A new study, published in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that blueberries, cloudberries and mountain cranberries has Omega-3 levels equivalent to salmon, catfish and cod. The study was presented on the front page of Dagbladet, a Norwegian newspaper/magazine today. The Omega-3 levels were not measured pr. gram, but relative to energy, and Erling Bere, a post doctor at the Department for Nutrition at the University of Oslo, says (not surprisingly) that wild berries are superior to those one can buy in the stores. He emphasizes the importance of measuring the levels relative to energy and not in weight.
For those of us who want to know about heat oxidizing omega 3, check this out:
Under most circumstances, the problem of rancidity only arises when the oils are removed from their natural food package. For example, the hard shell of the flaxseed protects the oil inside the seed from heat, light, and oxygen. Flaxseeds also contain antioxidant compounds, such as vitamin E, that provide additional protection against oxidation. But, when the seed is pressed to isolate the oil, the oil becomes vulnerable to the elements.
it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble
I have a question about omega-3's: I've taken flaxseed for over a year now, and I heard that your body possibly makes DHA from ALA after taking ALA for a while, but recently I started taking a DHA supplement as backup. If I stop taking it, will my body make its own DHA again, or not?
Good question, Pascale, i've been wonering the same thing!
Thanks! Unforunately, it doesn't seem like anyone knows the answer.
I heard walnuts are a good source of omega-3. Can I use walnut oil instead of flax oil? I never tried walnut oil but it has to taste better than flax oil.
Peace, love, and happiness.
I read that you can freeze it in portions and use as required to prevent larger amounts going bad before you get the chance to use it.
If your supplier of flax oil, Tigerlilly, has stored the oil out of refrigeration or the manufacturer has not processed it properly it may be bad when it gets to you. If it tastes bad when you have just bought it - take it back.
Oxidised flax seed oil is poisonous.
"if compassion is extreme, then call me an extremist"
Tigerlily - I use walnut oil. I use it in dressings for salad and stuff. I mix it with tamari(soya sauce), balsamic vinegar and raw garlic. It tastes quite nice.
I too am not a fan of either linseed(flax) or hempseed oils.
I think if you go back to the beginning of this thread, there is a link to the Vegan soc website page which tells you other foods that have Omega 3 in.
I have bought "fresh" stuff and although I don't think it tastes horrible, I'd rather not have to force myself to eat it if there's another yummier oil.
Peace, love, and happiness.
I love Flax in all forms, especially the oil . I used to live in amongst a lot of Linseed fields, and the oil just smells and tastes just like the plants - lovely!!.
Walnut Oil is also very good on salads and on fruitbread.
I think i am going to give up on flax/hemp oils and stick with the seeds cos i just took a bottle of flaxseed back to holland and barret because it smelt like fish and tasted awful so i presume it was rancid as the last one i got wasnt like that and i've just exchanged it for some hemp oil which i've just tried in with my sandwich and it was vile yuk yuk yuk - i feel sick now!! How frustrating!! The stuffs not cheap either but i feel stupid taking yet another bottle back! Yhey dont keep them in fridges maybe thats why?
I dunno Chocs, I've never tasted either flax or help oil that I like the taste of. The only way I can cope with hemp is if I have the hulled seeds, but these seem very expensive and I don't know how much you'd have to chew or grind them to get the same goodness.
At the moment I am using walnut oil. However, I can't help but remember that I have lasted for many years as a vegan without bothering at all.
Mike -- I know you are a smart guy, so I'm sure you already know this, but I feel I should say it anyway. Taking DHA for most people is like taking a multivitamin. You will notice no difference by taking it. That doesn't mean it is not helping you. If you were really deficient in DHA, you may have had some depression, and then taking the DHA would help that over a period of time (but not instantly). So, if you are just a little low in DHA, then you would certainly not notice a difference from taking it. I have never noticed a difference but I still take it everday as an insurance policy to avoid deficiency -- just as I take a multivitamin for the same reason.
Pascale and Chocs4me -- It is highly unlikely your body would stop being able to produce DHA from omega 3's from vegetation simply because you started taking a preformed DHA. There will be no studies on point about this as the experts are still trying to identify why some people have more difficulty than others in converting ALA to DHA. But the prevailing theory I have found other than for those who have specific conditions (e.g. diabetes), is that through thousands of years of evolution, some of us are less able to convert ALA to DHA because we have taken in only fish which is preformed. So, you should continue to take in flax seed, walnuts etc. to continue to allow your body to work on the conversion process of ALA to DHA. But, you should also be taking a preformed DHA if your blood levels are low because over the span of such a short time, you are very unlikely to stop your body's ability to convert. Just my thoughts.
as you know, I think the whole supplements business is overhyped and plays on people's fears. The low % conversion rate does not mean that most people will not be able to make enough DHA to lead healthy lives.
Stephen Walsh writing in the Nutrition News section of the current issue of The Vegan magazine describes the claim that "only some people can convert omega-3 oils, and even then slowly and inefficiently" as follows:
"This claim, which is in danger of becoming an urban myth and even promoted by some vegans, is highly misleading."
He goes on to report that:
" Independent trials on human volunteers have shown the main plant omega-3 - alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) - to be consistently about 10% as effective as fish oil omega-3s to get the same effect. This means that you need 10 times as much ALA as fish oil omega-3s to get the same effect. However, average UK intake of ALA is almost 10 times (1.5% of calories) that of the longer chain omega-3s (just 0.07%), so the net contribution to bloody plays comparable. More natural diets, centred on wild vegetables and fruits, would provide about 3% of calories as ALA - more than sufficient to give healthy blood levels of omega-3s."
He also points out that the benefit of the consumption of oils such as flax seed oil is not principally because one needs the additional ALA per se but becuase it corrects the LA to ALA ratio which can be imbalanced in modern diets with their high consumption of corn and sunflower oil, and this imbalance can decrease conversion efficiency.
In short, eating a balanced diet should be quite sufficient. Only in cases of poor health where blood tests have shown there is a deficiency are supplements really necessary.
