THIS is a More Sustainable Source of Omega-3

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01/10/2014
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Interviewer: Doctor, let's start by talking about omega 3s.  We hear a lot about them.  Why are they so important to our health?

Dr. Berzin: So, they're called essential fatty acids, something that our brain is built out of.  We need it for mental health, we need it for cardiac, we need it for anti-inflammatory, and the sad part of it - our body cannot produce it.  So we have to have it from an external source.  If you look around, where can you find omega 3s?   Marine animals is a source that comes to mind, so the main idea was, let's grab some fish, squeeze them, and take the omega 3 out of them, which sounded like a great idea. But I think it brings two legitimate questions.  One is, how sustainable is this exercise?  You're hurting an ecosystem that's already hurt from pollution and over fishing, right?  And the second question that comes to mind, look at the demand curve for omega 3s, and the population of marine animals kind of decreasing, there's a mismatch there.   And what I really do believe that we are in this conversion stage that happened to us humans when we went from hunters/gatherers to farmers, right?  Why do you want to do this?  Because you want to secure your sources, right?  So I think we're at the point in which the omega 3 field is, if you're looking for alternatives, sustainable and controlled alternatives to squeezing the fish.

Interviewer: And what are some of those?  We always think of the salmon, the krill, cod liver oil, but is there options?

Dr. Berzin: Yes, there's some shocking news to you.  Fish and krill and squid, whatever, all the marine animals on the list, do not produce omega 3s.   Omega 3s are produced by algae in the oceans, and they're only accumulating in the oil and tissues of the marine animals.  So the source of omega 3s is algae, that's a natural source of omega 3s.  Now, sometimes in life, middlemen creates value.  Think about the cow, creating a cup of mild.  You'd rather drink a cup of milk than chewing a pile of grass, right?  So the middle cow created value.  In the case of omega 3s, the middle fish decreases the value that you find in the original omega.  And decreased the value in several ways.  One, fish are not particular in which algae they're eating.    They're eating a bunch of algae.  They're eating DHA producing algae and EPA producing algae.  So fish oil has a blend.  Is a blend what you need?  Well, some people think that for young children, for adults, you need different omega 3s.  The second thing is, just the same way that they accumulate  omega 3s in their oil tissues, they accumulate other things - PCBs, mercury, drugs, whatever floats in the ocean.  So the source of omega 3 from animals is questionable, and it took a lot of effort to clean it up to a level that you can feed it to people. And the other dimension is, sometimes the omega 3s in algae are, the molecular form is highly bio available.  It's a polar lipid form that's highly bio available, because you need, whatever you eat needs to cross two barriers - from your digestion system to the blood, and from the blood to your organs.  So this rate of moving through the barriers is very important for how much actually the body gains from eating omega 3s.  And most of the omega 3s  you find in fish are in a lower bio availability form.  So basically you're decreasing the bio availability that's naturally in the algae.  So to summarize it, I think in this case of omega 3, the middle fish do not create any value.  It's just easy to grab them and squeeze them, but really, why do you want to eat it second, third, fourth hand, if you can actually get if from the source?
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Omega-3 supplements typically come from a marine animal source, whether it's fish oil, salmon, krill, cod liver, etc. Dr. Isaac Berzin discusses a newer option, algae. The marine animals all eat the algae and basically become a 'middle-man'. But Dr. Berzin says the algae is the original source and a much more sustainable option for omega-3 supplements.

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