Saturday, August 16, 2008

Olympic Global Domination and All Things Fish Oil

Who benefits from fish oil (DHA+EPA)?

a. all elite athletes
b. all wanna-be elite athletes (like me)
c. all sedentary individuals hiding their an inner-athlete
d. anyone breathing

(Answer: all the above)

Has Mr. Michael Phelps grown G-I-L-L-S with fish oil?

(So...I'm going to reveal a national Olympic secret now...)

Olympian Ms. Dara Grace Torres certainly appears to have grown gills with ultra high dose fish oil!

AND... probably Phelps too... Is pHELPs getting HELP?
And see Dara's cuty baby-fishy/tadpole?

Besides growing gills, ultra high dose fish oil promotes dramatic reduction in plaque regression and lipoprotein (a) (see end for deeper discussion)...

Olympic Secret Here:
--Part 1: Build a Better Athlete
--Part 2: Perform like a World-Class Athlete

41-year old Torres is the oldest medal-accumulating Olympic swimmer in global history. She is the only American to swim in FIVE Olympics -- 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, and now 2008 and awarded 10 medals so far (mostly Gold). What has provided a hormonal, metabolic edge for Ms. Torres to become one of the best consistent athletes to outperform at an elite level beyond her age capacity?

Clearly she is a R-O-C-K-S-T-A-R (and (!!)HOT bikini model, MILF, 3X-world-record-maker phenom, twice 'retired', and Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race car winner). With a little help from ultra high dose fish oil... an optimal high-protein low-carb diet... and core weight lifting/strength training, she is conquering the world!

Here in an interview, re-capping his book Omega RxZone, lipid researcher Dr. B Sears PhD, discusses how he started his research on fish oil in elite athletes instead of cardiovascular patients. In his book he discussed using 10 g/day DHA+EPA and titrating tiny amounts of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) for optimal mental and athletic performance in training the Stanford swim team during the 1990s and in preparing Dara Torres for the 2000 Olympics where she subsequently returned to the sport and won two Gold medals.

"Though I initially developed my dietary plan to treat patients with cardiovascular disease, I did much of my early field-testing of supplemental fish oil on world-class athletes. I decided to start with athletes because I’ve found they are generally more motivated to stick with a dietary program than patients with cardiovascular disease."

Obviously, this attitude is not applicable to the devoted TYPers who are committed and dedicated to ultimate heart/vascular fitness and dietary compliance (wheat-free carb restricted, mod protein, mod fats, mod veggies). Performance and unparalled plaque-free existence are synonymous for those of us at Track Your Plaque.

Athletic Performance and Cardiovascular Lipoprotein Improvements

Sears contends (and I strongly agree from my personal experience) in an interview with Swimming World Magazine that...

"Studies over the past eight years from the University of Buffalo have demonstrated when trained athletes are switched to a lower-carbohydrate, and higher-fat diet; their performance is significantly enhanced as well as their cardiovascular profiles. This led the Buffalo investigators to remark that high-carbohydrate diets may be injurious to the cardiovascular health of trained athletes. "

Fish oil DHA+EPA plus tiny amounts of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) have many benefits for athletic performance and cardioprotection when combined with intermittent strength training and daily aerobic cardiovascular exercise:

  • Enhanced release IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1) from the liver which studies have shown to lower apo B, Lp(a), TGs, and small LDL
  • Increased production of anti-inflammatory fatty acids and prostaglandins and derivatives which increase blood flow and oxygen transfer to improve endurance
  • Enhanced release of hGH (human growth hormone) from the pituitary gland increases lean muscle mass and muscle repair
  • Production of anti-inflammatory chemicals reduce pain (like NSAIDs and aspirin) and allow faster recovery from intense work outs

What is IGF-1? IGF-1 Lower Lp(a)

It's necessary to shuttle glucose and amino acids into tissues that need it the most, for instance skeletal muscles which are striving, straining and winning Gold and Silver medals in Beijing. Most (75%) of the circulating IGF-1 originates from the liver. Again, the liver 'reads' food inputs and information like a computer. When protein is consumed (ie, amino acids like Taurine, Arginine, Glutamine, etc), the liver communicates to the rest of the world to be prepared to construct muscle and muscular tissues for growth and future physical activities... like swimming at speeds faster than the rest of the entire world. In baboons and humans, IGF-1 both endogenously made (ie, home grown in our bodies from muscle training activities and exercise and appropriate protein consumption) and from exogenously injected, reduces Lp(a) significantly. Lp(a) as you are already aware is a toxic lipoprotein that accelerates heart attack and stroke events.

