Something is fishy with this fish oil supplement

We recently saw an ad for a fish oil product sold by a major pharmacy chain that said “…cloudiness is normal, and reflects the natural components in fish oil.”

Nonsense.

I’m holding a Quell Fish Oil gelcap. No cloudiness here!

Your fish oil supplement should NEVER be cloudy.

It should have an amber-orange-yellow color to it. This is from the gel cap. If you were to pop the gelcap open, you will find that the oil ranges from a light yellow to colorless.

There are two reasons why a fish oil product will be cloudy:

1. Impurities

2. Product was exposed to an extreme temperature, especially cold, during shipping.

There is a reason why the big chains and supermarkets can sell their supplements at such low prices. They’re cheap products! And then people wonder if they’re doing any good…

Our advice is very simple. You get what you pay for. Stick with solid brands like our Quell line. At least you’ll know that you’re getting the purest fish oil possible.

Can omega-3 fish oil provide the same benefit as Lovaza?

Fish oil

Can a few of these a day help fight against heart disease?

ConsumerLab.com is a leading independent testing company focused on nutritional products. At WisdomAndHealth, we subscribe to their publications to help us choose the best dietary supplements available

Recently, an interesting question was posted on their web site:

Lovaza, a prescription omega 3 fish oil, is very expensive. Can I get the same omega 3 oils from a supplement that costs less?

Lovaza is a prescription blend of omega 3 fatty acids derived from fish oil. It is FDA approved, along with diet, to reduce very high triglycerides in adults. However, as noted, it can be quite expensive. Even with insurance and  copay, Lovaza can run several hundred dollars per month. So this person’s question is a good one.

At WisdomAndHealth, we carry three very pure, high quality fish oil supplements. The full details are available on our site. But, do any of our products compare with Lovaza? And why would someone want to take omega-3 fatty acids anyway?

Omega 3 fatty acids have a number of health benefits, such as helping to fight inflammation, improve mental health and function, and to help support eye health. But one of the best reasons to take a fish oil supplement is for cardiovascular health and to fight cardiovascular disease. Specifically, the omega 3 fatty acid EPA and DHA have been shown to reduce triglycerides, reduce blood pressure, and perhaps slow the development of atherosclerosis. The evidence generated over several decades has prompted the US FDA to not only approve prescription brand Lovaza, but to also allow fish oil supplements to state “…consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”

So, now back to the question…are there fish oil supplements that available over–counter that can provide similar omega 3 benefits to Lovaza? The short answer is yes, but it really depends on two key factors: product purity and dosage.

Regarding purity, fish oil can accumulate various harmful substances such as mercury, dioxins, and PCBs. Fortunately, manufacturing processes such as supercritical carbon dioxide extraction are quite good at separating the desired fish oils from these substances.

Second, there is dosage. Lovaza (formerly known as Omacor), contains approximately 465 mg EPA and 375 mg DHA per capsule, with a dose of 4 capsules per day. This is an unusually high-dose of EPA and DHA compared to over-the-counter fish oil. However, there are products available , and is where careful label reading is beneficial.

In summary, if you are interested in the health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids for cardiovascular health and cardiovascular disease, prescription Lovaza is a viable option. However, given the cost of this prescription product, over-the-counter supplements may provide a cost-effective alternative. However, careful label reading is important.

Saffron and Cancer – Miracle or Hype?

Saffron as a cure for cancer. It’s all over the Internet these days. Where do these claims originate? And, are they true?

Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus . It’s a lovely flower that blooms quite frequently on lawns and other grassy areas here in the Northeast. The spice is actually the stigma of the flower. And, because there are only a few stigmas per flower, and because they have to be collected by hand, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.

As with many other flowers, saffron has a complex chemistry. It contains over 150 chemicals, including antioxidant carotenoids, such as zeaxanthin, lycopene, and beta-carotenes. When the plant is dried, Picrocrocin splits into a sugar molecule and a molecule of safranal . Safranal is the oil which gives saffron its distinctive aroma. The bottom line is that saffron does contain small amounts of antioxidants and other chemicals.

But can saffron help against cancer? Well, it depends. In laboratory studies using cancer cells, extracts from saffron was effective against lung cancer cells in vitro . But, we must emphasize that this was done in a lab with cells, not animals, and certainly not humans.

