Vital Choice founder Randy Hartnell just returned from the recent 2010 Hawaii Seafood Symposium, titled “Making Sense of Seafood Health Benefits and Risks.”
Coincidentally, The International Seafood & Health Conference is happening November 7 to 10 in Melbourne, Australia … and Randy’s turning on a dime to get to this larger gathering of researchers expert in omega-3s and health.
Omega-3-for-baby-brains study: More than meets the eye
The speakers' roster for Australia includes Maria Makrides, Ph.D., of the University of Adelaide.
Professor Makrides led a recent clinical trial testing the effects of omega-3 DHA supplements on pregnant mothers and their newborns (see “Babies Saw No Omega-3 Brain Gains”).
While it failed to detect brain gains among the infants born to women who took omega-3 DHA pills, or reductions in post-partum depression, Dr. Makrides' trial revealed three benefits:
  • Significantly fewer children classed as “slow developers”
  • Many fewer pre-term and low birth weight babies
  • Improved maternal health
  • Significant reductions in the number of adverse health events, admissions to intensive care, and infant deaths.
Some researchers noted that the mothers in Professor Makrides trial only took DHA in the later stages of pregnancy (from week 21 on), not throughout the full term, as is typically recommended.
As Dr. Makrides' team wrote, most of the total DHA that mothers feed to the fetus gets transferred in the last few weeks before birth, after week 21.
But the DHA a fetus absorbs from its mother before 21 weeks probably plays a critical role at that time, when the brain is much smaller and is forming basic neuronal networks very rapidly.
Attendees will focus on increased seafood consumption as a way to avoid an epidemic of mental illness, dementia, and other brain disorders… a rising tide poised to swamp medical systems worldwide within a decade.
The speakers include some of the researchers who addressed the Hawaii conference last month:
  • Brain nutrition researcher Tom Brenna, Ph.D., of Cornell University
  • Mental health / omega-3 researcher Captain Joseph R. Hibbeln, M.D. of NIH
  • Mercury-selenium researcher Nick Ralston, Ph.D. of the University of North Dakota
  • Brain nutrition researcher Michael Crawford, Ph.D., Director of London’s Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition 
Conference to focus on mental health and child nutrition
The attendees, who will include the world’s leading researchers, will address a number of critical health issues related to seafood.
For example, few North American or Australian children achieve the recommended daily intake of omega-3 DHA, vital for brain function… and nine out of every 10 children consume too little seafood for optimum health.
In addition, 1.6 billion people worldwide suffer from iodine deficiency, including large numbers of children, and seafood is one of the best natural sources.
Seafood is also a major source of selenium, which is essential to protection against oxidation, but binds to mercury.
This is why people who consume more selenium than mercury show no harm from the latter… a phenomenon demonstrated by ample lab and epidemiological evidence.
It also explains why diets rich in ocean fish, almost all of which are very high in selenium, appear to pose no risk of harm even though they also contain minuscule traces of mercury.
The only exceptions are whales (eaten by some coastal peoples), which are high in mercury and low in selenium, and the few fish that are unusually high in mercury relative to selenium... shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and grouper.
Selenium deficiency, which is common in many parts of the world, triggers some auto-immune diseasesincluding thyroid disorders and psoriasiswhile increasing susceptibility to heart disease and viral infections.