Omega 3 seal oil



by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

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Fish oil is the most widely used source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Frost and Sullivan, a consumer market and research firm, in an interview, stated through their spokesperson Chris Jones, that consumers are unware that options exist as far as alternative sources of omega-3's.

The rest of this article is from Frost and Sullivan

The growing body of evidence supporting the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids has had an inevitable knock-on effect on consumer awareness of the product. According to Frost, over 50 per cent of consumers in the US and UK are now aware of omega-3 fatty acids, with the vast majority of these consumers also aware that fish oil, and therefore fish oil supplements, are a good sources.

While a growing number of people might also be able to identify flax oil as a potential source, Frost suggests that most are also completely unaware of the wide variety of other omega-3 sources already available on the nutritional supplement market.

The scientific evidence supporting the claims made on many these products is undoubtedly far smaller than that supporting the mainstream fish oil supplement market, and this is one of the main reasons why consumers are less aware of the alternatives, but Frost suggests that this does not make them any less attractive or efficacious.

Shark liver oil, for example, has been described as "an excellent source of alkylglycerols, squalamine and omega-3 PUFAs providing a multitude of health benefits", and has been used for its associated health benefits by the people on the coasts of Norway and Sweden for hundreds of years. It has a long history of use in Japan where it was referred to as samedawa, or ‘cure all’, but appears to have mainly used to boost immune defence, to promote wound healing, and as a general remedy for conditions of the respiratory tract and of the digestive system.

The alkylglerols and squalamine present in shark liver oils have been shown to have some cancer fighting properties, according to Frost, but there is still only a limited amount of scientific evidence to support claims made. However, should this supporting scientific evidence be forthcoming, there is significant potential for shark liver oil in the supplements market, the analysts suggest.

“The combination of alkylglycerols, squalamine and omega-3 fatty acids provides shark liver oil with a unique selling point, setting it apart from fish oil supplements. Consequently the future for shark liver oil in the dietary supplement area looks promising.”

Another product with a potentially bright future is Lyprinol, described as "a marine lipid group comprising a unique combination of non-polar lipid groups and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids".

According to Frost, the manufacturers of Lyprinol claim that it is a more potent source of omega-3 fatty acids than other sources, and that the daily intakes of supplements required to achieve results are substantially less than other marine oil alternatives. In addition, Lyprinol has none of the side effects typically associated with fish oil supplementation.

Lyprinol is a nutritional oil derived from stabilised green lipped mussel powder via use of the patented supercritical fluid extraction process. The mussels are cultivated and harvested in farms located in the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand. The majority of this product is sold into dietary supplement market, mainly as a treatment for the inflammation of joints.

The main factor holding back the long-term development of Lyprinol is its price. more expensive than most fish oil supplements and may even be pricing itself out of the omega-3 PUFA market, according to Frost.

The higher price is justified by the brand’s owners on account of the fact that Lyprinol is a more potent source of omega-3 fatty acids, but without the necessary body of scientific evidence to back this claim – and in particular direct comparisons with the omega-3 content of fish oils – is likely to make consumer acceptance of the product – and of its higher cost – far harder, the analysts suggest.

Another omega-3-rich source from the Antipodes is the emu, whose oil is said to help correct the stores of body fats to a proper balance by providing a good source of essential fatty acids".

Australian Aborigines have been using the oil of the flightless bird for its anti-inflammatory, healing and rejuvenating powers for years, according to Frost. Indeed, emu oil is an excellent source not only of omega-3 but also of omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, and has been used in a broad range of applications – the main one being as a cream to help alleviate pain or inflammation.

In the supplement market, emu oil is marketed as a source of good fat helping to balance excess quantities of saturated fats in most diets and consequently control cholesterol. However, the omega-3 fatty acid content of emu oil supplements is typically lower than that found fish oils supplements, and this means that it is unlikely to be able to compete with fish oil products, despite a certain novelty value, Frost suggests.

Producers of seal oil, meanwhile, have stressed the fact that it is both “rich in omega-3 PUFAs, but also in docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), unlike most fish oils”. They have also highlighted the fact that the body is more efficient at assimilating seal oils over fish oils.

The original findings prompting research into seal oils were based on observations of Greenland Eskimos, whose diet included predominantly seal meat and oil. Researchers discovered that seal oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids including docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Depending on the commercial preparation, seal oil supplements can also contain significant levels of squalene and vitamin E.

Seal oil is one of the few known natural sources of DPA – a product which has been shown to be involved with the healing process associated with cardiovascular diseases, namely atherosclerosis and thrombosis. Some researchers believe that seal oils are considered a superior source of omega-3 fatty acids due to location of EPA, DHA and DPA in the terminal positions of the triglycerides molecules, Frost said. In fish oils, EPA and DHA are preferentially located in the middle of the triglceride molecule.

As for the long-term potential of seal oil, the product is already hugely popular in Asia, but Frost suggests that its European outlook is less promising. Research is still ongoing into the benefits of seal oil supplementation to target specific health conditions, and the despite its composition differences to other omega-3 supplements, it is unlikely that seal oil will be able to compete directly with fish oil supplements currently on the market in Europe until there is greater scientific evidence to support its potential benefits, the analysts suggest.

