Fish Oil: Why More Isn’t Better

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

I have mentioned this point many times before, but I don’t think I have ever written a formal piece on the topic. The fact of the matter is that no matter how many incredible health benefits fish oil provides, there comes a point where its supplementation can actually be more detrimental than beneficial.

This often comes as news to a lot of health-conscious individuals, but it is true all the same.

The two major fatty acids in fish oil, EPA and DHA, have an unfortunate track record of suppressing our immune system. There is also the matter of oxidation. EPA and DHA are polyunsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats are the least stable and most likely to be oxidized.

When we consume an excessive amount of polyunsaturated fats this can become a problem. The body incorporates the fatty acids you consume into cell membranes and phospholipid bi-layers, so when polyunsaturates are consumed in high amounts, more of them are incorporated into the cells, leading to the increased risk of oxidation. Of note saturates are the least likely to oxidize and are the most stable.

Now, back to the suppressed immunity from excessive fish oil consumption. This downside has a substantial and consistent amount of data behind it (though the beneficial aspects of fish oil have a mountainous and consistent amount of data as well, and growing).

I want to focus on a few studies that have found this effect. The first was a 12 week study on several different fatty acids. They compared the consumption of ALA (flax, walnuts), GLA (borage oil, evening primrose oil), AA (animal foods), DHA, or EPA and DHA. The total amount of EPA and DHA was only 1 gram. The only treatment where immune function was compromised was the EPA and DHA supplementation. This combination led to a decrease in natural killer cell activity by 48%. Interestingly the just DHA group (720mg) did not have this effect, so it appears that EPA has this effect.

The second was also a 12 week study where men young and old consumed only EPA on immune function. As expected the EPA was incorporated into the phospholipids of cells. At doses of 1.35, 2.7 and 4.05g/day the EPA supplementation caused a dose-dependent decrease in neutrophil respiratory burst. I had no idea what that meant, but it indicates the suppression of a cellular defense against immunity threats.

I will again state that though there are some downsides to fish oil supplementation, the amount of benefits from its supplementation are through the roof. The point today isn’t to scare you away from supplementing, the point is to make your supplementation reasonable. I suggest aiming for 1-2 grams of combined EPA and DHA per day. I personally find 1 tsp of Carlson’s The Very Finest Fish Oil to be the perfect amount, supplying 1.3g of combined EPA and DHA from one the highest quality and well-priced fish oils available.

Posted on December 9th, 2010 by Brian St. Pierre


If You Are Serious About Gaining Muscle or Losing Fat

Filed under: General Health, Training, Weight Loss

OK, here’s the deal – I’m gonna keep this real simple.

I’ve been involved in the fitness industry for quite a while and I know what works. In fact, that’s my business… helping people just like you discover what really works (and what doesn’t)…

So this is the bottom line – if you’re serious at all about losing weight or gaining lean muscle…or both, then you need to go check out Jim “Smitty” Smith’s Accelerated Muscular Development 2.0 system.

It’s the real deal. I have personally gone through Smitty’s entire system, and its because of this that I proudly endorse AMD 2.0 and enthusiastically recommend it to anyone who is serious about getting massive results.

If you go there now you’ll be able to get the entire AMD 2.0 system for 20% off as well as take advantage of the special fast action bonus that Smitty has lined up. Click here to get AMD 2.0.

Posted on December 7th, 2010 by Brian St. Pierre

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Miscellaneous Monday

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition, Training

I have been wrapping up my semester this past week and just cranking out school work, but yesterday I was able to catch my breath a bit and do some reading and work around the house.

It was relaxing and productive, and a nice reprieve from the stress of finalizing my school work.

Anyway, I came across some really awesome content that I think you guys should definitely check out. Enjoy!

1. Diet-Heart Controlled Trials: A New Literature Review – Stephan Guyenet. As most of you know I am not a fan of polyunsaturated vegetable oils. In this blog Stephan discusses a new review by some cardiovascular researchers who came to the same conclusion! It provides some new insights and does a great job in pointing out all the flaws in the argument for consuming more polyunsaturated fats.

2. Training to Failure: Part 1-4 – by Jason Ferrugia. Jason has been on a minimalist kick lately, and that 6 part series was equally as good as this one. His training to failure series really hit home for me because of all the guys I see at the gym trying to push themselves to their limit of every set. Training hard is good, training to constant failure is not. This series and the minimalist series are highly recommended reads.

3. Strategies for Correcting Bad Posture: Part 1-3 – by Eric Cressey. Much like Jason, Eric broke this up into several parts because there were so many angles to attack this from. Eric does an awesome job outlining the simple and effective measures to improve your posture, and therefore your movement patters and health. It is an easy-to-understand read with lots of applicable ideas.

Posted on December 6th, 2010 by Brian St. Pierre

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Coffee May Decrease Risk of Alzheimer’s

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

Today I had to give a presentation in class, and I chose my topic to be “Do Eggs Cause Heart Disease?” I think we all know the answer to that question, and my conclusion was a resounding no.

I like to think that I knocked that presentation out of the park, but one of the other presenters today showcased some truly fascinating information that I had not been fully aware.

She did her presentation of coffee and its association to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As you long-time readers know, I am a fan of coffee and have written about its health benefits in the past.