IGF-1 also has hypoglycemic effects meaning a result of its actions is lowering of blood sugars. With advancing age, reduced estrogen/testosterone, vitamin D deficiency, elevated PTH, and exercise-deficiency, IGF-1 has been shown to decline. Aerobic training and low-intensity weight/resistance training all raise IGF-1 well. (High intensity resistance training is great too but did not affect IGF-1 and raised cortisol in unconditioned, elderly subjects in one study)

Manetta J, Brun JF, et al.
Serum levels of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), and IGF-binding proteins-1 and -3 in middle-aged and young athletes versus sedentary men: relationship with glucose disposal.Metabolism. 2003 Jul;52(7):821-6.PMID: 12870155

Borst SE, De Hoyos DV, et al.
Effects of resistance training on insulin-like growth factor-I and IGF binding proteins.Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Apr;33(4):648-53.PMID: 11283443

Yakar S, Wu Y, Setser J, Rosen CJ.
The role of circulating IGF-I: lessons from human and animal models. Endocrine. 2002 Dec;19(3):239-48. Review. PMID: 12624423

Wang XL, Wang J, Rainwater DL.
Acute effects of insulin-like growth factor-1 and recombinant growth hormone on liporotein(a) levels in baboons.Metabolism. 2002 Apr;51(4):508-13.PMID: 11912562

Sukhanov S, Higashi Y, et al.
IGF-1 reduces inflammatory responses, suppresses oxidative stress, and decreases atherosclerosis progression in ApoE-deficient mice.Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2007 Dec;27(12):2684-90. PMID: 17916769

Decensi A, Robertson C, Ballardini B, et al.
Effect of tamoxifen on lipoprotein(a) and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) in healthy women.
Eur J Cancer. 1999 Apr;35(4):596-600.PMID: 1049263

Laron Z, Wang XL, et al.
Growth hormone increases and insulin-like growth factor-I decreases circulating lipoprotein(a).Eur J Endocrinol. 1997 Apr;136(4):377-81. PMID: 9150696

Z, Wang XL, Klinger B, et al.
Insulin-like growth factor-I decreases serum lipoprotein (a) during long-term treatment of patients with Laron syndrome. Metabolism. 1996 Oct;45(10):1263-6. PMID: 8843182

Solerte SB, Gazzaruso C, et al.
Nutritional supplements with oral amino acid mixtures increases whole-body lean mass and insulin sensitivity in elderly subjects with sarcopenia. (INCREASES IN IGF NATURALLY OCCURRED) Am J Cardiol. 2008 Jun 2;101(11A):69E-77E. PMID: 18514630

Moinuddin I, Leehey DJ.
A comparison of aerobic exercise and resistance training in patients with and without chronic kidney disease. (IGF INCREASED IN BOTH SUB-POPS) Adv Chronic Kidney Dis. 2008 Jan;15(1):83-96. Review.PMID: 18155113

Adamo ML, Farrar RP.
Resistance training, and IGF involvement in the maintenance of muscle mass during the aging process. Ageing Res Rev. 2006 Aug;5(3):310-31. PMID: 16949353

Soliman AT, Al Khalaf F, et al.
Linear growth in relation to the circulating concentrations of insulin-like growth factor I, parathyroid hormone, and 25-hydroxy vitamin D in children with nutritional rickets before and after treatment: endocrine adaptation to vitamin D deficiency.Metabolism. 2008 Jan;57(1):95-102. PMID: 18078865

Hyppönen E, Boucher BJ, Berry DJ, Power C.
25-hydroxyvitamin D, IGF-1, and metabolic syndrome at 45 years of age: a cross-sectional study in the 1958 British Birth Cohort.Diabetes. 2008 Feb;57(2):298-305. PMID: 18003755

GLA Amps Up DHA+EPA Benefits

Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is one of the 'few' good omega-6 fatty acids. A great discussion is provided here by Sally Fallon. Too much GLA however can result in body/joint aches and reduced mental benefits (because too much GLA in the tissues can lead to accumulation of arachidonic acid). Fine-tuning is necessary to not 'overdo' and disrupt the balance of benefits and over-compensation.

