Friday, May 30, 2008

Wham: Whole Milk Beats Barium as a Contrast Agent

Have you ever had to have your digestive tract examined, and been asked to swallow a great big glass of foul-tasting liquid containing barium, a metallic substance? If so, you'll be glad to know that a study has been done and that an item commonly found in many homes – whole milk – is just as effective, costs less and is easier on the patient than the diluted barium drink.

The study included 215 patients undergoing abdominal and pelvic CT, said Chi Wan Koo, MD, lead author of the study. All patients were given an IV contrast media; 115 were also given whole milk as an oral contrast agent; 100 received a 0.1% barium suspension. Two radiologists reviewed all the images and scored them based on degree of bowel distension and bowel wall visibility. Adequate bowel distension is necessary to optimize resolution of the bowel wall and contents, said Dr. Koo.

The study found that the images taken of patients who were given whole milk were just as useful as the images that were taken of patients given the diluted barium, she said.

In addition, patients were given a questionnaire, asking them how well they tolerated the oral contrast agents, and a cost comparison was done. “We found that milk was less expensive, it had better patient acceptance and fewer adverse symptoms,” Dr. Koo said.

Is this surprising? Not at all. I think that doctors, always in a rush to give you something that comes from a pharma company supplier, need to look more closely at natural products because not always do we have to rely on the chemical alternative.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wham: New Research Suggests Apples and Aspirin a Good Combination

The British Journal of Nutrition is reporting that extracts from apples can play a strong role in protecting stomachs from ulcers and other complications associated with aspirin. This new study from Italy shows how increases in hormone-like substances associated with inflammation and related damage were lessened by an apple extract, a compound called a polyphenol.

There is quite a market now for supplements and functional foods associated with improved gastrointestinal health -- other apple derived substances such as pectin are already sold into this market.

One problem with the popular aspirin therapy recommended by many doctors is that stomach or peptic ulcers can develop. These are small holes or erosion in the gastrointestinal tract, and according to statistics from the US National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, they can affect as many as 14.5 million Americans.

It's nice to know that many of the complications of aspirin can be mitigated by simply eating an apple. While the researchers did not go so far as to recommend that, I would say that this is an obvious first step for anyone on an aspirin regimen. Later, there will no doubt be a number of supplements that offer this biochemical compound in a concentrated capsule form.

Polyphenols are getting a lot of press due to their antioxidant activity and the associated health benefits they bring with them. Many similar compounds have also been seen as possible protection against diseases such as cancer or cardiovascular disease. Other polyphenols have been reported to potentially offer protection from Alzheimer's.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Wham: New natural treatments for Dizziness and Vertigo

The American Academy of Neurology has developed new guidelines for treating vertigo which are described as easy and quick cures. Vertigo is an inner ear disorder that is a common cause of dizziness, and this research work is published in the May 27, 2008, issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The disorder causes a feeling of spinning or whirling when the head is moved in certain ways, such as looking up or bending. The feeling lasts a short time but can be severe. No one likes to take drugs for such events, but that is exactly what has happened to thousands of people who have reported this occasional dizziness to their doctors.

The new guidelines say that vertigo can be treated with simple maneuvers—a series of head and body movements performed by a doctor or therapist while the patient sits on a bed or table.

Author Terry D. Fife, MD, of the University of Arizona College of Medicine, says “This type of vertigo is easily treated. Instead of telling patients to ‘wait it out’ or having them take drugs, we can perform a safe and quick treatment that is immediate and effective.”

New thinking about this disorder believes it to be caused by loose calcium carbonate crystals that move in the sensing tubes of the inner ear. The maneuvers that trained neurologists can perform actually move the calcium crystals out of the sensing tube and into another inner chamber of the ear, from which they can be absorbed.

The guideline also reviewed whether patients can perform the maneuvers safely and effectively at home. “Having patients treat themselves using home exercises seems to pose little risk, but there is not sufficient evidence that this is as effective as maneuvers done by a doctor or therapist,” Fife said. Still, it sounds as if it will be easy for doctors to show patients how to perform these simple head and body maneuvers at home in case of recurring problems.

A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as epilepsy, dystonia, and other brain issues.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wham: Nasal Flush Proves Effective for Many

OK, it's been on Oprah now, so it's no longer big news. Still, I can't help but think that a lot of people would still like to know more about an ancient nasal allergy cure that has made the lives of thousands of people a heck of a lot easier.

