Should We Take Omega-3 DHA Supplements? Or Can We Just Eat Flax? Dr Greger & Dr Fuhrman

Should We Take Omega-3 DHA Supplements? Or Can We Just Eat Flax? Dr Greger & Dr Fuhrman

September 13, 2019 94 By Ewald Bahringer


Recently there’s been a lot of discussion
about omega 3 supplements and whether we need to take them on a plant based diet I think
it’s really important we research this topic thoroughly as omega-3s help to maintain the
functioning of every cell membrane in our body. They also act as gatekeepers to the cell and
regulate the passage of both nutrients and waste products across the cell membrane. Omega-3s also promote signaling between cells
by providing the structure and connection to cell membrane receptors. They are such an important part of our cell’s
metabolism that the molecules are consumed quickly and our cells therefore need a regular
supply of omega-3 molecules. O=omega-3s also balance and neutralize the
pro-inflammatory omega-6s that we consume. Omega-3 is a family of at least 15 different
fat molecules. some of the main ones are EPA, DHA, and ALA. ALA, Alpha Linolenic Acid, is a short chain
omega 3 fatty acid and is found in many plant foods including flaxseeds. In theory our body can elongate the short
chain ALA from flaxseeds into the longer chain omega 3’s. So can we meet all our omega 3 needs from
eating just flaxseeds? Well let’s hear from Dr Michael Greger and
Dr Joel Fuhrman. Links to the original videos are in the description
below….[Dr Greger] Can sufficient DHA levels be achieved through flaxseeds without supplementing? That is a good question that is an unanswered
question. There are short chain omega 3 fatty acids
found in whole healthy plant foods like flaxseeds and walnuts and a little bit in dark green
leafy vegetables and hemp seeds and our body can take those short chain fatty acids called
alpha linolenic acid and elongate them in to the long chain fatty acids, the so called
marine fatty acids like EPA and DHA which you find in fish fats. You can make EPA DHA the question is can you
make enough for optimal health particularly if you are pregnant and you’re actually
making enough for 2 people. I am concerned enough about the potential
cognitive detriment of having insufficient DHA particularly later in life particularly
in men that I encourage people to consider supplementing with pre formed EPA DHA, and
you can retro convert from DHA to EPA so you can just take DHA if you want, from pollutant
free sources meaning algae or yeast base sources rather than fish which is too contaminated
in terms of mercury and some of the things you cannot distil out of fish oil, some of
the other toxic pollutants. So then you can get preformed DHA and it’s
still good to eat flaxseeds for their cancer benefits from lignans etc. So the answer to the questions is maybe but
kind of as an insurance policy I encourage people to get preformed until we know different. And if you’re like wait a second ‘what
evidence do you have to support that?’ I lay it out type in DHA to nutritionfacts.org
and then you will know as much as I do. I have taken that body of research and decided
that there is evidence enough for me to do it and my family to start doing it. But you can look at that same evidence and
be like ‘no way I’m not going to do that until we have stronger evidence’ and that
would be a legitimate conclusion as well. [Dr Fuhrman] I’m constantly taking this
role and I don’t relish this role as being the contrarian here but I want to make sure
that nobody gets messed up as you know as 30 years taking care of this community I have
seen too many people get in trouble following cookbook advice the same advice for each person
and they get into trouble and you do blood work and figure out what’s wrong and try
and fix them . Why do they need to get into trouble once the brain shrinks it doesn’t
come back again you can’t then give the DHA supplement. DHA and B12 deficiency can result, and even
Zinc insufficiency in some vegans can result in things that are dangerous enough that can
be continually harmful to their lives. First of all when we study vegan populations
who are not supplementing with a DHA supplement the nutritional research foundation funded
a study where we had 166 non supplementing vegans and they were eating relatively healthy
diets with walnuts, flaxseeds, green vegetables and not the use of oils and we found that
67% or two thirds were insufficient in the omega 3 index and in DHA levels. We found about 25% had adequate levels and
about 25% had extremely dangerously low levels that would have clearly led to a significant
problem, like dementia. Generally speaking the majority of people
who follow a vegan diet don’t have enough of the conversion enzyme, genetically to ensure
DHA adequacy. You could check that with these blood tests
you could do it as standard lab and get an omega-3 quantitative index level and DHA level
and you could get your DHA level and your Omega 3 index. Generally you consider that omega 3 index
above 5 ok in our study we considered above 4 ok to give people the benefit of the doubt. Below 4 you know that you’re in trouble
because below 3.5 in scientific studies is associated with clearly brain shrinkage and
increased dementia with ageing. So even though a high nutrient vegan diet
decreases the risk of depression and dementia from the high phytochemical intake, low phytochemical
and low micronuturients are just one cause of dementia. Even with a high intake of phytochemicals
and phytonutrients which can decrease dementia and depression in the general population still
could create dementia and depression in a population that’s well nourished just because
of the deficiency in those fatty acids alone. So there’s multiple causes of dementia and
depression and we can’t just pick the one cause we want to talk about because we have
to make sure that we do all of this. So yes you can do a blood test you can supplement
with these things conservatively and you have to recommend the responsible supplementation
so people on vegan diets or near vegan diets are not taking chances with developing some
problems that could manifest themselves later on in life. You can’t really check it once they’re
taking the supplement because we find that almost all people taking the supplement do
have adequate levels, so if you want to get checked you have to do it before you take
the supplements or just take the supplements. It’s really a minority of people that have
adequate levels and don’t require anything so even if they don’t get checked you have
to err on the side of caution.