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FitTips for One and All - Vol. VII, No. 1
FitTips for One and All
Volume VII, Number 1
Presented by Fitness for One and All
Director: Gary F. Zeolla
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God-given Foods Eating Plan - The approach of this book is to study different foods and food groups, with a chapter devoted to each major classification of foods. First the Biblical evidence is considered, then the modern-day scientific research is reviewed. Foods are then classified as "God-given foods" and "non-God-given foods." The main point will be a healthy eating plan is composed of a variety of God-given foods and avoids non-God-given foods.
Omega 3s Supplements
By Gary F. Zeolla
In Chapter Ten of my God-given Foods Eating Plan book, I discuss the many benefits of eating fish due to its Omega 3 content.
Consumption of this very healthy form of fat has been associated with reduced risks of heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Omega 3s have also been shown to reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis, to combat depression, to improve vision, to aid in weight loss, and even to improve the look and feel of hair, skin, and nails (p.119).
Fish Oil Capsules
However, many people do not like the taste of fish, so they turn to fish oil capsules to attain these healthy omega 3s. This is an alternative, but it is not the same as eating fish. Along with omega 3s, fish also contains many nutrients, as discussed in my book. These include protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and selenium.
In addition, and what I do not mention in my book, fish is by far the best natural source of vitamin D and iodine. In fact, the presence of these two nutrients could be the reason for some of the benefits of fish consumption. Iodine is well-known as being important for thyroid function, while vitamin D plays a role in many bodily functions, most notably, in the building of strong bones. I mention in my book that sunshine is the best way to attain vitamin D, but fish would be the best dietary source.
But still, if you are adamant about not liking fish, then supplements would be recommended to attain the healthy Omega 3s. In this case, there are many brands of fish oil available. But you really need to be careful about quality. Be sure the bottle says the fish oil is free of heavy metal contamination. Also, some fish oil supplements still have a fish aftertaste. Brands I have found to be of high quality with little fish aftertaste are Twinlab and Spectrum Essentials.
I discuss many Twinlab products on the Web site, and have found Twinlab products to be of high quality. This is also the case with their fish oil supplements. I prefer their Omega-3 Fish Oil capsules.
Cod Liver Oil
However, a problem with many fish oil capsules is they are rather pricey. A much less expensive alternative is cod liver oil. Cod liver oil was a very popular supplement during the first half of the twentieth century. My mom mentioned to me that she can remember her mother giving her cod liver oil as a kid. But by the second half of the twentieth century, cold liver oil fall out of disfavor. This most likely was because of the taste. My mom also mentioned that she always hated having to take the cold liver oil for this reason, and she will still scrimp her face when I mention it. However, with today's processing methods, cod liver oil does not taste near as bad as it used to.
What separates cod liver oil from other fish oil supplements is that along with being an excellent source of Omega 3s, it is also an incredible source for vitamins A and D.
In regards to the later, consider the following levels of vitamin D in different foods:
Cod Liver Oil, 1 Tbs: 1,360 IU
Salmon, cooked, 3 1/2 oz: 360 IU
Mackerel, cooked, 3 1/2 oz: 345 IU
Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 3 1/2 oz: 270 IU
Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D fortified, 1 c: 98 IU
Margarine, fortified, 1 Tbs: 60 IU
Pudding, 1/2 c prepared from mix and made with vitamin D fortified milk: 50 IU
Dry cereal, Vitamin D fortified w/10% of the recommended daily value, 3/4 c: 40-50 IU (other cereals may be fortified with more or less vitamin D)
Liver, beef, cooked, 3 1/2 oz: 30 IU
Egg, 1 whole (vitamin D is present in the yolk): 25 IU
(source: HealthLink: Vitamin D.)
As mentioned previously, it can be seen that fish is by far the best natural source of vitamin D. The Daily Value (DV, used on food labels) and the Recommend Daily Intake (RDA) for most ages for vitamin D is 400 IUs, so just one small serving of salmon or mackerel supplies almost a full day's supply. But look at cod liver oil, one tablespoon provides over three times the RDA. Or to look at it another way, one teaspoon would provide more than a full day's supply.
