CAT | Mental Health
Fish oils have been in the news a lot lately because of their many health benefits. In a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists from the University of Reading in the UK reported that fish-derived Omega-3s were shown to help protect the blood vessels surrounding the heart and may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.‡
While the American Heart Association and other experts recommend eating oily fish at least twice weekly (mainly those low in mercury such as salmon, sardines, and herring) some people find this difficult, either because they don’t cook fish regularly or because they don’t like the taste. Purified fish oil supplements may provide a convenient and healthful alternative.‡ When choosing a fish oil supplement, be sure to pay attention to the following key features:
- High potency: Look at how much Omega-3 is in each softgel—not how much fish oil. Choose a supplement that contains at least 1,000 mg Omega-3 per softgel.
- Purity: Look for the IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards™) seal to ensure your fish oil exceeds published international standards for the lowest levels of toxins.
- Freshness: Opt for a supplement packaged in a dark-colored glass bottle designed to protect the oils from light and moisture.
- Enteric coating: Enteric coated softgels help deliver the healthy Omega-3s directly to the intestines where they are absorbed. Lipase (an enzyme) may also be added to help with digestion of the oils.
In addition to their extensively studied heart health benefits*, Omega-3 essential fatty acids from fish—including EPA and DHA—have been shown to support brain, eye, and joint health as well as promote healthy immune function and mood.‡
Curious about how much fish oil you should take and when? Click here for answers!
*Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA & DHA Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
This week is Sleep Awareness Week, an annual outreach and education event started by the National Sleep Foundation to promote—what else?—the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. It ends on Sunday when we “spring ahead” for Daylight Saving Time, but in the meantime here are two new sleep studies making headlines:
Lack of Sleep Linked to Higher Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Researchers at the University of Chicago recently found a connection between too little sleep and a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In a small study involving 19 adult men, those who got too little sleep (around four hours total) for a few nights in a row had higher levels of free fatty acids in the blood. These by-products of fat metabolism prevent the hormone insulin from doing its job of regulating blood sugar levels, and according to study authors the effects were similar to those seen in the early stages of diabetes.
Are Sleep Aids Increasing Your Risk for Dementia?
A new study from scientists at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy found that certain types of over-the-counter drugs—including sleep aids—increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in seniors. Even in small amounts the drugs have anticholinergic effects, which means they prevent the neurotransmitter acetylcholine from functioning properly and as a result impact cognitive function. However, the study found that heavier use dramatically increases the risk for cognitive impairment. Anticholinergic drugs also include some antidepressants, antihistamines, and medications for overactive bladder.
Still, blood sugar and brain health are just the beginning. Getting enough sleep is important for your whole body to function properly—not to mention for maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress, and improving mood. As you change those clocks this weekend, remember that most experts recommend getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep for optimal health.