The evidence that raised safety concerns regarding evening primrose oil in individuals prone to epileptic seizures originated from two papers published in the early 1980s. Since their publication, the safety of evening primrose oil has been re-evaluated and it is now accepted that not only is evening primrose oil safe, but that prostaglandins produced from the GLA component found within the oil may actually protect against or reduce the severity of seizures in epileptic individuals.
Echium seed oil is a remarkable and potent plant seed oil with a rare profile of omega-3-6-9 fatty acids that offer superior health benefits for vegetarians and vegans and people who don’t eat oily fishDerived from the echium plantagineum plant (also known as Viper’s Bugloss), the echium seed oil in Echiomega® is still a relatively unknown source of beneficial omega fats. Echium is the only plant oil that raises omega-3 EPA levels effectively – so it’s a superior option for vegetarians & vegans who currently rely on dosing with huge volumes of flaxseed oil, which doesn’t generate meaningful amounts of EPA in the body. Echium seed oil confers significant anti-inflammatory properties and many subsequent health benefits through raising EPA levels more efficiently than any other seed oil.
You may also consider supplementing with a combination of Neurobalance (2 tablets) and Super B-Complex (1 tablet), which contain essential nutrients required to aid the conversion of fatty acids to EPA and DHA (including magnesium, zinc, vitamins B3, B6, B7 and vitamin C). Both of these products are suitable for vegans.
Whilst Echiomega provides superior support for vegetarians and vegans compared to flaxseed oil, the short-chain omega-3 fats must still be converted to EPA and DHA for the full health benefits to be achieved. About 25-30% of the SDA within Echiomega will end up as EPA in the body so whilst it is certainly a great option for those wishing to avoid fish oils we would strongly recommend that those requiring intensive support take a high dose (up to 10 capsules per day) or use EPA whilst they get their health back on track.
Parent fatty acids refer to the essential fatty acids, omega-3 (ALA) and omega-6 (LA) from which the physiologically active long-chain fats are made.
Whilst supplement forms of the parent fats are often touted for health benefits, in fact, it is the long-chain fats that are physiologically ‘active’. Our diets frequently contain excessive LA, the omega-6 parent fat, relative to ALA, which leads to the production of highly inflammatory end products. Increasing ALA might seem to be the answer, to balance our intake of LA but only 6-8% (of ALA) is converted to long-chain omega-3 EPA and even less to DHA. Providing pre-formed EPA and DHA (from marine sources) is the simplest and most effective way of supporting our omega-3 requirements (unless you are vegetarian: see question above on options).
Consuming preformed omega-3 seems the most sensible way to address long-chain omega-3 deficiencies and support optimal health. It may be wise to reduce your intake of LA by avoiding common vegetable oils and choosing to consume meat and dairy from animals that have been naturally grass fed rather than grain fed. You can find information on how to check your fatty acid status here: Opti-O-3 fatty acid biomarker test.
Depending on EPA or DHA needs, echium seed and algae oils both offer significant, though different, benefits. Algae oil is rich in DHA whilst echium seed oil promotes EPA accumulation. If you have a chronic health condition, particularly one that is inflammatory based, echium seed oil might be more beneficial for you. Those looking to support optimal health or DHA needs during pregnancy and breastfeeding may wish to rely more heavily on algae oils. It is perfectly safe to take algae oil with echium seed so if you would like to ensure you are consuming some preformed long-chain omega-3 whilst optimising your EPA levels then you may wish to take the two together.
Heavy marketing of krill oil has focused on the superior bioavailability of the phospholipid form of omega-3 over that of triglyceride omega-3 from fish oil. This appealing concept has been given disproportionate importance while the justifiably important factor of dose has been virtually ignored. Consumers have been misled into believing that taking low doses of EPA and DHA omega-3 from krill oil will provide health benefits comparable to those associated with larger doses of EPA and DHA from fish oil.
The evidence supporting the need for high doses of omega-3 fatty acids, and in particular EPA, in the treatment of a variety of health conditions, clearly demonstrates that manufacturer-recommended doses of krill oil capsules (approximately 300 mg) do not provide sufficient levels of EPA and DHA to increase blood levels of omega-3s and have no place in therapeutic, clinical nutrition where outcomes are dependent on raising the omega-3 index to a minimum 8%.