Given that vitamin D is often in low supply in the American population, this is a good thing. However, where a potential problem comes in is that vitamin D is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins. This means it is stored in the body. And an excess of vitamin D can be toxic. The Upper Limit (UL) is currently set at 2,000 IUs.
However, there are many who believe the RDA and UL are way too low. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is the publishers of Nutrition Action Healthletter. This is the "food cops" group. They are the ones who come out with warnings about the high fat content of restaurant foods that is often reported in the news.
What is important here is CSPI is very conservative when it comes to recommending vitamin/ mineral supplements. At best, they will recommend taking a multiple containing 100% of the RDA for a variety of vitamins and minerals. They often warn against the dangers of mega-dose supplements. But when it comes to vitamin D, they are now recommending amounts higher than the RDA.
In a recent issue of their newsletter, they quote nutrition researcher Reinhold Vieth as saying, "I flat-out recommend that people take 1,000 IU a day all of the time. There's no downside." They further quote him as saying, "The UL should be 10,000 IU, rather than the current 2000 IU" (Nutrition Action, November 2007, pp.5,6).
They then recommend that people get 400 IUs from a multi and another 400 IUs from a separate vitamin D supplement. But a teaspoon of cod liver oil would provide that extra amount as well. What all of this means is, the vitamin D content of cod liver oil is a definite plus, with little risk of problems as long as only a teaspoon or so a day is consumed. However, if you spend a lot of time outside in the sunshine, then you could still end up with too much vitamin D, so it might be best to only use it during times of the year when you are not outside.
But what could be even more problematic is the vitamin A content of cod liver oil. Vitamin A is another fat-soluble vitamin (the other two are vitamins E and K). The DV for vitamin A is currently 5,000 IUs, which is about what a teaspoon of cod liver oil contains. However, that amount is itself now too high as the RDA for most ages is now only 3,000 IUs. The reason for dropping it is too much preformed vitamin A (retinol) "may increase the risk of hip fractures, liver abnormalities, and birth defects" (Nutrition Action, June 2008, p.6).
If you are already getting 5,000 IUs of vitamin A from a multi and add in another 5,000 IUs from cod liver oil, that could be problematic. However, some supplements use beta carotene (which the body converts to vitamin A). Beta carotene is not problematic even in high doses. So check your multi. If the vitamin A is from beta carotene, then it should not be a problem with getting vitamin A from cod liver oil, as long as you limit consumption to one teaspoon a day. The Twinlab Food Based Ultra Daily recommended on the Web site only contains 500 IUs of beta carotene, or just 10% of the DV. So combining it with cod liver oil would work well.
The brand of cod liver oil I use is again Twinlab. Their Norwegian Cod Liver Oil is a high quality product. The label notes in a bright yellow banner that it is "PCB/ Heavy Metal Free." It is also very inexpensive. It is available plain and in mint or lemon of flavored versions. I have found the plain version to be rather tasteless, so I use it. But many would prefer the flavored versions. Either way, it is highly recommended.
Flax Seeds and Flax Seed Oil
In my book, I mention that vegetarians turn to plant sources for their Omega 3 intake. But I also mention that the Omega 3 content of pant foods is not the same as that found in fish.
Omega 3s in fish is found in two forms: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). But what is found in plant foods like walnuts is Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA). ALA is converted into EPA and DHA in the body, but it is not a very efficient conversion. You would have to consume a lot of ALA containing foods like walnuts to attain the equivalent of a serving of fish's worth of Omega 3s. I discuss this at length in my book, using walnuts as an example. I use walnuts since they are the best normally eaten food source of ALA.