Yes, I know your thoughts on the supplement business. I don't know who Stephen Walsh is, but his information is not supported by the studies (you will recall in previous discussions we have had I listed numerous sources showing the generally accepted conversion rate to be between 3% to 5%. Some think it may be a touch higher, but it is generally accepted to be very low. I think this person is either not well informed or is just unaware. Either way, I guess everyone is entitled to their opinions
The urban myth component is just a silly comment though -- considering vegans in general are far lower in blood levels of DHA than our meat-eating counterparts, we should be very interested in finding out what health consequences this may have. Since vegan DHA has been shown to bring the levels up quickly, and I have not seen similar studies on ALA as this person claims, I'm again not quite sure why this person is saying what he does or what evidence he uses to bolster his positions.
I think this person's article is potentially dangerous because people will be misled by his uninformed position.
Stephen Walsh is the writer of Plant Based Nutrition and Health (published by The Vegan Society). On their site, they claim that consequences of the difference (if any) between lower DHA and EPA in some of the body tissues of vegans are not known. It is discussed here. Are you suggesting that they are wrong?
There are many people who don't eat fish, or fish oil, or vegan Omega-3 supplements, or plants walnuts/flax oil, and still become both old and healthy, without heart disease. How do yuu explain this? Why do some people survive well without these products while others don't?
I listened to an expert talking on this subject once and he said it was still a medical mystery why some people need to take EFA supplements. I was interested because he said that there is some proof, for example, that Autistics have low levels, but many more human studies are needed to back this up.
Parsonally I take Flax (both seeds and oil) to be on the safe side .
Stephen Walsh is the writer of Plant Based Nutrition and Health (published by The Vegan Society). On their site, they claim that consequences of the difference (if any) between lower DHA and EPA in some of the body tissues of vegans are not known. It is discussed here. Are you suggesting that they are wrong?
I am saying the advice Mike referred to in Mr. Walsh's article is not good advice.
With respect to what you point out on the Vegan Society's website, it is somewhat true. Although it has been routinely found in studies that vegans tend to have far lower levels of DHA in their blood than their meat-eating counterparts, the studies have not delved very deeply yet into what negative effects this may have in vegans. We can look to see what effects low blood levels of dha has on the general population and extract out some relevant information. For instance, low levels of dha have been linked to depression, and that when DHA levels are corrected, the depression is gone (note - I am not saying all depression is caused by low levels of DHA, just for some people -- if a person suffers from depression, it may make sense to get a blood test to determine if your DHA levels are low, and if so, see if upping your blood levels of DHA makes a difference). Some links below:
Pharmacol Res. 1999 Sep;40(3):211-25.
Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2000 Dec;23(4):785-94.
Low levels of DHA have also been linked to dyslexia and ADHD in kids; and supplementation of dha has been shown to help symptoms of ADHD. Links below:
Horrocks LA, Yeo YK. Health benefits of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Pharmacol Res 1999;40(3):211-225.
Stevens, L, et al. Essential fatty acid metabolism in boys with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995;62(4):761-768.
Horrocks LA; Yeo YK. Health benefits of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Pharmacol Res 1999 Sep;40(3):211-225. Haag M Essential fatty acids and the brain Can J Psychiatry 2003;48(3):195-203. Richardson AJ; Puri BK The potential role of fatty acids in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2000;63(1-2):79-87. Richardso AJ; Puri BK A randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the effects of supplementation with highly unsaturated fatty acids on ADHD-related symptoms in children with specific learning difficulties. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2002;26(2):233-239.
In recent studies, algae derived DHA increased the HDL/LDL ratio and decrease the total cholesterol/HDL ratio, lowered triglycerides, increased the elasticity of the blood vessels and reduced total vascular resistance resulting in a lower pulse pressure that has significant effects at lessening the occurrence of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes. It also has an anti-arrhythmic effect. Links below:
Conquer JA. Supplementation with an algae source of docosahexaenoic acid increases (n-3) fatty acid status and alters selected risk factor for heart disease in vegetarian subjects. J Nutr 1996;126(12):3032-3039.
Nestel P, Shige H, Pomeroy S, et al. The n-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid increase systemic arterial compliance in humans. Am J Clin Nutr 2002;76(2):326-330.
Lemaitre RN?, King IB, Mozaffarian D, et al. N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, fatal ischemic heart disease and nonfatal myocardial infarction in older adults: the Cardiovascular Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;77(2): 319-325.
I am not saying every person needs to take a preformed DHA supplement. I'd even go so far as to say most vegans can probably get adequate blood levels of DHA by monitoring their diet appropriately -- noting that some people do not convert at all or as well as others. It takes discipline and knowledge to maintain an appropriate balance of omega 3's to omega 6's, and for those who are capable of doing this it is fine. For others who are less disciplined or less knowledgeable, it is a good idea to get a preformed supplement. I am sufficiently knowledgeable and disciplined, but I still take a preformed DHA supplement just to be safe.There are many people who don't eat fish, or fish oil, or vegan Omega-3 supplements, or plants walnuts/flax oil, and still become both old and healthy, without heart disease. How do yuu explain this? Why do some people survive well without these products while others don't?
But to get back to your question, let me answer your question with another question. How come some people eat like garbage their whole lives and don't exercise and live comfortably into their 90's, while other people try to eat reasonably well and exercise and die in their 50's?
The answer is, at least to some extent, some people have better genetics than others. Further, vegans tend to have much more favorable cholesterol levels and ratios, lower c-reactive protein levels, lower blood pressure etc. These would all point to the fact that vegans should have much greater heart attack protection. This does not mean those same people would not be afforded even greater protection by having optimal blood levels of DHA. Plus, there are the other side effects of low levels of DHA to contend with like depression, dry skin etc.
I find that often times the people who "just don't feel right" on a vegan diet are the ones who less efficiently convert ALA to DHA or who have an unfavorable blood level of DHA. Virtually 100% of the vegans who have said this to me who have gotten their blood levels tested (on my suggestion) have found their DHA levels to be way below average. When they got their DHA levels up , they no longer had the same complaint.
Unfortunately you are asking the million dollar question about why others do well without supplements and some need them. The science is still out on this one. Some scientists believe that over thousands of generations of eating fish, some people have lost the ability to convert ALA to DHA because it wasn't necessary, while others of us have not lost that ability. Some with certain conditions like diabetes also seem to have a more difficult time converting ALA to DHA.