Finding a niche in the increasingly competitive omega-3 nutritional oils market is vital for the future of the fish oil alternatives, the analysts suggest. Nutritional oils that make claims primarily based on their omega-3 fatty acids content are competing directly with the well-established fish oil supplement market, and are unlikely to survive. Oils that contain other components which are proven to be beneficial to health and are also able to leverage the omega-3 PUFAs content are more likely to succeed.

Harp seal is a marine mammal found abundantly in the ice-cold waters of Newfoundland and Labrador. Because of their environments, harp seals have unique biological characteristics which make them interesting as a renewable resource to be harvested for human consumption.

Blubber oil from harp seal is a rich source of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) which have attracted much interest and are the focus of attention. The interest in marine oils stemmed from the observation of the diet of Greenland Eskimos in which fish as well as seal meat and blubber was important. The incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Eskimos was considerably less than that of the Danish population, despite their high fat consumption.

The beneficial health effects of omega-3 PUFA have been attributed to their ability to lower serum triglycerides and cholesterol. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for normal growth and development and may play a role in the prevention and treatment of hypertension, arthritis, inflammatory and auto immune disorders, diabetes and cancer of the breast and prostate.

Unlike saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids which can be synthesized by all mammals, including humans, the omega-3 PUFA cannot be easily synthesized in the body and must be provided through the diet. The unique feature of marine oils, such as seal oil, relates to their high content of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and, to a lesser extent, docosapentaenoic acid (DPA). These PUFA are formed in unicellular phytoplankton and multicellular sea algae and eventually pass through the food web and become incorporated into the body of fish and higher marine species. The high content of omega-3 fatty acids in marine lipids is suggested to be a consequence of cold temperature adaptation in which omega-3 PUFA remain liquid and oppose any tendency to crystallize.

Omega-3 PUFA not only result in a decrease in plasma lipids by reduced synthesis of fatty acids and very low density lipoproteins (VLDL), they also have a direct effect on the heart muscle itself, increase blood flow, decrease arrhythmias, improve arterial compliance, decrease the size of the infarct and reduce several cellular processes that compromise heart function. It has also been suggested that marine oils may retard atherosclerosis through their effects on platelet function, platelet-endothelial interactions and inflammatory response.

The long-chain omega-3 fatty acids have been found to have a marked effect on tissue development. Recent studies have demonstrated the DHA supplementation during pregnancy and lactation is necessary in order to prevent deficiency of the mother's DHA status during these periods in order to meet the high fetal requirement for DHA. It has also been shown that premature babies have lower levels of DHA in their tissues as compared to full-term babies. Thus, supplementation of infant formula with DHA/marine oils may be necessary in order to provide them with as much DHA as that available to their breast-fed counterparts. Feeding of infants with formula devoid of omega-3 fatty acids resulted in lack of deposition of DHA in their visual and neural tissues with its adverse effects on vision and nervous system.

In comparing seal blubber oil with fish oils, assimilation of seal oil into the body is more efficient than fish oils. EPA, DPA and DHA in seal oil are located primarily in the terminal positions of the triglyceride molecules while they are preferentially present in the middle position of triglycerides in fish oils. This difference in the location of the omega-3 PUFA is a major reason for superior effect of seal oils as compared to fish oils in disease prevention and potential health benefits. Seal oil may be used in the form of 500mg capsules or as a bottled product.

The Government of Canada recently recommended that each Canadian between the ages of 25- 49 should take a total of 1.5 gms of Omega 3 fatty acids daily.

Nutrition Recommendations for Canadian state. "Omega 3 polyunsaturates are essential nutrients for maintaining good health, normal growth and development"

The United States Department of Health and Nutritional Services, The National Institute of Health, and The Life Sciences Research Offices of the Council for Responsible Nutrition have agreed that the daily intake of Omega 3 should increase to 1-3 grams per day. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently recommended that the daily intake of omega 3 should be increased above that consumed today by mature adults.

It is important to note that, as in the case of Vitamin C, Omega 3s do not store well in the body and therefore must be replenished on a daily basis. An Omega 3 supplement is the best method of ensuring an adequate Omega 3 daily intake.

It is highly evident that DPA is essential for inclusion in diets of infants, supporting the fact that Seal Oil is considered as a source of the essential fatty acids for pregnant women and nursing mothers. EFA supplements have been recognized as good sources of EFA's by regulatory authorities such as the National Health Service in the UK.

Another study

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Vitamin B12 May Ease Menstrual Pain

DENMARK, May 2000 - A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial suggests that women who regularly experience dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain) can find relief by supplementing their diet with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12. In this trial, 78 Danish women (16 to 39 years of age) received either fish oil (2.5 g/day), fish oil plus vitamin B12 (2.5 g/day), seal oil (5 g/day), or placebo for 3 to 4 months (3 menstrual cycles). Women taking fish oil plus vitamin B12 reported the greatest reduction in intensity of symptoms (e.g., pelvic pain, fatigue, headache) and the most long-lasting relief (up to 3 months after supplementation ended). Eight women reported mild side effects (stomach upset). The researchers posit that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish oil and seal oil) and vitamin B12 may serve as an "alternative treatment to NSAID [non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs], such as ibuprofen and aspirin] medication.

- Source: Deutch B, Jorgensen EB, Hansen JC. Menstrual discomfort in Danish women reduced by dietary supplements of omega-3 PUFA and B12 (fish oil or seal oil capsules). Nutrition Research. 2000;20(5):621-631.





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