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Benefits of Omega-3s - video and transcript - Patrick - Nov 2023

Rhonda Patrick Goes in Depth on the Benefits of Omega-3s

YouTube 15 minutes

Omega-3 is one of the top six preventable causes of death

0:00:00.3 And the same goes for Omega-3. Omega-3 is, it's probably I think one of the most important nutrients that is, it's really overlooked. People just don't even really think about it. So Omega-3, there's three types of these fatty acids. There's the type that you can find in plant sources, so that's alpha-Linolenic acid, ALA, and then there's the EPA, which is eicosapentaenoic acid acid and then DHA. And those are the two marine sources that you'll find in fish, but also you can find them in microalgae, which is more of a plant-based source. There was a study that came out of Harvard, I think it was 2009, which identified the marine sources of Omega-3 as basically one of the top six preventable causes of death. In other words, people are not eating enough seafood and fish, and because of that, it was calculated that about, I think it was something like 84,000 deaths per year were attributed to not getting enough EPA and DHA from the diet. And this was really comparable to people that were eating trans fats. Everybody knows trans fats are bad. You walk into any grocery store, it's zero trans fats on every packaging thing you can see. It's very much in the public awareness that trans fats are bad. Well, trans fats were responsible for the same number of deaths as not getting EPA and DHA. So it was responsible for 82,000 deaths per year.

ALA is not as good

0:01:37.2 Before I kinda go deeper into that, but that makes you think about it. It's like, oh, wow. So the same number of deaths were attributable to eating trans fats as not eating enough EPA and DHA from marine sources, fish for example. And it kinda really makes you think about things because you don't walk into a supermarket and nothing says, "Oh, this isn't seafood. This isn't getting your EPA and DHA, this is processed," but yet everything tells you about trans fats and it was just as important to get those Omega-3 fatty acids from marine sources. Now I say marine sources because ALA, which is the common source of Omega-3 found in plants like flax seeds, walnuts, for example, that is actually considered the essential fatty acid because we can convert ALA into EPA and DHA. And so all the government agencies that comes up with these RDAs and all those standards that are set, basically it goes down to, "Oh, well, because we can make EPA and DHA from ALA, that's gonna be the one that we focus on."

Omega-6 in many vegetable oils block Omega-3

0:02:52.1 The problem with that is that the conversion of ALA into EPA and then subsequently DHA is, it's very inefficient and there's widespread genetic differences with respect to that conversion. So some people are great. They have a alteration in the desaturase gene that does the conversion of ALA into EPA, and they do it quite well. I would say the majority of people have another version that are not so great at it. And to kind of add fuel to the fire, having too much of vegetable oils, Omega-6 fatty acids, I don't wanna demonize them so much because you need linoleic acid, you need arachidonic acid. It's part of your cell membrane. They have important functions. Getting them from whole food sources like walnut, like nuts is great. But the vegetable oils are very, very concentrated and a lot of cooking, if you eat out, if you buy processed foods, they're usually cooked and processed with vegetable oils.

ALA is 20% better while pregnant (estrogen)

0:04:00.8 That Omega-6 when it's too high can compete with that enzyme that's required to convert ALA into EPA. And so you may be getting enough ALA, by the way, that's the other problem. People aren't even eating flaxseed and walnuts, they're not even getting enough ALA. So there's so many layers to this. There's so many layers, but that conversion is very inefficient when there's a lot of Omega-6. And on top of that, I would say the one saving grace there is that estrogen does dramatically increase that conversion. It makes it up to 20% better. And so this is probably because DHA is so important for brain development, and when a woman becomes pregnant, estrogen skyrockets. It's like a hundred times higher than what it normally is. It's pretty apparent that nature has figured out a way to at least convert all that ALA is possible into EPA and DHA.