To achieve the same level of EPA and DHA in red blood cell membranes (an important health biomarker called the omega-3 index) you need approximately 40% more krill oil than fish oil. Since krill oil is already about 3x the price of standard fish oil for the same volume, it is considerably more expensive to achieve higher volumes of krill oil just to achieve the same omega-3 blood profile as produced by fish oil.
Read more about why krill oil is not a viable alternative to fish oil here>
We are more than happy to offer free product advice and there are a number of ways you can get in touch if you have questions. Call us on 0845 13000424, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use our new live chat option available at https://shop.igennus.com/
Please be aware these services are available in order for us to be able to answer product specific questions and the amount of time a nutritionist can spend with you will be limited. If you need more detailed support or would like to book a consultation with one of our qualified nutritionists you can book online by clicking through to our online clinic https://igennus.com/home/myonlineclinic/
Yes, if you would like to book a consultation with one of our qualified nutritionists, you can book online by clicking through to our online clinic https://igennus.com/home/myonlineclinic/
For those wishing to take the Opti-O-3 test, a 20 minute consultation to discuss the results is included in the full price but is not offered in conjunction with any offers
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, which is one of the reasons they can be beneficial to heart health and inflammatory issues. Whilst ‘excess’ amounts of omega-3 have the potential to disrupt immune function, The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) state that EPA and DHA combined at doses up to 5 g/day do not raise safety concerns for adults. It is extremely uncommon to consume such high doses on a regular basis and it is extremely unlikely that taking the more usual dose of 1-2g daily would pose any negative long-term effects. You can find out information on how to check your omega-3 status by reading here: Opti-O-3 fatty acid biomarker test.
Our suppliers test the raw oil and we only accept batches with levels of methyl mercury, PCBs and dioxins well below the permitted levels even before the EPA/DHA is extracted and concentrated. Our customers are therefore assured of the highest quality product, offering unprecedented purity and safety for long-term health benefits.
YES absolutely and actually we strongly recommend it. Fish oils, and specifically EPA, do indeed help make the blood less sticky and ‘thinner’, which for most people is highly beneficial. Early research indicated that this could increase bleeding risk in those taking Warfarin or high-dose aspirin but numerous rigorous analyses have since proven fish oils do not pose risk to anticoagulant users. In a revaluation statement, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) can be quoted as saying “supplemental intakes of EPA and DHA combined of up to about 5 g/day for up to two years or up to about 7 g/day for up to six months, do not increase the risk of spontaneous bleeding episodes or bleeding complications, even in subjects at a high risk of bleeding (e.g. taking aspirin or anti-coagulants)”.
In fact, it is now accepted that low-dose aspirin and EPA appear to work in parallel to shift the fatty acid balance toward a less inflammatory milieu as well as by interactions that directly lead to the production of a variety of potent health-beneficial end products. Individuals taking pharmaceutical blood-thinning agents such as Warfarin or Heparin who undergo regular coagulation tests may wish to inform their GP that they are taking highly concentrated EPA fish oils and discuss reducing your dosage as coagulation markers improve.
By analysing fatty acids from red blood cells we get information on an individual’s long-term dietary omega-3 intake whereas omega-3 in plasma will give information on very recent intake. The convenience of the blood spot test is that it doesn’t require a phlebotomist but it does mean that the sample will contain both red blood cells and plasma (whole blood would be spun and the plasma removed). Whilst there is a strong correlation between fatty acid levels found within whole blood (containing both plasma and red blood cells as found in the blood spot) and isolated red blood cells we ask that people do not consume fish/fish oils for 48 hours before sampling as this could cause a fatty acid spike in the plasma and therefore reduce the accuracy of the results. The best way to do the test is to avoid omega-3 over a weekend and then take the sample first thing Monday morning before breakfast. We ask this because eating other sources of fat (milk in tea, or butter, for example) can also influence the results by diluting the amount of omega-3 in the plasma. Taking your sample before eating or drinking will therefore ensure that any fatty acids in the plasma will effectively be ‘washed out’, whilst those in the red blood cells will remain, giving us an accurate picture of a person’s omega-3 status.
