia.32

In one study involving patients with advanced malignancy, those taking fish oil were able to gain weight. The length of time patients took the supplement was also a factor; the longer they took it, the better the results

Reducing your risk of autoimmune disorders such as lupus and nephropathy

Setting the Record Straight on Plant- and Marine-Based Omega-3s

To recap, it's important to realize that you cannot trade animal-based omega-3 for plant-based omega-3. Even if you take large amounts of plant-based omega-3 it simply will not provide you with the raw materials you need for a healthy body and brain. It doesn't work because your body cannot convert enough ALA into DHA and EPA.

So, if you're vegan, you simply must figure out a way to compensate for the lack of marine animal fats in your diet. Keep in mind that while studies suggest algae appears to be an effective alternative, the only way to verify this is to get your omega-3 level tested. Pregnant women are also urged to test their vitamin D and omega-3, as these two nutrients are vital for healthy fetal development and can rather dramatically reduce your risk of pregnancy and delivery complications.

I firmly believe an omega-3 index test is one of the most important annual health screens that everyone needs. Please note I make no revenue from these tests. I merely supply them as a convenience for my readers. It' the same price whether you buy it from me or directly from GrassrootsHealth.33


Are Many Fish Oils Synthetic?

Are Many Fish Oils Synthetic?

Are Many Fish Oils Synthetic?

By Dr. Mercola

Omega-3 fats are essential polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) required for healthy digestion, muscle activity, blood clotting, visual acuity, memory and much more. Most omega-3s are considered "essential fats" as your body cannot make them. You have to get them from your diet. However, there's plenty of confusion when it comes to which omega-3 fats are required for optimal health.

You can obtain omega-3 fats from both plants and marine animals like fish and krill. However, these sources provide very different types of omega-3, and they are no way interchangeable.

Both plant- and animal-based omega-3 have their first double-bond in the third position — hence the name "omega-3." However, the length of the carbon chain of each omega-3 fat makes a significant difference when it comes to bioavailability and biological effect.

Basic Differences Between Plant- and Marine Animal-Based Omega-3s

Animal-based omega-3 — found in fatty fish, fish oil and krill oil — primarily contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a long-chained PUFA consisting of 22 carbons, and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which has 20 carbons.

Plant-based omega-3 — found in flaxseed, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts and leafy greens, for example — contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a shorter-chained PUFA consisting of 18 carbons. Plant-based omega-3 is completely devoid of DHA and EPA.

ALA is indeed a precursor to EPA and DHA, which is why some say you can simply consume plant-based omega-3s. However, an enzyme is required to convert the shorter 18 carbon ALA into long-chained omega-3, and in most people, this enzyme is simply unable to convert sufficient ALA to EPA, and even less DHA.

Typically, less than 1 percent of the ALA is converted to EPA. Some studies have found the conversion rate to be as low as 0.1 to 0.5 percent.1 So, while a tiny amount of the ALA you consume can be converted by your body into long-chain omega-3, it's a highly inefficient strategy and nowhere near as helpful as supplying "straight" DHA and EPA from marine sources.

Importantly, short-chain fatty acids are used by your body as a source of energy, while the long-chain fatty acids, those with 20 and more carbons, especially EPA and DHA, are structural elements that actually make up your cells. This is perhaps the most significant difference between plant- and animal-based sources, and why they are not interchangeable from a health perspective.

As structural elements, DHA and EPA are particularly important for proper cell division and function of cell receptors. They also play an important role in anti-inflammatory reactions. These fats are ideally obtained from the consumption of small fatty fish that are free of toxins. Unfortunately, most people opt for fish oil supplements over eating fatty fish like sardines, anchovies and herring.

Research Finds No Support for Fish Oil Supplementation on Heart Health

Overall, the health benefits of DHA and EPA are well-established.2 Research has provided clear evidence that higher intake of these animal-based omega-3 fats reduces your risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases, and are vital for neurological health.

Despite that, a number of studies have come up with conflicting results when studying the effects of fish oil supplements, which are generally accepted as a convenient source of these important fats. Here, I'll review some of the reasons for these odd discrepancies.

Most recently, a Cochrane Collaboration review3 of available evidence concluded omega-3 supplementation has little to no discernible benefit for heart health or longevity. As reported by the Cochrane Library:4

"A new Cochrane systematic review … combines the results of 79 randomized trials involving 112,059 people. These studies assessed effects of consuming additional omega-3 fat … on diseases of the heart and circulation … Participants were randomly assigned to increase their omega-3 fats or to maintain their usual intake of fat for at least a year.

Most studies investigated the impact of giving a long-chain omega-3 supplement in a capsule form and compared it to a dummy pill … The Cochrane researchers found that increasing long-chain omega-3 provides little if any benefit on most outcomes that they looked at.