What animal studies we do have , while promising, are naturally somewhat limited in their scope. Further, it is very difficult to take cancer studies in animals and predict what will happen in humans.

Similar studies have demonstrated that saffron extracts have very strong antioxidant properties.

So what does this all mean?

  • We don’t know if extracts are effective in humans
  • We don’t know what specific chemicals are the ones that might work against cancer cells
  • We don’t know what the dose might be for cancer or anything else
  • We don’t know what kinds of cancers might respond to a chemical extracted from saffron…

Get the picture? The fact is that there is a lot we simply don’t know about saffron and its possible effects on human cancers.

Our advice is to stick with seasoning your rice with your saffron. Even making tea with saffron will likely cause some of these beneficial chemicals to break down in the heat. And, be very careful with what you read and consume!

Need help falling asleep?

At WisdomAndHealth, we carry a range of pillows for sleeping. However, even a new pillow may not be enough. So what are some other alternatives if you need help falling asleep or staying asleep and you don’t want to take sleeping pills? And is melatonin an option?

Melatonin is available in a wide array of tablets, capsules, sprays, and lozenges, and is frequently marketed as a natural sleep aid. In fact, melatonin supplements have been available in the US since the 1990s as a sleep aid and for other uses as well. As a natural substance, melatonin appears to have few side effects at low doses. But even after all of this experience with melatonin, many questions remain about the right dose, as well as when that dose should be taken. In other words, should the melatonin be taken immediately at bedtime, or one hour before? What if the problem is not falling asleep, but staying asleep? Should the melatonin be in a tablet, or a liquid?

It makes sense to use melatonin as a sleep aid . This is because melatonin is naturally produced by our bodies, and is known to play a role in our circadian rhythms. In fact, melatonin levels rise after sundown , and begin to fall after ~2 am in most people. Interestingly, older folks have lower levels of melatonin in their blood stream, which may, in part, explain why we tend to sleep less as we age.

So which melatonin product should we use? And what is the right melatonin dosage? At WisdomAndHealth.com, we continue to look for a good melatonin product. But what are we looking for?

There are several factors we need to consider. First there is the bioavailability of melatonin. Bioavailability is simply the amount of drug in a pill that actually gets from your gut into your blood stream, where it can then do what it is supposed to do. So if a melatonin tablet contains 100 micrograms and it does not dissolve in the stomach, then the drug cannot get into the bloodstream. So the bioavailability is very low, and that product will not be effective.

As it happens, the bioavailability of melatonin is both low and variable . This means that a melatonin-containing product, such as a simple pill, may not be effective if it is poorly made, because the melatonin may never dissolve.

Thus, a melatonin product should come in a liquid to partly overcome this bioavailability issue. With a liquid melatonin product, you don’t have to worry about the melatonin not dissolving, because this already done for you!

In addition, an ideal melatonin product should have an ingredient(s) to help drive the melatonin from the gut into the bloodstream, so that more melatonin gets into our system. A liquid product would help get the melatonin into our bloodstream faster, so that we can fall asleep faster.

This also means that a liquid melatonin product would have a lower dose than in pill form, decreasing the unlikely chance of any melatonin-related side effects. Taste could be a problem with liquid melatonin, but this may be a small price to pay if it’s the only side effect and we fall asleep faster! Another possibility is a rapidly-dissolving tablet which dissolves under the tongue. Still another is a nasal spray, but this introduces other complications, such as nasal irritation.

Product quality is another critical factor. For example, ConsumerLab.com found many problems with a number of valerian-containing supplements. Valerian root is an herbal supplement that has been used to help with both anxiety and sleep. Rest assured that WisdomAndHealth.com will not sell any product unless we have reviewed all data related to product purity, manufacturing, and stability.

So which product can we recommend? At this point, we haven’t found a good product that we can recommend, but the search is ongoing. At WisdomAndHealth.com, we will try to answer these questions for you, and only bring you products that we feel comfortable using ourselves. Not only that, we will openly share our opinions on these products with you, so that you can make informed decisions. So stay tuned, and we’ll all sleep better very soon!

 

This information is not a substitute for an open discussion with your doctor. Insomnia and sleep deprivation are serious medical conditions that should be discussed with your physician before starting any course of therapy, including those mentioned in this article.