Food sources of GLA (oil portion of seeds) include:
--Oat Bran, Steel-cut Oats
--Sesame Seeds, Sesame Oil, Tahini (sesame paste)
--Borage Oil
--Evening Primrose Oil
--Black Currant Oil
--Pine nuts, Pine nut oil

Don't Degrade Your D6Ds

We can convert and produce good omega-3's in our own bodies but certain factors degrade our ability to do so sometimes. These are proven factors that reduce the function of delta-6-desaturases (D6Ds) which are the critical enzymes necessary to convert fatty acids to good omega-3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory derivatives in our body:
-exposure to chemicals (esp high glycemic-index carbohydrates)
-dietary fats only when combined with high GI carbohydrates/wheat
-elevated insulin (esp from high GI carbohydrates and excessive fruit)
-elevated chronic inflammation (ie, mental stress, sleep deprivation, chronic diseases)

What are other secrets of Dara Torres for her infinite speed, beauty and physique?

From an interview with the NY Times she reveals her passion for race car driving and applying these physics to her training. In addition to low-rep high weight strength training 60-90min 4x per week, she engages in resistance stretching -- a combo of yoga, massage and acrobatics.

"Torres calls resistance stretching her “secret weapon (*wink wink* IN ADDITION TO ULTRA HIGH DOSE FISH OIL).” reports Bob Cooley, who invented the discipline, describes it in less-modest terms. According to Cooley, over a two-week period in 1999, his flexibility system turned Torres “from being an alternate on the relay team to the fastest swimmer in America.” The secret to Torres’s speed, Cooley says, is that his technique not only makes her muscles more flexible but also increases their ability to shorten more completely, and when muscles shorten more completely, they produce greater power and speed. “What do race-car drivers do when they want to go faster?” Cooley asks. “They don’t spend more hours driving around the track. They increase the biomechanics of the car. And that’s what resistance flexibility is doing for Dara — increasing her biomechanics..."

Standard Dosing of DHA+EPA

You must read the label carefully and determine 'total' EPA+DHA (by adding the two amounts EPA plus DHA) and 'serving size'.

What dose is minimal?
Standard dose:
3000mg daily = 3 g daily
(1000 milligrams = 1 gram)

Lp(a) and the Power of Fish Oil

What dose is effective for Lp(a) Reduction (see below for a detailed discussion)?
8.5 g daily = 8500 mg daily EPA+DHA

According to one study, significant reduction of Lp(a) was achieved with 8500mg daily of DHA+EPA in post-CABG men when combined with weight loss via swimming 30min daily in a very short 4-week time frame.

'Responders' in the 1995 German study had an even more impressive fish oil-response than expected with a reduction of Lp(a) of 24 % compared with Non-Responders how had no change or even an increase in Lp(a) (with standardized 'dietician/high-carb-whole grain-nazi'-prepared study lab chow).

