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Question About Taking Fish Oil by Heart Patient

Posted by Suzie (Huntington Beach, CA) on 04/15/2007

Can you please tell me if my husband (heart patient) is taking flaxseed oil should he be taking a fish oil instead? Or should be be taking both? He takes a tablespoon of flaxseed oil daily (cold pressed) What's your recommendation?

Replied by Ted
Bangkok, Thailand
383 posts

Dear Suzie: Heart problems occur because of electrolytes imbalance and lactic acidosis buildup intracellularly. Sometimes heart tends to accumulate too much free heavy metal iron that creates free radicals.

The other lesser problem is the imbalance of essential fatty acids (EFAs).

As to the remedy, electrolytes imbalance a simple home remedy is 8 teaspoons of lime (or lemon) plus 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in 1/2 glass of water allow reaction to proceed at least 5 minutes, and it is taken once in the morning and once in the evening.

The remedy for lactic acidosis is simply 2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in 1/2 glass of water taken two times a day on an empty stomach.

In practice, the lactic acidosis should be dealt first then to the lemon-baking soda after a couple of days.

Both remedies lack magnesium, and therefore a magnesium supplements is required, such as magnesium acetate (or magnesium citrate or magnesium chloride) at about 250 mg/day for only a couple of days.

As to the issue of flaxseed oil or fish oil, a fish oil is better as it has anti-coagulants, omega 3, and also have chelating properties in removal of the iron and other metal buildup. I prefer to add also cod liver oil at 1/2 teaspoon as cod liver also has some ability in removing heavy metals. Oil pulling is helpful in removing excess heavy metals too. Another possibility is to use chinese parsley, or coriander as this also have good chelating properties. You might wonder why I don't usually recommend chlorella. It seems that they have problems (possibly contaminated) but in general, chlorella at least where I live is very pricey, which discourages my use of them, but it might work for someone in case the other remedies could not be obtaned. Another possible help is 1/8 teaspoon of disodium EDTA in 1 liter of water taken throughout day, as this also have some chelating properties.

The omega-3 fats that come from fish or flax oil have different chemical makeup. Additonally, some of their health benefits differ.

Alpha-linolenic acid or ALA is an essential omega-3 fat. We must eat ALA in our diets because our bodies cannot make it. ALA is an essential nutrient like vitamin C and calcium. The human body needs ALA to be healthy. Two other important omega-3 fats, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are not considered %uFFFDessential%uFFFD because our bodies make small amounts of them from ALA. Nonetheless, they are vital for health.

ALA, EPA and DHA are similar in that they all keep the body%uFFFDs cell membranes flexible and elastic to help cells work properly. ALA, EPA and DHA are also alike in blocking the actions of some compounds that cause inflammation. Most chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and arthritis are marked by inflammation. By blocking inflammation, omega-3 fats help reduce the risk of chronic disease.

How DHA differs from ALA and EPA:
DHA helps the eye, brain and nervous system develop properly.

ALA is found mainly in: flax seeds, walnuts, plant oils like flax oil, canola oil and soybean oil. Flax seeds and flax oil are the richest sources of ALA in the North American diet.

EPA and DHA are found mainly in fatty fish like herring, salmon, mackerel and bluefin tuna and the fish oil supplements made from them.

ALA sources:
Flax Seeds
Flax Oil
Walnut Oil
Canola Oil
Soybean Oil
Flax-enriched eggs
Atlantic Salmon
Sardine canned in Oil

EPA Sources:
Salmon, coho, wild
Salmon, Atlantic, wild
Tuna, bluefin
Sardine, canned in oil
Menhaden oil capsules
Striped bass
Sea bass

DHA Sources:
Salmon, Atlantic, wild
Tuna, bluefin
Salmon, coho, wild
Striped bass
Sea bass
Sardine, canned in oil
Menhaden oil capsules
Omega-3 enriched egg

Flax seeds are a rich source of ALA and lignans. Lignans are phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that can have hormone-like effects in the human body. Lignans are found in the fibre fraction of the flax seed. For this reason, flax oil does not naturally contain lignans, although some processors add purified lignans to the oil to enhance its nutritional value. Flax seeds, but not flax oil, are good sources of dietary fibre.

Flax lowers blood cholesterol levels and helps reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Through the actions of the lignans and ALA, flax blocks tumour growth in animals and may help reduce cancer risk in humans. Flax also promotes laxation and helps the bowel work properly.

Fish oil:
Fish oil capsules are the most concentrated form of omega-3 fats. They contain all major omega-3 fats %uFFFD ALA, EPA and DHA. However, a health alert has been raised about the level of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in fish oil supplements. PCBs are chemicals used in industrial processes and may cause cancer in humans. A consumer who follows the label recommendation on some fish oil supplements can take in up to 43% of the daily upper limit of PCBs.

In recent studies, Fish Oil has proven to be more effective at reducing inflammation than Flax Oil.