I flush my nasal passages out every day during the allergy season, and I am happy to hear that Oprah does the same thing. Here's how it's done: Mix a quarter-teaspoon of noniodized salt with 8 ounces of lukewarm water. Tilt your head over a sink and pour 4 ounces of the solution into one nostril, then wait for it to exit the other nostril. Then switch nostrils and repeat using the remaining 4 ounces.

It's often done with what is called a "Neti Pot." Sometimes people will use a simple squirt bottle like a ketchup bottle that you'd see on the table at a Denny's.

Irrigation is particularly helpful for allergy patients who have mucus that's just plain hard to blow out with a regular sneeze. Rinsing it out can be very beneficial for those with this type of persistent mucus. I use it in combination with an herb called Kan Jang, and it is a great combination.

According to the current Harvard Women's Health Watch, irrigation has been shown to lower bacteria levels, ease the symptoms of sinusitis and, in some cases, reduce the risk of getting a sinus infection.

Neti pots are widely available – they sell for about $15 at Whole Foods Market – but some use the aforementioned squeeze bottle and salt water for much less. Personally, I find the neti pot much easier to use as it has been designed with this purpose in mind.

One reason nasal irrigation hasn't been more widely used before now is that some are uncomfortable with the initial feeling of having water move from one side of the nose, through the nasal passages, and out the other side. It IS a bit of an unusual feeling.

"It is kind of weird, putting water up your nose," says one regular user of the neti pot. "But it doesn't go down your throat at all, if you're doing it right."

And you'll enjoy a few hours of blessed relief from the allergies, which makes the slight inconvenience worthwhile.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wham: Wine in the News Once Again

"A wine drinker, being at a table, was offered grapes at dessert. 'Thank you,' he said, pushing the dish away from him, 'but I'm not in the habit of taking my wine in pills.'" - Brillat-Savarin

A new study from researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine shows that modest wine consumption, defined as one glass a day, may not only be safe for the liver, but may actually decrease the prevalence of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).

It's interesting to note how often we see positive news about the benefits of daily wine consumption.

The study, which appears in the June 2008 issue of the journal Hepatology, showed that for individuals who reported drinking up to one glass of wine per day, as compared to no alcohol consumption, the risk of liver disease due to NAFLD was cut in half. In contrast, compared with wine drinkers, individuals who reported modest consumption of beer or liquor had over four (4) times the odds of having suspected NAFLD.

NAFLD is the most common liver disease in the United States, affecting over 40 million adults. Previous research has shown that as many as five percent of adults with NAFLD will develop cirrhosis. The major risk factors for NAFLD are similar to many of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease—obesity, diabetes, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure. Multiple studies have shown that modest alcohol consumption may reduce the risk for heart disease. However, recommendations for modest alcohol consumption in individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease have overlooked that these same people are also at an increased risk for NAFLD. Thus, there exists a dilemma as to whether modest alcohol consumption for the heart is safe in regards to the liver. The UC San Diego investigators sought to clarify this important question.

Research did not provide any support for drinking larger amounts. “We want to emphasize that people at risk for alcohol abuse should not consider consuming wine or any other alcoholic beverage,” said Schwimmer, who also pointed out that, although this is the first study to address this important dilemma, the findings do not address those who already have liver disease and should not be drinking alcohol at all.

“Because this effect was only seen with wine, not in beer or liquor, further studies will be needed to determine whether the benefits seen were due to the alcohol or non-alcohol components of wine,” added Schwimmer.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Study Finds that Medical Journals with Heavy Pharma Advertising More Likely to Degrade Dietary Supplements Industry

A study published in the online journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in April has found that there may be a correlation between the amount of pharmaceutical advertising that a medical journal contains and its editorial content concerning dietary supplements.

My belief is that this study clearly shows how the dietary supplement and alternative healthcare industries are pushed aside in favor of large corporate advertising budgets.

For the study, researchers recorded instances of pharmaceutical advertisements (including ads for prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and drug-eluting stents) and dietary supplement editorial content in all issues published within a 1-year time span of 11 major medical journals. The 11 selected journals focus on general medicine, internal medicine or pediatrics, and issues spanned from June 2006 through June 2007.

