Alzheimer’s Risk – the Dark Side of Butter Flavoring and e-Cigarettes?

Can Butter Flavoring Cause Alzheimer’s and Lung Disease?

Butter flavoring. It’s that chemical so many companies use instead of butter to make you feel like you’re avoiding dairy and saturated fat, but still enjoying the flavor. Mother Nature just doesn’t like to be fooled, however! Honestly part of the reason we stress a whole foods plant-based diet is for just this reason.

Inevitably, man-made chemicals just come back to shoot us in the foot… or in this case your brain and lungs.

The chemical used in artificially flavored butter substitutes such as shortening, cooking oil sprays, microwave popcorn, crackers, margarine and candy, to name a few, is called diacetyl (die-az-i-teal). Diacetyl occurs naturally in some foods like butter and milk, but the largest quantity being consumed by Americans is in the form of the artificially manufactured variety, found in the above products and many others like them.

A link to Alzheimer’s Disease

Recently, a team of researchers from the University of Minnesota discovered an insidious characteristic of diacetyl – it has a chemical structure similar to the substance that initiates or catalyzes Alzheimer’s disease. The substance makes beta-amyloid proteins clump together in the brain, the initiator of Alzheimer’s.

Diacetyl’s similarity in structure to these proteins caused the researchers to wonder if consuming diacetyl in our diets could lead to Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, their concerns were realized.

Researchers discovered that diacetyl is able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, a natural barrier designed to protect the brain from toxins. As concerning, if not more so, diacetyl disabled an enzyme called glycoxalase I, which is part of a system designed to protect the nerve cells of the brain through detoxification.

Therefore, this chemical is not only a toxin, able to penetrate the very barrier designed to keep toxins out, but it disables a detoxification system of the brain designed to protect its very nerve cells. Please make every effort to avoid this chemical.

Microwave Popcorn linked to deadly Lung Disease

Around 2005, the chemical came under scrutiny when a cluster of people fell prey to an untreatable lung disease. The sufferers were all workers in a microwave popcorn plant located in Missouri. The disease, which has come to be known as “popcorn lung” is called bronchiolitis obliterans and it’s completely disabling as it “obliterates” your lung tissue.

The disease was not solely relegated to those workers however. There have been popcorn consumers who too have succumbed. Those on record consumed multiple bags of the popcorn each day. A Colorado man was awarded damages in 2012 for his suffering and lung disease as a result of eating 2 bags per day. He admitted to liking to inhale the contents and buttery aroma of the bags fresh out of the microwave.

But did it matter if you ate the popcorn or not? It may sound silly but those working at the popcorn plant were not eating popcorn all day, rather they were inhaling the vapors, and therein lies the danger. It was deemed that cumulative vapor exposure to diacetyl was to blame for the lung disease amongst the factory workers.

What do e-Cigarettes and Popcorn have in common?

Speaking of vapors, how do e-cigarettes come into the picture? A Harvard study last December revealed that more than 75% of electronic cigarettes and their refill liquids contained diacetyl. There were additional flavor compounds found, beyond diacetyl, that the researchers felt could be hazardous to health as well.

One of the authors stated that “in addition to containing varying levels of the addictive substance nicotine, they also contain other cancer-causing chemicals such as formaldehyde, and as our study shows, flavoring chemical that can cause lung damage.”

During the study they inserted each e-cigarette into a sealed chamber and then analyzed the air stream. Diacetyl was detected above the laboratory limit in 39 of the flavors tested.

Are you shocked to find out this information? Don’t be discouraged, if you are. One thing I can tell you after well over two decades of practice, the basics of how the body works, the benefits associated with plant foods, the dangers associated with drugs and chemicals – those things never change.  The human body is truly an amazing machine. It works and heals as long as you treat it well. It doesn’t hold a grudge for prior misdoings, thank goodness!, and is very willing to improve with the correct assistance.

We help the world’s busiest people regain, retain and reclaim their health, energy and resilience. We are here to help you!

Contact us for a FREE phone or in-person consultation, or call us at 408-733-0400.

To reclaiming your best health,

Dr. Vikki Petersen DC, CCN
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner
Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”


1.“The Butter Flavorant, Diacetyl, Exacerbates ß-Amyloid Cytotoxicity” Chemical Research in Toxicology


3.E. N. Schachter. Popcorn Worker’s Lung. New Engandl Journal of Medicine. 2002 347(5):360 – 361.

4.D. S. Egilman, J. H. Schilling. Bronchiolitis obliterans and consumer exposure to butter-flavored microwave popcorn: A case series. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health 2012 18(1):29 – 42.