Here are a couple great articles from Dr. Mercola's site, elucidating the subject.

Dr. Mercola's Comment

"Nearly everyone seems to benefit from omega-3 oils, as most Americans are deficient in this nutrient. The sad tragedy, however, is that nearly all fish are contaminated with mercury so it is not safe to consume fish as a source of these oils. Instead, we are forced to seek molecularly refined sources of omega-3 fish oil.

Some people choose flax seeds for their source of omega-3 oils. This is not the optimal source for most though, because the ALA found in flax seeds needs to be converted to long-chain omega-3 fats, and this conversion process is impaired in many.

More importantly, ALA is not equivalent in its biological effects to the long-chain omega-3 fats found in marine oils. Experimental studies suggest that intake of 3 to 4 grams of ALA per day is equivalent to 0.3 grams (300 mg) of EPA per day. EPA and DHA are more rapidly incorporated into plasma and membrane lipids and produce effects more rapidly than does ALA.

Further, there are relatively large reserves of omega-6 linolenic acid in your body fat that tends to slow down the formation of long-chain omega-3 fats like EPA and DHA from ALA.

So in addition to consuming omega-3 fat you will want to lower your intake of most omega-6 fat as nearly all of us consume far too much, causing the delicate omega 6:3 ratio to become unbalanced.

As mentioned above, our culture has long since passed the point where it is healthy to obtain omega-3 from most commercially available fish. I now highly recommend routinely consuming fish oil/cod liver oil instead, as they are purified of mercury and other toxins.

Mercury is rampant in the waterways of the world, and, as the article expresses, mercury is not just in the fat of the fish -- it is in all of the tissues.

Clinically, I use hair analysis on most of my patients as a way to determine mercury levels. While many view this as a controversial test, very few would deny its utility as a sensitive screen for heavy metal exposure. A person's mercury level in their hair is almost always related to their consumption of fish.

There are exceptions, of course, as there are other environmental exposures to mercury. I recently tested a dentist who was not eating fish but was still actively removing mercury amalgams, and he had very high mercury levels in his system. This is not typical, though, as the mercury measured in the hair analysis is usually related to mercury exposure in the last three months, and most mercury from a person's amalgams is low level and will not exceed that consumed in fish.

Nonetheless, the mercury from amalgams is still a problem as it accumulates over time, but it rarely shows up in the hair unless you have had amalgams removed in the three months prior to the hair analysis and a large mercury exposure resulted from the removal.

It is a tragedy that we have virtually devastated fish, previously one of the healthiest foods on the planet, with mercury toxicity. We have polluted the environment with hundreds of millions of tons of mercury by burning coal for electricity. The mercury eventually finds its way into the waterways where it is bio-accumulated to very high levels in most fish. Generally the larger the fish, the more mercury it contains. In fact, some mercury levels in fish have been unbelievably high.

Tragedy is an understatement.

Some fish have less mercury than others, but nearly all fish are contaminated with mercury. I have done thousands of hair mineral analyses on patients and can confidently state this as truth. Patients who don't eat any fish are the only ones who have immeasurable levels of mercury in their hair. In my experience, anyone eating fish has mercury in their system, and it is nearly always in direct proportion to the frequency of their fish consumption.

So here is my recommendation:

Avoid eating all fish, unless you know the fish has been tested and shown not to contain harmful levels of mercury and other toxins.

Almost all fish has mercury that will absolutely compromise your health. The one apparent exception are very small fish like sardines or anchovies that haven't been in the ocean long enough to accumulate much mercury. Presently, I am also searching the market for safe sources of other fish, perhaps those caught from more pristine water sources that may still exist.

We all need the omega-3 fats found in fish -- in the case of most Americans, in fact, omega-3 is desperately needed -- but you should get them from a clean source. Most fish oil supplements, like the Carlson brand of fish oil/cod liver oil that I highly recommend and offer on this site, go through a molecular distillation process to clean out the mercury. The Carlson brand is also routinely tested using standard international protocols in an independent, FDA registered laboratory; this testing not only ensures freedom from detectable levels of mercury, but also cadmium, lead, PCBs and 28 other contaminants. If you are using a brand besides Carlson, you should definitely contact the manufacturer to confirm they go through this process and testing.

Another reason I specifically recommend Carlson fish oil/cod liver oil is that I have seen clear and often substantial improvements in my patients who use it. For instance, the Carlson brand has helped them get high cholesterol back to appropriate levels, and it has also shown particularly positive benefits in those with rheumatoid arthritis, Raynaud's and Scleroderma. Meanwhile, the Costco brand of fish oil I now advise against, but at one time recommended for its low cost, did not show these same results; indeed, many patients who switched from Carlson to Costco fish oil showed a relapse in their original improvements. I do not yet know what to attribute this to in the Costco brand, but I now strongly suggest you use caution when choosing your brand of fish oil/cod liver oil.

