Let’s talk about isolated and synthetic vs. whole food nutrients. Vitamins and mineral supplements have generally had a “healthy” reputation, in regards to our diet. However, in past centuries, people were able to stay healthy without supplements because they generally ate a healthier diet than we do today and, therefore, less prone to degenerative diseases. Today we are faced with increasing amounts of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and cancer.
It is now becoming increasingly difficult without supplements. If we take this a step further we can also notice that in the past, foods were grown on small farms in mineral-rich soils. However, today, foods are grown in mineral-deficient soils on “factory farms” where the main goal is to produce high “quantity” rather than high “quality” food. Over the years modern technology has advanced immensely that we can now isolate the vitamins and minerals our modern-day diets are lacking.
The question now is, “Is this sufficient to promote optimum health, and is this an improvement on what our ancestors did?” History tells us that when European travelers were crossing the Atlantic Ocean en route to the New World they discovered if they drank fresh lime juice they did not get scurvy (a Vitamin C deficiency resulting in bleeding gums, weakness, and joint pain, etc). It wasn’t until the 20th century that scientists finally isolated the beneficial component in citrus fruits as Vitamin C. What we fail to realize is by taking isolated Vitamin C
in the form of ascorbic acid it’s only a temporary fix. As soon as the ascorbic acid is discontinued, the symptoms and disease return. On the other hand, if one takes Vitamin C made from an extract of whole green peppers not only do the symptoms disappear and the scurvy is gone when discontinued. Although technology has been very beneficial in helping us understand the way food and nutrients work, we can now see that isolating and concentrating single nutrients does not have the same effect as using whole food. When selecting vitamins and supplements, be sure to read the label and look for whole-food ingredients.
If no foods are listed, then that product may be isolated chemicals and may not provide you with any health benefits. In fact, synthetic vitamin products may actually be harmful and cause health issues in the long run. Eating a diet rich in real, unprocessed whole foods is the best way to ensure you are getting proper nutrition. Added to that, supplementing natural whole food vitamins and minerals can enhance overall nutritional status. In our practice, we emphasize a diet rich in whole foods and help patients to return to a more natural way of eating.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Mental Health
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids: They are necessary for human
health but the body can’t make them -- you have to get them through food. Omega-3 fatty
acids can be found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, other seafood including algae
and krill, some plants, and nut oils. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs),
omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly
concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and
performance) and behavioral function. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include
fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor
Uses in Mental Health:
Several studies have found that people who took omega-3 fatty acids in addition to
prescription antidepressants had a greater improvement in symptoms than those who took
antidepressants alone. Other studies show that omega-3 fatty acid intake helps protect
against postpartum depression, among other benefits.
A number of studies show that reduced intake of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with an increased risk of age-related cognitive decline or dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.
Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have low levels of
certain essential fatty acids (including EPA and DHA). In a clinical study of nearly 100
boys, those with lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids had more learning and behavioral problems (such as temper tantrums and sleep disturbances) than boys with normal omega-3
fatty acid levels.
The results of a 2011 study from the National Institutes of Health suggest that increased
intakes of omega-3 fatty acids could be beneficial for young, healthy people by reducing
anxiety symptoms and inflammation, a process that plays a role in many diseases.
Consumers should be aware that all Omega-3 fish oil supplements are created equal. The
purity and concentration of supplements vary widely depending on the source of the fish
and the processes used to create the fish oil. Inexpensive, bargain brands have been shown
to contain dangerous chemicals and heavy metals such as mercury. If you are considering
taking omega 3 fish oils, talk to your health care provider or request a personalized supplement plan with our team.