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Posts Tagged ‘Omega-3’

See-Food, Supplementation and Exercises for Your Eye Health

January 16, 2014 Leave a comment

Have you been spending a lot of ‘screen time’ with a new gadget from Christmas? The average American adult spends an average of 9.5 hours every day in front of a screen. Do you think that sounds too high? It adds up. Between a computer screen at work, watching the news at home, playing Candy Crush on an iPhone, browsing Pinterest on your iPad. Cooper Clinic Dietitian Meridan Zerner explained recently on Fox 4 Good Day that all of those devices (and anything with a screen) emit a blue light which is problematic for the retina. Yes, we can be more aware about our ‘screen time’, but what else can we do? Meridan gave suggestions for diet, supplementation and even eye exercises. Check it out below.

Diet

Try a “see-food” diet. Ha! Really, though—eat salmon, sardines or tuna two to three times a week to receive omega-3—this acts as an anti-inflammatory.

Meridan said to literally eat your garnish. Kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens and baby spinach should be in your daily diet. These veggies are not only for good health, but also for your eye health. They contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are actually in your eyes. When I think of eating healthy for my eyes, I think of carrots. But I learned lutein and zeaxanthin have been proven to be much more effective than beta-carotene, which is found in carrots and other orange vegetables.

Supplementation

Do you really need supplements? Meridan said this is when to take a reality check. Are you going to eat perfectly every day? Are you really going to have fish two to three times a week and five to nine servings of vegetables a day? New Year’s is a great time to make healthy changes, but if the answer is no, then that’s where supplements come into play. Cooper Complete®’s newest product, MVP (Maximum Vision Performance), is a great supplement to support eye health. It includes vitamin D, omega-3, lutein and zeaxanthin. Learn more about it here.

Eye Workouts

Yes, these really help. Meridan said eye works are beneficial, especially for those of us who have a lot of screen time!

  • Do an exaggerated eye roll and blink definitively. Do it in the other direct and repeat for five reps. This exercise will stretch your eye muscles.
  • She also suggested using the 20-20-20 Rule. Every 20 minutes look away from your screen, look 20 feet away and focus for 20 seconds.

Also evaluate the distance you sit from a computer screen. Studies show that you should be at least an arm’s length away from a computer screen. Take frequent breaks for your mind, body and eyes.

For more information about Cooper Complete nutritional supplements, visit coopercomplete.com.

Dr. Cooper’s Response to Recent Vitamin Studies

December 17, 2013 9 comments

Dr. Cooper continues to provide insight as an inspiring authority in preventive medicine.

In a new editorial in Annals of Internal Medicine (Dec. 16, 2013), physicians warn that “most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified and they should be avoided.”

We spoke to our own Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, on this topic and here are his thoughts:

I’m a strong believer in objective scientific research. In 1984 it was said that exercise did nothing but make you feel good. In the 1970s I began my work to prove that exercise is medicine. Today with our over 600 research articles published on the subject [at The Cooper Institute] we can say for certain that exercise is medicine and has health benefits. On exercise we have bridged the gap between faddism and scientific legitimacy.

I feel that we are in the same place today on the subject of vitamin supplementation as we were 25 to 30 years ago on exercise. It’s my opinion that we should try to prove or disprove the use of vitamin supplementation with objective research.

Recent studies, including those in the Annals of Internal Medicine article are not objective science. The reason is that in nearly all these studies researchers do not measure the blood level of vitamins to determine whether a person needs a vitamin or not. Researchers arbitrarily put study participants on a supplement and compare them to those on a placebo.

In our studies on vitamins B12, D and omega-3 (conducted over the last eight years) we have looked at blood levels and show that they vary tremendously. Some people taking no supplements have a very high level of certain vitamins and some people taking supplements have a very low blood level of vitamins. At Cooper Clinic we treat vitamins like any drug we prescribe. We measure the blood level and recommend vitamin dosages to get blood levels up to satisfactory levels. In my opinion that’s how a vitamin has to be prescribed. In addition, we are studying the long-term benefits of these vitamins in our practice of preventive medicine.

The benefits of vitamins are well documented in scientific literature. For example:

  1. Vitamin D supplementation reduces fractures from falls in the elderly (as shown in most studies).
  2. Vitamin D deficiencies can be a factor in osteopenia and osteoporosis and supplementation can be used to treat it.
  3. Vitamin D deficiency may be related to Multiple Sclerosis and in some clinics, high doses of vitamin D are being used to treat it.
  4. Vitamin B6 in some cases has been effective in treating carpal tunnel syndrome.
  5. Omega-3 supplementation has been approved by the FDA to lower blood triglyceride levels.
  6. Niacin (vitamin B3) is used to lower total cholesterol and to increase HDL (good) cholesterol.
  7. Folic acid deficiencies in women have been known to result in spinal bifida and neural tube defects in the newborn.
  8. Vitamin B12 is used as a treatment to correct pernicious anemia and is a factor in cognitive dysfunction in the elderly.
  9. Folic acid, B6 and B12 have been shown to lower Homocysteine levels, hopefully a beneficial effect on reducing the frequency of heart attacks and stroke.
  10. Niacin (vitamin B3) has been used to reduce the frequency of some cancers.