I think I have gone on long enough in this message. If there are further questions or remarks, I can respond in a new post.
the studies you reference have nothing to do with vegans and simply report the correlation between low DHA and verious problems/symptoms.
The relationship with ADD and depression etc. is interesting since these studies have focussed on non-vegans generally living on an imbalanced western diet. They establish absolutely nothing about vegans. There is anecdotal evidence of some vegans being low in DHA, but no clinical studies establishing what you assert, namely:
We have already seen similar coments generate unnecessary levels of concern in forum members about their own diet and state of health.
Please think carefully before posting such claims...
I must say I find your message a bit perplexing.
First, I was clear about the fact that there aren't studies done one way or the other on vegans, so I was showing studies that have relevance to the vegan population. Since vegans tend to have lower blood levels of DHA, all the studies that discuss people who have lower than average levels of DHA have relevance to vegans. As I said, for purposes of heart disease, because the risk factors for vegans tend to be far lower, one would expect the resulting benefit from taking DHA for heart disease prevention to be less significant than for our meat-eating counterparts. But, the depression, ADHD etc. should all be highly relevant. Please don't make the mistake that because we are vegan we are disease proofed. There are still certain things we need to be aware of.
Second, one of my main goals in posting on this forum is to raise awareness of issues that my fellow vegans may not be aware of. Since blood levels of DHA are in fact a concern for vegans, I think it a good thing that people on this forum became aware of it, and if they are so moved, they can get their blood levels checked. IF the blood levels come back fine -- great!!! If not, they should adjust their diets and/or take a preformed supplement to achieve a more optimal blood level of DHA. The fact that I raised awareness means I achieved my carefully thought out goal.
Please do not ask me to hold back on informing fellow vegans on matters that are important to their health because of your fear that they are not capable of handling the information appropriately.
Third, as to my statement that meat eaters tend to have higher blood levels of DHA, here are some sources for you:
Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Aug;82(2):327-34.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 78, No. 3, 640S-646S, September 2003
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 69, No. 5, 872-882, May 1999
You state that you were "clear about the fact that there aren't studies done one way or the other on vegans" yet at the same time claim that "vegans tend to have lower levels of DHA". As far as I am aware, there is no widespread study that allows you state this with any certainty.
You also ought to be aware that there are conflicting results of studies into the effects of DHA levels on many of the pathologies you mention.
Although I appreciate that you believe you are qualified to raise awareness of these issues and have read widely, and I agree that being vegan does not mean "we are disease proofed", there is nevertheless a fine line between providing clear verified information and scaremongering, which could be interpreted adversely coming from a seller of supplements.
I am not suggesting you withhold information (i.e. relevant studies), but I am urging you to provide information and advice responsibly. I am not at all sure that sentences such as "I find that often times the people who "just don't feel right" on a vegan diet are the ones who less efficiently convert ALA to DHA or who have an unfavorable blood level of DHA. " are responsible, since they give the impression you are a medical practitioner treating people and examining their test results, when this is not, I believe, the case.
Perhaps you could elucidate?
I'm not sure where your confusion comes in here where you say:
Let me try to be more clear since you didn't understand what I was saying originally. There are studies, and I pointed some of them out to you, that vegans tend to have significantly lower blood levels of DHA than do our meat eating counterparts. There are not studies that show what health consequences these lower blood levels of DHA have on vegans. This is why I pointed to relevant studies of what increasing blood levels of DHA had on other populations. May not be ideal, but it is the best we have to go with at the moment.You state that you were "clear about the fact that there aren't studies done one way or the other on vegans" yet at the same time claim that "vegans tend to have lower levels of DHA".
While I do manufacture a vegan multivitamin, I do not manufacture nor sell a DHA supplement, so this really has no bearing whatsoever on my opinions on this matter. I have nothing to gain nor profit from vegans taking DHA supplements. What I have done is provide a decent overview of the studies out there. I pointed out the weaknesses in the studies as they relate to vegans and tried to point out other relevant studies that could be on point. I have faith that those who read these forums and wish to dig further, will come to their own conclusions. If you have counter-studies, I would like to see them. As more studies come out, I would be happy to change my stance if the studies suggest that what I am saying is incorrect. At the moment, the studies are what they are and perhaps this upsets you because of your negative stance on supplements.Although I appreciate that you believe you are qualified to raise awareness of these issues and have read widely, and I agree that being vegan does not mean "we are disease proofed", there is nevertheless a fine line between providing clear verified information and scaremongering, which could be interpreted adversely coming from a seller of supplements.
Your statement that I am "scaremongering" is silly. I am accurately portraying the scientific landscape with respect to vegans and DHA. If you wish to be ignorant or uninformed about this, I respect your choice. But please do not attempt to decide for everybody else what they should and should not hear. If you wish to have an intelligent discussion in which you present the other side of the argument and prove me wrong with scientific validation, I am happy to engage in that discussion. But so far, all you have done is critique, without providing an ounce of science or relevant studies to defend your position. If you wish to continue this conversation, it would make sense for you to defend your points by quoting studies. I am not too keen on continuing to do all the work here only to have you make arguments that are not documented. If you have studies, please show them and we can discuss. Otherwise, I'm not sure the point in continuing this conversation.
This also strikes me as a silly comment. Are you of the opinion that only doctors are allowed to advise vegans as to how to improve their health? If this were true, we would be in big trouble since doctors tend to be very unknowledgeable when it comes to matters of nutrition. You already know I am not a doctor (we have discussed this prior), but I am very active in the vegan community and thought of as reasonably knowledgeable in matters of nutrition. Accordingly, I have advised many people with respect to their diets, and when necessary, suggested that people go to their doctors and request certain blood tests. When I have recommended that people get a test to determine thier DHA levels (because I had a fear they may be low), they have almost universally tended to be low.I am not suggesting you withhold information (i.e. relevant studies), but I am urging you to provide information and advice responsibly. I am not at all sure that sentences such as "I find that often times the people who "just don't feel right" on a vegan diet are the ones who less efficiently convert ALA to DHA or who have an unfavorable blood level of DHA. " are responsible, since they give the impression you are a medical practitioner treating people and examining their test results, when this is not, I believe, the case.
