Should you monitor the omega-3 blood levels of your patients?

Epidemiological studies have clearly shown that individuals that regularly eat foods rich in omega-3s are, overall, in better health than those who don’t. However, the results of randomized clinical trials observing the health effects of omega-3 supplementation are mostly positive, but not always conclusive.

One of the hypotheses for the apparent discrepancy in the results between observational population studies and randomized clinical trials is that not all individuals respond the same way to supplementation and that some people may need higher doses than what is typically recommended to obtain the same beneficial health effect.

A good way to ensure that your patients receive the right amount of omega-3s is to measure omega-3 levels in the blood. Ideally, they would be tested before implementing supplementation, at one and three months after the initiation of supplementation, and subsequently on a regular basis to make sure their levels remain consistently high.

Several omega-3 testing methods are available but not all of these methods are comparable. Also note that one laboratory may employ several methods, depending on which one is requested. It is therefore important to make sure that the same laboratory and method are used consistently in order to accurately interpret your patients’ progress.

In 2004, the Omega-3 Index was developed. This index is a measure of omega-3s in the blood, expressed as a percentage of EPA/DHA in relation to the total fatty acid content of the membrane of red blood cells. The Omega-3 Index is emerging as one of the most popular ways to measure and monitor omega-3s in patients. It’s a test that can be done at home and only requires a drop of blood. Patients do not need a prescription to get the test which can be ordered only through a laboratory website.

This index is also used in clinical studies to make sure volunteers are monitored properly and results of the health benefits of omega-3 supplementation can be correlated with the index.

Some clinical studies using sources of omega-3s such as krill oil have already demonstrated that krill oil supplementation is able to increase the omega-3 index.* More research is necessary to confirm that long-term supplementation with omega-3s and increased omega-3 index can lead to improved health over time, especially in already healthy individuals.*

For more information about the omega-3 index and how it helps us understand the correlation between krill oil supplementation and health status, you can visit the website of our krill oil provider Aker BioMarine.

FODMAPs: What are they, and how do they impact digestive health?

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides And Polyols. They are highly fermentable and poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates and polyols. The acronym was created in the early 2000s, and most of the initial scientific work related to FODMAPs and their impact on digestive health comes from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. 

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs include oligosaccharides (fructans, fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and galacto-oligosacchrides = GOS), disaccharides (lactose), monosaccharides (fructose), and polyols (sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol, polydextrose, and isomalt). The list of dietary sugar alcohols (polyols) includes compounds widely used by the food industry as thickeners and sweeteners. Lactose belongs to FODMAPs only in individuals showing non-persistence of high lactase levels, which is a highly variable percentage of subjects in different populations.

How do FODMAPs affect GI health?

FODMAPs are typically poorly absorbed in the small intestine.  They are often osmotically-active molecules, meaning that they draw water into the GI tract, and they usually are rapidly fermented by the local microbiota.

FODMAPs also have important physiological effects: they increase stool bulk, enhance calcium absorption, modulate immune function, and some of them may even contribute to healthy levels of serum cholesterol, triacylglycerols, and phospholipids. They selectively stimulate the growth of some beneficial microbial groups such as Bifidobacteria (prebiotic effect). Due to their capacity to stimulate the growth of nonpathogenic intestinal microflora, FOS and GOS are increasingly included in food products and infant formulas. Furthermore, the fermentation of small, fermentable carbohydrates in the colon results in the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs = acetate, propionate, and butyrate) that have a trophic effect on the colon intestinal barrier by increasing energy production and healthy cell proliferation.

Why are some people avoiding FODMAPs?

For individuals with a sensitive GI tract, ingesting these foods can trigger GI discomfort, as they are known to increase small intestinal water volume, colonic gas production, intestinal distension, and intestinal motility. This can trigger intense pain and irregular bowel movements. For these individuals, implementing a low FODMAP strategy may contribute to a relief of GI discomfort.

