Fish Oil

It’s reportedly the second most common disease across the globe, yet the impact of periodontitis aka gum disease continues to fly under the radar of public consciousness.

A 2012 study from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 47.2 percent, or 64.7 million American adults have periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease. 8.7 percent had a mild case, 30 percent a moderate case, and 8.5 percent had severe periodontitis.

Although many are concerned with their teeth, they may not realize the looming threat is actually the condition of the gums, as periodontal disease is also the most common cause of tooth loss among adults.

Dieticians have long been encouraging North Americans to increase their weekly intake of fish for a healthier heart, however another key benefit is often ignored. Namely, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have the unique ability to improve the health of your gums.

Those consistently taking fish oil have noted their formerly red, inflamed gums are now pink, healthy and no longer prone to bleeding.

Evidence is Stacking Up

A Japanese study investigating the effect omega-3 has on periodontal disease in older adults found people with low DHA levels (found in omega 3 fatty acids) were 1.5 times more likely to experience a dental disease event.

A study conducted in 2014 aimed to discover if 2,000 mg of DHA and 81 mg of aspirin could successfully treat fifty-five adults with moderate periodontitis over three months. Researchers found that the mean pocket depth of the gums had decreased, and the proportion of DHA in red blood cell plasma membranes went up.

Can Fish Oil Help with Receding Gums?

Receding gums are a symptom of gum disease, and it often causes tooth sensitivity near the gum line.

Conventional wisdom states that once gum tissue has receded it will never grow back. New evidence may one day change this assumption. Although human studies are needed, researchers have managed to dramatically reverse receding gums in rodents by topically applying omega-3 fats on the gums.

Fish Oil and Bone Loss

Gum disease causes the gradual destruction of soft tissue surrounding the teeth, but it isn’t just the gums that are affected as it also causes bone loss. As bones and gums recede, pockets are formed in the gums, which provide a breeding ground for bad bacteria and a place for food debris to collect. The result is infection that can break down the teeth.

A 2006 study done on rats found that omega-3 fats resulted in significantly less alveolar bone resorption, one of the signs of adult periodontitis.

Drop the Capsules

Fish oil is commonly sold in capsules and while this is recommended for getting EPA and DHA into your body, to treat or prevent gum disease you’ll want to go with a supplement in liquid form. This allows easy topical application of the fatty acids on the gums, which is the superior method of ingestion for full oral health benefits.

The taste of cod liver oil, Norwegian fish oil and similar products rich in omega-3 can take some getting used to. For most people it’s recommended that you look for a supplement with lemon flavor added to make the fishy taste more palatable.

When shopping for a fish oil supplement look at the EPA and DHA contents listed under supplement facts on the label. More is better, especially with DHA as this is the specific fatty acid that was used in both studies mentioned earlier. Carlson and Nordic Natural are two safe, well-respected brands that deliver a top quality product.

Photo: nøpe

Futurist and anti-aging writer Ray Kurzweil gobbles down 250 supplements per day. To us normal folk such measures seem excessive given the limited power of such interventions. At the other extreme, contemporaries like Aubrey de Grey see little value in supplements.

Often the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Supplementation won’t extend your lifetime but there is a good chance it can improve the quality of your life. After all, who wants to hang on to a miserable existence with a frail body? What we really need is a way to maintain our vitality and our youthful approach to living.

1. Resveratrol

There isn’t a more promising compound within the grasp of mere mortals. The scientific studies and evidence behind resveratrol continues to stack up. Findings have been largely positive although major pharmaceutical companies have funded unfavourable studies of questionable credibility.

Resveratrol mimics the effects of caloric restriction, which to date is the only known way to slow down the effects of age-related disease in mammals. As a side effect of the way it alters metabolism, resveratrol fends off the threat of type 2 diabetes. This means that overweight people benefit from it more than thin, active people.

2. Coenzyme Q10

Co Q10 is an anti-oxidant produced naturally by the body. Problems start to arise when production of Co Q10 slows down with age. At this point supplementation can make up for these losses.

Patients with congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, hypertension and a host of other coronary diseases tend to lack coenzyme Q10 in their body. Studies have shown that Co Q10 has managed to improve the condition of patients in the late stages of heart diseases previously thought of as irreversible. Of course it is best to use coenzyme Q10 to prevent problems in the first place.