Please stop attacking my credibility, and argue against the merits of what I am saying. If you have problems with arguments point them out. Use science!!!
please post me the links of studies specifically identifying that vegans consistently have lower DHA levels than the general population and which establish these levels as sub-optimal.
I shall ignore the rest of your polemic.
I do suggest you read back through the alarmed responses some of your postings have generated.
While you don't sell a DHA supplement, you sell several others, including enzyme supplements and are keen to establish credentials as a nutritional expert. You have also been happy to rubbish the supplements and research of others (e.g. Walsh, vegan society multivitamin) with authoritative comments for which you have provided no foundation (with the possible exception of your preference for methlycobalamin to cyanocobalamin for its better absorbability, ableit at a price).
I have posted the studies on this thread a few posts back, and as you have wasted my time to this point, I will not repost them.
I only sell the one vitamin and mineral supplement -- no other supplements. This would be another instance of a statement you make that is not supported by facts.
I can see spending more time on this matter with you will not be fruitful. The purpose of this board, as far as I know, is to articulate points of view, not attack others personally. As far as I am concerned, your posts are only aimed at diminishing my credibility rather than discussing the point at hand. It is evident you have no science to support any of your statements, or you would have posted it. I see no purpose in continuing this conversation with you.
Nice try! I rember having seen more than one supplement on your site (your general mixture and at least one enzyme supplement), but can't remember the URL, however that's not what's important here.
By contrast, take a look at this study, which actually had a significant vegan study population (in terms of size):
One of the key conclusions was "This finding suggests that when animal foods are wholly excluded from the diet, the endogenous production of EPA and DHA results in low but stable plasma concentrations of these fatty acids."
What is significant here is that the levels are stable. They fall almost immediately but are then maintained, indicating that the body sets a lower level but is able to convert sufficient DHA to maintain it. If this were not the case the levels would keep falling. It also indicates that conversion is sufficient to maintain a given level. The body therefore allows it to fall, maybe even to normalise. I'm not saying this si the situation, becuase the research is still itself tentative (note the scientific "modesty" of "this finding suggests").
The situation is clearly not so simple. It would be nice if you could acknowledge that rather than rubbishing the work of other vegans and the Vegan Society to try and identify a healthy diet.
Well, at least you posted a study, so now we have something we can discuss.
First, please don't presume to come off as more knowledgeable than you are about things you know nothing about. While there are more items for sale on the website on which my product is sold, I have absolutely nothing to do with those other products. I will state again, although I am gathering you are simply not getting it, the only product I make money or any sort of profit on is the one multivitamin. That's it!!!
Second, it is funny to me that you cite a study for me to take a look at that I just posted to you a few posts back. Are you sure you are paying any attention to our discussions? Are you just doing this to get a rise out of me?
Third, for someone who is complaining about me picking and choosing statements to discuss in the study, you failed to mention another important conclusion from that same study -- "The proportions of plasma EPA and DHA were lower in the vegetarians and in the vegans than in the meat-eaters." Once again, the point I was making that vegans have lower blood levels of DHA than their meat eating counterparts.
The point you are making about vegan blood levels normalizing after a short period of time is probably a legitimate one. Ultimately, though, I'm not sure what this proves? The fact that vegan blood levels of DHA may not continue to drop does not mean the lower levels are ideal for optimal health. Ultimately, I'm not sure what point you are making here. This does not counter any of the points I have made. Again, please find scientific studies that support your position. Hint: It does not help your argument to find studies that bolster my position, while not bolstering yours.
I'm not sure how this statement follows logically from your rather incoherent argument from the previous paragraph. Either way, I certainly never said the situation is simple. In fact, if you were paying attention to my arguments, I was stating that science is not clear and so we have to find other relevant studies and then make an educated guess. That is all I have done. I'm not sure why the author of the Vegan Society article came up with the conclusions he did, but I have not found the science to back up his position.The situation is clearly not so simple. It would be nice if you could acknowledge that rather than rubbishing the work of other vegans and the Vegan Society to try and identify a healthy diet.
More to the point, that author made the point "The Vegan magazine describes the claim that "only some people can convert omega-3 oils, and even then slowly and inefficiently" as follows:This claim, which is in danger of becoming an urban myth and even promoted by some vegans, is highly misleading." I would be very interested to see the science to support this position. I have not seen it in my own searches. But as I have pointed out in many studies now, I have seen the exact opposite. Once again, if you have the science, please point it out to me!!! I know most people can do fine with a proper diet (Which takes a lot of work and knowledge), but some still can't.
please read your recent posts again, particulary with regard to your own comments about ad hominem attacks and talking as if one to knows more than one does. You have been consistenly judgmental and patronising. Your claim that I know "nothing about" this and so on really is of the lowest calibre and totally at odds with what you claim to be your own scientific approach.
So we are agreed that there is more than one supplement for sale on your site, though you now infrom me that the others do not generate any profit for you. Well, I will take you at your word.
I was not claiming to cite a study you had never mentioned, there are relatively few available on the internet, and that is one of the few relevant ones in terms of study group size. What I asked you to reference was a study claiming to know what optimal DHA levels are.
If you read my reply through calmly you will clearly see that it is far from not recognising that the levels fell; what it does is simply point out out that one cannot draw any simple conclusion from this regarding optimal levels. It also points out why. As you are now recognising, we simply do not know enough about what is an optimal level. Nor can we sure about the conclusions to draw from any of these studies yet.
The paragraph you refer to so disparagingly points out that whatever mechanisms of conversion are being deployed in the study subjects are sufficient to maintain serum DHA levels, therefore whatever is being used is being replenished. This capacity is there. So the question: is why do they fall relatively fast and soon? Are they normalising from a previously high level or are they falling and only maintained after a mechanism kicks in that is sufficient to maintain these low levels but not sufficient to restore higher normal levels, if the higher levels are in fact normal, necessary or deirable? We cannot draw conclusions from the simple fact that the levels are higher or lower than an omnivore population. Nor can we be sure that we should be looking at the levels of just one substance - we have already encountered mechanisms where different substance levels are correlated and the global picture has to be analysed rather than the levels of just one.
As for Walsh, who has conducted substantial correlation of studies for the Vegan Society, he is I believe using an average figure. You tend to refer to figures of "as low as", that is to say study minimums rather than study cohort averages. That is why I described some your statements as alarmist. They are the "science" of the supplement makers.