According to the authors’ results, the average number of pharmaceutical ads varied from less than a page to over 60 pages per issue, and the amount of dietary supplement editorial content ranged from 4 to 61 instances per journal. The journals with the most pharmaceutical ads published fewer major articles about dietary supplements (i.e., original research, editorials, reviews) per issue than journals with a medium level of such ads. Journals with the fewest pharmaceutical ads published the most major dietary supplement articles. Here's the kicker . . . Journals with the most pharmaceutical advertising were also significantly more likely to publish major articles concluding that dietary supplements were unsafe than journals with a medium or low level of pharmaceutical advertising.

The study’s results were consistent with the authors’ hypothesis that pharmaceutical advertising may bias journals against non-drug therapies.

Dave Jensen

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sham: Concern regarding herbal products adulteration

There is a huge difference between brands of herbs, vitamins and minerals, and all "natural" products for that matter. It is Just like the difference in quality between brands for any other type of product . . . one company chooses to go the quality route while another company chooses to become the low-price leader.

An article appearing last year in Nutraceuticals World, July/August 2007, opens the door to the herbal products industry and allows the reader to learn more about concerns that companies have about the raw materials they buy as ingredients in their herbal dietary supplements. This article was written by Dr. Steven Dentali of the AHPA. Even though Dentali is on the staff of a trade association which promotes herbal products (the American Herbal Products Association) his concerns are expressed openly about the unethical practice of allowing raw materials providers to defraud the consumer. These suppliers often come from China.

Take, for example, those botanical products which are used for Dietary Supplements from the Biberry (Vaccinium myrtillus). Dentali says in this article that bilberry extracts are now being found in the market which are adulterated with the chemical dye amaranth, more commonly known as Red Dye #2. This was banned from the food supply in 1976 when the FDA discovered it was a possible carcinogen.

Quality companies (like Indena , the 120 year old leader in the field of bilberry) do assays via HPLC (high pressure liquid chromatography) to ensure the quality of their product. This testing produces an HPLC "fingerprint" which tells them if the tested material identifies with the original appearance of the plant's various compounds. In the case of Bilberry, there are fifteen different biochemicals called "anthocyanins" that create the fingerprint.

Producers of Bilberry extracts are now concerned, as they should be, that raw materials providers often substitute these fake-bilberry agents. Regularly, HPLC fingerprinting done on bilberry products shows a different appearance than the pure botanical agent would via the same test.

Rhodiola is another herb which could be faked. A popular new Rhodiola product is MIND BODY & SPIRIT, which is the purest form of Siberian Rhodiola roseain the world. Each batch of that Rhodiola is HPLC fingerprinted and standardized to the dozen biochemicals which make for the Rhodiola effect on the brain (mental clarity, energy, mood uplift, etc). It is entirely possible, however, (and in fact it has been reported) that some of the biochemicals in Rhodiola can be found cheap and easily in other plants. Unscrupulous raw materials suppliers can take advantage of companies that don't do thorough HPLC fingerprinting. In those cases, Rosavins and Salidrosides (two of the active biochemical compounds in Rhodiola) may appear to be from Rhodiola rosea, the plant of choice, but in actuality they could be substitutes from another species.

Cheap brands of Rhodiola are now showing up in drug stores, Internet sites and vitamin shops. Herbal analysts are concerned this one may be the next herb to be tainted by adulteration.

In all matters, whether it is herbs or anything else, you generally get what you pay for. A botanical extract from one company may not even resemble the extract sold by another company. That's why it is so important for consumers to rely on companies that perform their own clinical trials. And the results of those clinical trials do not in any way support other brands of products that may not check their raw materials suppliers as rigorously. Always buy from companies that perform their own studies, as they use this research to ensure a quality product free from adulteration.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Wham: Green Tea Protects from Sleep Apnea Cognitive Loss

Once again, green tea is in the news. This time, researchers have discovered that certain chemicals found in green tea may be able to protect against the cognitive problems that occur in people who have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The numbers of people with sleep apnea are recognized as being quite large, with few people actually seeking out treatment or help from doctors.

The new study published in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine shows that green tea polyphenols (GTP), administered through drinking water to rats who were intermittently deprived of oxygen during their 12-hour night cycles gave the rats a level of protection that other rats did not have.

