Fish Oil is a common supplement you’ll see in the shops and online. Fish Oil is mainly made up of Omega 3 Fatty Acids which are polyunsaturated Fatty Acids that have many health benefits. The three types involved in human nutrition are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenic acid (DHA). ALA is mainly found in plant oils while EPA and DHA are usually found in cold water fish.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids have several proven health benefits for humans. These include improved cognitive function, improved metabolism and reduction in heart disease risk. One of the main mechanisms through which Omega 3 oils produce their benefits is through their anti inflammatory effects. Inflammation can cause a number of health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease and Omega 3 fatty acids can help significantly with the management of these conditions.
Omega 3 fatty acids are also the main constituents of the fluid membranes of human cells. When you don’t have enough Omega 3 in your diet your cell membranes become less fluid and cells can’t communicate with each other as effectively as usual which can lead to problems. Fish oil has also been shown to reduce triglycerides (a strong marker for heart disease incidence!) in the blood and improve insulin sensitivity which can help with the long term deterioration which is Type II diabetes.
Fish oil can be consumed as a capsule or a liquid and research would suggest that most healthy people can ingest from 10-20 grammes a day of fish oil to see the most benefits. One of the brands we recommend to our clients is Eskimo 3 Oil by Nutri. I have personally used this brand for over 10 years and I have recommended it to dozens of my own clients and only have positive things to say about the company and the product.
Carnitine has mistakenly been called an amino acid but due to the fact that it doesn’t have an amine group it is in fact very unique. It has a very similar chemical structure to choline, a B Vitamin, but carnitine is not a vitamin either. Carnitine is unique in that it transports fats to where they need to be burned in the human body and it also helps your mitachondria work more effeciently.
Carnitine can help on a weight loss diet in tandem with a low carbohydrate eating protocol. Carnitine is the gate keeper of fat burning – it transports fats to the parts of the cell that utilise it for fuel. It is found predominantly in red meets like beef and lamb and also wild game. But it is found in all protein foods and the supplement form is made from a synthetic form. All sources of carnitine have a strong effect on weight loss through the fat burning effect we’ve discussed.
Carnitine is also renowned for increasing energy levels and is therefore great for athletes or people who need improved stamina. In doasges of up to 4 grammes a day athletes have reported feeling more energetic and performed better on endurance tasks. it also reduces Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) in athletes post workout which is an added bonus.
The Acetyl -L form of carnitine is very good for brain health and may one day be shown to aid with conditions like dementia and Alzheimers disease. Along with DHA, carnitine should be part of any brain nutrient rationale as we age.
Coconut is a fat but is it a healthy fat? After all coconut is made up of saturated fats. Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) which is considered good for your health. Even though this type of fatty acid is “saturated” it is chemically different from the fatty acids found in meat and dairy and this is the important point – not all fats are the same.
The shorter chain triglycerides are more easily broken down and absorbed by the body. Once absorbed by the gut they are transported to the liver where they are used as a primary fuel source. Because of this mechanism they don’t contribute to increasing body fat mainly because they stick around long enough!
Coconut oil is packed full of antioxidants and is also known to be ani-bacterial and anti-fungal also. The Lauric Acid found in coconut oil is highly effective against Candida Albicans which is a proliferative type of yeast which can cause all sorts of problems if left unchecked.
Vitamin D research has progressed massively in the last 10 years. It is a Vitamin that is now considered to be much more important for human health than was once thought. There are numerous studies coming out every year about the health benefits of Vitamin D and it is an exciting area of nutritional research.
Vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin but a type of pro-hormone and it is produced when UV rays hit cholesterol in your skin. It is then released into the blood where it travels around in general circulation performing its array of functions.
For a very long time people thought that Vitamin D was only really responsible for keeping your bones strong through its relationship with calcium. Doctors discovered that the disease rickets was caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D. However, research over the past couple of decades has shown how Vitamin D is highly influential on many forms of cancer, heart disease and auto immune diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis.
It is very interesting when you see a map of the globe with heart disease rates and cancer rates distributed across it. It becomes blatantly obvious, and further research has proved this, that the further away from the equator you live (there are more sunshine hours at the equator) the more likely you are to suffer from a heart attack and many forms of cancer.
It also has a huge effect on mental health and depression and a similar pattern exists again in that the further away from the equator the more likely you are to suffer from depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).
One of the key discoveries was that many of the organs in the body were found to have the enzymatic capacity to convert the inactive form of Vitamin D to the activated form in their cells and weren’t reliant on the limited amount of activated Vitamin D produced in the kidneys. This breakthrough discovery allowed scientists to really understand why Vitamin D has such a profoundly positive effect on a wide range of disease states.
There is a lot of controversy as to how best to get the optimum amount of Vitamin D each day as it is not commonly found in food. There are small amounts in salmon and certain types of mushrooms but most people don’t get a great deal of Vitamin D from their diet. Certain governments have been fortifying foods with Vitamin D for several decades and you can of course get Vitamin D as a supplement. However, the guide lines for daily dosages in supplement form are woefully inadequate so the first thing I recommend is to up your intake from the 200-400 International Units (IU) to around 1000-2000 IU each and every day. This will keep the optimum amount of Vitamin D circulating in your blood to provide all of the health benefits we’ve already looked at.
Now contrary to what dermatologists and most doctors, in fact, will tell you exposure to the sun isn’t bad. Over exposure to the sun is bad. In fact, under exposure to the sun could be worse for you then over exposure as many scientific studies are now showing. The best way to get a natural shot of Vitamin is a small amount of daily sun exposure to encourage your skin to manufacture Vitamin D and send it around your body where it is needed. Your body has a built in mechanism that makes it impossible to over produce Vitamin D using sunlight which is why natural Vitamin D production is preferable to supplementation. Depending on your skin type exposing your torso to the suns rays for as little as 10 -15 minutes can produce up to 20,000 IU of Vitamin D. Of course, if you stay in the sun beyond this you’ll need to cover up or put on sun screen in order not to burn, which is where the real danger of too much sun exposure lies.
So there you have, Vitamin D does a lot more good things in the body than many people thought. You’re unlikely to get it from food but supplementation or safe sun exposure will give you more than enough to benefit your health and help you stay free of chronic disease such as cancer and heart disease.