Chocolate helps the medicine go down
New products help Omega-3 elements to improve your health
The Norwegian American
Is everything better with chocolate?
“We believe so,” said Dr. Ann-Marie Chalmers, referring to herself and her husband, Dr. Bo Martinsen.
Chalmers is American, Martinsen Norwegian. They practiced family medicine for 20 years in Oslo, then moved to the United States in 2002 and live in Venice, Fla. They were surprised how many Americans lacked the necessary Omega-3 in their diets, “which we knew was the basis of all kinds of medical treatment for prevention,” said Martinsen.
“About 95% of Americans are not getting enough of these in their diet,” said Chalmers.
“Omega-3 is crucial,” added Martinsen. “It’s a natural part of every cell in the body. It’s crucial for making the cells function. Omega-3 is a family of many different members. Only fish and breast milk contain all the different Omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds or flaxseeds will contain just one Omega-3 which is not powerful enough for health benefits.”
Chalmers compares it to a symphony orchestra.
“If you take just one fatty acid, it’s like listening to an orchestra with one violin, whereas, if you have the fuller range of all the natural fatty acids with the nutrient co-factors, you’re listening to the full orchestra,” she said.
The best source for Omega-3 is Norwegian cod liver oil. There is long-time lore of people suffering taking the straight cod liver oil for ailments. The doctors’ daughter, May-Elise Martinsen, recalls the terrible taste of the cod liver oil she endured when she was a child.
“From our experience practicing medicine, the biggest issue is compliance, people willing to do what is appropriate in terms of health,” said Martinsen. “Almost 50% of patients will not fill the prescription on time, they will forget to take the medications, or they will just drop the follow-up consultation.”
“I read that 40%-46% of people between the ages of 70 to 79 are using more than five medications,” added Chalmers. “Then you’re asking them to take an additional four or five capsules. It’s just hard for a lot of people, just to swallow.”
Identifying the problems, they decided to find the solutions by creating the business Omega-3 Innovations over 10 years ago.
How do you make cod liver oil more appealing? How do you make the cod liver oil and taste sustainable?
They started with liquid products, first Omega Cure “…pristinely pure and exceptionally fresh cod liver oil…made from sustainably sourced wild Norwegian cod…delivers the full range of the Omega-3 fatty acid family. Unlike other fish oils and cod liver oils, it has not been winterized, making it more potent than regular Omega-3 supplements.”
Then, there’s the Omega Cookie, Omega Heaven Cookie and the just-released Omega Passion chocolate truffles bar. It took more than seven years to complete the technology to ensure the proper amount of Omega-3s could be added to the baked items, and extensive research that the efficacy was not hindered during the baking, by studying changes in the Omega-3 index and blood lipid levels and behavior in test subjects.
“We really saw this incredible need for increasing the Omega-3 intake, ensuring the newborn is getting it from the breast milk; helping children with focus problems or autism, or helping people with chronic pain or obesity,” said Martinsen.
They are advertising the Omega Passion bar as a “small salmon dinner’s worth of Omega-3s,” and can be eaten as a meal, “with a nice cup of coffee,” says May-Elise. It also has Vitamin D.
None of the products smell of or taste like fish oil. The Omega Passion bar is small in length but thick. Covered in dark chocolate, it also includes gluten free oats for fiber, Greek yogurt, walnuts, and cinnamon. Biting into it you taste the nuts and chocolate. Tasty, it also doesn’t stick to your teeth like a Snickers candy bar. My wife was skeptical, but as soon as she tasted it, she raved about the chocolate. Because of the weightiness, I didn’t need to finish it as a snack to feel satisfied. The bar has 240 calories and contains 1,500 mg EPA/DHA Omega-3s (3,000 is optimal).
The cod liver oil for all the products is imported from Norway.
“We looked for who could manufacture the fresh fish oil for us back in Norway and, knowing that fish oil, when it is fresh, has no fishy taste or smell,” said Martinsen. “It was astonishing that some of these well-known large manufacturers, said they didn’t care because they would just pack their oil into capsules.”
“It didn’t matter whether it was fresh or not,” added Chalmers.