They found high certainty evidence that long-chain omega-3 fats had little or no meaningful effect on the risk of death from any cause. The risk of death from any cause was 8.8 percent in people who had increased their intake of omega 3 fats, compared with 9 percent in people in the control groups.

They also found that taking more long-chain omega 3 fats (including EPA and DHA), primarily through supplements probably makes little or no difference to risk of cardiovascular events, coronary heart deaths, coronary heart disease events, stroke or heart irregularities."

Why Studies Don't Always Support Health Effects of Nutritional Supplementation

There are a number of reasons for these kinds of complexing results. First of all, many nutritional studies fail to assess the correct parameters. The importance of looking at achieved blood levels of a nutrient rather than dosage has been made abundantly clear by GrassrootsHealth vitamin D researchers.

When studies look at dosage, no apparent benefits of vitamin D supplementation are found. However, when you look at people's blood level — the concentration of the nutrient in the body — truly dramatic effects are detected.

The problem is that people metabolize the nutrient at different rates, and while one may need a very small dose to achieve a certain blood level, another may need several times that dose. So, assessing health effects based on supplement dosage can be extremely unreliable.

Scientific American5 also weighed in on the issue, noting that "… a quartet of new studies … may give insight into why human clinical trials of fish oil have failed to protect against AD [Alzheimer's disease] and other forms of dementia."

The Role of Your Microbiome and Liver in Omega-3 Metabolism

In these four studies, blood levels of molecules associated with lipid (fat) production in the liver were found to be linked to AD risk. Your brain, being made mostly of fats, need fats for optimal functioning as the lipids are involved in neuronal communication and nerve cell insulation.

Your liver is responsible for producing many of these important fats, and genes linked to AD are also involved in fat production and transport. APOE Ξ΅4, which is associated with a high risk for AD, is one of them. Your gut microbiome also plays a role in the processing of omega-3 fats, as do bile acids, produced from cholesterol in your liver.

When you consume omega-3 fats, certain microbes in your gut participate in the metabolism of these lipids. Your liver takes over during the final phase, creating brain-specific fats called peroxisomes, which are then transported via your blood stream into your brain. As reported by Scientific American:6

"Recognizing the central role of the liver in the brain's health, the four research groups measured blood levels of these brain-critical lipids and the molecules that make them … One group … looked at lipids called plasmalogens, fats that contain the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.

They found reduced blood levels of these fats tracked with increased AD risk … A second group … found similar hints of lipid-processing anomalies in blood samples.

In the latter study, even people with AD who took fish oil supplements did not have increased blood levels of brain-beneficial lipids, possibly pointing to why fish oil supplementation does not appear to stem cognitive decline.

If peroxisomes in the liver are not working properly, 'taking more fish oil won't let you make more plasmalogens because the machinery for making them is defective,' says Mitchel Kling, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine …"

According to Howard Fillit,7 founding executive director and chief science officer at the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, other recent evidence suggests people with the APOE Ξ΅4 gene may actually have altered DHA metabolism. Whether this might make them less likely to reap significant benefit from fish oil supplements is unknown, however.

Genetic variations were also linked to bile acid levels in two of the four studies, suggesting AD risk genes may interact with the gut microbiome, and that this is (at least in part) why these genetic variants raise your risk for dementia.

The Problem With Most Fish Oils

As it pertains to fish oil specifically, it's now also becoming clear that the processing of fish oil is deeply problematic, rendering the final product into something far from the natural oils you get from the whole fish. This too appears to be a significant piece of the puzzle that helps explain why fish oil supplementation appears to be ineffective in some studies. As described by former CEO of Twinlab, Naomi Whittel:

"Even if you think the fish oil is coming from Norway or Europe, [the fish] is caught in Central and South America … The fish are then brought onto and thrown into the bottom of the boat …

By the time they get to Europe, the guts are so rancid that in order to get the omega-3s out, they have to go through a process of extracting these poisons and this rancidity. [In the end], you're left with something that has none of the cofactors [and] it's been heavily contaminated to clean out the rancidity …"

Whittel estimates about 98 percent of the omega-3 products on the market are inferior (and perhaps even toxic) due to the way the fish are caught and processed — a summary of which is provided in the graphic below.

fish oil molecular distillation process

Triglyceride Versus Ethyl Ester Fish Oils

Several factors come into play that affect the efficacy of fish oil. One is the form of the long-chained omega-3 fats. In fish, about 98 percent of the DHA and EPA are in the form of triglycerides, which are the most bioavailable. In most commercial fish oil supplements, however, the DHA and EPA are delivered in the form of ethyl esters.8

A triglyceride consists of a three-carbon molecule that forms a "backbone" for the fatty acids to latch onto. Each carbon molecule is linked to a fatty acid, so in total, a triglyceride is composed of three carbons bonded to three fatty acids.