Broccoli is a good source of omega 3.
Broccoli, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt:
Total omega-3 fats (est): 333 mg
Total omega-6 fats (est): 143 mg
Total omega-6 fats (est): 19.1 mg
Total omega-6 fats (est): 15.5 mg
And the vit C is higher in the cooked version!
I think unfortunately I am laboring under the impression that you know how these conversations are supposed to work.
Unfortunately, your only tactic so far has been to discredit me, and you have attempted to do so with falsehoods. What I have invited you to do numerous times is to have an academic conversation in which you express counterpoints based on studies. You have flatly refused. Instead, you continue to attempt to minimize my positions by attacking me. What you should be focusing on is finding fault with my arguments.
There is much gray area in the studies on vegans and DHA, and there is much to be learned from having an intelligent discussion. So far unfortunately, you have not attempted to have an intelligent conversation.
If, what you claim is right, that my perspective is simply the point of view of supplement manufacturers, it should be relatively simple for you to find studies that disprove my analysis. You shouldn't have to attack me, you should be able to prove me wrong. I would welcome that discussion because both you and I could learn something through the process, and hopefully others reading it could learn as well. You still refuse to do any of the homework for yourself, though, and continue to ask me to find more and more studies while you have found only one to date (one that I found for you).
So at this point, if this discussion will continue, it is time for you to find the studies. Do your homework and find the studies that show that the typical level of DHA found in the vegan population is ideal. Show me why vegans should ideally have different levels than meat eaters. Find studies that are helpful to your position -- I'm still not quite sure what your position is because unfortunately you haven't spent much time explaining that -- you have spent too much time attacking my analysis without any support of your own. I will await your findings, and then we can continue this discussion.
I am really am tiring of these manipulative and histrionic jibes. You say you want to talk science, then why have you njote done so?! You were offered the opportunity of specifically commenting on the matter of optimal DHA levels, maintenance of DHA levels and average not minimum conversion rates with detailed reference to whichever studies you prefer. You have chosen to avoid this.
Likewise, you have simply quoted studies without any detailed analysis of them, as if simply posting a URL were enough to support your conclusions.
I decribe this as the "science of the supplement makers" because it portrays an alarmist deficency scenario to claim the need for a supplement. It is precisely the strategy adopted in the copy for supplement ads.
The study on which I have at least provided detailed comments does not identify any adverse effects that could be linked to the lower levels in vegans and vegetarians. It is not an exception in this regard. Your arguments on the contrary consistently assume both that because the levels are lower this indicates a deficiency, and that the only way this can be corrected is through direct supplementation rather than a balanced diet.
Had you wanted to comment on any of these aspects you could have done so. Instead, however, you choose to engage in silly put-downs and self-righteous posturing about whether or not I am prepared to engage in an academic debate.
Let's leave it there, then. I am afraid I do not consider you have in any way established yourself as being more qualfiied to dole out nutiritional advice on this forum than anyone speaking simply from their own experience. Your citing of studes and the conclusions you draw are the same as those to be found in adds for fish oil and other supplements that engender fear and then offer an instant remedy.
In many ways a balanced fat intake is likely to be more important than anything else, but I would not dispute that people are unlikely to do themsleves any harm if they make moderate use of a DHA supplement. On the other hand I am not at all sure that it is either helpful or accurate that as someone with no medical or as far as I am aware nutritional training you should pose as an expert and through selective references to study abstracts contribute to a lack of confidence regarding the adequancy of a vegan diet.
Please note that although I have found your recent responses disappointing in both tone and content I am not questioning your integrity, but only your science. I do not doubt that your belief in the need for supplements is sincere.
I think we can leave things there.
OK. I was not being fair. I just re-read this.
Even leaving all that aside, however, there is a big step between what you state above and your conclusion that the only way to ensure adequate DHA levels is through a DHA supplement, which you have supported by citing minimum and not average conversion rates - with it being acknowledged that these rates are influenced by fat balance as well as fat intake.
Walsh's book references all the studies he has taken to account in his recommendations and is available from the vegan Society.
I am not sure why you refuse so steadfastly to actually point to science. You continue to voice only your own opinion. I agree this conversation should be over. I have done my part to explain the science to the best of my abilities. I have asked you to do the same so we can have a two-way conversation, but that is obviously not what you wish to do. You have misconstrued my arguments one last time which I am presuming is because you have not carefully read my previous posts (as opposed to willfully miscontruing my argument which I presume you did not mean to do). I have said numerous times already that for most people, diet should be sufficient to relieve the low levels of DHA found in vegans (but it requires knowledge and dedication). I have said that some will probably need a supplement based on the fact that some do not sufficiently convert ALA to DHA. I then recommended that people have their doctor monitor this.
Your approach to nutrition, at least in terms of this discussion, has been one merely of conjecture without any scientific support. This is dangerous and I would ask of you to start trying to research your opinions so that your opinions may be of more value. If your point is that the current low levels of DHA found in vegans so far in studies is not unhealthy, you would be far better off finding studies that support this position and create a well thought out hypothesis. I would be very interested to hear what you learn if you ever do this. You might very well be able to change my thinking -- my thought processes evolve as more studies come out and as I hear more intelligent analyses of the current studies. I think it is dangerous to shoot from the hip when it comes to health -- there is too much misinformation out there and too many nutritional myths. Until you get better acquainted with the science, you are not doing people much good by simply voicing an unsubstantiated position. Again, though, your position may have merit, but you haven't done the homework yet (or at least you haven't yet shared your findings if you have) to make your opinions worth considering deeply.
I wish you the best and assume all your thoughts on this page are well-meaning. You seem like an intelligent person, I just wish we could be discussing things on a more academic level.
It may well be that we are both reading too fast and don't have the time to respond with the care we would like.
I find your current summary of your position much more reasonable and acceptable, unlike your tone of voice.
My points earlier were simply that the data of that particular study are not conclusive, as the investigators recognise, and that the study is not unusual in this. Quite simply, there are too many areas of DHA's influence on health and pathology where "the jury's still out on that one" as you subsequently acknowledged. The conjectures I expressed were not to say "this is the truth and what you are saying is not", (far from it!) but simply to point out that the evidence so far is not entirely conclusive and that your recommendations could bear this in mind.
