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These special omega fatty acids play a role in maintaining oral care, brain health, skin and cell membrane health*
Omega-3s and gum health
Two of the most common oral problems are inflamed gums, known as gingivitis, and infected gums, or periodontitis, which causes bone loss and may signal heart problems. Because omega-3s protect against heart disease, doctors wanted to test for a link to periodontitis. In the study, 60 otherwise healthy volunteers with moderate to severe chronic periodontitis took 300 mg of omega-3s per day, or a placebo. Both groups had dental scaling and root planing treatments. After 12 weeks, compared to placebo, the omega-3 group had better gingivitis scores, less gum bleeding, and pocket depths between the teeth had shrunk by half.
Reference: J Periodontal Implant Sci. 2014 Feb;44(1):25-32.

Omega-3s preserve brain size
The brain shrinks with age and also in Alzheimer’s disease. In this study, doctors measured the omega-3s EPA and DHA in 1,111 older women, and followed up for eight years. Women with higher levels of omega-3s had larger brain volume overall, particularly in the hippocampus, the centrally located part of the brain that plays an important role in memory, and is where brain atrophy begins before signs of Alzheimer’s disease emerge. Adding omega-3s through diet and supplements may potentially delay the normal loss of brain cells by one or two years, doctors said.
Reference: Neurology. 2014 Feb 4;82(5):435-42.

Omega-3 and alpha-lipoic acid may help delay cognitive decline
Several earlier studies found eating more fish, which contains omega-3s with anti-inflammatory properties, may help delay cognitive decline. Those with Alzheimer’s disease have abnormally high levels of oxidative stress, inflammation, and LDL cholesterol, doctors said. In this small pilot study, researchers measured cognition in 34 people with Alzheimer’s disease before and after taking a placebo, or omega-3s with or without alpha-lipoic acid. The doses were 675 mg DHA, 975 mg EPA, and 600 mg alpha-lipoic acid per day. After 12 months, while there were no changes in measures of oxidative stress in any of the groups, both the omega-3 and omega-3 plus alpha-lipoic acid groups had better scores in tests of math, memory, and orientation compared to placebo. Also, the omega-3 group tested better than placebo in carrying out activities of daily living, including chores such as housekeeping and shopping, which increased their chances of living independently longer.
Reference: J Alzheimers Dis 2014:38(1):111-20.

Omega-3s may slow Alzheimer’s disease
Testing an entirely new theory, doctors have found that the final “cleanup” phase of the inflammatory process may be disrupted in Alzheimer’s disease. In healthy individuals, when pathogens attack the body, the immune system releases infection-fighting cells which kill the invaders. Then, other “cleanup” molecules digest and clear the cell debris, and growth factors stimulate tissue repair. In Alzheimer’s disease, these cleanup and recovery molecules are at lower levels than in healthy people. In the study of 35 participants with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease, and 21 healthy people, researchers also found a link between these lower levels of cleanup and recovery molecules and impaired memory function. Discussing their findings, doctors said that stimulating the final cleanup phase of the inflammatory process may reduce brain nerve-cell death, slowing the disease and improving cognition. In the lab, they have begun testing how cleanup molecules may help preserve brain nerve function, and the most promising molecules they have found so far are from omega-3 fatty acids.
Reference: Alzheimer's Dement. 2014 Feb 12 [Epub ahead of print].

Flax oil and borage oil help protect and defend the skin
Damaged skin cells can become inflamed and allow cell moisture to escape. Doctors thought that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids could help heal damaged skin cell membranes and recruited 45 healthy, non-smoking women, aged 18 to 65, to take 2.2 grams of flaxseed oil, borage oil or a placebo per day. At the start of the study, researchers irritated an area of the skin by applying a form of niacin (nicotinate). By the end of six weeks, both the flaxseed and borage groups retained 11 percent more moisture and by 12 weeks, the flaxseed group retained 33 percent more moisture. After 12 weeks, the flaxseed group had 45 percent less skin redness, the borage group had 35 percent less and there was no change for placebo. The flaxseed and borage groups also both had less roughness and scaling while the placebo group did not improve.
Reference: Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology; 2008, Vol. 122, No. 4, 829-31.

Borage oil plays a role in skin and cell membrane health
Borage oil is derived from the seeds of the borage (Borago officinalis) plant, and is an excellent source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), linoleic acid, and other important fatty acids. These nutrients play a major role in maintaining heart, skin, cell membrane, and nerve health. Oils containing the omega-6 fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA)—borage oil, black currant seed oil, and evening primrose oil—have been reported to be effective in the treatment for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Although the best effects have been reported with use of borage oil, that may be because more GLA was used in borage oil trials (1.1–2.8 grams per day) compared with trials using black currant seed oil or evening primrose oil. GLA appears to be effective because it is converted in part to prostaglandin E1, a hormone-like substance known to have anti-inflammatory activity.

References:
Pullman-Mooar S, Laposata M, Lem D, et al. Alteration of the cellular fatty acid profile and the production of eicosanoids in human monocytes by gamma-linolenic acid. Arthritis Rheum 1990;33:1526-33.
Leventhal LJ, Boyce EG, Zurier RB. Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with gammalinolenic acid. Ann Intern Med 1993;119:867-73.
Zurier RB, Rossetti RG, Jacobson EW, et al. Gamma-linolenic acid treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Arthritis Rheum 1996;39:1808-17.
Leventahn LJ, Boyce EG, Zuerier RB. Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with black currant seed oil. Br J Rheumatol 1994;33:847-52.
Brzeski M, Madhok R, Capell HA. Evening primrose oil in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and side­effects of non­steroidal anti­inflammatory drugs. Brit J Rheumatol 1991;30:370-2.
Jantti J, Seppala E, Vapaatalo H, Isomaki H. Evening primrose oil and olive oil in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Clin Rheumatol 1989;8:238-44.

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