What is the best way to implement a low FODMAP dietary strategy?

The FODMAP diet is better implemented with a healthcare practitioner as it is sometimes difficult to follow on one’s own and because it requires removing important functional foods from the diet. Tackling it on your own could result in nutrient deficiencies.

What is the role of the healthcare practitioner in the implementation of a FODMAP diet?

The role of the practitioner is to thoroughly explain the low FODMAP dietary strategy, to support the patient at every phase of the diet, and to ensure patients do not develop long term nutritional deficiencies by recommending adequate supplementation with vitamins, minerals, and GI support supplements.

How can I get more information about the FODMAP diet?

Monash University has developed ample resources about the FODMAP diet, and you can discuss these with your primary healthcare practitioner to determine the possible relevance of this dietary strategy in the support of your digestive health.

Vitamin Ks: What do they have in common? What are the differences?

Vitamin K is the generic name used for a family of related compounds with similar gamma-carboxylation activity.* The vitamin K family is divided into three main subsets: phylloquinone (vitamin K1), menaquinones (vitamin K2), and menadione (vitamin K3).

Most of them have similar functions in the body, mainly related to the gamma-glutamyl carboxylation of specific protein bound glutamate residues (Gla proteins).* For example, in the liver, vitamin K-dependent Gla proteins  are the pro-coagulant Factors II (prothrombin), VII, IX, X and the anti-coagulant protein C, S & Z. These vitamin K-dependent factors are indispensable for the maintenance of a healthy hemostasis.* Other known vitamin K-dependent proteins are :

  1. Osteocalcin, the second most abundant protein in bones, which is involved in bone metabolism.*
  2. MGP (matrix Gla protein) and periostin are found in cartilage and bone tissues.* MGP is also present in arterial wall where it regulates calcification.*

Research on the subject of vitamin K-dependent proteins is very active, and new discoveries are being made on a regular basis, most notably for the different forms for vitamin K2.

The main differences between each form of vitamin K are their chemical structures, their dietary sources, and the way the body handles each compound. Vitamin K1 is the main dietary source of vitamin K in the Western diet. It is mainly found in green leafy vegetables. Vitamin K2 is a heterogeneous group of compounds found in foods of animal origin, fermented foods, and is produced by the intestinal microbiota.

K1 is known to be relatively poorly absorbed when obtained from vegetables. Clinical data suggest that long-chain forms of vitamin K2 from food are substantially better absorbed than K1 from green vegetables. Furthermore, in the body, vitamin K1 is known for its high turnover, small body pool, and short half-life. Vitamin K2 forms have half-lives that vary from about one hour for MK-4 to several days for MK-7. This longer presence in the bloodstream typically results in a better availability of these compounds for use in the peripheral tissues, especially when compared to K1, which is mainly confined to the liver.

While vitamin K1 functions and disposition in the body are well established, the functions and pharmacology of the different menaquinones aren’t as well known. The current scientific paradigm it that menaquinones are not only heterogeneous in their structures but also in their functions and the ways the body dispose of them. As an active area of investigation, scientists are consistently discovering new health-positive properties for each form of vitamin K2, most notably for MK-4 and MK-7. These two forms of vitamin K2 are readily available as dietary supplements.

As a practitioner, there is a choice of several different forms of vitamins K that can be tailored to create a supplementation protocol that meets your patients’ needs in terms of general, bone, or cardiovascular health.*

Protocol For Life Balance® offers seven products with vitamin K, comprising several forms, from the classic K1 to MK-7, stand-alone products, as well as vitamin K blended with other vitamins and minerals.

Weight Management*

In January, holiday weight gain and weight management are common topics in the media. Many people start the new year with resolutions of maintaining or improving their health, notably by paying more attention to their weight.

As a practitioner, how can you help your patients on the arduous journey to their ideal weight, and how can you help them navigate the ocean of information related to weight management that they read through social media, magazines, news outlets, and the internet?