Anyhow, many of these problems are not problems of science, but of how study results have been misrepresented by so-called experts reporting on those studies, particularly in the media. Scientists tend to be a bit more circumspect, modest and patient, recognising amongst other things that premature reporting of the conclusions of often small studies can leave the general public asking "well does DHA do this or doesn't it?". That is why I was also urging caution here, especially when so many new vegans are already subject to so much outside pressure encouraging us to be believe we will keel over within months of going vegan.
As you have agreed, however, there is uncertainty over what constitutes an optimum level. It would be intersting to know whether you have kept records of the DHA levels of the vegans who have been in touch with you and found their sense of well-being increased following supplementation after their test results showed their levels were low. It would be even more interesting, if you have kept such records, to know what the range of "low" levels is and what the range of levels is for when supplementation appeared to be having a positive effect. The length of time of supplementation would also be of practical scientific interest.
There are, as you have yourself pointed out from the literature, similar doubts concerning the factors influencing ALA -> DHA conversion and conversion rates, though it does appear that flax seed oil may well not be the pancaea many had hoped for.
Nonetheless - and this has been my only issue with your recommendations - there is substantial evidence that conversion rates can generally be quite sufficient if fatty-acid intakes are balanced. I consequently wonder whether it might not therefore be more helpful to provide global guidance on the relevant areas of diet than to simply say "take a supplement", especially when the cost of taking such a supplement regularly is going to be in the region of $500 per year, something many forum members may baulk at. In addition, a "correct diet" rather than a "pop a pill" approach does not create the impression that the vegan diet is not adequate without supplementation.
I hope that clarifies my position and wish you all the best.
Here are some other studies I have found which are interesting (although please note some of these studies are done on animals and are not pleasant to read from that perspective, so I just want you to be aware of this). This is not meant to be a continuation of the previous conversation with Mike, just further studies on the subject that people may find interesting:
I like your last post very much, and yes it does help to clarify positions. I appreciate the post, and would like to continue the conversation at this point if you don't mind.
Please understand I do not appreciate being called the voice of the supplement manufacturers when I devote my time to preaching diet is far more important than any supplement, and that 99.9999% of all supplements are a waste of time and money. Indeed, my only recommendations to people in terms of supplements is to take a legitimate multivitamin and a DHA supplement. As you know, I created a multivitamin, so you may think I have a conflict of interest there (I don't believe I do since I believed this same thing for years before contemplating producing a supplement). As you also now know, though, I do not have any DHA supplement that I sell or make money off of, so this would not be any sort of conflict of interest.
Further to this point, I see a good multivitamin as serving only one purpose -- insurance. It is insurance that you do not get depleted in any one nutrient (provided the multivitamin has no harmful ingredients). I see DHA as playing a somewhat similar role. But, a multivitamin will not prolong life or do other things that a good diet will do. Of the two, I'd far prefer to see somebody focus on a good diet than on supplements. Indeed, I believe most herbal supplements, exotic supplements, hormone supplements etc. are trash and are simply praying on people seeking the quick fix. Please rest assured this is not my stance on health.
But I would like to be given the benefit of the doubt and not be attacked unfairly. I actually do believe the science is fairly good at this point that DHA's influence on health and pathology is substantial. Again, we run into the problem that we are not quite sure what effects this has on a vegan population since the studies simply have not yet been done. But we have every reason to believe that the low levels of DHA which increase risk of depression (including postpartum depression), alzheimer's, and other behavioral type issues would effect vegans as well as meat-eaters. For purposes of heart disease, I don't believe the statistics will correlate well to vegans. When meat eaters replace eating saturated fats with fish, they notice a noticeable heart protective benefit. But vegans tend to already be very well protected from heart disease, so we would not expect to see the same dramatic protective effects. But, I would expect it to offer vegans additional heart disease prevention (even if it is less substantial or even minimal).
I would like to know which areas in particular you believe the science is still out. I think at this point there is enough science to start accepting there are significant potential benefits to maintaining appropriate blood levels of DHA. The downside of adding extra DHA seems to be minimal to nonexistent, so why not do it (you said cost was one factor, and I will discuss this below). IF you disagree, I'd like to know where you disagree.
The fact that new vegans are subject to outside pressures is all the more reasons they should be armed with the best possible information so that they sound informed when they have discussions with others. Obviously, the typical questions of where do you get your protein etc. are ignorant questions. But if new vegans are armed with information about B-12, Vitamin D, DHA etc., they will be much better prepared to discuss issues with their doctors and others in a way that makes the vegan movement seem very legitimate and well thought out.
I think about 150mg to 250mg of dha is sufficient for the normal individual. For pregnant and nursing women, that may need to be higher, maybe up to two three times a much. I do not keep records on people's DHA levels, but will nonetheless do some digging to see if I can talk to some of those people to see if they have their own records that they can forward on to me so I can post them here.
I agree with the concept that diet is a great way to go. But I would say the vast majority of people who are vegan do so less because of the health consequences than because of animal and/or environmental concerns. I think that the consumption of foods like nuts and seeds and avocados which tend to have the most favorable amounts of omega 3s (and the proper ratio of 3's to 6's) are incredibly healthy and should be consumed by all (although in limited amounts by those trying to lose weight -- maybe 1 to 2 ounces a day for those people). But, this means basically cutting out all other forms of fat, or the 3 to 6 ratio will be too high for conversion. Most vegans I know don't wish to make this dietary change. Some do, but most don't.
So, people then take flax oil. Well, this is also a supplement (although in my opinion not a very good one), and costs just about as much as taking the preformed DHA. So, why not just go for the preformed DHA if it costs roughly the same as the flax oil (or hemp oil)?
For the record, I do not think, generally speaking, the vegan diet is adequate without supplementation (I think it was in the past, but not anymore). There are some people who do it so perfectly, that they may not need supplementation (but then there are some other genetic factors there too), with the exception of B-12 in my opinion (I think Korn may disagree with me here). I try to eat ideally, but I still prefer to focus my attention on eating certain foods for their phytnutrients then I do for their micronutrients. I don't like having to concern myself, for instance, with eating three to four brazil nuts to get my selenium. I'd rather think about eating walnuts because of their omega 3's and fatty sterol content.