Because the blood spot offers convenience when sampling (no phlebotomist required) it does mean that both plasma and red blood cells will be present in the sample. As we are only interested in long-term dietary exposure to fatty acids (those derived from RBC and not plasma) we clearly state in the instructions that the client should not eat fish or take fish oils for at least 24 hours prior to taking the sample to avoid ‘spikes’ in plasma omega-3 fatty acids. It is best that clients avoid high omega-3 intake over a weekend and then take the blood sample first thing on a Monday before breakfast.
The correlation between blood spot-derived fatty acids and fatty acids isolated from whole blood is extremely high, making blood spot results a reliable indicator of the omega-3 index and reflect the client’s consumption of omega-3.
This is an interesting topic because there are lots of claims circulating about heat being used during purification, or not. There are several methods that can be used to extract and purify omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils. Even when purification happens at a low temperature, what many companies are not being quite honest about is that all fish oils derive from crude fish oils. These crude oils must be heat treated to remove biological organisms within fish to be safe for human consumption; the process also separates the omega fats from other fractions. Whilst some companies do promote the fact that no heat is used during purification (such as with supercritical extraction), it is really quite misleading to imply that no heat at all is applied to the oil, ever.
At Igennus we use a mixture of different raw materials, with some oils being sourced from suppliers that do use some heat during molecular distillation, and some that do not, as per supercritical extraction. Regardless, both types of oil will have been sourced from crude oil which is always heat treated before purification. Despite the different steps involved in molecular distillation versus supercritical extraction, the final oil at a given specification (for example 80% EPA & DHA) is exactly the same in terms of quality and purity, with no chemical residues. Our Pure Essentials Omega-3 products are purified using supercritical extraction, which is a low-temperature, hexane-free purification method. No saturated fats are added.
Magnesium supplements always consist of magnesium and a form of carrier (in our case this is citric acid), and the fraction of the two that is actually magnesium is known as the elemental magnesium portion. We choose the citrate form of magnesium because it is highly bioavailable (the majority of magnesium is absorbed and utilised by the body) and the citric acid provides additional health benefits. As a substrate for the Krebs cycle, citric acid directly contributes to the release of stored energy.
The elemental fraction of magnesium citrate is approx 16%, meaning that 720mg of magnesium citrate (the adult dose of Neurobalance) will deliver 120mg elemental magnesium.
In addition, it’s worth noting that our magnesium citrate is ‘fully reacted’ rather than just buffered. In simple terms, a buffered product consists of magnesium, with citrate added, but without any chemical reaction to join the two. In contrast, a ‘fully reacted’ product will deliver magnesium joined to citrate. This process of ‘fully reacting’ the two means that the uptake of the magnesium is significantly increased compared to magnesium that is simply buffered with citric acid. Thus, fully reacted magnesium supplements will be superior in terms of the health benefits they deliver.
Curcumin is attracting considerable attention because of its numerous pharmacological antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial activities, as well as its therapeutic potential. Although curcumin has shown efficacy in a number of chronic health conditions, its poor bioavailability due to poor absorption, rapid metabolism and rapid systemic elimination have been shown to limit its therapeutic efficacy.
The recent development of a solid lipid curcumin formulation (Longvida® Optimized Curcumin) opens doors in terms of delivering unprecedented health benefits. The unique lipid layers protect curcumin from enzymic degradation (keeping it in its ‘free’ form), allowing transportation into the lymphatic system, thereby bypassing the liver where, still in its natural form, it is quickly metabolised. This allows curcumin to cross the blood–brain barrier. As such, our Longvida® Optimized Curcumin’s patented lipid delivery technology offers 285x greater bioavailability, 65x higher peak plasma levels, and 7x longer-lasting action than standard curcumin.
We optimise the uptake and retention of our nutrients by taking measures to overcome bioavailability issues. We incorporate a slow release matrix into our tablets and we actively encourage split-dosing to ensure all-day coverage. For example, when we look at nutrients such as B12 and vitamin C, absorption is far better when the nutrient is delivered at smaller doses at a sustained rate because the transport systems responsible for their uptake quickly become saturated. This simply means that as the dose increases, the absorption rate decreases and the majority of your nutrient will simply pass though the body unabsorbed! This is unnecessarily wasteful and expensive, when split dosing can remedy this so easily.