People with sleep apnea have increased markers of oxidative stress and exhibit significant changes in their brain tissue in areas involved in learning and memory. Rats produce similar neurological deficit patterns when they are subjected to the intermittent loss of oxygen that mimics this sleep apnea.

GTP, the chemical in green tea, is known to possess anti-oxidant properties, acting as a free radical scavengers, and research has shown that the compounds may reduce the risk of a variety of different diseases.

“Recent studies have demonstrated the neuroprotective activity of GTP in animal models of neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease,” wrote Dr. Gozal, lead author and professor at the University of Louisville.

In this study, the researchers divided 106 male rats into two groups that underwent intermittent oxygen depletion during the 12-hour “night” cycle for 14 days. One group received drinking water treated with GTP; the other received plain drinking water.

They were then tested for markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, as well as for performance in spatial learning and memory tasks—namely a water “maze” in which the rat had to memorize the location of a hidden platform.

The rats that received the green tea-treated water performed significantly better in a water maze than the rats that drank plain water. Dr. Gozal writes that GTPs “may represent a potential interventional strategy for patients” with sleep-disordered breathing."


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Depressed Dads Lead to Problems with Language Development in Children

New research has discovered that if fathers get depressed (as new mothers often do), it can be bad for their children's language development. Specifically, two-year-olds who were studied have a much smaller vocabulary if their fathers have depression than if their mothers do.

The depression we were already aware of, from Mom, is called Postnatal Depression and it is widely recognized for it's link to emotional difficulties in their children. To explore the effects of depression from the father's side, a team led by pediatric psychologist James Paulson at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk surveyed about 5000 families enrolled in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which is funded by the US Department of Education. The study records symptoms of depression in parents.

When the children were 9 months old, 14 per cent of the mothers and 10 per cent of the fathers were clinically depressed - about twice the rates for the general population. To anyone who can remember having a new baby in the house, you'll recall the lack of sleep and the stress events (financial and otherwise) which may be behind the depression.

The surprise for researchers came when they looked at whether this affected what proportion of 50 common words the children were using at 2 years of age. While depression from Mom had no effect on vocabulary, 9-month-olds with depressed dads went on to use fewer words at age 2 than those whose fathers were fine.

Other studies have found that maternal depression can also slow speech development, but Paulson is the first to suggest that paternal depression has the bigger effect. One explanation, says the main author, is that depression in mothers did not reduce the time they spent reading to their 9-month-old baby, but depressed dads read significantly less often than those who felt fine. The lesson is obviously that Dad should read to the new baby, no matter how he feels at any given time.

This material was presented at the American Psychiatric Association meeting in Washington DC, which I attended personally.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wham: Regular Early Exercise Helps Prevent Breast Cancer

New research shows that girls and young women who exercise regularly between the ages of 12 and 35 have a substantially lower risk of breast cancer before menopause compared to those who are less active. The study, by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine and Harvard University, appears in the online Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In this report, the largest and most detailed analysis to date of the effects of exercise on premenopausal breast cancer, nearly 65,000 women were studied and it was found that those who were physically active had a 23 percent lower risk of breast cancer before menopause. In particular, high levels of physical activity from ages 12 to 22 contributed most strongly to the lower breast cancer risk.

“We don’t have a lot of prevention strategies for premenopausal breast cancer, but our findings clearly show that physical activity during adolescence and young adulthood can pay off in the long run by reducing a woman’s risk of early breast cancer,” says lead investigator Graham Colditz, M.D., associate director at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. “This is just one more reason to encourage girls and young women to exercise regularly.”

One-fourth of all breast cancers are diagnosed in women before menopause. “You don’t have to be a marathon runner to get the risk-reducing benefits of exercise,” the authors add.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Understanding Food Labels - A Tricky Business

Like many others, my family is often convinced to buy one product over another because of the way the product is labeled, and the descriptive adjectives that are used. Take chicken for example. Buying chicken these days is not like it used to be. With labels like “100 percent natural,” “organic,” “grain-fed,” and “free range,” many consumers don’t really know what they’re buying.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—“100 percent natural” means the poultry doesn’t contain artificial ingredients like preservatives. But there are no guarantees, as this "natural" tag is uncontrolled and unrestricted. One expert from Baylor says this about the claim:

“Remember—no inspections are done. So we don’t know if those claims are really true,” says Shannon Wallace, R.D., registered dietitian with Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

Chicken labeled as “organic” must meet much stricter standards. Inspections are actually conducted and organic chicken cannot contain artificial ingredients, hormones or antibiotics. The USDA does not make any claims that organically produced food is any safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food, however.