Ethyl ester fish oil is most prevalent simply because it's far less expensive to produce than the triglyceride form. Ethyl esters are also easier to work with during processing, as they have a higher boiling point. This becomes important during the molecular distillation phase (see above), during which the oils are heated and purified of harmful environmental pollutants.

The molecular distillation phase also concentrates the EPA and DHA. You can tell the concentration of these two fats in any given supplement by looking at the label. In fish, the oil consists of about 20 to 30 percent EPA and DHA, whereas purified fish oil concentrate typically contains between 60 and 85 percent EPA and DHA.

Ethyl esters are essentially a synthetic substrate, created through the micro distillation process of crude fish oil, in which ethanol and/or industrial alcohol is added. This mix is heat distilled in a vacuum chamber, resulting in a concentrated omega-3 ethyl ester condensate.

It is also important to note that this purifying molecular distillation process removes vital resolvins and protectins present in the raw material that are important in reducing inflammation.

synthetic and natural fish oil

Ethyl Esters Are Poorly Absorbed

Ethyl esters, unfortunately, are the least bioavailable form of omega-3, and while manufacturers could convert them back into triglyceride form (by detaching the ethyl alcohol molecule and reattaching a glycerol molecule in a process known as re-esterification), this process is a costly one.

The difference between triglyceride and ethyl ester forms become an issue when your body goes to metabolize them. Since the glycerol backbone is missing in the ethyl ester form, the EPA and DHA will scavenge for available triglycerides or steal a glycerol molecule from somewhere.

When the latter happens, the molecule that lost its glycerol will now go searching for a replacement, which creates a domino effect. One way or another, the fatty acids need to be converted back into triglyceride form, or else your gut epithelium will not be able to process them.

The fatty acids also cannot be transported through your blood unless they're in triglyceride form. When you consume omega-3s in triglyceride form, the fatty acids are first separated from the glycerol backbone. All of the individual parts are then absorbed by gut epithelial cells, where they're reattached to form triglyceride.

On the other hand, when you consume ethyl esters, they must be processed in your liver. There, the ethanol backbone is separated from the free fatty acids, and your body must then reattach the free fatty acids to glycerol to form triglyceride. As you may imagine, this process is far less efficient, compared to the processing of omega-3 fatty acids that are in triglyceride form from the start.

Ethyl Esters May Do More Harm Than Good

Not only does it delay and likely diminish the release of these beneficial triglycerides into your blood stream, your liver must also process the ethyl alcohol, which may release free radicals and cause oxidative stress — the complete opposite of what you're trying to achieve.

Studies9 suggest a mere 20 percent of the EPA and DHA in ethyl ester form are absorbed by your body. When taken with other dietary fat, absorption increased threefold to 60 percent. Meanwhile, EPA and DHA in their natural triglyceride form were found to have a 69 percent absorption rate from the start, and when taken with additional dietary fat, absorption increased to 90 percent.

As a result, taking a triglyceride fish oil results in a 50 percent greater rise in omega-3 blood plasma levels than ethyl ester fish oil. Another major drawback of ethyl ester fish oils is their rapid oxidation rate. Ethyl ester DHA is far more reactive than triglyceride DHA, oxidizing 33 percent more rapidly, and consuming rancid omega-3 is not going to do your health any good. Quite the contrary.

Common side effects of prescription strength fish oil such as Lovaza — a highly-concentrated ethyl ester form of fish oil — are primarily due to the toxicity of ethanol, which is separated out in your liver. This includes unpleasant body odor, vomiting, gastrointestinal dysfunction, pancreatitis, cardiac effects and hypertriglyceridemia.

So, in summary, it's important to realize that the vast majority of clinical evidence showing health benefits of omega-3 relates to actual fish consumption, and as mentioned, virtually all of the omega-3s in fish are in triglyceride form.

Ethyl ester omega-3 does not exist in nature — it's a man-made byproduct of fish oil processing. Hence, to achieve reliable results, you really need to either eat omega-3-rich fish, or make sure the supplement you're taking contains DHA and EPA in their triglyceride form. For a more in-depth understanding of these differences, see the paper, "A Comparison of Synthetic Ethyl Ester Form Fish Oil vs. Natural Triglyceride Form,"10 by Dr. Douglas MacKay, who specializes in naturopathy.