I believe that in order to practice responsible medicine we cannot make a broad based statement about vitamins. If every American ate between five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables a day we would not need additional vitamin supplementation. However, because the average American adult eats 3.1 servings of fruits and vegetables and the average teenager gets 1.6 servings, levels of vitamins in the blood can be low and supplementation becomes necessary.

While we can never replace a good diet, I continue to recommend vitamins as insurance for people who don’t follow the recommended daily serving of fruit and vegetables.

To learn more about Dr. Cooper’s work in preventive medicine as the ‘father of aerobics’, click here.

Heart Disease: Using Nutrition to Take Control

August 9, 2013 4 comments

Our daily nutrition choices can go a long way in reducing our risk of heart disease.  In this video, Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian, Meridan Zerner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD shows us practical and simple ways to make heart healthy choices at each meal. Her tips include adding good choices to our diet, like fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, and reducing foods like cheese and butters. Making even one of these changes on a daily basis can make a significant difference in protecting your heart for the future.

For more health tips from dietitians at Cooper Clinic, visit our website.

Podcast: Jorn Dyerberg, MD, the Father of the Omega-3 Movement, Interviewed

March 14, 2013 2 comments
Jorn Dyerberg, MDFather of the Omega-3 Momvement

Jorn Dyerberg, MD
Father of the Omega-3 Momvement

Todd Whitthorne interviews Jorn Dyerberg, MD, the father of the omega-3 movement. Dr. Dyerberg was studying the Eskimos, who ate a high fat diet, and had very low rates of heart disease, and discovered the protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) in marine sources. Dr. Dyerberg talks about advances in the science of omega-3 fatty acids from 1970 to present day, and a bit about the 25,000 studies that have been conducted during this time period. Once studied primarily for cardiovascular health, researchers have also studied the impact of omega-3 fatty acids on inflammatory disorders, brain health, eye health, etc. Dr. Dyerberg discusses the protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids, and how much of the nutrients we need for optimal health.

Dr. Dyerberg is also the co-author (with Richard Passwater and Cheryl Hirsch) of  the book The Missing Wellness Factors: EPA and DHA: The Most Important Nutrients Since Vitamins?

Click here to listen to the interview.

Interview with Cooper Clinic Head of Cardiology Dr. Nina Radford about Association Between Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation and Risk of Major Cardiovascular Disease Events

September 18, 2012 2 comments

Dr. Nina Radford, Cooper Clinic

Todd Whitthorne talked with Dr. Nina Radford, about the systematic review and meta-analysis Association Between Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation and Risk of Major Cardiovascular Disease Events published in the JAMA September 12, 2012, Vol 308, No 10 issue. Click here if you would prefer to listen to the interview.

Todd:  Hello once again this is Todd Whitthorne with another healthy living podcast and I’m joined today by Dr. Nina Radford, the Head of Cardiology for the Cooper Clinic and we’re going to talk about a recent article in JAMA that discussed a meta-analysis of omega-3 as it relates to the cardiovascular benefits.  So Dr. Radford, this can be a rather complicated topic because we’re talking about statistics and scientific research, but I do know we have a very educated and inquisitive listening audience, so let’s walk through this paper because the headlines we’ve seen in the newspapers or heard on the radio basically came out and said that “omega-3, or fish oil, did not show benefit for cardiovascular health.” Can we dig a little deeper and explain really what this paper was investigating, and what the results showed?

Dr. Radford: Absolutely! I’m just delighted to discuss this with you because as we both know, sometimes these very important papers get condensed into a single, simple sentence or headline that may peak an individual’s attention but doesn’t always tell the whole story…, and this paper I think is a good example of that.

So this paper is a meta-analysis, and what that means is it is combining information from multiple studies, and why would you want to do that? Well, if you combine studies together your population will grow, so for example in this meta-analysis they combined the data from 20 studies so it included almost 69,000 patients.  When you have a larger patient population, it’s easier to see small effects that may occur that may be statistically significant. The problem with combining studies is that all studies are a little bit different… the ages of the patient may be different; the formulation of the omega-3 being used may be different; they time they use the omega-3 may be very different; it may be in a different country where native foods are very different for example, from the United States. So, one of the problems is that when you combine studies that are very different, and you reach conclusions from them, your house is sort of built of rickety wood, so you have to be careful in terms of how you interpret it. That being said, what we have are this combination of 20 studies. The median age is 68, and I’ll remind you median means that 50% or below that age, and 50% are above, and in these studies the age range was 49 to 70. In these studies, the median dose of omega-3 was about a gram, and that’s probably less than most people consider taking daily today.

