Saturday, August 6, 2016

Expert comment on potential hazards of oxidised fish oil

Scientists are often misunderstood and maligned by the general population and by writers of popular diet and health articles.  However, within the scientific community, publication of research and critical evaluation by other scientists is the norm, and leads to greater understanding of our health and wellbeing.

My friend and colleague, Dr. Laurence Eyres, is a fats and oils chemist.  He has written the following article on studies concerning oxidised fish oil.  

Oxidised Fish Oil
The authors of a controversial fish oil supplements paper have published another paper on the potential deleterious effects of oxidised fish oils. This has now been picked up and blown out of context by The Listener in New Zealand (Week July 30-August 5).

The wider lipid scientific community were surprised and highly disappointed by the original early 2015 Nature Science Reports (NSR) paper by the University of Auckland.  The Therapeutic Goods Authority of Australia (TGA) performed follow up analyses, and all Australasian (ANZ) oils were not oxidised, and Omega-3 content met label claims. Earlier ANZ studies had reported similar findings but were not cited by the NZ authors.  These results have been communicated to NSR, and journal feedback is still being waited on.  The TGA took no actions against ANZ manufacturers, once again in keeping with the wider view that the fish oil products were meeting their omega-3 claims and were not heavily oxidised.

The justification for the new paper appears to be driven / justified by the NSR paper, which we refer to above.  This NSR paper remains in the strongest doubt/dispute.  The new paper uses heavily oxidised oil that the NZ authors prepare.  As ANZ fish oils are NOT oxidised, the study is seen as not relevant.  This is the view of many scientists who have seen the new paper.  The peroxide value (PV) result of the oil, indicating primary oxidation, is exceptionally high, further indicating that the use of such an oil is not relevant.  The dose used is equated to 40 mL per day for a human consumer.  This dose is seen as exceptionally excessive.  Few consumers would be taking more than 1-3 g per day. Nutritionists would advise increasing the level of Vitamin E if high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids are used for feeding any mammal.

The unoxidised oil actually and interestingly shows improvement in the new paper versus the control treatment, although little is stated by the NZ authors on this aspect. Also the unoxidised oil had improved survival rates in the studied rats, and so whilst we totally agree that women who are pregnant should not consume rancid oils, they do need omega-3.

This author spoke about oxidised lipids at the recent NZIFST conference.  The oils and fats group has held several seminars on the toxicity of oxidised fat over the years and it has been a stance of ours that we should not consume any oxidised oils. There are many other significant sources of oxidised fats in normal human diets other than fish oil. These include used and abused frying fats, bottled oils and rancid nuts such as walnuts. The topic of toxic aldehydes from such highly oxidised fats was covered in a recent issue of Inform magazine.

The authors in their introduction state “that in animal models, exposure to oxidised lipids has been shown to cause harm, including growth retardation, organ toxicity, and accelerated atherosclerosis.  However, the effects of consuming oxidised lipids during pregnancy are unknown. For this reason, this latest study was designed to investigate the effects of fish oil supplementation during pregnancy on the adult offspring of rats fed a high-fat diet, and they also included oxidised fish oil groups. As obesity is associated with increased oxidative stress and greater production of oxidised lipids, the effects of an oxidised lipid supplement may be more marked in obese mothers. 

The study is very interesting and will be probably the subject of more media hype.  However, a couple of comments. The fish oil (unspecified as to composition) was oxidised artificially to really highly rancid and toxic levels and then used in the rats at levels 20-40 times a normal human dose.

Any relevance to the consumption of omega-3 supplements in humans is likely to be none.

1 comment:

Ramachandran Gopalan said...
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