We also encourage split dosing of our highly concentrated fish oils. It’s well established that flooding the body with highly concentrated omega-3 can, in some cases, reduce their effectiveness. For example, in the presence of oxidative stress (where there is pre-existing inflammation and low antioxidants) fatty acids can undergo a process known as peroxidation; adding high concentration, high-dose long-chain omega-3s to a pro-oxidant environment is just fanning the flames. While many of our competitors do not encourage split dosing, we purposefully keep our fish oil capsules small (and easy to swallow) to encourage our customers to spread the dose over the day. For example, the dose of our Pharmepa MAINTAIN is 1g omega-3 which is divided into 3 capsules to be taken evenly and over the day. We also include an antioxidant to prevent peroxidation of the long-chain fats.
We do not include calcium or magnesium in our multivitamin and minerals supplement, primarily because they are large bulky nutrients and the dose required would simply make the tablet size impossibly large! Our ethos focuses on delivering effective doses of nutrients; we didn’t just want to throw in a small amount for the sake of it. Whilst many companies do include both calcium and magnesium in some of their products, they are mostly in poorly absorbed forms. For example, different forms of magnesium offer different amounts of elemental magnesium (the fraction that is actually magnesium). Magnesium oxide contains around 60% as elemental magnesium, but this form has very low bioavailability and the majority passes through the body unabsorbed. You will find this form in many standard multivitamin and mineral supplements as it is a cheap ingredient, and can give the appearance that a product is delivering a good amount of magnesium (depending on whether the labelling details the bulk magnesium or elemental magnesium). In contrast, the glutamate or citrate forms of magnesium are highly bioavailable, but are lower in elemental magnesium content at around 16%; at this low concentration, the volume required is therefore much higher, which is why people seeking magnesium benefits are often advised to purchase it as a single nutrient supplement. Around 668mg of magnesium glycinate would, for example, deliver 120mg magnesium (32% RI) and, unlike magnesium oxide, the majority of this would be absorbed and utilised by the body (and therefore offer health benefits). Similarly for calcium, we would need to add around 1g raw material to deliver 300mg calcium (around 37% of the RI).
The DHA story is complex. All long-chain fatty acids are susceptible to a process called peroxidation (rancidity) and DHA, as the longest of the omega-3 fats, is particularly vulnerable. In some cases, taking a highly concentrated DHA fish oil can increase, rather than decrease inflammation. This is particularly relevant to DHA in ethyl ester form. As such, we do not include DHA in our ethyl ester products. In contrast, DHA in reesterified (rTG) fish oil is somewhat protected against peroxidation, so we have introduced DHA into some of our rTG oil products. In order to further overcome the risk of our concentrated oils undergoing peroxidation, we include an antioxidant with the oil and encourage split-dosing of small volumes.
The calcium we use is derived from a natural food source – algas calcareas, a type of seaweed, which is more bioavailable within the body and is readily utilised. This is in contrast to calcium carbonate which is derived from limestone and has extremely low bioavailability and has been associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke by ‘clogging’ up arteries.
Ensuring our fish oils are pure and contaminate free is a priority, given their use as add-on supplements for a variety of health conditions. Our suppliers test the raw oil and we only accept batches with levels well below the permitted levels of methyl mercury, PCBs and dioxins, even before the EPA/DHA is extracted and concentrated. Because our starting material is contaminant free, our customers may be confident of the highest quality end product, offering unprecedented purity and safety for long-term health benefits.
The controversy around carrageenan continues to swirl back and forth, with the only concrete result being that it confuses and worries more and more users, past and present.
Igennus Echiomega contains food-grade carrageenan as a minor emulsifying ingredient (32.5mg) in the capsule shell; given the arguments both for and against carrageenan, it was necessary to make an informed, scientific decision regarding the need to change to an alternative for the capsule shell. It took up a lot of R&D resources reviewing the studies and unravelling the story to help us determine the necessary steps for Echiomega. Whilst the story itself is quite complex, here is a brief summary of why we came to the conclusion that food-grade carrageenan is safe (other than for those with a specific allergy to it, as is the case with many common ingredients), and we will continue to use it in the capsule shell.