Steps for Fish Oil Ethyl Ester Production From Fish Waste11

fish oil ethyl ester production fish waste

Fish Oil Versus Krill Oil

While unrelated to human health effects, fish oil has another significant drawback, namely its environmental impact. Overfishing has become a great concern, and according to recent research, humans have damaged 87 percent of the world's oceans.12,13

According to this study, marine wildlife have dwindled across the globe, thanks to overfishing, global marine shipping and rampant pollution from several sources. The good news is there's an alternative source of marine-based omega-3 fats that doesn't have this impact, and that's krill.

Compared to fish oil, krill oil also has higher potency, and contains natural phospholipids, which makes it more readily absorbed. Krill oil also contains astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant, which makes if far less prone to oxidation, is virtually contaminant free, and has a superior metabolic influence.

krill oil vs fish oil

Embed this infographic on your website:

Click on the code area and press CTRL + C (for Windows) / CMD + C (for Macintosh) to copy the code

Krill Oil Is a Far More Sustainable Option

Getting back to sustainability, krill is the largest biomass on earth, and krill harvesting is also one of the most carefully regulated. Strict international precautionary catch limit regulations are reviewed and reassessed regularly to assure continued sustainability.

While krill can be found in all oceans, Antarctic krill is by far the most abundant. The Antarctic krill biomass is under the management of an international organism of 25 countries called the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).14

This is the only official and reliable international organism involved in the management of sustainable krill fishery and the monitoring of krill stock, and no shortage of krill has ever been forecast by CCAMLR.

CCAMLR is viewed as an outstanding framework that is well organized and has developed robust research programs to help ensure successful conservation measures in the Southern Ocean. They also have the authority to further micromanage, on a season to season basis, to counteract any concerns they may have regarding the strength of the krill population during a particular har­vesting season.

CCAMLR has implemented a precautionary approach to minimize any risks associated with harvesting practices in conditions of uncertainty. They also use an ecosystem approach, meaning they take into account ecological links between different species and natural variability, such as the natural, cyclical rise and fall in reproduction of a species.

They also organize the strategic issuing of man­datory krill harvesting licenses as another control mea­sure to promote sustainability, and are proactively combating illegal fishing of all kinds within the Convention Area, to protect the ecosystem. You can learn more about the safeguards in place to ensure the sustainability of krill in this previous krill article.

Your Best Options for Animal-Based Omega-3

Based on the evidence, it seems clear that to reap maximum health benefits, you really want a majority of your omega-3 to come from your diet. That means eating small fatty fish such as sardines, anchovies, mackerel and herring. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is another good source.

If you opt for an omega-3 supplement, your choices become more complex. What seems obvious is that many commercial fish oil supplements are not going to give you the benefits you're looking for. A key determining factor here is whether the supplement contains the triglyceride form or ethyl ester form of omega-3.

If you are taking a fish oil supplement, it is vital that you find out if the fish oil is a synthetic ethyl ester. If this information is not on the label, contact the manufacturer and find out. ONLY use fish oil that is in the natural triglyceride formulation. Choosing otherwise could be very problematic for your long-term health.

My preference, when it comes to omega-3 supplements, is krill oil, in part because of its superior absorbability, but also because it's a vastly more sustainable source. Last but not least, don't rely on a set dosage when taking a supplement. Like vitamin D, it's your serum level that counts. Your omega-3 level can easily be measured using an omega-3 index test. You'll want your index to be above 8 percent for optimal health and disease prevention.


Friday, August 10, 2018

How often to wash your sheets, dog, phone, toilet, and more - Business Insider

How often to wash your sheets, dog, phone, toilet, and more - Business Insider

How often to clean everything you own, from your toilet to your phone, according to science

mrs doubtfire cleaning IMDB

Humans do not live in our homes alone. There are approximately 7,000 different species of bacteria floating around in your house right now. And that's just in the dust.

The rich and complex web of dirt, viruses, and pollen around us isn't all bad. It's important to keep some microbes around to help us stay healthy and strong. Plus, you could say that microbes are the reason you're alive today — after all, ancient anaerobic bacteria came well before oxygen-breathing creatures, and thrived as some of the first life on Earth.

Still, it's best to keep microbe levels in check inside your house. Some household items need a good wipe-down every day, while others do best when we scrub or sweep them once a week or every few months.

Here's the perfect house-cleaning regimen to keep everything you own safe and squeaky-clean, without going insane.

Go there to find out the schedule we/you should be on!


Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Yuba River. {poetry} | Rebelle Society

Mmmmmmmm…..;- )

Yuba River. {poetry}

{Photo credit: Meredith Heller}
Ever had a year from hell?

You know the kind I mean, the kind that drags you by the scruff of your heart against the ground until you're jagged and raw, until you forget what happiness tastes like, until your voice no longer knows how to call you by name, until you hurt so hard and so long that you finally stop fighting and you surrender everything you always thought you needed to keep yourself together. And you let it all go.