Todd:  I’m sorry. That’s a gram of EPA plus DHA, not a gram of fish oil, correct?

Dr. Radford: That’s correct. And the range was from .53, so half a gram, which most of us would consider on the lower side, to 1.8 grams per day. The treatment duration was about two years and spanned from one to six, and the important thing about these studies is that 13 of the 20 were secondary prevention studies.  What that means is those participants had already been diagnosed with heart disease. They had heart attack, bypass, heart failure, sudden death, stents, but they were not people who were taking it to prevent the first event. Rather, these were people who were put on fish oil to prevent a second cardiovascular event or death. Four of the studies were mixed primary secondary, you couldn’t really sort out which was which, and three of the studies had to do with preventing sudden death in people who had implantable cardiac defibrillators (those are the internal defibrillators that shock you if you have a potentially life-threatening heart rhythm abnormality). So again, these are patients who are older, they have known heart disease, and they’re taking EPA plus DHA at a median of a gram for about two years.

Now, one of the things that we have to remember in all of this is that there’s pretty good reason to think that fish oil may help when we look at basic science. There have been studies that suggest it lowers blood pressure, lowers triglycerides, may stabilize heart rhythms, may reduce the stickiness of the blood to form to form blood clots, so there’s some good rationale from which these studies were conducted, and that’s always sort of reassuring to know there’s some basic science that underlies these. So in this analysis, they looked at five major outcomes  – all cause mortality (that’s the risk of dying of anything); cardiac death (dying of heart attack); they looked at sudden death (which is a heart rhythm abnormality); rather than having a heart attack and then having heart failure, for example; having a nonfatal heart attack; or stroke.

When we look at whether or not a result is statistically significant, we look at something called the P value, and the P value helps us decide if this result that could happen by chance, or is this the result that can withstand rigorous statistical testing? And we rely on that P value as readers of medical science, to let us know yes, that’s statistically significant, or no it’s not.  We don’t just rely on the number that we see, we have to rely on the statistics to back it up, so in this population is that meaningful.

Now, in most studies that I read, a P value of significance is a P value less than 0.05. When you know that the P value is less than that, you know it’s statistically significant. And when we look at that range of P value in this study, there was actually a demonstrated benefit in terms of reducing cardiac death. It reduced it by about 9 percent. Now, what’s made this somewhat controversial is these authors have decided to make a much more limited P value of .0063, and that’s rather usual, and that requires that the effect be more robust if you will, in order to prove that it’s present.

And when we look at studies – for example you may remember testing hormone replacement, and did hormone replacement reduce the risk of death for example? In all of those studies the P value is 0.05. If you look at whether statin medications reduce the risk of dying from heart disease, the P value is 05. So the use of this very, very small P value, is a little unusual and not everybody is accepting it when we look at this study. So certainly, what I would conclude from this study, based on a P value I think is reasonable, is that there is likely a small reduction in cardiac death in the studies of patients who are older and already had advanced heart disease.

One of the things I think is very interesting in this paper is that they provide sort of a chronologic history. They start with studies done in the mid- 1995’s and they go through the studies that were published more recently in 2012.  And what’s interesting is in the studies that were published in the in the mid-to-late 90s until 2005, there was a benefit of omega-3 in terms of all cause mortality. But when you look at the most recent studies that were published in 2010 or 2012 you did not see that effect. So does that mean that the studies that were done early on were wrong? Absolutely not!  What we see is an effect of improving medical science and improving technology. Compared to 1995, patients who are treated after a heart attack today are treated with much more sophisticated medications. Their lipids are much more aggressively lowered compared to patients in 1995, so if I add a therapy like omega-3 fatty acids, which have a small benefit compared to those other therapies, it may be hard to see that benefit unless you have an extraordinarily large number of patients in the trial. And so, I don’t see this as being a call to throw away all your fish oil.  Rather, I see this as a recommendation that there is likely is benefit, but it’s small, compared to the other known therapies that we have for patients treated after a heart attack.  Now let me be very clear that this has no bearing on patients who haven’t heart disease yet; who haven’t had their first heart attack yet. Maybe they have high cholesterol.  Maybe they have a strong family history of developing heart disease and they want to prevent their first event.  This paper doesn’t address population all.