There are several studies that form the basis of the argument about carrageenan being unsafe but it’s important, first, to note the following:
- there is a difference between food-grade carrageenan and poligeenan (the latter is also termed degraded carrageenan) and the debate centres around the safety of the smaller particle size of poligeenan. Whilst poligeenan/degraded carrageenan has a molecular weight of 10,000-20,000 daltons, food-grade carrageenan has a much larger molecular weight ranging from 200,000-800,000 daltons (i.e a completely different chemical structure);
- natural food-grade carrageenan is derived from red seaweed and poligeenan is produced from carrageenan by a laboratory-based process that cannot happen naturally and, as such, has never been demonstrated to occur naturally in humans or animals (so cannot occur simply by eating/ingesting natural carrageenan);
- poligeenan is not carrageenan. Poligeenan, with its smaller molecular weight, was developed to promote inflammation for use in animal toxicology studies for clinical diagnostic applications, and has never been an approved food additive, has never been used as a food additive and is therefore not present in ANY food or supplement products. Consumed carrageenan cannot convert to poligeenan.
Now let’s take a look at the studies:
- In 2001 Dr Joanne Tobacman published a review of ‘the harmful gastrointestinal effects of carrageenan in animal experiments’, in which she summarised the findings from around 50 animal studies. However, when looking at the methodology from each individual study [as these are not reported in the review, we had to source this information from original papers], we find that those papers using poligeenan demonstrated harmful effects in animal models [for which it was developed] but those studies using carrageenan failed to demonstrate any harmful effects. The confusion arises because Tobacman did not distinguish between the two forms and simply stated that the studies used carrageenan
- Natural food-grade carrageenan has been extensively reviewed by numerous regulatory bodies (including the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives [JECFA]) and has an extensive safety profile, meaning that it is completely safe to be used in food and supplements consumed by humans
- JECFA have reviewed Tobacman’s work (the original study), performed an independent review and found that carrageenan (unlike poligeenan) is indeed safe for human consumption, and should not be confused with poligeenan
- Though some studies have suggested that food-grade carrageenan is contaminated with non-food-grade poligeenan, Uno et al, 2001 examined 29 samples of food-grade carrageenan and found the average molecular weight to be 453,000 – 652,000 daltons and no poligeenan was detectable.
Carrageenan is used in nutritional supplements and foods as a thickener and/or stabiliser. Like most dietary fibres, it has no nutritional value, cannot be digested or broken down by humans and simply passes through the gastrointestinal system unchanged, unlike degraded carrageenan/poligeenan, which is not used in foods or nutritional supplements and which is subject to acid hydrolysis at low pH and high temperatures for extended periods of time.
Unearthing the science behind the anti-carrageenan claims has been a challenge; only by tracing the science right back to the source can we be confident that the negative messages associated with carrageenan have arisen because of confusion around incorrect use of the word carrageenan as an ‘umbrella’ term, to encompass both ‘natural carrageenan’ (safe) and ‘poligeenan’/ ‘degraded carrageenan’ (harmful). Unfortunately rather than providing key science, many articles found on the internet continue to regurgitate (and often embellish) information from other inaccurate articles.
We understand that it can be difficult to come to a conclusion based on what is found on the internet and that stories making headline news may seem compelling; as nutritional specialists and serious about what we do, we consider it incumbent on us to look behind the headlines to determine a correct response – whether validation or rejection, as is the case here. One of our main principles is to follow science, not hype – we are confident in continuing to offer Echiomega in its current formulation.
Whilst none of our products are formulated specifically for animals our ingredients are, where possible, 100% natural and highly bioavailable and so should pose little risk to animals. We have very strong anecdotal reports of our products providing benefits to people’s pets (especially Omegaflex for joint problems in dogs), and many of the ingredients are in fact added to pet foods for their proven health benefits. We would recommend seeking professional veterinary advice if you would like to try our products with your pet but have concerns, to ensure safety with any specific existing medical condition or any contraindications with medications. Should any adverse reactions occur as a result of using our products with animals, cease use immediately.
It is very difficult to say how quickly you will notice benefits because factors such as age, weight, condition and lifestyle can all affect how quickly the fatty acids can be effectively used by the body. Of all the factors known to influence the effects of omega-3 on any one person, the most important is their baseline (or starting point!) omega-3 levels – better known as the ‘omega-3 index’. Those individuals who have lowest omega-3 levels will need to take higher amounts and for longer than individuals with a higher omega-3 index. The simplest way to maximise the health benefits from taking one of our omega-3 supplements is by taking the Opti-O-3 fatty acid biomarker test. By providing us with a small amount of blood (a simple process that can be performed in your own home using a lancet finger-prick device included with the test kit), our laboratory will identify your current levels. Using this information in conjunction with your weight, we calculate the bespoke dose required to help raise your omega-3 levels to those associated with clinical improvements.