You finally learn how to sit with your emptiness and desolation, and instead of abandoning yourself, you meet yourself face to face, and there you are, the deeper you, the you you've always been, the you who called you out to play when you were a kid, the you who is always there, shining through the darkness, shining even brighter because of the darkness.

And you bring yourself back to life by claiming yourself fully in all of your mess and all of your glory, and you stop apologizing and you stop pretending and you simply be who you are. Ever felt this way? I did, last year. And it's only when I hit the lowest point, and couldn't get back up, that I finally became real. And here I am, to say it's possible.

Sometimes it takes a complete melting down of all the structures of how we know our self before we can truly be our self, ancient and new, all at the same time, with wisdom and playfulness to share, with a way to map this human journey, through the inevitable dark, and back into life and love.

The Yuba river in northern CA held me and turned me in the white water of her hands one weekend when I didn't think I could ever open myself again. And yet, I did. And we do, as women. Over and over, the great tides pull us open and closed and open again.

Yuba River

At midnight on Tuesday
her flower bloomed
beside the Yuba River
that pours in pulses of lace
through the eye holes
of the rock skulls
that rest their heads on the bank
to dream.

The granite boulders of her back
marbled with grief
break apart at the seams
scatter the water with sparks
from her veins.

She cracks and crumbles
into the murmur of water
as it signs its name across her skin
delicately devouring her edges
until even the white essence of her soul dissolves.

Say yes to an invitation from Hades
on a handwritten scroll
tied with a white string
hidden in a rock crevice
and read one evening
as the moon sliced the sky.

Now jasmine blossoms in her hair
sage roots through her toes
she remembers when kids played kickball
on the street behind her house
one humid summer night
when she stayed out late
with the boy who read a book
under the street lamp
while bats darted in and out
catching moths
in their mouths.

Language was a song she sang
while she rode her bike
up and down the hill
a melody tattooed its signature
across her shoulders
in notes she bent
on the lute of her ribs
her polka dot shirt unbuttoned
flying in the breeze behind her
her heart open to the sun.

Resist resistance
she sings to herself
like a mantra.

Supple sapling of her spine
rises toward the light
as she spins on a tilted axis
from gravity's hip
the river twists and turns
as she composts last year's loss.

In the morning
a velvet peach ripens in her throat
she warbles as she's born
year after year
of dark nights
and bright noon-tides
the zippered pocket
of her being
open and closes.


Meredith Heller is an ageless elfin-child with a Celtic heart. A gypsy-poet philosopher with a penchant for humor and a pocketful of wisdom. A melodic priestess who weaves easily between light and dark, major and minor. A woman who thrives in nature, runs with the wolves, and delights in the wild beauty of life. A poet and singer/songwriter who is on the trails every day, teaches poetry writing to teen girls, and is mused by nature, synchronicity, and kindred souls. You could contact Meredith via her blog.

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Rebelle Society is a unique, revolutionary online magazine reporting daily acts of Creative Rebellion and celebrating the Art of Being Alive. Rebelle Society is also a virtual country for all creatively maladjusted rebels with a cause, trying to lead an extraordinary life and inspire the world with their passion. Join us on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for daily bites of Creative Rebellion. Join our Rebelle Insider List along with over 40k Dreamers & Doers around the world for FREE creative resources, news & inspiration in the comfort of your inbox.

Adrienne L den Tex

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Farmed Salmon Contaminated With Toxic Flame Retardants

Farmed Salmon Contaminated With Toxic Flame Retardants

Farmed Salmon Contaminated With Toxic Flame Retardants

By Dr. Mercola

Fish are an important part of the ecosystem and the human diet. Unfortunately, overfishing has depleted many fish stocks, and the proposed solution — fish farming — is creating far more problems than it solves. Not only are fish farms polluting the aquatic environment and spreading disease to wild fish, farmed fish are also an inferior food source, in part by providing fewer healthy nutrients; and in part by containing more toxins, which readily accumulate in fat.

Farmed Salmon = Most Toxic Food in the World

Salmon is perhaps the most prominent example of how fish farming has led us astray. Food testing reveals farmed salmon is one of the most toxic foods in the world, having more in common with junk food than health food.1 Studies highlighting the seriousness of the problem include:

A global assessment2 of farmed salmon published in 2004, which found 13 persistent organic pollutants in the flesh of the fish. On average, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) concentrations in farmed salmon was eight times higher than in wild salmon, prompting the authors to conclude that "Risk analysis indicates that consumption of farmed Atlantic salmon may pose health risks that detract from the beneficial effects of fish consumption."

