Fish oil vs. flax seed oil, testosterone levels and health, mental health and the heart, ribose supplements

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A column by Mike Furci that brings you research, trends and other info to help you with your fitness, health and nutritional needs.

Omega-3…flax oil is not your best bet for obtaining essential omega-3 fatty acids? Essential fatty acids like omega-3 and 6 are highly unstable and spoil very easily when exposed to heat and light. As I have stated many times, the problem with most oils, especially polyunsaturated oils, is the processing or extraction. It’s always best to eat the food in its most whole and natural state. So if you must use flax, buy the seeds and then grind them yourself in a coffee grinder immediately before using them. Having said that, one can buy flax oil that has been cold pressed and packaged into UV light-blocking bottles that keeps the oil close to its most natural state. However, there is still another problem: for humans to get the benefits of the omega-3s in flax, there is a two-step conversion process to change ALA to DHA, which is the most biologically active form we can use. Most people convert about 5 percent during each step, which amounts to less than 1 percent of the ALA being converted to DHA. If you’re looking for a good source of omega-3, stick with fish oil.

…your risk of heart disease increases as your mental state decreases? Jesse Stewart found a correlation between depression and hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) in his three-year study of 324 men and women. The study found participants who were most depressed had arteries that had narrowed twice as much as those who were least depressed.

A British study of 46,136 severely mentally ill people found those who were younger than 50 had more than three times the prevalence of death from cardiovascular disease than people who don’t have mental illness. For mentally ill people up to age 75, the risk more than doubled. ( Health Alert Feb. 6th 2007.)

…low testosterone levels can indicate poor health? Researchers from the University of Florida examined 2,165 men age 45 years or older who visited their primary care physician for a two week period. They found that 38.7 percent of all participants had hypogonadism (low testosterone). Patients who were diagnosed with obesity, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, hyperlipidaemia, prostate disease and asthma were one to almost three times as likely to have lower testosterone than healthy men the same age. (International Journal of Clinical Practice)

…ribose, as an ergogenic aid, is not worth the money? Ribose is a naturally occurring sugar that plays a part in resynthesizing adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Manufacturers claim that by supplementing ribose one can increase the speed of ATP synthesis, which would increase energy capabilities, in turn increasing physical performance. Previous studies have shown ribose supplementation to fall short of what manufacturers claim. In a double blind study (Peveler, et al), 11 subjects were studied: five cyclists, four strength-trained athletes and two untrained individuals. The subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups, and took either the supplement or placebo. No significant difference was found between ribose and placebo groups for any measure. Researchers concluded oral ribose supplementation does not seem to increase or prolong power output for cyclists, strength-trained or untrained subjects. Manufacturers’ claims seem to be unfounded. In other words, don’t waste your money on ribose. (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 20(3):2006)

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