With a personalised dose that matches your individual requirements, it takes the guesswork out of supplementation and optimises the speed with which the active ingredients start to provide noticeable benefits.
As a standard guideline however, conditions relating to mental health are often the quickest to respond, whilst those affecting the heart, energy, brain performance and cellular health may take several months. We recommend that individuals should take our products for a minimum of three months to show noticeable beneficial effects, though scientific studies show that those taking fatty acids for six months or more benefit from even greater improvement to symptoms.
How much omega-3 you need depends on your current state of health and your dietary intake of omega-3. The current recommended intake of long-chain omega-3 is set at 450 mg (equivalent to around 2 portions of fish per week, one of which is oily). The average UK adult intake is currently approximately 244 mg/day (half of the recommended amount) and, for people who don’t eat any fish at all, intake can be as low as 46 mg daily.
For specific conditions, the amount of omega-3 required tends to be much higher and the ideal ratio of EPA and DHA differs – a full discussion about omega-3 in health versus clinical nutrition is outlined on our EPA vs DHA page.
The Opti-O-3 fatty acid biomarker test identifies your personalised dose requirements based on your red blood cell omega-3 levels and is the most accurate way to establish how much omega-3 you need. We can also identify which fats you may require and so tailor our product advice to your Opti-O-3 results.
Most of our omega-3 capsules provide approximately 0.5 grams of fat, which is approximately 4.5 kcal per capsule. Omega-3 fatty acids play a very important role in fat metabolism in the body and actually push dietary fat towards the production of energy rather than fat storage. In other words, people are more likely to lose weight by including omega-3 in their diet.
The benefits of omega-3 supplementation for controlling hypertension (high blood pressure) are well established. Since the therapeutic dose required to reduce blood pressure is relatively high, we would recommend an initial dosage of 2 grams of EPA plus DHA. When it comes to managing blood pressure, DHA seems particularly helpful so unless you have any other cardiovascular or inflammatory illness symptoms we would recommend taking 6 capsules of Pharmepa MAINTAIN for at least 3 months before reducing down to 3 per day gradually.
Yes, studies show that pure EPA is more effective for cholesterol management than oils containing EPA & DHA. This is because, unlike DHA-containing fish oils, high-purity EPA products do not raise low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (‘bad’ LDL-Cholesterol).
EPA inhibits an enzyme called HMG-CoA, which regulates the rate of cholesterol production in the body. As with recommendations for high blood pressure, the amount of EPA needed is relatively high; we would therefore recommend 4 capsules of Pharmepa RESTORE to achieve 2 grams of EPA daily.
Yes, in fact a combination of statins and EPA has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels more effectively than either substance individually. Statins, like EPA, inhibit an enzyme called HMG-CoA, which regulates the rate of cholesterol production in the body. The positive outcomes are most prominent in those individuals who maintain an AA to EPA ratio of <3. The AA to EPA ratio is a biomarker of inflammatory status and you can find information on how to check your AA to EPA ratio and your Omega-3 index by reading here: Opti-O-3 fatty acid biomarker test.
Ubiquinol coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is also extremely beneficial for people taking statin medication, as statins directly impair the production of CoQ10, leading to potential deficiencies of this essential energy-supporting nutrient. Many statin users experience general fatigue and restless leg symptoms such as twitching, throbbing, cramping that can be helped by supplementation with ubiquinol.
Simply put, most of our supplements have been developed for clinical use targeting inflammatory symptoms, for which pure EPA omega-3 is most effective. Whilst EPA and DHA are both important fatty acids that are essential for good health, depending on which fatty acid you are targeting and the type of support you need (intensive support or general wellbeing) the optimum EPA to DHA ratio differs. The digestion and absorption of fatty acids can influence the incorporation of EPA and DHA and if you are looking to benefit from EPA’s actions specifically, pure EPA oil is more effective at raising EPA levels and reducing the AA to EPA ratio than EPA & DHA together. Once the AA to EPA ratio is more balanced (which can take around 3 months) we then introduce DHA to help support a healthy Omega-3 index of between 8-10%.