The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Environmental Protection Agency classify PCBs as probably carcinogenic.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PCBs elicit a significant number of health conditions in animal studies, including cancer, immunosuppression, neurotoxicity and reproductive and developmental toxicity.3 Disturbingly, research suggests contaminated fish is the most common source of PCB exposure, as the chemicals accumulate and build up in the fat tissue.4

A 2005 investigation5 by another group of scientists concluded even relatively infrequent consumption of farmed salmon may be harmful to your health thanks to the elevated dioxin levels in the fish.

Toxicology researcher Jerome Ruzzin, who has tested a number of different food groups sold in Norway for toxins, discovered farmed salmon contain five times more toxins than any other food tested. (In light of his own findings, Ruzzin has stopped eating farmed salmon.)

A 2011 study6 published in PLOS ONE found chronic consumption of farmed salmon caused insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and obesity in mice, thanks to the persistent organic pollutants (POPs) found in the fish.

According to the authors, "Our data indicate that intake of farmed salmon fillet contributes to several metabolic disorders linked to Type 2 diabetes and obesity, and suggest a role of POPs in these deleterious effects. Overall, these findings may participate to improve nutritional strategies for the prevention and therapy of insulin resistance."

Researchers Warn Farmed Salmon May Contain Fire Retardant Chemicals

Now, researchers warn7,8 farmed Atlantic salmon sold in the U.S. and U.K. may also contain polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), toxic POPs that have been restricted or banned in the U.S. and many European countries due to their toxic influence on child development.9 As reported by The Star,10 "[A] new study by the University of Pittsburgh has found evidence of PBDEs in food fed to farmed salmon — even in those in supposedly PBDE-free environments."

PBDEs are a class of chemicals that for years were used as flame retardants, and while restrictions were placed on some of the chemicals in this class in 2004, they can still be found in older products — and in the environment. China, Thailand and Vietnam — three areas that process significant amounts of electronic waste — are known to have higher levels of PBDEs in the environment.

In more recent years, flame retardant pollution has raised serious concern, as these chemicals build up in the environment over time and are in many areas now found in both ground water and open waters.

Health risks associated with these chemicals, including PBDEs, include infertility, birth defects, neurodevelopmental delays,11 reduced IQ,12 hormone disruptions13 and cancer. In fact, flame retardant chemicals have been identified as one of 17 "high priority" chemical groups that should be avoided to reduce breast cancer.14,15

Toxic Fish Food Blamed for Farmed Salmon Toxicity

You're probably familiar with the saying that "you are what you eat." However, a key take-home message here is that "you are what your food eats." In other words, whatever the animal you eat consumed, you consume also, which means you really need to know the source of the animals' feed as well. In the case of farmed fish, toxins in the fish feed and environmental concentrations of the chemicals have been identified as the two primary culprits.

According to the authors, when the fish are raised in areas with high PBDE concentrations in the water, the feed becomes a relatively minor contributor. In PBDE-free waters, on the other hand, elevated concentrations of these toxins in the feed may be high enough to end up on your plate. As noted by lead author Carla Ng, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering:16

"[I]n otherwise clean and well-regulated environments, contaminated feed can be thousands of times more significant than the location of the farm for determining the PBDE content of salmon fillets … The international food trade system is becoming increasingly global in nature and this applies to animal feed as well.

Fish farming operations may import their feed or feed ingredients from a number of countries, including those without advanced food safety regulations. The United States and much of Europe banned several PBDEs in 2004 because of environmental and public health concerns. PBDEs can act as endocrine disruptors and cause developmental effects. Children are particularly vulnerable."

What Makes the Fish Feed so Toxic?

One of the main ingredients in farmed salmon feed is fatty fish such as eel, selected for their high protein and fat content. The problem is, many toxins readily bind to fat, and the fish feed industry is using fish deemed unfit for human consumption due to elevated toxicity. As you might expect, when the fish used in fish feed contain toxic levels of pollutants, they get incorporated into the feed pellets.

One significant source of fish for farmed salmon feed is the Baltic Sea, which is well-known for its elevated pollution levels. Nine industrialized countries dump their toxic waste into this closed body of water, which has rendered many Baltic Sea fish inedible. In Sweden, fish mongers are actually required to warn patrons about the potential toxicity of Baltic fish.

According to government recommendations, you should not eat fatty fish like herring more than once a week, and if you're pregnant, fish from the Baltic should be avoided altogether. As mentioned by Ng, fish farms may also import their feed, or individual ingredients from other countries with lax regulations and significant pollution.

Toxic Manufacturing Processes Add to the Problem

Some of the toxicity also stems from the manufacturing process of the feed pellets. The fatty fish are first cooked, resulting in protein meal and oil. While the oil has high levels of dioxins and PCBs, a chemical called ethoxyquin is added to the protein powder as an "antioxidant," which further adds to the toxicity of the final product. Ethoxyquin, developed as a pesticide by Monsanto in the 1950s, is one of the best kept secrets of the fish food industry — and one of the most toxic.

