Guest: Natasha McKay
Presenter: Patrick Reyes
Guest Bio: Natasha McKay is a Naturopath and Herbalist at Southernature, Natasha works across many departments within Southernature’s business from regulatory affairs, marketing along with staff & retail training on the Southernature range of products. Apart from her day to day role within the team, Natasha also writes many of the articles which relate to the ingredients and raw materials used in Southernature’s formulations from the latest research information. Natasha’s qualifications include a Degree in Science & Advanced Diplomas in Naturopathy and Western Herbal Medicine. Being a Herbalist, what captivated Natasha about the Southernature product range was the use of potent herbs and quality extracts, which were key factors for her joining the Southernature Team.
Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, we are joined by Natasha McKay here to talk about the origins of complementary medicines and its ingredients, how these are produced and the clinical evidence especially on Omega-3 fatty acids. Southernature’s products contain high levels of Omega-3 to support the needs and development of the whole family. These Omega-3 Fatty Acids have been proven to support a healthy cardiovascular system, assist with nervous system developments as well as provide relief from pain, stiffness, bones and joint inflammation.
Health Professional Radio – Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Patrick Reyes: Welcome to Health Professional Radio. My name is Patrick Reyes and on today’s show we have Natasha McKay, she’s a Naturopath and Herbalist at Southernature. She has a degree in science and advance diplomas in Naturopathy and Western Herbal medicine. Welcome to the show Natasha.
Natasha McKay: Thank you Patrick, I’m very excited to be on board. Thrilled to be here, thank you.
P: You’re very welcome. Now can you tell the audience who you are and what you do at Southernature?
N: Yes, I’m a naturopath and herbalist and I’ve had a background in consulting myself as a naturopath and at Southernature I do quite a bit of the regulatory work since I’ve come on board this year which is a lot of life your governmental submission to the TGA. So it’s a legal side of the product which is fantastic, it’s a very interesting area and as an area where I’m always looking at scientific trials and human trials that sort of things. So I do a lot of the regulatory work, I do some of the training about our products as well and activating our customer market into health and I’ve been interested about the products and enlivened about health and changing their lifestyles and a few internal things here too like medical marketing which is making sure everything’s compliant which is released into the market place, the complementary medicine market place. So I’m a person wearing a number of different hats so to say, a few different hats which is great so it’s a lot of variety to the role and it’s always fun.
P: Alright, well so we’re here today to talk about omega-3 fatty acids. Can you tell us what is omega-3 and how is it beneficial to us?
N: Yes, omega-3 is important for health. In the omega-3 family there’s basically 3 major fatty acids we’re dealing with and one of them is from plant sources which is alpha linoleic acid. You’re not getting that in fish oil, in fish oil you’re getting the other two omega-3 which is the eicosapentaenoic acid also called EPA and docosahexaenoic acid called DHA and usually in a lot of thousand milligram capsules the amounts of both are quite low so in a normal generic 1000 mgs you’ll be getting a hundred and twenty mgs of DHA and you’ll be getting 180 mgs of EPA. And EPA links towards more your anti-inflammatory activity in the body so it works with things like prostaglandins, it’s converted into eicosanoids so all these compounds which you released in the body when inflammation occurs and they’re a part of inflammatory pathways so it can help control inflammation in the joints and the cardiovascular system. Your DHA which is another component of omega-3 is more about neuronal membrane and nerve membrane so it’s very important for the development of the brain and also the retina. So those two areas of the body have a lot of DHA and you actually start depositing DHA in those areas while you’re still a fetus, so particularly in the last trimester of pregnancy your DHA requirements accelerate dramatically. So they are a very important omega 3s for the nervous system and for general health and wellbeing as well. And mostly your DHA to EPA is fish, source from fish oil or which called the marine oil and your ALA is from flaxseed oil but really your amounts of the EPA and DHA with the way ALA convert … getting that from fish oil. Your EPA and DHA are from fish oil and they’re very important for the body.
P: So which type of fish contain the most concentrated amount of omega-3?