I've recently heard that a portion of blueberries contain as much omega 3 as a portion of oily fish.
For those wanting simple advice on DHA and EFAs, this at the Vegan Society's site may be useful:
I think I need to find an alternative source for my Omegas . I have been experimenting and doing a LOT of thinking, trying to understand why I keep getting an upset stomach . Yesterday I confirmed my last hunch (why is it always the LAST hunch that works?? ) - yep, it's my Flax oil consumption (which was quite high) that's doing it .
Think I'll buy some Walnuts next week instead! .
I am also happy this is turning into a conversation. I'm sure it helped that I had a couple of minutes free in which to be coherent - even if not quite enough to type the letters in every word in teh correct order
It will be very interesting if you are able to post a range of before+after DHA figures for those vegans who you reported had problems before DHA supplementation.
I'll try and asnwer your quesitons. I am fraid I don't have any time now, really, with 3 jobs to finish before I take Aria to town for lunch - and I still have to walk Ponk the Old Englsih Sheepdog.
Firstly, and jsut for the record, I recall talking about the "science of the suppllement makers", rather than calling you the voice of the supplement makers. I am gald to gain a better understanding of your position. We are probably closer than we realised on this. I am sure you too would advocate lifestyle + diet changes rather than the sticking-plaster approach of supplementation.
On to some specific points.
As you point out it is likely that some of the cardiac benefits of eating more fish are that there is decreased saturated fat consumption. Some study outcomes showing little difference in the fish-oil-supplemented groups have led the investigators to question whether it is this that is more important than the increase in DHA intake. That's a "jury-out" area.
Then there is the study I briefly referred to (and there may be others - I simply can't remember) which question whether DHA supplementation without stimulants does actually have any beneficial effect in ADD / ADHD.
There is even conflicting evidence on the efficacy of DHA supplementation on its own in arthritis (I can quickly provide a link for some of this, hallelujah!: http://www.clinicalanswers.nhs.uk/in...?question=3277).
As for "excessive" levels, there have been a few reports of oversupplementation causing minor clotting problems, but we are talking very high levels and minor clotting problems.
Leaving all that aside there are areas where there is very little doubt, such as the impact of DHA levels on foetal and neonatal development, although I personally am not convinced that the studies are conclusive with respect to the adverse impact of the lower levels in vegans. The only one I can recall which suggests supplementation may be beneficial found a difference in only one in a bank of cognitive (I think) tests and it was a minor difference. The study did not as far as I can recall comment on the nature of the vegan study cohort's general diet either. This study is on the net somewhere, I can dig it up for you if you can't either remember it or find it. I am in fact pretty sure you will already have found it from your searches of the online study archives. Still, preganancy is somewhere many will not want to experiment on themselves (or their children) and prefer to take a supplement, especially if their blood tests show they already have low or very low DHA levels. One way or another I certainly agree that vegans feeling consistently under the weather ought to make sure that when bloods are done the tests are for DHA as well as the usual B12, iodine, D etc.
That aside, I am really just being cautious here. On the one hand I remember the many years where vegans were overconfident about natural products containing B12, as well as the many years where we were insufficinetly confident about protein intakes and amino acid balances.
What I don't dispute is that DHA and EPA levels in vegans are lower than the general populace - that is shown consistently by the studies. Neither do I dispute that DHA levels in the West nowdays are lower than they used to be say 50 years ago when people ate more fish and internal organs and less sunflower and similar oils.
I don't, however, believe that exactly what the consequences of this are for health can yet be determined with certainty.
I'm going on for much longer than I have time, so will have to cut this short.
Totally agree about the price of flax oil. Most people don't like eating the seeds either and don't continue for long. Walnut oil is also very expensive. Walnuts less so (on the subject of nuts - personally I prefer to eat 4 brazil nuts a week for selenium though ). Hemp seeds are cheap, though, and hemp oil not that expensive, depending on where you live. Cutting out sunflower and palm oil etc. isn't that difficult either. Olive oil isn't cheap but is netural as well as good for other things, and you don't need much on salads etc. It is by far the best oil for cooking because of its relative stability at higher temperatures, but then becomes an expensive option. There are now some good mixed seed and nut spreads providing a useful intake of Omega6/3 fats. Attention to raw (or cooked) fruit and vegetable sources with a good 6/3 mix is also very helpful, particaulry in these days of high refiuned oil consumption.
I agree most vegans are vegan for the animals and some of us have an awful processed food diet which certainly doesn't help DHA levels. I went vegan in the dippy hippy years and still urge people to consider the personal and ecological benefits of a wholefood diet.
Must run. Please remind me of anything I've missed.
i love the taste of hempseed oil!
i wouldnt eat it on its own tho, i usually make some toast, let it kool down and then pour about a tablespoon of hempseed oil on it and some hummous or nut butter and a tomato or somethink or else i put it on oatcakes.
it gets lost in salads i think cos with the toast or bread you can mop it up and not waste any
I like many of your points. I'm going to go through them:
Heart conditions -- There are a couple of points here. The first is the one we both made which is vegans have less to worry about here because they eat less saturated fat, more fiber, have lower cholesterol etc. The second point, though, is that we should expect that those who have lower blood levels of DHA to be more profoundly affected by taking in DHA. In other words, I would expect meat eaters who have unfavorable levels of DHA to have much more heart protective benefit from taking supplemental DHA than I would other meat eaters who already have sufficient levels of DHA (I would expect next to no benefit there). The studies showing little benefit for those with heart disease stupidly (in my opinion) did not take this factor into consideration. Similarly, I wouldn't be surprised if the vegans with the lowest levels of DHA in their system would be offered more protection by taking DHA (albeit they should be fairly safe when it comes to heart disease anyway provided they are within the averages for vegans).
Second, I agree with you on arthritis. For purposes of autoimmune illnesses, I do not believe any one supplement will correct the body's immune system sufficiently to stop it from attacking itself. This has to be a far more balanced approach that focuses almost exlusively on diet (if you don't go the medicine route, which doesn't cure but does help with the pain). By eating ideally for a protacted period of time, there are wonders that can happen with autoimmune illnesses. At best, I think DHA is a factor and a worthwhile supplement to take because of its antiinflammatory actions -- but it is certainly not a panacea here.