The use of ethoxyquin is strictly regulated on fruits, vegetables and in meat, but not in fish, because it was never intended for such use. Fish feed manufacturers never informed health authorities they were using this pesticide as a means to prevent the fats from oxidizing and going rancid, so its presence in farmed fish was never addressed. Disturbingly, testing reveals farmed fish can contain levels of ethoxyquin that are up to 20 times higher than the level allowed in fruits, vegetables and meats.

What's more, the effects of this chemical on human health have never been established. The only research done on ethoxyquin and human health was a thesis by Victoria Bohne, a former researcher in Norway who discovered ethoxyquin can cross the blood-brain barrier and may have carcinogenic effects. Bohne was pressured to leave her research job after attempts were made to falsify and downplay her findings.

Environmental Pollution Is Also Affecting Wild Fish, Including Some Salmon

Salmon is one fish species looked to as an indicator of environmental conditions, and salmon have become increasingly toxic. While farmed salmon is by far the worst, even wild salmon can contain unwanted pollutants. In a study17 of salmon found in Puget Sound, researchers discovered 40 contaminants, including drugs, in the flesh of the fish.

Some of the drugs were found at levels known to interfere with growth, reproduction and behavior. No one knows exactly how this chemical cocktail affects the fish, especially as they are exposed in combination. In all, the study found 81 of 151 contaminants tested for in Puget Sound off the coast of Washington.

Aside from toxins already mentioned above, such as PCBs, PBDEs and other POPs, researchers have also found a long line of pesticides — including the long-banned DDT — at concerning levels in fish off the coast of California.18 And despite the Clean Water Act, enacted nearly 40 years ago, there are areas of the U.S. where the water is so contaminated with mercury that residents are warned to refrain from eating any locally caught fish.19

Microplastic Pollution — Another Increasingly Common Seafood Hazard

The fish you eat may also come with a side order of microplastic,20 as 13 metric tons of plastic enter the waterways every year. Once consumed, microplastic particles tend to remain in the body and accumulate, becoming increasingly concentrated in the bodies of animals higher up the food chain.

Scientists are still unsure of the effect this may have on those who eat the fish, but common sense would suggest it might not be entirely harmless, considering the fact that microplastic fibers soak up toxins like a sponge, concentrating PCBs, flame retardant chemicals, pesticides and anything else found in the water.

Evidence also suggests these microscopic particles can cross cellular membranes, causing damage and inflammation inside the cell. According to a 2016 report21 by the British Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs [DEFRA], microplastics have been found in a wide variety of sea creatures, from zooplankton to whales and everything in between.

According to this report, "microplastics are present in seafood sold for human consumption, including mussels in North Sea mussel farms and oysters from the Atlantic." Eating six oysters could introduce about 50 plastic microbeads into your body and, according to DEFRA, this kind of contamination may indeed "pose a threat to food safety." Other studies have found one-third of the fish caught in the English Channel contain microbeads, as do 83 percent of scampi sold in the U.K.22

Nutritional Differences Between Farmed and Wild Salmon

As mentioned at the beginning, farmed salmon is also nutritionally less desirable than wild, which actually ties in with its toxicity. One significant nutritional difference is the fat content. Wild salmon contains about 5 to 7 percent fat, whereas the farmed variety can contain anywhere from 14.5 to 34 percent.

This elevated fat content is a direct result of the processed high-fat feed that farmed salmon are given, and since they contain more fat, they also accumulate higher amounts of toxins. Even when raised in similarly contaminated conditions, farmed salmon will absorb more toxins than the wild fish because of this.

But farmed salmon doesn't just contain more fat overall; another nutritional travesty is its radically skewed ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 fats.23 Half a fillet of wild Atlantic salmon contains about 3,996 milligrams (mg) of omega-3 and 341 mg of omega-6.24 Half a fillet of farmed salmon from the Atlantic contains just a bit more omega-3 — 4,961 mg — but an astounding 1,944 mg of omega-6;25 more than 5.5 times more than wild salmon.

While you need both omega-3 and omega-6 fats, the ratio between the two is important and should ideally be about 1-to-1. The standard American diet is already heavily skewed toward omega-6, thanks to the prevalence of processed foods, and with farmed salmon, that unhealthy imbalance is further magnified rather than corrected.

A Norwegian report on farmed fish feed ingredients26 talks about the negative impacts of the antinutritional factors of plant proteins and other additives in the feed. Some of the most common ingredients in farmed fish feed include soybeans, rapeseed/canola oil, sunflower meal and oil, corn gluten meal from corn grains, wheat gluten, pulses (dry, edible seeds of field peas and faba beans), palm oil, and peanut meal and oil — none of which are natural wild salmon foods.