However, walnuts are not the best source of ALA--that would be flax seeds and flax seed oil. But these foods are not commonly eaten, but if you are going to utilize plant foods for your Omega 3 intake then it would be prudent to consume these foods. And even if you consume fish or fish oil supplements, there could still be some benefit from consuming flax seed products. Along with their high ALA content, flax seeds are also high in other essentials fatty acids, namely Omega 6s and 9s. And the seeds are high in beneficial fiber and protein.
As with fish oil, quality and taste are important considerations when purchasing flax seed oil. Since flax seed oil is heat-liable, be sure the label says it is "cold-pressed." It is also good for it to be unrefined for maximum nutrient content, and organic to avoid pesticide residues. I have found Spectrum's Flax Oil to fit these parameters. I use several other Spectrum oil products. I mention in an endnote in my book that Spectrum's Organic Olive Oil is the best tasking olive oil I have used (p 72). I also use their Peanut Oil and Sunflower Oil. These are all high quality and good tasting products.
The best version of Spectrum's Flax Seed Oil is the one that is kept refrigerated from processing plant to the store. This version can be found in the refrigerator section of health food stores. But if you cannot make it to a health food store, then versions of their flax seed oil can be purchase online. It is processed somewhat differently, so that it does not need refrigeration until it is opened.
But whichever form is used, it should be used up within a couple of months of being opened as it can turn rancid. Be sure to check the expiration date before purchasing as well to be sure you will finish it before that date.
It should also be noted that flax seed oil is very unstable and should not be heated, so do not use it for sautéing or other cooking purposes. The best way to use it is as a dressing on salad or sprinkled on vegetables.
As with fish oil supplements, a downside to flax seed oil is it is rather pricey. A much cheaper alternative is to use the flax seeds themselves. But it should be noted that it is hard for the body to digest whole flax seeds. They are so small and hard, they tend to pass through the system undigested.
The way around this is to grind the flax seeds. This can easily be done at home with a coffee bean grinder, blender, or Vitamix. You can also purchase flax seeds pre-ground, known as flax seed meal. Spectrum makes both such products.
Flax seed meal can be mixed into hot cereals like oatmeal, sprinkled on cold cereals, or baked into breads and muffins. I personally use it by mixing it into cottage cheese or yogurt for a healthy snack.
Eat fish. That is the best way to attain healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. Just be sure to stick with the "clean" fish I list in my God-given Foods Eating Plan book so as to minimize heavy metal contamination.
Personally, I consume at least a couple of servings of fish a week. But during the winter months, on days I don't eat fish, I'll take a teaspoon of Twinlab's Cod Liver Oil. During the summer months when I get vitamin D from sunshine, I take Twinlab's Omega-3 Fish Oil capsules. I also use a teaspoon or so of Spectrum's Flax Seed Oil on my dinner salad each day, and another teaspoon or so of flax seed meal on most days.
Have I noticed any benefit from all of this Omega 3s consumption? All I can say is that it is common for powerlifters to develop joint problems. But after six years of powerlifting, I have not had any such problems. Omega 3 oils could very well have a role in this regard.
New on Fitness for One and All
Time for a Break is a new forum post.
Full Workout Logs: Starting 12/1/08: In-Season: Weeks 6-10 was completed early as I did not lift the second half of December. See the above post for details.
God-given Foods Eating Plan:
For Lifelong Health,
Optimization of Hormones,
Improved Athletic Performance
Paperback and eBook by Gary F. Zeolla
Also by Gary F. Zeolla:
Darkness to Light Web site and Darkness to Light newsletter.
Christian Theology, Apologetics, Cults, Ethics, Bible Versions, and much more.
Disclaimer: The material presented in this newsletter is intended for educational purposes only. The director, Gary F. Zeolla, is not offering medical or legal advice. Accuracy of information is attempted but not guaranteed. Before undertaking any medical treatments or diet, exercise, or health improvement programs, consult your doctor. The director is in no way responsible or liable for any harm ( physical, mental, emotional, or financial) that results from following any of the advice or information in this newsletter.
All material in this newsletter is copyrighted © 2009 by Gary F. Zeolla or as indicated otherwise.