You can find the Carlson fish oil/cod liver oil in my "Recommended Products" section; your local health food store may also carry Carlson, and usually they are very helpful in recommending any other trustworthy brands."

While I am well-known as a minimalist when it comes to supplements, fish oil (in the warm months) and cod liver oil (in the cool months) are "supplements" that I cannot urge you strongly enough to add to your daily diet if you want to prevent disease and increase both the length and quality of your life.

But as with most foods in general, the type (i.e., brand) of fish oil/cod liver oil you choose makes all the difference when it comes to aiding your health. Simply put, there are many inferior brands of fish oil and cod liver oil on the market that, at best, you'll be throwing your money away on because they have little real benefit, and at worse, can actually cause you harm over time. Purity and potency mean everything when choosing fish oil, and there is a wide variance in those factors with brands out.

I have researched brands and types of fish oil and cod liver oil extensively, and can with absolute confidence recommend both the Living Fuel Omega 3 & E fish oil capsules with full-spectrum vitamin E and the Carlson's brand of fish oil and cod liver oil. Both are rigorously tested for potentcy and purity, and because these exceptional brands may be difficult to find in health food stores, I now offer both the Omega 3 & E and Carlson's here in the "Recommended Products" section.

Why Full-Spectrum Vitamin E when Taking Fish Oil?

There is a good risk of "lipid peroxidation" within your body when you are taking high-dose "delicate" fats like fish oil without proportionately increasing the fat-soluble antioxidants (tocotrienols, full-spectrum vitamin E provide these fat-soluble antioxidants). Translated, that means that while you absolutely need omega-3 from fish oil in your diet, you should also seriously consider full-spectrum vitamin E to both improve the fish oil's effectiveness and avoid harm. That's why I highly recommend the Omega 3 & E, which contains both the high-quality fish oil and the right vitamin E. The Omega 3 & E capsules are also encased in a gelatin shell that prevents the fish oil from oxidative damage.

If you choose the high-quality Carlson's fish oil/cod liver oil, make sure you minimize oxidative damage to the liquids by extracting oxygen from the bottle after each use (see the Carlson's page for detail), and consider also taking a full-spectrum vitamin E with tocotrienols.

How do you choose between the Omega 3 & E and the Carlson's? You will notice that the Omega 3 & E costs more, but in addition to high-quality fish oil, it also provides you the full-spectrum vitamin E (containing tocotrienols and tocopherols) that most people should be taking if they take fish oil. For more information on why you should take full-spectrum vitamin E, I encourage you to read: "If You%uFFFDre Taking Fish Oil, Fat-Soluble Antioxidants are Crucial." With the Living Fuel Omega 3 & E, in other words, you are getting both the highest-quality fish oil and highest-quality vitamin E in one.

If you opt for the Carlson's brand, I strongly recommend you read the article highlighted directly above and consider adding a full-spectrum vitamin E to your daily diet with the fish oil as well. While you won't typically find this full-spectrum vitamin E on the vitamin shelves of most grocery stores or corner drugstores, a good health food store or vitamin shop should carry it and be able to recommend a quality brand.

To conclude, one of my highest recommendations to my patients, and to you, is to ensure you are getting adequate amounts of omega-3 with EPA and DHA fatty acids in your diet to prevent disease and prolong your life. Supplement daily with a high-quality fish oil/cod liver (see Omega 3 & E and Carlson's for dosage information) and try to eat plenty of toxin-free fish like the Vital Choice salmon."

Slowing Alzheimer's Disease with Omega-3 Fatty Acids

A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids slowed Alzheimer%uFFFDs disease in mice, a new Canadian study suggested. The research provided the strongest evidence so far that %uFFFDa deficiency in a specific dietary component could have a direct impact on a person%uFFFDs risk of developing the neurological disease.%uFFFD

Diet mattered to the brain of mice in the study; a diet that was poor in omega-3s, accelerated the process of Alzheimer%uFFFDs, according to researchers. A number of previous studies had suggested that people who ate a diet rich in fish were less likely to develop Alzheimer%uFFFDs and heart disease. Researchers guessed it was the omega-3%uFFFDs that were responsible.

The new Alzheimer%uFFFDs research, published in the medical journal Neuron, showed that one type of omega-3, called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), seemed to keep synapses healthy. Synapses are the chemical connections between brain cells that enable memory and learning.

In this study, one group of mice was fed a soy and fish diet* and a second group a diet of safflower oil devoid of omega-3 fatty acids. After five months, researchers dissected the rodents%uFFFD brains to discover high amounts of synaptic damage in the brains of the Alzheimer%uFFFDs-diseased mice that ate the DHA-depleted diet. They also found low levels of DHA in the brains of the mice and evidence of inflammation and cell damage caused by oxidative stress, conditions that DHA is known to protect against. The mice fed a diet poor in omega-3s also did poorly in memory tests, further evidence of brain damage.

Click here to research books about Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Click here to research books about Fish Oil.
Click here to research books about Flaxseed Oil.