Todd:  Clearly, what’s interesting about omega-3, is that there are literally thousands of studies that have been done looking at the various and assorted benefits and in a variety of areas, but in particular cardiovascular disease.  So for someone healthy, someone that is just looking to improve their overall cardiovascular risk profile, omega-3 still make sense from your perspective as a cardiologist?

Dr. Radford: I think that they definitely ought to be offered to patients. I think that they definitely may have some benefits in terms of reducing death from cardiovascular disease. I think compared to their other therapies, like statin medications or low dose daily aspirin, that effects may be small, but every little bit helps if we’re talking about reducing your risk of dying of heart disease.

Todd:  And that main benefit as we hear so much about inflammation, that seems to be the benefit of omega-3, as an anti-inflammatory?

Dr. Radford: And there may be benefits well beyond that, that we simply don’t have enough knowledge about.

Todd:  Very good. Well Dr. Radford, as always I appreciate your insight.  It’s like going to Paul Harvey for the rest of the story, to break it down and simplify something that is very, very complex, so we appreciate it.

Folks, if you want more information, you can sign up for The Cooperized Newsletter. As always, we’ll keep you updated with whatever we can here on the podcast and on the website. Until next time, this is Todd Whitthorne. Have a great day. Be healthy.

Podcast: Gretchen Vannice, MS, RD, author of Omega-3 Handbook, A Ready Reference Guide for Health Professionals, is interviewed

In this episode, Gretchen Vannice, MS, RD, author of Omega-3 Handbook, A Ready Reference Guide for Health Professionals, is interviewed by Todd Whitthorne. A registered dietitian, Gretchen explains what types of omega-3 fatty acids are most beneficial, and how to determine the type of omega-3 in different foods. The ways our body stores and uses EPA and DHA are also explained. Gretchen also reviews the intake recommendations for omega-3 fatty acids for different populations.

Listen to the complete podcast here.

Foods that Fight Pain

June 19, 2012 2 comments

How are you doing on your healthy-living journey? Mine has been a little painful the past couple of weeks, literally. The increased exercise, both cardio and weights, is giving my knees fits! So I’m going to focus on incorporating more foods that fight pain.

Meridan Zerner, my Cooper Clinic registered dietitian, gave me an article from the July issue of Environmental Nutrition called, “Soothe Pain with Foods, from Fish to Fruits.” It talks about how daily food choices can either reduce or increase levels of inflammation in the body… impacting levels of pain. Foods high in refined starches, sugar, saturated fats and trans fats can increase inflammation, while diets high in fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats plus fish and limiting processed foods and red meat are linked with lower inflammation. That makes sense to me and drives the point home that “bad” food can make you feel, well, bad.

Here are some of the top items Meridan and I discussed that can help my knees and entire body feel better:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids, found in fish and fish oil, produce arthritic pain-reducing effects equivalent to ibuprofen,” the article says. And of course, glucosamine and chondroitin can help alleviate pain over time due to injuries or osteoarthritis. We have a ton of information on these supplements since we sell Omega-3 and Joint Health through Cooper Complete®. For more articles on this topic, check out this search from our Health Tips section.

    I love Tropical Green Organic Tea by Zhi Tea in Austin!

  • We’ve long known that green tea is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflamatory properties. I just bought a can of Tropical Green Tea from Zhi Tea in Austin while visiting my Dad for Father’s Day. It smells and tastes delicious! During the hot summer I prefer to ice my green tea. Meridan had a few other awesome tips: put the tea bag in soup and let it steep for a couple of minutes (shut the front door!); add a tea bag to boiling water for brown rice (brilliant!); or if you think green tea tastes bitter combine it with a cinnamon or other flavor to jazz it up (why didn’t I think of that!).
  • Fresh cherries or tart cherry juice are also linked with reducing muscle soreness after intense physical activity. Yum! Cherries are in season and I know this thanks to my Central Market mailer. Pomegranate and red grapes are also in the alleviate pain category.
  • I was surprised to see coffee on the list, which has been shown to reduce muscle pain during and after exercise. I can’t imagine heading to my Zumba class with a cup of coffee, but it’s good to know that the one cup I typically drink in the morning is helping me in more ways than simply wake up.
  • Spices are another area that are great for reducing pain and can certainly enhance the flavor of any dish. Try ginger, rosemary, chili and nutmeg. Add a dash of cayenne to spice things up and may help you eat a little less depending on how hot you make your dish. I’m a lightweight, so one dash is all I need.

These foods will help ensure I can stay physically active while I work on my health-living, and hopefully pain-free, journey. I can hear my iced green tea and your cup of tart cherry juice clinking as we speak! Cheers!

This was written by Amy George former VP of Marketing and Communications at Cooper Aerobics. Amy is no longer with Cooper Aerobics and we wish her all the best with her future endeavors.