N: Look it’s not just the most concentrated amount it’s actually a question, it’s a juggling act with the fish oil it’s about the cleanest and the purest as well as the concentrates. You need to appease all of those different areas and juggle those different issues because with fish oil it’s a product that people will take for years so often parents will give it to their children, so they’ll be taking it for school and exams, you’ll be taking it with work stress, you might be taking fish oil or when you’re older with joint inflammation and arthritis you’ll be taking fish oil. So you actually want to look at because it’s a long term product that people are taking, you want to look at a clean fish oil that’s also high in omega-3. You need to juggle those three different situations so what I recommend is smaller fish which are in the food chain which are high in omega-3 which includes sardines and anchovies so they’re very high in omega-3, oils like salmon as well are high in omega-3 and tuna oil but the problem with those two oils particularly the tuna oil even though it’s high in omega-3 it’s actually has higher amounts of mercury in it and mercury is one of those elements that we do need to watch the levels of in our consumption. There has been a lot of information in the media recently about mercury and is one of those elements that can cross the blood-brain barrier and accumulate in brain tissue. So you do need to have your consumption of fish oil whether it a capsule or in your diet you do need other fish oil that is high in omega-3 but you also need a clean fish oil that’s safe for long term consumption.
P: What events or historical events that has happened before that affected the production or quality of fish oil?
N: Look that is a fantastic question because in the last 5 or 6 years we’ve very unfortunately had the tragedy of the Fukushima nuclear disaster which was just awful up in Japan and what occurred there has been small amounts of radio activity that have been measured in the sea water around those areas and it sort of brought to light that we do need to start looking at contamination in fish oil so again it comes back to things like mercury. What’s in your fish oil? Is there radiation in my fish oil as well? So it’s really good to have fish oils that are checked in this sort of things like background contamination so in the last couple of years there have been with industry and the side effects of industry impacting the environment. There are definitely issues such as the radio activity from Fukushima and other things like the Minamata disaster which occurred in the 80s where mercury this time not radiation went into the water, into the fishing areas around the Minamata disaster actually affected the quality of the fish and therefore if you’re catching that fish and making fish oil out of it, it would be affecting the quality of that oil as well. So that’s actually are really great question in this day and age with the amount of industry that does occur is that you do get environmental ramifications and as humans we’re consuming from the environment, we’re consuming fish oil from the environment, you do need to have these things checked. So things like mercury due to heavy industry around fishing areas and also… is something that you need to consider when you’re buying things like fish oil which comes from the natural environment. So yeah it’s a real consideration of the family, children taking fish oil and also pregnant women taking fish oil as well. If we want to talk a bit about the history of complementary medicine a lot of complementary medicine in the Australian market place is having huge ramifications financially in that a lot of people are turning to it now to help alleviate health problems all to actually prevent most of complementary medicine is preventative. If you have family tendencies where mom and dad has this condition whether it’s an eye sight issue or a cardiovascular issue or say your older brother or sister has a certain issue you can actually with complementary medicine help to avoid some of those family tendencies or minimalize the impact on your own body. That’s why a lot of people turn to complementary medicine not because it’s fixing things, you could never say that complementary medicine fixes things – that’s what doctors do – but it certainly help alleviate or counter balance those scales to cause more vitality and support your health so it does not get some of the problems that your family are getting down the track. So complementary medicine is a really fantastic industry to help alleviate those illnesses or minimalize damage of what could be coming around the corner. And from a historical perspective complementary medicine isn’t something that we’ve just thought of in the last 10 or 20 years. It’s actually always been with us, it’s in all traditional societies so in China there’s a very, very strong traditional herbal medicine, in India there’s a strong traditional herbal medicine as well and also we go right back to Hippocrates whom doctors also use the Hippocratic oath but Hippocrates was also a herbalist and he was about in Greece and about 400 B.C. so a lot of herbalists draw their knowledge from things that Hippocrates was using with herbs in healing people as a herbalist physician back in 400 B.C. and also a lot of herbalists or modern herbalists draw their knowledge from another herbalist who was very popular in the 1600s called Culpeper in the UK. So it’s not something that just occurred in the last 10 or 20 years, the complementary medicine industry is actually a very old industry that predates modern doctors so herbs has been around for thousands of years so we’ve got a lot of knowledge to draw from and a lot of healing properties there in the ingredients and raw materials that we use in herbal medicine and complementary medicine so it’s a very rich industry with lots of opportunities for health and healing for people.