  • Comparison of effects of N-3 to N-6 fatty acids on serum level of lipoprotein(a) in patients with coronary artery disease.Herrmann W, Biermann J, Kostner GM. Am J Cardiol. 1995 Sep 1;76(7):459-62.
  • Introduction: The influence of dietary supplementation with n-3 versus n-6 fatty acids on plasma lipoprotein(a) (Lp[a]) levels was studied. Thirty-five male hospitalized patients with coronary artery disease were treated for 4 weeks with 12 g/day of fish oil (approximately 8.5 g of n-3 fatty acids) in combination with a 5,000 kilojoule, 30% fat diet and moderate exercise. Eighteen control patients given the same dietary and training program were treated with 12 g/day of rapeseed oil. Plasma Lp(a), in addition to several lipids and lipoproteins, blood clotting factors, and platelet reactivity, were measured before and at the end of therapy.
  • Results can be summarized as follows: total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and apolipoprotein B levels decreased significantly in both the rapeseed oil (-14.4%, -20.3%, -15.2%, respectively) and fish oil (-12.2%, -16.0%, and -14.2%, respectively) groups.
  • Triglycerides decreased (-20.3%) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol increased (+8.3%) significantly only in patients treated with fish oil.
  • Plasma Lp(a) levels were reduced by 14% in the fish oil group, but unaffected in the rapeseed oil group.
  • Patients treated with fish oil could be categorized into 2 subgroups: "responders," with a reduction in Lp(a) by 24% and "nonresponders," with a small nonsignificant increase in serum Lp(a).
  • Responders and nonresponders exhibited a marked reduction in cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, apolipoprotein B, and triglycerides, and an increase in high-density lipoprotein3 cholesterol.
  • There was a large reduction in tissue plasminogen activator in the fish oil group, which correlated significantly with reduction in Lp(a).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
    PMID: 7653444


My Favorite Excellent Fish oil DHA+EPA (molecularly distilled) Sources
(of course many others are excellent...these are just the ones I've had time to try)

Carlson's liquid (38% DHA) 1300mg DHA+EPA/tsp
$25.46 for 500ml bottle (100 tsps)
(Free shipping over $60 orders at
3g/day=$0.59 per day $$

PharmaOmega brand Cardio (31% DHA) 800mg EPA+DHA/cap
$32.95 for one box/#60 caps (summer sale 6-mon supply)
3g/day=$2.06 per day $$$$

PharmaOmega brand very-small-sized Child 325mg/cap (62%DHA)

PharmaOmega brand small-sized Learn 700mg/cap (28.5%DHA)

NOW brand SUPER EPA (40% DHA) 600mg DHA+EPA/cap
From small fish, molecularly distilled
$20.78 for 240 caps
3g/day=$0.43 per day $

NSI brand MEGA EFA (33% DHA) 600mg DHA+EPA/cap
$21.99 for 240 caps
3g/day=$0.46 per day $

NOW Omega-3 liquid lemon-flavored ( $$ From small fish, molecularly distilled

Max DHA Jarrow's lemon liquid ( $$$

Nature's Answer Omega-3 orange liquid ( $


Morhangeois said...

So if I aim for 8.5 g daily of EPA+DHA, what would be the minimum supplementary GLA required to amp up the EPA+DHA? I don't consume any of the GLA food sources listed. Also, when buying concentrated EPA+DHA there is often a greater amount of either EPA or DHA. Which of the two offers the best bet for a healthy adult? Thanks.

Dr. B G said...


What is your Lp(a) measurement?

I loaned out my copy of Omega RxZone! I believe Sears used a ratio of 1:20 GLA to EPA+DHA? The book is $7.99 at any bookstore. Honesty I've been wondering what are the benefits of EPA vs. DHA as well. Both are obviously essential and required. Seems that we can make more EPA than DHA though. Do you have any thoughts?

Sears advises a blood test as well to monitor AA:EPA in the body:
1) Sears test
2) Direct labs test


Dr. B G said...


Don't miss Dr. Davis discussion on Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Fish Oil: Is More Better?

He'll be going indepth on the therapeutic application, benefits, studies and potential adverse effects (stomach upset; rare bleeding/immune-suppression). His take will go far beyond the scope of this blogpost.

This Wednesday!
August 20, 2008
8:00 PM - 9:00 PM PDT

Webinar: Value of Fish Oil for CAD

TYP Lp(a) Report

Thank you,

Anonymous said...

What does 1mg=1gram under the minimum dose recommendation for DHA+EPA mean? Do you mean 1000mg=1gram?
Or am I missing something?

Dr. B G said...

No, you're right on... Sorry -- I fixed the type 1000mg=1mg. Thanks for pointing out!