Question: Can you explain what parent essential oils are? I was given some articles that seemed to be saying that high-dose cold-water fish oils are damaging to cell membranes and mitochondrial function.
“Parent essential oil” is a term invented by Brian Peskin, who looked at some data that said it's not clear that supplementing with fish oil is good for you because doing so can cause oxidative stress and cause damage to cells.
That's true because the highly unsaturated oils found in fish oil, as well as in liver and egg yolks, are highly vulnerable to being damaged. This includes the physiologically essential omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, and omega-6 fatty acid, arachidonic acid.
But that damage comes only when you eat too much. This is where I think Peskin is wrong, because he took that data and concluded that you don’t want to eat any of these oils. Instead, you should eat oils like flaxseed that provide the “parent” fatty acids that your body turns into DHA and arachidonic acid.
But the parent oils are prone to being damaged too, just to a lesser extent. On a gram to gram basis, they are safer, but you need to eat a ton of parent oils to get the physiological requirement for DHA and arachidonic acid. So, on a daily requirement basis, the parent essential oils are going to be way more damaging.
I recommend simply taking a small amount of arachidonic acid and DHA, since then you fulfill your requirements regardless of genetics or the environment or whatever could impede the transformation of parent oils to these physiologically essential oils. High-dose fish oil is ridiculous, and risky, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consume any.
This Q&A can also be found as part of a much longer episode, here: https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/podcast/2019/02/24/ask-anything-nutrition-feb-17-2019/
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