Another popular chicken label is “grain fed.” This is supposed to mean the chicken was not fed animal by-products, but just like “100 percent natural," there is no outside monitoring for this claim. This one can be used just about any time, in any way.

And probably the most confusing label of them all—“free range.” Chickens labeled as “free range” are supposed to be leaner, but again, experts warn the claim can be deceiving. Free range does not always mean that the animal has been in an open area its whole life. It may only mean they were caged and let out into that open area one time during their life.

As you can see, at least with chicken, food labeling can be extremely deceptive.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lost in a Land of Pharmaceutical Giants

Over the last week I've been in Washington, DC, for the APA meeting. The American Psychiatric Association had its 161st annual meeting, and it was quite a big deal. There were more than 18,000 MD's and mental health professionals attending this huge trade show, with floor space equivalent to three or four football fields. I haven't walked so much in a long time . . . simply walking from one end to the other was exhausting.

You have no idea what a major business the pharmaceutical industry has in products for depression until you see this meeting and the numbers of people prescribing these drugs sinks in. It is a massive industry. Trade show exhibits that must have cost upwards of $200,000 just to rent space dominated the show floor, with a sprinkling of tiny 8x10' booths looking like ants under an elephants foot.

The attendees visited the pharmaceutical companies for information on new drugs for issues like depression, insomnia and eating disorders, but many of them visit the booths for free goodies. Personally, I came home with a bag of "swag" that included laser pens with USB drives, staplers, coffee cups and every other possible freebee you can think of. The industry is generous if nothing else.

What I found most interesting is that some of the smaller booths were thriving even without the free giveaways. There was a lot of attention on Rhodiola rosea being used as a natural antidepressant during the technical presentations, so the ProActive BioProducts booth was packed with practitioners interested in Rhodiola. The Omega 3 supplier OmegaBrite seemed to be packing them in as well. A fair number of studies now show that Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for healthy mental functioning, so they are useful in treating mild depression. Another concept that looked interesting to me were the two companies present who sold light boxes used to help prevent the SAD light deprivation issue that many people have, often in the winter months.

It's good to see the smaller companies succeeding in what is increasingly a business of gigantic corporations pushing pharma chemicals to solve mental health issues.


Friday, May 9, 2008

New Weight Loss Drugs May Have a Problem

Researchers have discovered that a drug from a new class of weight-loss treatments seems to disrupt certain wiring needed for brain development in young mice. This raises concerns about using such medications, especially in children.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studied the effects of a chemical that suppresses appetite by blocking cannabinoid receptors in the brain, the same brain mechanisms that make people hungry when they smoke marijuana. These new weight loss drugs are based on this idea.

"I think that the cautionary note is that these mechanisms play an important role in brain development," said Mark Bear, principal author, whose study appears in the journal Neuron.

Sanofi-Aventis' weight-loss pill known as Zimulti, sold under the brand name Acomplia in Europe, is the first in this new class of drugs. A U.S. expert panel rejected it last June because of fears it might trigger suicidal thoughts. However, other pharmaceutical companies (including Merck & Co.) are working on similar drugs right now, and this research could be quite concerning.

The researchers were specifically testing learning in the visual cortex of the mouse, a part of the brain that processes information gathered from what they see, when they discovered that some of the developmental wiring had gone astray in those animals which had consumed this compound. Their work suggested that as a result, the visual cortex was not adapting as it should.

Bear said the finding is similar to the situation with many drugs, "You have to weigh the benefits against the risks. If the benefit is related more to vanity than morbidity, I don't think the risks are tolerable," he said.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wham: Coffee may protect against breast cancer

I am always flabbergasted at the back-and-forth that scientists go through on the issue of coffee. My wife and I have cut back dramatically on our coffee consumption owing to our use of Rhodiola rosea in the AM, which has such a better "perk" than coffee anyway. However, it now looks as if there may be some actual health benefits for a certain group of women who consume at least two to three cups of Java in a day.