0:05:01.6 Anyway, so that's where the genetics comes in. There's definitely a regulation there. But on top of that, I think the best way to get the EPA and DHA is from eating a dietary source and measuring what's called the Omega-3 index. So the Omega-3 index is measuring Omega-3 fatty acid levels, the EPA and DHA. There's other fatty acids as well, but in red blood cell membranes. And it's really important because most of the time when you go and get a Omega-3 blood test, the plasma phospholipids are measured, which is better than nothing, but you're really looking more at your dietary intake in the last week or two versus red blood cells, which are 120 days before they turn over. It's a long-term status of your Omega-3. Kind of like the difference between looking at fasting blood glucose and your HbA1c. You could have had... You've been intermittent fasting for that day and your fasting blood glucose looks great, but is that a snapshot of what your daily blood glucose levels always look like?

Rhonda is an associate researcher affilated with the Fatty Acid Research Institute

0:06:10.6 Might not be. So long-term status Omega-3 index. And there's been a variety of studies from Bill Harris. Bill Harris, he's the co-inventor of the Omega-3 fatty acid test. I had him on my podcast about a year ago. I've actually joined the Fatty Acid Research Institute, which is a nonprofit institute studying a variety of the roles of fatty acids in human health. I've joined as associate researcher, and so I'm doing some studies on Omega-3 and brain health. But Bill has published a variety of studies looking at Omega-3 index and all cause mortality, cardiovascular-related mortality. So I would say when you get the Omega-3 index measured, most people in the United States have an Omega-3 index of less than 5%. And what Bill has shown from multiple studies is that people that have an Omega-3 index of 8% have a five-year increased life expectancy compared to those that have an Omega-3 index of 4%, so 4% versus 8%.

A good level of Omega-3 appears to cancel the reduced mortality due to smoking

0:07:20.3 There's also evidence that it's related to cardiovascular-related mortality as well. But also a very interesting piece of data that Bill published was looking at smokers, and everybody knows smoking is terrible for your health. What can you do to accelerate the aging process? Like smoking, right? Smoking cigarettes, tobacco, it's terrible. And this was so interesting. The Omega-3 in smokers that had a high Omega-3 index, so they were smoking, but they were also eating a lot of fish supplementing with fish oil, they had an 8% Omega-3 index. They had the same life expectancy as non-smokers with a low Omega-3 index. In other words, smoking was like being deficient in Omega-3. I was blown away by that. There's a beautiful graph in the paper. I forgot what journal it was published in. It was a couple of years ago, but it's just kind of mind blowing.

0:08:19.2 So Omega-3 is, there's so many different roles that it plays in the body. It's accumulates in cell membranes, plays an important role in the way transporters and receptors function because all those things are embedded in the cell membrane. And so for example, glucose transporters at the blood-brain barrier are altered. They're not functioning well when DHA is deficient and that can cause less glucose to get into the brain. That obviously leads to many problems. It's also the metabolites of EPA and DHA. They resolve inflammation in a very efficient and timely manner. These are the maresins, the protectins, they're the SPMs, the resolvins. These are playing a very important role in inflammation. And I think there has been now enough evidence that inflammation, chronic low level inflammation is a driver of the aging process itself. In other words, not just driving, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia and cancer, which it does, but just the process of aging.

0:09:30.8 And so it's affecting all those things. And inflammaging is a term that's used, which is kind of like it's the activation of the immune system is accelerating the aging process, and it's known as inflammaging. There's neuroinflammation and there's been these seven pillars of aging where you look at all these physiological processes that are happening, like genomic instability is one, protein, misfolding is another. And there's also this neuroinflammation. The only thing that was really overlapping between brain aging and just aging itself was the inflammation. That was the most important thing that was accelerating everything in the brain and also aging in the body. So having Omega-3 is, I think one of the easiest things that someone can do to improve their inflammatory process, to improve the structure and function of their transporters and receptors. And I know you're gonna ask me some research I'm most excited about.

Omega-3 reduces muscle loss with age

0:10:35.5 I'll give you a preview of that. I'm also excited about a new role of Omega-3 in muscle mass and also sensitizing amino acids in skeletal muscle. So there's been some work from Chris McGlory who I had on my podcast just yesterday. He's actually shown that Omega-3 is playing a role in disuse atrophy and through a mechanism where it's actually, it's not inflammatory, it's not the anti-inflammatory effect of Omega-3, it's actually doing something anabolic. It's somehow affecting muscle protein synthesis, and he thinks it's actually sensitizing muscle to amino acids through some unknown mechanism they're trying to figure out. So I think I'm pretty excited about that new research coming out. Muscle mass obviously is an important factor in aging as well, but I do think that... So when it comes to Omega-3, what do you do? Obviously if you can eat fatty fish that's high in Omega-3 salmon, mackerel, sardines, these are all pretty good sources of Omega-3 that are also low in contaminants like mercury, PCBs.