“The only way the farmed fish will contain Omega-3 is if they are given feed containing Omega-3,” said Martinsen. “Typically, in the fish oil capsules they will use a byproduct of the animal feed industry. They extract the oil from herring in the South Pacific or Pacific. They give it to animals or to the sea farmed fish. It’s not really a good oil. Cod liver is a delicacy in Norway when it is fresh, not the next day and later. Nobody would eat cod liver if it tasted like cod liver oil. Why shouldn’t we be able to have a cod liver oil without any oxidation?
“We found a partner in Norway who had developed a method for creating this kind of freshness. It’s a marvelous system where they’re taking the cod liver, make sure the liver is not damaged, extract the oil without any oxidation. Then, the oil is purified to get rid of pesticides, and it’s flown to us. That is the oil that we are shipping out to the consumers, right after we have put it into proper products. We were able to use this oil to make chocolate, to make cosmetics, to make cookies, or to have it in a pure form and combine it with melatonin or other medications.”
“This is coming from wild cod,” said Chalmers. “It’s very sustainable, because in Norway, the fishing of cod is highly regulated.”
Determining the ingredients was related to medical science’s increased interest in microbiomes, “the composition of bacteria in the mouth, on the skin and in the guts,” explained Martinsen. “Researchers are discovering we have 10 times more bacteria and virus in our body than human cells. Most of our cell functions and the way our body functions depends on the composition of the gut bacteria or the skin bacteria. What they are finding is that our microbiomes are closely related to the outcome of cancer treatment, depression, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis.
“Medicine is experimenting with transferring good bacteria from one person to another person who is ill and seeing dramatic changes in their health. We are starting to see that not only Omega-3 and all the fatty acids, but also dark chocolate, probiotics, antioxidants all influence this balance of bacteria. You have to approach how these substances work together.”
Dark chocolate has an ingredient, polyphenols, which assist in weight control, insulin secretion, improved stamina and having a positive impact on gut bacteria, as does old fiber. “Oats is the grain of the north,” said Martinsen. “It contains a very positive fiber that seem to be extremely important for controlling weight, pulling out the bad cholesterol from your system, reducing inflammation. We are doing a study now where we are looking at combination of fibers with a high dose of fish oil in prevention and treatment of colon cancer.
“We wanted the oats, we wanted a dark chocolate, and then we wanted probiotics, which also has this positive effect on the gut bacteria. It’s helping the microbes and the bacteria. The super nut of the world is walnuts. Studies of walnuts show the relationship to nutrition and controlling weight.”
The doctors shared an anecdote of a young patient using Omega Passion.
“A woman brought her grandson in and asked, ‘Is there anything you could do to help increase his Omega-3 levels because they’re really low, and he’s been struggling. He’s super bright, but he just can’t focus, he’s getting into trouble, having behavior issues at school.’” said Chalmers. “We tried giving him the oil. He didn’t like it at all. Bo decided, ‘Let’s try the chocolate Passion.”
“He loved it,” said Martinsen. “I said to him, ‘If we’re going to do this, you have to promise to take it every day so that we can measure how much Omega-3 you are getting into the body.’ He said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to buy it.’”
Imagine being punished for not eating chocolate.
“After two days this was not a challenge,” said Martinsen. “He got out of bed looking forward to having that treat. He called it ‘the treat in the morning.’ He has been using that for more than three months. His behavioral change, even his handwriting ability, is unbelievable. He is covering all his Omega-3 needs. That is how we solve the compliance problem. We gave him everything that he needed for giving him the best start of the day.”
The success, especially among young people will be “word of mouth.”
“One of the nicest things about the Omega Passion is that it seems to resonate, taste-wise, with young people,” said Chalmers. “I was sharing samples at the farmers’ market when a teen boy walked past, grabbed a sample and shoved it in his mouth before I had a chance to tell him the ingredients. When I shouted out the ingredients, his friends started to poke fun at him for eating a cod liver oil chocolate. It was pretty amusing to hear him say to them, ‘Well, it was actually pretty good,’ as he walked away.”
Visit omega3innovations.com for more information about these innovative products.
This article originally appeared in the March 6, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.