DHA levels in the body remain fairly stable (it anchors on the inside of our cell membranes which is in contrast to EPA which is found on the outside of the cell membrane); also, with DHA’s low turnover, we do not need vast amounts of DHA. Technically, the body has the ability to produce DHA from EPA, although this enzyme pathway tends to be very inefficient (this very same enzyme is the one responsible for converting short-chain fatty acids to long-chain EPA). We recommend including a wide variety of foods rich in short- and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, such as walnuts, flaxseeds and oily fish, whilst taking pure EPA as a clinical intervention for inflammatory control. In addition, for those individuals who wish to know the status of their omega-3 levels, it is now possible to check EPA and DHA blood plasma concentrations with our Opti-O-3 fatty acid biomarker test.
The omega-6 fatty acid GLA, found in those of our products containing organic cold-pressed virgin evening primrose oil, is the precursor to a family of anti-inflammatory products that work well together with omega-3 fatty acids (mainly EPA) to help manage immune and inflammatory processes. We include GLA in some of our omega-3 products to ensure a healthy balance of omega-6 to omega-3 is achieved for long-term health benefits.
The omega-6 story is indeed a little confusing. However, omega-3 and omega-6 are two very different families of fatty acids that compete for the same enzymes within the body. This ‘pool’ of enzymes is quite limited, so whichever ‘family’ is dominant in the diet will hog the enzymes, meaning there is little left for use by the other family. As the omega-6 family is dominant in the typical Western diet, it can influence the production of beneficial by-products produced by the omega-3 family. Also, the omega-6 family forks at one point and can give rise to either inflammatory or anti-inflammatory products; h which pathway it follows is dependent on how much omega-3 is in the diet. When omega-6 dominates, then the body tends to produce inflammatory products and very little is produced by omega-3. Increasing omega-3, however, actually shuttles the omega-6 pathway down the anti-inflammatory route and reduces the amount of inflammatory products produced by omega-6. We include GLA in our products to ensure that the body produces beneficial products from both families.
Vitamin D, made in the skin from exposure to sunlight, is extremely important for our health and any excess is converted to harmless by-products; however excessive vitamin D intake from supplements can result in raised blood calcium levels – a condition known as hypercalcaemia.
Whilst vitamin D is removed from our oils during the purification process, allowing high omega-3 EPA doses to be taken safely, we do recognise the vital role vitamin D plays in almost all aspects of our health. Recent research shows that vitamin D works alongside EPA to further support many of its health benefits, particularly in the brain and central nervous system. It is for this reason we put vitamin D back into those of our products that are designed to support optimal wellbeing or specifically target the brain. As with all of our products, the doses are kept well within the upper tolerable limit whilst still providing the high levels needed for optimal health. It is perfectly safe to take 6 capsules of Maintain or mix Maintain with MindCare without being at risk of vitamin D toxicity.
Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the ‘stickiness’ of platelets (the cells that cause blood to clot), and this is known to be beneficial for cardiovascular health. Having slightly ‘thinner’ blood increases circulation and also lowers blood pressure. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) state that high dose, long-term intake of EPA & DHA (i.e. 5 g/day for two years) does not increase the risk of spontaneous bleeding complications, even in those individuals at a high risk of bleeding, such as those taking anti-coagulant medications. Although the consensus is that high EPA, EPA/DHA consumption poses no potential issues for individuals taking pharmaceutical blood-thinning agents such as Warfarin or Heparin, those who undergo regular coagulation tests may wish to inform their GP that they are taking a highly concentrated fish oil.
No, we encapsulate all our products. When unsaturated fatty acids in liquid form are exposed to the air, they react with oxygen and can go rancid; the capsule protects the oil from this process. Consequently, our products do not have to be refrigerated and have a longer shelf life than liquid oil products.
There are lots of exciting new technologies becoming available to protect liquids from oxygen and ensure their long-term stability. We are always open to useful improvements; in the future we hope to be able to offer a liquid oil that meets the same strict stability criteria we have for our capsules so watch this space!
Taking EPA- and DHA-containing supplements is extremely beneficial during pregnancy (an intake of 250 mg/day of DHA is advised during the last trimester), but it is advisable to make your GP aware. A GP should be able to spot anything in your personal history that may give reason to avoid supplementation during pregnancy – for example, placenta praevia, a complication of pregnancy that can result in pre-term bleeding, which could be exacerbated by the blood-thinning effects of EPA.
