Expectant mothers have always learned that fish is brain food not only for the developing child, but also for the mother. New research data calls into question this ancient wisdom, or does it?
Marblehead, MA (Vocus)
October 30, 2010
Dr. Barry Sears, founder and chairman of Zone Labs, announced that the key to getting fish oil benefits from eating fish or supplementing with fish oil is thanks to EPA, not DHA.
Dr. Sears said, “Expectant mothers have always learned that fish is brain food not only for the developing child, but also for the mother. New research data calls into question this ancient wisdom, or does it? “
Dr. Sears, one of the leading experts on omega-3s, explains, “Understanding this seeming paradox requires a detailed understanding of fish oils and the metabolism of omega-3s that are not available to most medical journalists.”
Dr. Sears explained that there is a growing knowledge that women who consume fish or fish oil supplements have less postpartum depression and their children have improved cognitive development. However, fish and fish oil supplements always contain a mixture of two omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
“Since the brain contains relatively little EPA compared to DHA, it has always been assumed that it was DHA that produced these benefits. In fact, an entire industry has been built around adding DHA to infant formulas to improve maternal and child neurological health. Of course, nobody has tested this hypothesis so far, ”said Dr. Sears.
He noted, “An article was published in the October issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association discussing supplementing with a fish oil supplement that is exceptionally high in DHA and very low in EPA. Unfortunately, the results have been the opposite of prevailing thoughts. In fact, the researchers found no cognitive benefits for either the mother or the child. This questions why we supplement infant formulas with DHA. “
Dr. Sears said, “The answer is that the benefits of consuming fish or taking fish oil supplements come from the EPA, not the DHA.”
He added that both EPA and DHA go to the brain, but the EPA is oxidized quickly while the DHA is sent to long-term storage. “This explains why little EPA is found in the brain, leading to the misconception that it is not important in the brain. Although the EPA is present in the brain, it can act as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. “
Dr. Sears hypothesized, “It is this anti-inflammatory effect that is responsible for the neurological benefits. This is confirmed by numerous studies in which DHA has little or no benefit in treating depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, while fish oils high in EPA have notable benefits.
In his advice to expectant mothers, Dr. Sears: “Eating high-fat fish that are high in EPA may not be the answer because these fish contain relatively high levels of pollutants such as PCBs. On the other hand, fish oil supplements high in EPA and with exceptional purity for PCBs could be the answer. “
Dr. Sears added, “Fortunately, such a fish oil supplement already exists. Zone Labs makes OmegaRx, an EPA-rich omega-3 supplement with the highest purity, with or without a prescription. “More information online is available at http://www.zonediet.com.
Dr. Barry Sears, scientist and obesity expert, is a leading authority on anti-inflammatory nutrition. He is the creator of the Zone Anti-Inflammatory Diet and author of 12 books, including the New York Times # 1 best seller, The Zone. His books have sold more than 5 million copies and have been translated into 22 languages. More information is available online at DrSears.com or http://www.ZoneDiet.com. Media contact is Brian Dobson at DobsonPR.com or bd (at) dobsonpr (dot) com.
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