Should eat fish while pregnant. The omega-3 benefit far outweighs the problems from Mercury

0:11:48.3 By the way, there have been now studies that have come out showing that even though fish have these contaminants, that the Omega-3 fatty acids protect against them, and even during pregnancy. So there was this big push decades ago about pregnant women should avoid eating fish because of the mercury. I think that was a huge mistake, huge mistake. And I'm actually involved in a study looking at Omega-3 index in cord blood and neurodevelopmental outcomes. But there's been a couple of studies. One, I think big one was in 2015, American Journal of Pediatric published that basically the Omega-3 fatty acids, women eating fish, the Omega-3 fatty acids protected against any neurotoxicity. And in fact, those children had better neural outcomes than women that avoided fish. There's also been studies looking at Omega-3, like fish intake and intelligence. So fish intake during pregnancy and intelligence at one year or seven years of life.

Salmon is a good source of Omega-3 (provided it is wild, not farmed)

0:12:55.8 I forgot all the follow-up times, but it was shown that Omega-3 was correlated with improved intelligence if the mothers were eating fish. And they were actually using mercury as a biomarker to basically validate their dietary recall because the women that were taking in more Omega-3 had higher mercury. And guess what? The higher mercury was correlated with higher intelligence in the children. Not because mercury is improving intelligence, but because the Omega-3 is and the Omega-3... The mercury doesn't even matter if you have the Omega-3 there, it's really protecting against any potential toxic effects of mercury. So I know that was a bit of a tangent, but it's important because people are kind of scared of eating fish and there are some fish that you should be scared of, like swordfish, which is terribly high in mercury and not so high in Omega-3. But things like salmon, wild caught salmon is low in mercury, high in Omega-3.

Live 5 years longer if have a high Omega-3 index

0:13:54.3 Also, supplementing is I think a really important option. So looking at the 4% Omega-3 index, comparing it to the 8%, I mentioned the five-year, increased life expectancy, I think that there's been some studies showing that 1.5-2 grams a day supplemental Omega-3 can bring people from a 4% Omega-3 index to an 8% Omega-3 index. Now to keep in mind, the FDA, people are prescribed four grams a day of either Lovaza or Vascepa, which is the purified EPA, and that's very safe. So this is a... Omega-3 the way I like to think of it is it's got the safety profile of a nutrient, but it is pharmacologically active and so many people are not getting enough of it.

95% of Americans do not get enough Omega-3

0:14:52.4 I think something like 80% globally do not get enough EPA and DHA, and like 95% of people in the US do not get enough. So very important in respect to the way we're aging. I think it's important for cardiovascular health, I think it's important for brain health and throughout the lifespan, from infancy to old age, important. So that's sort of my spiel on Omega-3. I think it's a very low hanging fruit and important thing that people can take in.


VitaminDWiki - 23 Omega-3 meta-analyses

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VitaminDWiki - Overview: Omega-3 many benefits include helping vitamin D

(394) items in category Omega-3 and Vitamin D

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Almonds and macadamia nuts are examples of good foods to take with vitamin D

VitaminDWiki - Omega-3 helps many health problems

394 Omega-3 items in category Omega-3 helps with: Autism (8 studies), Depression (29 studies), Cardiovascular (34 studies), Cognition (49 studies), Pregnancy (40 studies), Infant (32 studies), Obesity (13 studies), Mortality (7 studies), Breast Cancer (5 studies), Smoking, Sleep, Stroke, Longevity, Trauma (12 studies), Inflammation (18 studies), Multiple Sclerosis (9 studies), VIRUS (12 studies), etc
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VitaminDWiki - 7 studies in both categories Omega-3 and Mortality

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