P: Are there any potential side effects from taking omega-3?
N: All good stuff. I would look at though if someone’s in an age group where say they’re on lots of medications so they could be in their 60s and they’re on things like cardio and blood thinners, fish oil is something where it’s always helpful to have a good chat to your doctor about before deciding to take them. So I always say an open door policy with doctor, let doctor know what you’re doing because you don’t want interactions so any form of blood thinners would be something I would be asking people about before taking fish oil and just clearing it with your doctor first. Some doctors are fine because the level are so low of… they might just say or just take one a day that’s up to their discretion and that process as natural therapist you don’t interfere with that process and that’s doctor’s judgement which is fine but things like warfarin and heparin which are very strong blood thinners they’re probably the only things I wouldn’t really take with the fish oil but yet again refer back to doctor because that person might be on some very special medication that they need to discuss with their health care professional. But generally fish oil is fine and it’s pretty much so beneficial for health I can’t think of too many things wrong with it other than issues that we’ve discussed already which is contamination.
P: Alright. What would you say is the biggest misconception when it comes to fish oils or omega-3s?
N: I think, I often used to find that people used to think more the merrier. If I go and buy a bargain bin of fish oils or one of those great big top that is selling cheap, a discount deal or as they say in sales ‘the squeal and deal’ you get a fantastic deal that’s almost too good to be true those people will then take that product home and think “Well I’ve got a 1000 mg fish oil capsule. The doctor says I’ve got arthritis so I’m gonna take 10.” So they’ll take always extra fish oil capsules thinking that they’re doing themselves good and that is a real misconception with fish oils because why you’re taking fish oil the whole reason behind it is the EPA and the DHA. That’s where you’re getting your medical claim and all your regulatory fare work pretty much on the fish oils about EPA and DHA levels so when you’re taking a product that is probably a low end product and has low amounts of EPA, DHA so therefore you have to take more, it’s probably not doing you all that extra good because you’re getting all those extra triglycerides in your system so the rest of that fish oil capsule is full of triglycerides that aren’t the active EPA, DHA you’re taking those as well. So you’re taking a lot of extra fat into your system that your liver is gonna have to process and deal with so one of the misconceptions of fish oil is more is not actually better, often less is better and that’s why you should take a concentrate. If you can, a concentrate with EPA and DHA is in higher amounts in the capsule so each capsule is working more for you. So that’s probably one of the main misconceptions with the fish oil is you go out and buy a great deal and think “Well It just take more because the active are at low levels.” Don’t take more because it’s just more fat your body has to deal with at the end pf the day so yeah, I see that misconception quite a lot out there in the market. You don’t need all that extra oil, it’s just the EPA and the DHA that’s why you’re taking fish oil.
P: Before we end the interview, how can people get more information about omega-3 or fish oil?
N: Look there’s some fantastic organizations now that deal with fish oils, I really recommend the International Fish Oil Standards Program so that’s IFOS so they are group of…who monitor fish oils in quality fish oils, they’re an independent body, they’re really great at monitoring fish oils, you’ve got GOED which is Global Organization of EPA and DHA so they’re actually an industry organization also helping to look at the quality of fish oils, the quality of what’s out there in the market, they’re looking at environmental issues of sustainability so that’s IFOS, GOED. ISSFAL is another one to look at, your International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids they’re another group of scientists who look at fish oils as well but also organizations like the World Health Organization actually set fish oil levels that are required by people so a lot of governmental bodies including the TGA actually have good information about fish oil as well. So yes, back to you Patrick.
P: Alright. Well thank you very much Natasha, it’s been a pleasure talking to you today.
N: No worries, I’ve really enjoyed it. Thank you so much for having me on the show Patrick.
P: You’re very welcome. Now you’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Patrick Reyes. If you just joined us now, we’ve been in studio with Natasha McKay a Naturopath and Herbalist at Southernature and we’ve been discussing the benefits of Omega-3s. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.