Is holiday weight gain a real problem?
According to epidemiological observational studies done in the U.S., the average weight gain is small but significant – around 1 lb. over the November to January period. That weight gain is largely fat gain and affects more people at the higher end of the BMI scale. It appears that this average weight gain is retained and is a major contributor to the average annual weight gain observed in adults in the United States.

What should you recommend to your patients in terms of weight management?
Today’s consensus is that there is no magic bullet when it comes to weight management and there is no one-size-ts-all solution. An individualized intervention that takes into consideration the patient’s physiological and psychological needs is ideal. After assessing the patient’s health history, his/her expectations, and his/her physical and biological status, including endocrine health, you can prepare an action plan with him/her including lifestyle changes and adequate supplementation.

How can Protocol For Life Balance® help you recommend the right supplements for the right weight management plan?
We propose 6 categories of products that can help you recommend the right combination of supplements to help your patients in their effort to reach a healthy weight.*

Tailored lifestyle adjustment through personalized diet and exercise plans: Endocrine System Support*, Support fat utilization for energy and thermogenesis*, Stress adaptation and relaxation/mood/sleep support*, Nutrient replenishment*, Digestive support*, Patient's diet of choice


Biotin Supplementation and Possible Interference with Specific Laboratory Tests

The Food and Drug Administration has recently published a warning regarding the possible interference of biotin supplementation with specific laboratory tests. While only a few types of biological tests are affected, the potential ramifications of erroneous test results for patients’ health outcomes are non-negligible. Laboratories are currently working on using alternative tests to avoid this issue… Read the Protofact.

What is the link between glycogen synthase kinase-3 and resveratrol, curcumin & berberine?

These three well known nutraceuticals have been extensively researched in the past few decades and are individually known for their powerful free radical scavenging properties.* It is now well established that it is not their only function in the body. Each compound possesses multiple functions that contribute to their health promoting properties.* To learn more how they interact with the GSK-3 signaling pathway*…Read the ProtoFact.

What makes Activated Charcoal a great supplement*

Activated Charcoal is a supplement specifically designed to offer high adsorbancy thanks to its incredible physical properties.* To learn more about it … Read the ProtoFact

Clinical Strength Prostate-B™

Structural changes in prostatic tissue occur over time as a result of normal aging. These changes may be associated with difficulty in urinating, and other issues*… Read the Insight


Achieve Healthy Body Composition*

In conjunction with a sensible diet and regular exercise, dietary supplements can be a great way for your patients to better manage their weight and maintain healthy body composition.* Protocol for Life Balance offers several targeted formulations… Read the Insight

Positive mood and relaxation support*

Supplements are great tools to support positive mood and relaxation, to learn more about our line of mood & relaxation products… Read the ProtoFact.


As a practitioner, how can you help your patients who want to focus on maintaining cardiovascular health?

Once you have a good idea of a patient’s cardiovascular health needs, it is time to discuss a tailored plan that ts their unique situation and lifestyle. Protocol For Life Balance® offers a wide range of cardiovascular support products to help you design a customized plan that  perfectly fits the needs of your patient.* Read the ProtoFact

Best Products for Fall

We asked Dr. Ber, Assistant Director of Science and Nutrition at Protocol For Life Balance®, which supplements are best to prepare for winter… Read the Protofact

Achieve Healthy Intestinal Flora*

Prebiotic Powder XOS  features PreticX™, a prebiotic complex comprised of xylooligosaccharides (XOS). XOS are selective, bifidogenic prebiotics shown to increase the amount of healthful Bifidobacteria in the GI tract of healthy individuals, which is particularly beneficial with aging*… Read the ProtoFact

Achieve Healthy Microvascular Function*

1,000 mg Arginine is a conditionally essential basic amino acid involved primarily in urea metabolism and excretion, as well as in DNA synthesis and protein production.* It is an important precursor of nitric oxide (NO) and thus plays a role in the dilation of blood vessels.* To learn more about it … Read the ProtoFact

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.