With hundreds of scientific studies substantiating the positive health benefits of Omega-3′s, fish oil is the smart choice for people who wish to lead healthier lives.*
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Guest Article: Cardiovascular disease (CVD)
Omega 3 fats have blood thinning activity, stabilise heart rhythm, lower blood pressure, reduce triglyceride levels and lower the secretion of very low density lipoproteins (VLDL), as well as increasing triglyceride removal from VLDL and chylomicron particles by upregulating enzymes such as lipoprotein lipase.
There is good evidence for the effectiveness of fish oil in reducing the risk of CVD and CVD mortality. Meta-analyses of clinical trials show that fish oil, in doses averaging 3 g of omega 3 fatty acids a day, can reduce blood pressure in hypertensive people by up to 5.5/3.5 mm Hg. At least one fish meal a week is associated with a 52% reduction in sudden cardiac death.
A systematic review found that fish oil supplementation has potent triglyceride-lowering activity. Fish oil can also reduce VLDL, chylomicrons, remnants, LDL, apo B, and apo E levels. Fish and fish oil had profound hypolipidaemic effects in normal subjects and in hypertriglyceridaemic patients with combined hyperlipidaemia (type II-b) and hyperlipidaemia type IV and V. As little as 210 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA a day has been found to significantly reduce serum triglycerides in patients with elevated levels.
Fish oil is now mainstream medicine for heart disease
The American Heart Association recommends 1000 mg of EPA and DHA from oily fish daily for all patients with heart disease, obtained through diet or fish oil supplementation.Recently, the National Heart Foundation (NHF) of Australia released a position statement recommending that all adults have 500 mg of combined EPA and DHA daily (approx. 2 standard fish oil caps/day) to help reduce the risk of heart disease. The NHF recommends that all patients with heart disease consume 1,000 mg/day of combined EPA & DHA through oily fish or fish oil supplements (approx. 3 standard fish oil caps/day), and 2,000 mg/d of alpha-linolenic acid daily.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
More than fifteen clinical trials and two meta-analyses have found fish oil of benefit in patients with RA. A meta-analysis of the use of omega 3 fats for joint pain, including RA, found that supplementation for three to four months reduces patient-reported joint pain intensity, duration of morning stiffness, number of painful and/or tender joints, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) consumption.A study of daily supplementation with 2.6 g of omega 3 relieved pain and reduced the need for pain-relieving medication in subjects with RA. It is recommended that people with RA take a supplement providing 3-6 g of omega 3 fats daily for at least 12 weeks. A key benefit is the potential to reduce or eliminate NSAID use in RA.
Memory and Cognition
The role of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), in nervous tissues has been well defined. It comprises 30-40 per cent of the phospholipids in the cerebral cortex and retina. Increases in inflammatory fatty acids, including arachidonic acid, can cause impairments in the integrity of the membranes, alter functions within the mitochondrial respiratory chain and produce brain oedema. Arachidonic acid may also be involved in the pathogenesis of brain ischaemia. Inflammatory factors can exacerbate brain ischaemia following neuronal injury. It has become increasingly evident that DHA is an important regulator of brain glucose uptake, thereby providing back-up nutritional support during high-energy states. Low levels of DHA have been associated with structural and functional decline in brain tissue and in Alzheimer’s disease.
Omega 3 fats have a beneficial effect on pregnancy progression. They can reduce the incidence of premature births, possibly by mediating production of prostaglandins that control the birth process. Women who deliver prematurely have increased omega 6 and decreased omega 3 fatty acids and supplementation with EPA and DHA can prolong the duration of gestation.
DHA supports the development of the baby’s brain, nervous system and eyesight. Children of mothers having a DHA-rich diet in pregnancy have enhanced stereoscopic vision at age 3.5 years, irrespective of the child’s postnatal diet. Supplementation with EPA and DHA during pregnancy and lactation has been found to enhance children’s IQ at four years of age.
Children are more likely to be low in omega 3 fats as they are not found in many foods, linseed (flaxseed) oil, seafood and fish oil being the best sources. DHA is particularly important for children because it supports brain and nerve development and function. It is a major component of brain tissue and helps to maintain normal vision, stabilise moods and maintain concentration, memory, learning ability and school performance.
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