|If is debatable how beneficial high tissue levels of omega-3s are, but if you are between 50-70 years old and insist on loading your red blood cells and tissue with DHA + EPA, a certain kitchen sink multi may help.|
In view of the fact that few people share my skepticism with respect to the possibility that all the "good" fish oil supplements could tip the scale which is currently unbalanced in favor of omega-6 fatty acids into the other direction, I simply assume that calling what Andrew Pipingas et al. observed in a recently conducted human trial a "synergism" has a better chance of majority appeal.
Now that I have made sure that you remember articles like "Too Much of a Good Thing: When Fish Oil Starts to Clog Your Arteries (re-read it) or "High Omega-3 Diet Sucks: Intra-Muscular Lipid Ratios Determine Exercise Performance" (re-read this one), it's about time to take a closer look at the actual "news". News that have been published in the peer-reviewed open source journal nutrients; and news that would confirm what most "health" fanatics do already: believe in the power of multivitamin tablets.
In the said study, Pipingas et al. fed their 160 subjects who had been randomized to one of the following four treatment arms (see Figure 1), either 3g (240 mg EPA and 240 mg DHA) or 6g of fish oil (480 mg EPA and 480 mg DHA) and a regular multivitamin supplement, 6g of fish oil alone or placebo supplement.
|Figure 1: Graphical overview of the randomization process (Pipingas. 2014)|
"The sample consisted of 160 healthy male and female volunteers aged 50 to 70 years. Participants were recruited from the general community and were non-smoking volunteers, not currently taking any medication or vitamin/herbal supplements. Exclusion criteria were; diagnosis of dementia, diabetes, neurologic (i.e., Epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, head trauma) or psychiatric disorders (i.e., depression, schizophrenia), cardiovascular disease (including stroke) or past or present drug or alcohol abuse. Individuals taking anti-coagulant, anti-cholinergic, anti-depressants or acetyl-cholinesterase inhibitors were also excluded. Further exclusion criteria included those currently taking cognitive enhancing supplements regularly and current or long-term multivitamin or fis hoil supplementation." (Pipingas. 2014)The placebo "fish oil" contained 1000 mg of Sunola Oil and 50 IU of vitamin E administered in a soft gelatin capsule. Sunola oil is a mono-unsaturated, high oleic (n-9) sunflower oil and was chosen as a control given that it is virtually trans-fat free and has a similar profile to olive oil. Small sachets with a few drops of fish oil were included in containers to assist with blinding by providing a fish odour when opened. The placebo multivitamin contained carrot powder with a small amount of riboflavin to produce colouration of the urine similar to the active multivitamin. The placebos were identical to the active tablets in shape, size and colour.
|Figure 2:Change for red blood cell fatty acid status over the course of supplementation (Pipinga. 2014). Please mind that the values are shown as percentages of the fatty acid indices, which in turn are percentages - absolute changes are small!|
Aside from the "Kitchen Sink"-sring, I am about to discuss in the bottom line, there is yet another string attached to theses impressive results - a gender-catch, if you will (see Figure 3):
- the increase in DHA failed to reach statistical significance,
- at study endpoint, the total LC n-3 PUFA index was statistically significantly elevated only for those receiving this multivitamin in addition to 6 g of daily fish oil
- the general observation that women seem to incorporate DHA + EPA more efficiently is thwarted by the extreme inter-individual differences among the female participants