Q: What about toxins and heavy metals during pregnancy?
Regarding concerns about heavy metals, our products are highly purified to remove contaminants. For those who choose to take our pure EPA products, we recommend eating moderate amounts of oily fish to support DHA levels, important for brain development, or to swap to one of our EPA/DHA blends during the last trimester when DHA requirements are at their highest. Alternatively, our EPA- and DHA-containing products provide comprehensive support for those women who choose not to consume oily fish whilst breastfeeding.
Glucosamine in Omegaflex supplements should not be taken by pregnant women.
Pregnant women should also avoid Mindcare FOCUS, which contains caffeine.
Taking EPA- and DHA-containing supplements is extremely beneficial to both mother and child during breastfeeding months. For those who choose to take our pure EPA products, we recommend eating moderate amounts of oily fish to support DHA levels, important for infant brain development. Opt for smaller, short-lived species such as mackerel, anchovies and sardines to minimise intake of heavy metals. Alternatively, our EPA- and DHA-containing products provide comprehensive support for those women who choose not to consume oily fish whilst breastfeeding.
Vitamin E in some of our products is soya-derived. During the manufacturing process, however, all protein materials are removed and the final product is therefore non-allergenic and safe for individuals who are sensitive to soya protein (only the protein fraction is capable of inducing a response in those who are sensitive). We are transitioning most of our products to a new non soya-derived vitamin E source, meaning all of our products will then be soya free.
Some of our products now contain natural lemon oil which significantly improves the flavour of the oil and so it is perfectly fine to split capsules if necessary. Splitting capsules of highly concentrated oil without the lemon oil flavouring is not generally advisable as they have a strong fish flavour. We developed Vegepa E-EPA 70 Orange Chewables for children and adults who have problems swallowing capsules. These contain a paste inside, and have a pleasant orange taste. They are sugar-free and naturally flavoured. If the flavour of the oil is not an issue, there is no harm in squeezing out the contents just before use.
Salicylates are chemicals that can trigger symptoms in conditions such as ADHD and are commonly found in citrus fruit such as oranges. Whilst we use natural orange oil to mask the taste of the fish oil, we have ensured the product is free from salicylates and is therefore safe for children with ADHD. Vegepa Chewables are also free from artificial colourings and flavourings.
People with diabetes have a reduced capacity to make long-chain fatty acids and are at a higher risk of cardiovascular and nerve problems. Supplementing with omega-3 is extremely beneficial for people with diabetes, as a way of decreasing the risk of associated health problems long term. Ubiquinol coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is also extremely beneficial for those taking statin medication, as statins directly impair the production of CoQ10, leading to potential deficiencies of this essential energy-supporting nutrient. Our dedicated describes in detail the lifestyle and dietary factors shown to help manage the condition and associated side effects.
While most glucosamine is derived from shellfish, the Glucosagreen hypoallergenic glucosamine in our products is derived from the fungus Aspergillus niger. As it is a plant-based source of glucosamine hydrochloride (HCL), Glucosagreen glucosamine is suitable for those with shellfish allergies, and is also the best source for purity.
The heart health contraindications of calcium relate to those supplements derived from rock or limestone. Our calcium is derived from a natural food source – a type of seaweed, which is more bioavailable in the body and is readily utilised. Unfortunately, the body struggles to absorb rock-derived calcium, which is therefore then free to travel around the circulation and become deposited in arterial plaque. It is this calcified arterial plaque clogging arteries that leads to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Dr Nina Bailey explains in more detail here.
Much of the early evidence suggesting that glucosamine can impact negatively on glucose levels came from animal studies. No human studies have shown that glucosamine raises blood glucose levels, possibly because the amount of glucosamine within supplements simply isn’t enough to elicit a response, therefore there is no evidence to suggest that that the levels of glucosamine in our supplements raise any safety concerns for diabetics.
Yes, there is increasing research to indicate that taking an EPA-rich supplement may boost the effectiveness of antidepressants in some people. The addition of a daily dose of omega-3 EPA to regular antidepressant treatment has been shown to significantly improve symptoms including anxiety, sadness, decreased sexual drive and suicidal tendencies.