However, as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) explains,27 Atlantic farmed salmon feeds can also contain animal by-products from poultry, meat meal, blood and hydrolyzed feathers. Additives such as enzymes, crustacean products (to color the salmon flesh), vitamins and selenium are also added — and again, none these are ingredients that any wild salmon has ever encountered and all are about as far from a species-appropriate diet as you can get.

Salmon Farming Is Not a Green Solution

More than half of the fish Americans eat now comes from fish farms.28 Aquaculture promotes itself as a sustainable solution to overfishing, but when you consider it takes 1.5 to 8 kilograms (3.3 to 17.6 pounds) of wild fish to produce a single kilogram (2.2 pounds) of farmed salmon, you start to realize there are significant holes in that claim. In reality, the aquaculture industry is actually contributing heavily to the depletion of wild fish stocks rather than saving it.29

A salmon farm can hold upward of 2 million salmon in a relatively small amount of space. As with land-based factory farms where animals are kept in crowded conditions, fish farms are plagued with diseases that spread rapidly among the stressed fish. Sea lice, pancreas disease and infectious salmon anemia virus have spread all across Norway, yet consumers have not been informed of these fish pandemics, and sale of diseased fish continues unabated.

To stave off disease-causing pests, a number of dangerous pesticides are used, including one known to have neurotoxic effects. Workers who apply this pesticide must wear full protective clothing, yet these chemicals are dumped right into open water, where it spreads with local currents.

The pesticides used have been shown to affect fish DNA, causing genetic effects. Estimates suggest about half of all farmed cod, for example, are deformed due to genetic mutations. What's worse, female cod that escape from farms are known to mate with wild cod, spreading the genetic mutations and deformities into the wild population.

Genetically Modified Salmon May Hit US Grocers by 2019

It's become quite clear that fish farms are not a viable solution to overfishing. If anything, they're making matters worse, destroying the marine ecosystem at a far more rapid clip. Consumers also need to be aware that some farmed salmon may be genetically engineered (GE) to boot. AquaBounty salmon, engineered to grow twice as fast as typical farm-raised salmon, received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in November 2015, and could be on sale in the U.S. by 2019.

Crazy enough, the FDA is not regulating Aquabounty's salmon as food. It chose to review it as a drug. All GE animals, it turns out, starting with this GE salmon, will be regulated under the new animal drug provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, "because the recombinant DNA (rDNA) construct introduced into the animal meets the definition of a drug." Yet the reason given for not requiring the fish to carry some form of GE label is that it's nutritionally equivalent to conventional farm-raised Atlantic salmon.

The unnatural growth rate was achieved by inserting the DNA from two other fish, a growth-promoting gene from a Chinook salmon and a "promoter" gene from the eel-like ocean pout. This genetic tweaking results in fish with a chronic, continuous release of growth hormone. While a typical salmon might take up to 36 months to reach market size (and grow only in spurts during warm weather), AquaAdvantage GM salmon are ready for market in just 16 to 18 months.

The fish are being grown on land and have several other supposed safeguards in place to prevent both escape and breeding with wild populations but, in nature, nothing is foolproof. This became readily evident last year, when thousands of land-based Atlantic salmon escaped when the pens were broken asunder by a passing storm.30

Are There Any Healthy Seafood Options Left?

So, what's the answer? Unfortunately, the vast majority of fish — even when wild caught — is frequently too contaminated to eat on a frequent basis. Most major waterways in the world are contaminated with mercury, heavy metals, POPs and agricultural chemicals.

This is why, as a general rule, I no longer recommend eating fish on a regular basis. There are exceptions, however. One is authentic wild-caught Alaskan salmon, the nutritional benefits of which I believe still outweigh any potential contamination. The risk of wild Alaskan salmon accumulating high amounts of mercury and other toxins is reduced because of its short life cycle, which is only about three years.

Alaskan salmon (not to be confused with Atlantic salmon) is not allowed to be farmed, and is therefore always wild-caught. Canned salmon labeled "Alaskan salmon" is a less expensive alternative to salmon fillets. Remember that wild salmon is quite lean, so the fat marks — those white stripes you see in the meat — are on the thin side. If a fish is pale pink with wide fat marks, the salmon is likely farmed. Avoid Atlantic salmon, as salmon bearing this label are almost always farmed.

Another exception is smaller fish with short lifecycles, which also tend to be better alternatives in terms of fat content, such as sardines and anchovies. With their low contamination risk and higher nutritional value, they are a win-win alternative. Other good choices include herring and fish roe (caviar), which is full of important phospholipids that nourish your mitochondrial membranes.