3. Fish Oil (Omega 3)

Omega-3 fatty acids have long been touted as an effective means to ward off coronary heart disease. It turns out that the benefits don’t stop there.

In 2010 researchers found that people with the highest levels of omega-3 had longer telomeres than people with low levels. At present it is believed that telomeres are an accurate way of gauging how much a person has aged. This new information suggests we may have more control over the aging process via lifestyle choices than previously imagined.

4. Curcumin

Spicy Indian food is good for you, as long as you watch the oil and animal fat. The secret is found in a popular spice used to make curry: turmeric. It turns out that turmeric contains a compound called curcumin which is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants known.

Curcumin has the ability to actively kill cancer cells that presently have no formal means of treatment. The evidence that curcumin is valuable as a cancer prevention supplement are piling up: the terms curcumin and cancer returns 1535 research abstracts of published literature. In animal studies it prevented oxidative stress in fruit flies resulting in long lifespans. Given, we aren’t sure we’ll get the same results as humans.

5. Melatonin

Melatonin is commonly thought of as the sleep compound. It is naturally produced by the body and is responsible for making us feel tired at the appropriate times at night. Levels of melatonin decrease as we age which explains why senior citizens tend to wake up at ridiculously early hours in the morning. These seniors need more sleep but cannot stave off the urge to wake up due to the lack of melatonin.

In addition, melatonin is an anti-oxidant that is safe to take at night. Other anti-oxidants such as resveratrol have the most positive effects in the morning, so this is a good way to keep your body protected from oxidative stress throughout the day.

Research backing the health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids keeps piling up as years pass. The evidence is so overwhelming that the most conservative health professionals have jumped on the bandwagon. Nutritionist Dr. Dean Ornish, known for advocating whole foods, recommended taking a fish oil supplement in his TED talk entitled “Dean Ornish on Healing”.

“If you don’t remember anything else from this talk, 3 grams a day of fish oil can reduce the risk of a heart attack and sudden death by 50 to 80 percent” said Ornish.

As a practicing doctor he developed a diet plus simple interventions that actually reversed heart disease without surgery. In the past, this was thought impossible. Clearly bad lifestyle choices can harm our health, but now we know that good ones can potentially reverse the damage.

Of course the health benefits don’t stop at heart health. The brain for example is 60 percent fat, so fatty acids are important building blocks for our body. The numerous benefits could fill another article. Let’s get to the meat of it and take a look at popular fish oils offered by Carlson.

Carlson Very Finest Fish Oil

Liquid fish oil has a bad reputation for two things: producing “fish burps” and tasting disgusting (especially to those that hate fish). Carlson has managed to alleviate these concerns by adding pleasant lemon flavoring. Personally I find it tastes terrific and this is coming from a person that isn’t big on seafood. If you absolutely hate the taste of fish, go with Carlson soft gels to be safe.

Tests conclude that this product is free of mercury. This is great news because as advantageous as it is to get fatty acids from a salmon fillet, mercury levels are sometimes nearing dangerous levels depending on where it is caught and if it is wild or farmed.

One serving is a full teaspoon. It contains 1600 mg of omega 3 (EPA – 800 mg, DHA – 500mg, Other Omega 3s – 300mg). The 16.9 fl oz bottle contains 100 servings.

Carlson Super Omega-3 Fish Oil

Some fish oil capsules are just as notorious for producing “fish burps” as fatty acids in liquid form. This is caused when the oil becomes slightly rancid inside the body. Carlson adds a small amount of vitamin E (10 UI) to keep the product fresh thus avoiding this issue. In my own experience, I haven’t noticed a problem.

I like capsules for travel. After popping a dozen or so in a small container I’ll a way to feel a better about myself if I drink too many Piña coladas on vacation. Yes, I know it is slightly delusional.

Like all Carlson fish oil products, Super Omega-3 Fish Oil is free of mercury.

You’ll have to swallow 2-3 capsules to equal the punch offered by Carlson Very Finest Fish Oil. Each soft gel contains 600mg of omega 3 (EPA – 300 mg, DHA – 200mg, Other Omega 3s – 100mg).

Conclusion

There are some very pricy omega 3 supplements out there by Nordic Naturals and New Chapter. Both have a lot of hype behind them however I can’t justify paying that much for a fish oil supplement. Carlson’s stuff has a good balance of value and quality, making it the brand I stick to.

Photo: Jo Christian Oterhals