I did recently announce that I was going to cut my coffee consumption down, and I probably still will just to include more tea in my life and its awesome health benefits, but this new data has inspired me to continue to give some love to my morning cup of joe.

She presented some very convincing evidence of coffee consumption and the marked retention of cognitive impairment compared to non-consumption. This has been shown repeatedly, and the effect seems to be most pronounced at about 3 cups per day. 2 cups per day also had a solid effect, but less than that, and for every cup over 3, the protection declined.

This protection was not seen with tea or with decaffeinated coffee, so it is due to some combination of the caffeine in coffee, as well as one or more of its bioactive compounds (caffeic acid maybe?).

Like I noted in my previous blog on coffee, it is not for everyone, and there are some people who have adverse effects from its consumption. If you are one of those people, it is probably best to stick with tea. For everyone else, a combination of tea and fully caffeinated coffee seems to give you a tremendous and varied amount of health benefits, so drink up and enjoy!

Posted on December 3rd, 2010 by Brian St. Pierre


You Asked, I Answered.

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition, Training

Before we get started today I wanted to mention that Jim Smith has released another cool free video demonstrating some of his training methods for his awesome Accelerated Muscular Development 2.0. It actually walks you through an AMD2.0 workout, so check it out!

Q. What are your thoughts on the latest study I saw on the news about too much vitamin D (i.e. over 600 IU) could be risky because of developing calcium deposits (or something like that)?

A. Well I will first say that it was not a study, though the article made it seem that way. It was a report based on studies, conducted by a very conservative agency.

I also did not like how the tone of the article made it seem that taking more than 600IU of vitamin D would be dangerous, it is most definitely not. Now taking more than 10,000IU per day might be, but I stress might, because there is research showing even that amount to be safe, and it would require really long supplementation at that dose to be problematic. In fact the research seems to indicate that to actually achieve vitamin D toxicity and its associated negative effects (such as calcium deposits, nausea, etc), it would require supplementation of 40,000IU per day. I still wouldn’t recommend taking 10,000IU per day though as it seems unnecessarily high, unless that dose is what it takes to get you into the normal range (you should be able to drop to a much lower dose to maintain that level).

The recent research that has shown problems with vitamin D supplementation has been widely refuted by other researchers for design and methodology flaws, so it can be difficult to know what is what. It is in the minority, a tiny minority at that.

The fact of the matter is that most people today do get very little sunlight and should supplement with some vitamin D, the key is to know the amount needed to achieve optimal blood levels for you. That number may vary by person and I think more research is needed to find out if that value is dependent on genetic or other factors (race, smoking, bodyweight, diabetes, season, etc). As of right now the ranges most often given are 30-80 ng/mL. Above and below those numbers is not a good idea, and it is probably best to aim for a moderate level of about 50 ng/mL.

Now having said all of that, there may be some people with certain genetic variants or other conditions who should definitely not take large doses of vitamin D. People are also trying to link other complications to vitamin D supplementation, and it should be noted that this might be a possibility. All essential nutrients are part of a much larger whole, and work synergistically together, modifying each other’s effects. Taking huge doses without getting tested is probably not a good idea. Find out what your starting blood levels are, supplement appropriately (take 1,000IU for every 10 ng/mL you need to increase) and then get retested.

While I do think that people shouldn’t go crazy with their vitamin D supplementation, the vast majority of the research supports the notion that taking 4,000-5,000IU per day is safe. Personally, I required about 5,000 IU to achieve a blood level of 55 ng/mL. I am going to play around with cutting my dose down to about 2,000-3,000 IU per day and retest. If I can maintain at that dose then that is what I will do. Again, getting your levels tested is key.

Posted on December 2nd, 2010 by Brian St. Pierre


Random Wednesday Thoughts

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition, Training

I am quite busy wrapping up most of my school work for the semester, but I do have a few random thoughts to throw at you guys today. I personally think they are quite stellar.

1. I love my new Jeep, but the gas mileage is killing me! I knew what I was getting into purchasing a Jeep. I know that they are not known for good gas mileage, but it is still a tough pill to swallow when you actually see it in person!

2. While eating lunch yesterday I happened to peruse through my wife’s SHAPE magazine, to see if they actually publish any good info or if it was the crap I was expecting. Yes I am aware that I probably shouldn’t admit this publicly.

Anyway, they had a little tidbit about good news for dairy lovers. Recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition a study suggested that women who consumed the most dairy had a 26% lower risk of heart attack compared to women who consumed the least.

The researchers believe that calcium, vitamin D and the type of fat in dairy (ie – saturated) may have played a role in protecting the heart, and they suggest aiming for three daily servings. Ok, that sounds great.

Then the stupidness ensues. The magazine goes on to recommend choosing skim milk over 2% to save 52 calories per cup. Um, hello McFly? The research pointed out that the fat in the milk may have been one of the protective elements and you are recommending nonfat milk? I just don’t get it. When are we going to get over this misplaced fear of total fat and saturated fat?

3. I had a new article published on T-nation this week. I think it is pretty sweet, check it out and let me know what you think.

4. Don’t forget that the $30 discount on Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel and Move Better ends tonight at midnight, so if you want to save some dough, act fast!

Posted on December 1st, 2010 by Brian St. Pierre


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