Thirdly, I recognize your ultimate point has not been sufficiently unearthed -- e.g. what is the ideal level of dha for vegans? This is very much a gray area. But, my belief based on the multitude of studies showing what deficiencies of this essential fatty acid can do, is to have a level similar to what our species had 50 to 100 years ago, or even similar to those who have two servings of fatty fish a week. Can't say there are studies yet to back up this position per se, but it is an inference based on the data available. I don't find it to be much of an expense, but others do and that is fair. It is at least something vegans should be aware of and should make a decision on -- much as you and I have and are continuing to do.
Fourth, I have no problems with nuts or seeds or avocados. In fact, I think they are some of the most health promoting foods out there. But, I don't feel the same way about oils. Their nutrient density is too low. It is very high in calories and very low in nutrients -- except for fats. In the case of flax or hemp, at least they are well balanced fats. In an ideal health world, though, I would prefer to see only those who are at their ideal weight and are physically very active eating oils. Otherwise, I think the nuts, seeds and avocados are far better choices when it comes to fats. I am not a fat phobe by any sense, but I do believe the content of fat in the diet should depend on the current levels of fat stored on the body. The oils offer far fewer of the nutritional and phytonutrient benefits offered in the actual foods they are derived from.
Ultimately, I do not believe for one second that DHA is a panacea or the miracle nutrient (for the record, there is no such thing as the miracle nutrient -- never has been, never will be). I simply believe it is one of many essential factors of a healthy diet. The studies seem to be showing, too, that each ALA, DHA and EPA have differing but important roles in our bodies. So of course, even if one is taking a vegan DHA supplement, they should still be taking in ALA from nuts, seeds or avocados to extract the benefits of ALA. Also, I'm not as concerned with EPA because the conversion rate for that is fairly good.
Based on your most recent email, it sounds like you have spent a great deal of time looking into this issue. I hope future studies will be more on point so we can stop being forced to postulate and actually have some more concrete answers....
I think we're pretty much agreed on all points. I'll reply following the order you took them in.
Heart: I'm not convinced the studies have fully demonstrated the role of DHA here - as distinct from the anti-stroke/thrombosis effects of lower clotting that result from an increased intake of omega-3s in general. That's not to say we can at this stage rule out that it may play some sort of cardioprotective role, but I'm not convinced we can at this stage be certain either. The situation may be the same as you suggest regarding arthritis. In fact this could of course aply to a lot of "modern" pathologies.
Arthritis: we are largely agreed, though I believe it is still to early to be sure whether DHA plays an active role.
Optimum levels: that's a difficult one. The assumption that the levels 50 to 100 years ago were healthier is not uncomon but it is a difficult one to be sure about, not least of all since many of the pathologies where a potential realtionship with DHA is being investigated also have potential causative relationships with other aspects of modern living (stress, refined diet, trans fats, pollution etc.). It is at present difficult to be certain whether decling health in some of these areas has a relationship with DHA or not. That said, your approach of suggesting that vegans who feel below par should also have their DHA levels tested and investigate corrective action if they are found to be low obviously has merit. I agree that the ALA -> EPA conversion rate is reassuring and that it is the EPA -> DHA rate that is less reassuring. I also agree that in such cases it is easier to be sure a quick improvement will be achieved using a supplement.
Oils: pretty much agree with everything you have written there on the whole, though I do believe there is a case for using certain oils in moderation.
Also agree about miracle nutrients/superfoods, as with the last bit, which is one of the reasons why I continue to "experiment" on myself to an extent, as I did with B12.
Very interesting Mike!
I think I am a bit more convinced of the heart protective factor for DHA and EPA than you are (again more for non-vegans, but even potentially to some extent for vegans). I'd like to hear what you make of some of these studies (none of them are the holy grail, but many aren't bad):
(this previous one supports the position that EPA/AA ratio is most important -- just of note, not as much on point for our discussions)
Arthritis -- At least the DHA is an antiinflammatory, and that never hurts when it comes to arthritis.
Cardiovascular: when one talks about EPA and DHA together things change a lot. There is little doubt that increasing them and omega-3s generally in the diet has positive consequences particularly for ischemic cardiovascular incidents, but further investigation is in my opinion needed to confirm that this is a result of effects other than on platelet aggregation and overall fat balance. In this respect the Breslow study (last one) you posted the link for is interesting in particular for the directions it proposes for future research.
Antiinflammatory: generally the study conclusions refer to EPA and DHA. There is less to establish (perhpas just "so far") that DHA has a strong antiinflammatory effect on its own. This also applies to other effects. See. e.g. http://www.benbest.com/health/dha.html with respect to arachidonic acid synthesis and immune function suppression.
I don't want to "do down" DHA, just be cautious about what the research actually establishes so far.
Fair enough. It sounds like we are in agreement then that the combination of ALA, EPA and DHA benefits the heart. You are simply questioning DHA's role alone. I think some of the studies I pointed to show that DHA on its own has substantial benefits (partly because of its ready conversion to EPA -- can't fully separate these two entities out because of the conversion from one to the other).
Again, it is hard to dissect the DHA from its effect on AA (which is a proinflammatory agent). Although you are right to question it's net effect alone -- the only place we would ever see it not affecting AA would be in a test tube, presumably.
By the way, I enjoyed reading that link to benbest.com They have some nice info in an easy to read format. Thanks for posting that.
WoW, what a serious conversation, kool
can i just say <again as i have probably said it lots of times b4> that i find hempseed oil to be totally amazing.
I eat 1-2 tablspoons a day, sometimes more, usually mid morning or early afternoon, soaked on bread or whatever but never heated, and i have been doing this for about a year and a half, possibly longer.
my weight is fine
<maybe a little under at times but i seem to be putting some weight on recently, thanx, i think, to large amounts of soya banana milkshakes>
so the oil is particularly good for me tho i would not say it is 'fatty' like for example, coconut <yum>
basically the effect is somewhat like this:
well, remember the tin man in the wizard of oz?
or think of something inanimate that needs oiled regularly, like a bike or a car or a piece of machinery and how much better it works wen properly oiled.
i think for vegans especially, hempseed oil with its perfect balance of omega 3 and 6 is nectar, food of the gods, lol