Depending on which variant of a certain gene a woman has, a coffee consumption rate of this level can either reduce the total risk of developing breast cancer or delay the onset of cancer. This is shown in new research from Lund University and Malmö University in Sweden.

For anyone who has ever visited Sweden, there is a considerable coffee culture there, and you can't get away without having a few cups a day with friends -- and Swedish coffee is strong.

Coffee appears to affect estrogens, female sex hormones. Certain metabolic products of these hormones are known to be carcinogenic, and various components of coffee can alter the metabolism so that a woman acquires a better configuration of various estrogens. Caffeine, a major constituent of coffee, has also been shown to hamper the growth of cancer cells.

Cancer researcher Helena Jernström and her associates have studied the coffee-drinking habits of nearly 460 breast cancer patients being treated in Lund, a University town in southern Sweden. The results show that the effect of coffee varies depending on which variant the women have of a gene called CYP1A2, which codes for an enzyme that metabolizes both estrogen and coffee. Half of the women had a variant called A/A, while the others had either A/C or C/C.

“Those women who had one of the C variants, and who had three cups of coffee every day developed breast cancer considerably less than women with the A/A variant with the same coffee consumption," said the authors. The cancer risk for the coffee drinkers was only two thirds of that of the other women.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Crash Dieting May Lead to Early Death

Here's some news for those who are concerned about weight gain, and who believe that a "eat and crash" cycle of dieting is good for them.

Researchers fromr Glasgow University have found that this common practice, which might be labeled "binge eating with later dieting," is actually dangerous. Studies in fish have found that doing this results in a reduced life expectance of up to 25%.

They believe the findings could have implications for teenagers and children who follow extreme patterns of dieting. "The fish on the fluctuating diet put just as much effort into breeding - the males became brightly coloured as usual and the females produced the normal number of eggs," the BBC quoted Professor Neil Metcalf, as saying "However, on average their lifespan was only three-quarters that of animals eating a constant amount every day," Metcalf said.

The research found this was the result in an increase in the risk of sudden death.

Professor Metcalfe stated: "It seems that uneven growth, due to the fluctuation in the amount eaten per day, is responsible for the increase in the risk of sudden death. This is possibly because the body tissues are more likely to have imperfections due to growth spurts."

The study is published in the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Understanding Fish Oil and its Use

[Thanks for your patience in my absence from this site. I've had a heavy travel schedule.]

There have been so many positive studies on fish oil and its benefits to humans that there are few people who haven’t yet incorporated it into their diet, whether it is by enjoying fish once or twice a week or to add it via a supplement.

The better quality supplements come primarily from Anchovies and Sardines, two species of fish that are not in short supply and that come from clean waters, often off the coast of South America. These fish have a very short life span, and because of this they have a minimal time in the water to accumulate toxins. Plus, they aren’t bottom dwellers or top dwellers (those areas that are the most concern for pollution and toxins). The better manufacturers stay away from larger fish that are predators, and which have longer life spans. (Predatory fish eat smaller fish and increase their toxin load).

The cod, used in numerous Cod Liver Oil products, is a rapidly declining species, particularly the Atlantic Cod and the Rock Cod. While there are several good brands of pure Cod Liver Oil, some companies still cut in Haddock and other byproduct oils while labeling their supplement as “pure.”

If you are concerned about the fish oils industry depleting the world’s fish supply for nutritional supplements, keep in mind that the entire business represents no more than 2 to 3% of the total global fishing industry, according to Holistic Primary Care, a leading journal for integrative physicians.

When buying fish oil, remember that any exposure to light or heat will spoil the product. This is one supplement that you can keep in your refrigerator. If you have some older fish oil capsules and you want to test their viability, simply bite into a capsule. If the oil inside smells or tastes like fish, it is garbage. Throw it away.

There are two types of fish oil manufacturing processes, and only one of them mimics nature. Products produced as an “ethyl ester” are man-made chemical versions of fish oil that are more like drugs in the way they are made. The other type, “triglycerides” are made in the same way they appear in nature. The triglyceride approach is more expensive for the manufacturer and it is much harder to get the high (70% plus) yields of Omega 3 fatty acids that the market demands.

Lastly, always remember to take your fish oil with food, as this is the best way for the oil to be used by your body.