NATURALLY HEALTHY: Time to clear up some medical myths

It is time to dispel some medical myths that I find myself clarifying in my practice on a daily basis.

  • Myth: Flaxoil provides EPA and DHA essential fatty acids.

Flaxoil is a plant-based oil that contains alpha linolenic acid, a type of omega 3 essential fatty acid, but it does not contain EPA and DHA essential fatty acids. The body does convert alpha linolenic acid into EPA and DHA but this is very inefficient and one tablespoon of Flaxoil may yield the production of about 300 mg of EPA and DHA. The only way to get the 3,000 mg of EPA and DHA that is required for its protective effects into your diet every day is to take a fish oil supplement by the tablespoon or to eat fish five days per week. The advantage of fish oil is that the good brands have been purified of dioxins, PCB’s and mercury.

  • Myth: Elevated serum B12 levels in the blood are harmful.

Blood testing is not an accurate evaluation of B12 status. I like to see serum B12 levels at 600 or more. It is a water soluble vitamin and is always prescribed along with a complete B complex. The best way to evaluate B12 status is through the cerebral spinal fluid and this is obviously not done. So continue to take your B12 if you are getting benefit from it. I find it is great for sleep, memory, vertigo, neuropathy, fatigue.

  • Myth: Soy is harmful for those who have or have had breast cancer because it contains estrogen.

In 2011, data from the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living study (WHEL) were used to examine the effect of soy intake on breast cancer prognosis in 3,088 breast cancer patients who were followed for 7.3 years. As soy isoflavone intake increased, the risk of breast cancer-related death decreased. This is the third epidemiologic study to report: no adverse effects of soy on the prognosis of breast cancer: it does not counteract with the effects of tamoxifen and it may in fact provide potential benefits in decreasing risk of recurrence or death from cancer. I recommend non GM and organic soy to avoid exposure to herbicides and pesticides. Isoflavones are “estrogen-like” molecules that are 400 times weaker than the estrogen hormone made in the body. It can weakly modify estrogen receptors and that is why some women find it helpful for hot flushes. Certainly some people have allergies to soy and thus it should be avoided. Its ingestion by young children should also be avoided.

  • Myth: Vitamin E increases my risk of death from all causes.

The vitamin E used in the study was alpha-tocopherol and did not contain the important gamma tocopherol and other tocopherols that are found in the natural vitamin E molecule that provides the health benefits for the cardiovascular system.

Dr. Ingrid Pincott, naturopathic physician, has been practicing since 1985 and can be reached at 250-286-3655 or

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