Saturday, June 21, 2008


This is another supplement used in the DAN! protocol. Most people that eat the standard American diet (SAD) could benefit from using EFA's since most of today's food is completely depleted of the EFA's. Here is an article written by Deborah Matthew, MD pertaining to the use of EFA's and why they work.

Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the US, currently diagnosed in 1 in every 150 children. It is more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. Despite these statistics, Autism remains poorly understood and often difficult to diagnose. This is partly because Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning it manifests itself in many different forms. Some children with Autism may rarely speak and have difficulty learning to read or write, while others are so high-functioning that they are able to attend classes in a mainstream school. Unfortunately, there currently is no cure for autism. There are, however, some interesting theories on Autism that lend themselves to dietary interventions that may prove beneficial.

One theory is that Autism may be partly caused by a problem with metabolism of essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs are compounds that cannot be made in the body, but are essential for many biochemical processes. For some unknown reason, the brains of individuals with Autism may have problems converting EFAs from foods into the forms necessary for many biochemical reactions. When these biochemical reactions fail to take place, they lead to the signs and symptoms of Autism.

EFAs fall into two major categories: omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fats are found in milk, eggs, meat, grains, processed foods, and many cooking oils, whereas omega-3 fats are found abundantly in flax seed, walnuts, and fish such as salmon, halibut, mackeral, herring and tuna. The relative ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is critical to the health and development of the brain. As the levels of omega-6 fats rise higher and higher, there can be negative effects on cognition, mood, and behavior. As our society has become more dependent on processed foods, levels of omega-6 fats have risen. Many believe that this has helped contribute the increasing prevalence of Autism.

The major omega-3 fatty acids are DHA and EPA. Both DHA and EPA have been found to affect many aspects of brain function. Studies in rats have shown that changing the amount of EPA and DHA in the diet can alter the amounts of certain critical chemicals in the brain. Currently, there have been only a handful of studies on the effectiveness of omega-3 fat supplementation as a treatment for Autism. However, in those studies done so far, there appeared to be an improvement in overall health, cognition, sleep patterns, social interactions, and eye contact in Autistic children given supplemental EPA and DHA. Further studies are needed.

There has been no research on the optimal dose of EFAs for treating children with Autism. The dose range in current studies is 540-2320 mg of omega-3 fats per day. Doses in this range do not appear to cause any significant side effects. As long as EFAs are less than 10% of total dietary intake, they are considered safe. However, it must be noted that fish oil supplements can contain contaminants such as mercury, hormones, dioxins, and PCBs. Thus, care must be taken when purchasing fish oil supplements to find those that have been purified by molecular distillation and are described as pharmaceutical grade.

As the incidence of Autism continues to rise without a definitive cure, novel therapies must be considered. The negligible risks of omega-3 fat supplementation are far outweighed by the potential benefits, so it appears that this treatment should be considered in those suffering from Autism.

We use EFA's for our whole family, not just Ivy. We only use Nordic Naturals. They are by far the best on the market.