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Omega 3 "the seal connection"

Posted Jan 27 2009 8:17pm
WARNING - nerdy and sciency post!:

I posted just after Christmas that I has ordered a book recommended by a family relative of FH. As a nice surprise, the book was autographed by Dr. Ho himself, which really isn't the biggest deal in the world but still, I got the book for $12.99. The book is a good summarization of the research that Dr. Ho has done related to the benefits of seal oil as a source of Omega 3 as opposed to Omega 3 derived from fish oils. I'll admit, when I first got into reading it, I felt like I was doing a reading for a physiology class, but that was exactly the point. One of my goals this year was to become more educated and informed about my health and to sift through all of the media bombardment of the "latest and greatest" in health news. There is just too much information out there for a person trying to figure out what is a healthy way to live life. So I decided to do it by going straight to the sources and learning firstly, what the heck exactly IS Omega 3's Omega 6's etc., and what is the deal with how it actually works in the body. This book is only about a centimeter thick, so non-intimidating at all which helped alot getting into the geeky nitty gritty :-)

So now that I understand the difference between Omega 3s and 6's, the book explains that due to industrialization and convenience in the preparation and consumption of our food sources, we now have an imbalance of the healthy ratio of Omega 3's to 6's. Back in the day, we were "hunters and gatherers" and included much more fish in our diets that gave us the important "essential" fatty acids for our development that cannot be produced by our bodies alone. The book explains that today we are treating more and more incidences of heart disease, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, inflammatory diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's), cancers and depression (to name just a few) and research has found that a major contributing factor to these diseases is deficiency in essential fatty acids.

Dr. Ho focuses on the difference between harp seal oil as a source of Omega 3 as compared to the more widely available sources of finfish oils. He explains that, "the properties and molecular structure of finfish oils are different from seal oil. Harp seal oil is very rich in DPA, DHA and EPA, whereas the presence of DPA can vey from being very little to non-existent in finfish oils." I know, I know, what the heck does that mean? If you're really interested, go buy the book I says!

One of the main points distinguishing the difference between harp seal oil and finfish oils is that, "due to its molecular structure, humans also absorb seal oil more efficiently...seals are mammals just as we are." Dr. Ho believes that harp seal oil is the best source of Omega 3 PUFA in the world today.

So blah blah blah, right? You want to know what are the benefits to those who have consumed seal oil capsules on a regular daily basis over a period of time, right? Here's a selected list quoted from the book of his clinical observations and feedback from patients and others who have taken seal oil capsules on a regular basis:
  1. Symptomatic improvements in Type II diabetes;
  2. *Of specific interest to me*: Symptomatic improvements in mobility, joint pain and swelling as a result of osteoarthritis. (One osteoarthritic patient who had been taking seal oil capsules for six months had a major improvement in her complexion and decreased evidence of age-related wrinles over her face.)
  3. Improvements in elevated blood pressure;
  4. Decrease in serum triglycerides in the blood;
  5. Reports of a decrease in the volume of gray hair;
  6. Improvements in "fatty liver" conditions. (Specifically noted in China where fatty liver is more prevalent);
  7. Improvement in symptoms associated with enlarged prostate;
  8. Very satisfactory results in acne patients (although not as significant in China likely due to other dietary factors);
  9. A case of a male patient with a 25-year history of severe and chronic acne rosacea whose symptoms have improved significantly with a daily regimen of seal oil;
  10. Significant clinical improvement in psoriasis;
  11. Improvement in cases of depression. One patient with a profound depression for more than 10 years showed significant improvement.
  12. A case of terminal liver cancer with ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity) showed significant reduction of fluid with large doses of seal oil;
  13. Improvement in symptoms of migraine headache in all age groups. A case of a five year old child showed dramatic relief from headaches, which he suffered from daily.

The books goes into detail about an endless list of diseases associated with Omega 3 deficiency which I'm going to list because it blows my mind: (acne, aging, AIDS, allergies, alzheimer's, angina, arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, atopic dermatitis, ADHD, autism, autoimmune disease, breast cancer, cancer, cardiocascular disorders, chrohn's disease, cystic fibrosis, depression, diabetes, dysmenorrhea, dyslexia, eczema, fatty liver, heart disease, high blood pressure, hyperactivity/learning disorder, kidney disease, ligament injuries, lupus, macular degeneration, menopause, multiple sclerosis, obesity, pregnancy (fetal state, pre-eclampsia), prostate cancer, psoriasis, raynaud's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, stroke, ulcerative colitis, vision disorder)

Side effects: the only reported side effect was a fishy after-taste. (I personally, have not had ANY fishy after-taste whatsoever in the least!) [I will note, however, that commercial production of edible seal oil was in 1994 in Newfoundland and was shipped to China in 1995 and available to the Canadian market in 1997. So there's about 12-13 years of long term information available at this point, it would seem.]


So I hope Dr. Ho doesn't mind me spelling some of the information out to you from his book, but it was all news to me and I was very interested in learning about it, and the only reason I knew his book even existed was through a family relative who lectures at Memorial University in Newfoundland. It's not like Dr. Ho is the next Bob Greene etc. trying to make a mainstream buck. He is a medical doctor who practices family medicine in Newfoundland and who has devoted his research in this area Dr. Ho's website is here, and it is worth mentioning, unfortunately for those of your living in the U.S., that seal oil is not available in the U.S. I personally bought my capsules at Costco and saw that they were also available at Sobeys where the multivitamins are aswell. The label will say "Omega 3," but it's important to look at the ingredients to ensure you are buying the seal oil capsules. The company in Newfoundland that makes them is "Terra Nova."

Anyways, I hope some of this was informative to some of you.
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