A new $10 million study from Oregon Health and Science University published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA, 10/3/2010) proved that pills made of one type omega-3 fats (DHA) did not help Alzheimer’s patients. DHA, like EPA, is one fat found in fish. The balance of the fats varies from fish to fish and also varies depending on the type of food the fish eat, as well as the enzymes they eat and produce. For example, cod liver oil is about 10% DHA and 15% EPA. Since the study fractioned out and used only the DHA, we must assume that it was an oxidized (nonfermented), industrialized supplement in pill form.
The levels of DHA can be industrially manipulated with high heat and pressure. I always suggest that these types of supplements be avoided, not only because they are not as biologically active but also because they may carry significant side effects. In the end, this study shows what is true of most “nutritional supplements.” Fractionated nutrients simply do not perform like the whole food. In this case, they did not perform at all.
The discussion about whether omega-3 fats can help Alzheimer’s patients should not be a discussion about whether one fatty acid (DHA) can help or not. Rather it should be about whether the thousands of nutrients found in natural omega-3 fatty acids-that are not present in any highly-processed or high-DHA fish oil-have the capacity to help people, even those with Alzheimer’s.
This discussion was never addressed by this latest study. The truth is that all of us in the alternative field have seen Alzheimer’s patients improve with certain oils, including cod liver oil, coconut oil, and more. For the most part we do not see any improvements in these patients using industrially processed omega-3 supplements. And we all remain keenly aware that Alzheimer’s is a tough and cruel disease that is resistant to most therapies.
If someone in your family is suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, you are best to stick with the whole food. You can learn how to use coconut oil by turning to page 168 of my Encyclopedia of Pragmatic Medicine (yours free with a new Health Alert subscription, renewal, or extension). The treatment basically consists of eating at least 2 heaping tablespoons of raw coconut oil daily. I prefer to test using coconut oil while also using fermented whole-food cod liver oil at a dose of 4 capsules daily. Results are usually seen within 4 to 6 months.
As for the DHA pills, they are not a whole omega-3 food, and for that reason they lack the thousands of nutrients that the real, raw, fermented whole food, such as Green Pasture’s Blue IceTM Fermented Cod Liver Oil, contains. Similarly, when using coconut oil be sure to get the least processed oil. We prefer Omega Nutrition’s Virgin Coconut Oil. It is available at the best price from the Health Alert Store (www.healthalertstore.com, or 1-888-525-5955). When it comes to omega-3 supplements, it took a $10 million, 18-month study to prove what Health Alert has always maintained. To get the full benefits, you need to use the whole food, with its rich tapestry of nutrients-live and in perfect balance-as only nature can provide.