5.D. Egilman, C. Mailloux, C. Valentin. Popcorn-worker lung caused by corporate and regulatory negligence: An avoidable tragedy. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health 2007 13(1):85 – 98.

6.R. Cornelissen, S. Senan, I. E. Antonisse, H. Liem, Y. K. Tan, A. Rudolphus, J. G. Aerts. Bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia (BOOP) after thoracic radiotherapy for breast carcinoma. Radiattion and Oncology. 2007 2:2

7.R. Kanwal, G. Kullman, K. B. Fedan, K. Kreiss. Occupational lung disease risk and exposure to butter-flavoring chemicals after implementation of controls at a microwave popcorn plant. Public Health Rep. 2011 126(4):480-494.

8.Egilman DS, Schilling JH, Menendez L. A proposal for a safe exposure level for diacetyl. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health. 2011 Apr-Jun;17(2):122-34.


Vegetable Soup

Quick and Easy Vegetable Soup

Quick and Easy Vegetable Soup

My mother, a great cook, used to spend an entire day making split pea soup. No wonder I never liked to cook. I thought everything took an entire day to make!

Making soup from scratch can sound daunting but this recipe proves it doesn’t have to be. My husband calls this my “refrigerator soup” because it changes depending on what I have on hand. That is true but it also means your family won’t get bored!

The key to a healthy meal is ensuring you have a nice balance of nutrients and opting for those particular vegetables that are superfoods in their own right. These particular “gems” of the plant kingdom boast anti-inflammatory properties, they are anti-cancer and filled to the brim with healthy nutrients. What more can you ask from dinner?

Please let me know how you enjoy this and any varieties you come up that you enjoy.



1 Tablespoon organic avocado oil

1 medium organic onion, finely chopped

1 clove of organic garlic, finely chopped

½ cup red lentils, washed and picked over to remove any rocks

2 organic carrots, sliced

2 organic stalks of celery, sliced

2, 10 oz cans chopped organic tomatoes

1 quart organic vegetable broth

2 cups chopped organic kale, ribs removed

½ teaspoon organic oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

[Optional: 1 bag of Quorn chik’n tenders or 1 can organic cannellini beans]



To a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil. Once the oil is warm, sauté the onions and garlic until transparent, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the lentils to the saucepan and stir to coat with the oil.

Next add the carrots and celery and sauté for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.

If anything is starting to stick, splash with some vegetable broth.

Add the chopped tomatoes and vegetable broth, stirring to combine all the ingredients.

Add the oregano, salt and pepper, stir once more and allow to simmer covered about 10 minutes more.

If you’re going to add the Quorn or beans, do so now and continue to cook about 4 minutes more. If not, add the kale now, stir and taste for seasoning.

Once the kale has wilted into the soup you are done! I like me vegetables with a bit of “tooth” but if you want to cook them longer you can.

Buon Appetito!

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP
Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Author of “The Gluten Effect”

Cinnamon Raisin Cookies

Cinnamon Raisin Power Cookies

Cinnamon Raisin Power Cookies

These are my new favorite cookie. My daughter wanted a healthy cookie that could act like a healthy snack. It needed to be filling, but healthy, delicious and not too sweet. I think we accomplished it.

No one needs another cookie filled with refined, over-processed ingredients that cause you to crave sugar, gain weight and feel tired and cranky because it upset your blood sugar. Some people might think the taste is “worth it”, but it’s just not true in my opinion. There are too many delicious options that create none of the liabilities of traditional store or bakery-bought cookies and we have many here on this site. I do think this one is going to be a new favorite for you and your family!

When it comes to cookies you want something to taste good and satisfy you, but that doesn’t have to come with ingredients that create inflammation, weight gain, a roller coaster of blood sugar and move you towards diabetes and heart disease. That may seem like a lot of damage from a single cookie. Well, not just one, of course, but do you know anyone who eats just one?

My point is that food is information, and the information you want to give your body should be energizing, nourishing and healing.

I’m really building up these cookies, aren’t I? Well they are gluten-free, diary-free, plant-based and free of refined flour and sugar. The nuts, seeds and date sugar are whole foods, meaning they won’t create a spike in blood sugar and should keep you satisfied for hours.

Let me know how you enjoy them and what varieties you come up with!


Makes 24 cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper



Dry ingredients

1 cup certified gluten-free rolled oats or organic quinoa flakes if avoiding oats

1/2 cup organic almond flour

1/2 cup organic date sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt

1/2 cup organic raisins or dried cranberries

1/2 cup organic almonds or walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup organic sunflower seeds or chopped pumpkin seeds


Wet ingredients:

2 flax eggs (combine 2 Tablespoons ground organic flax seeds with 3 Tablespoons hot water. Stir together and allow to thicken for at least 5 minutes)

1/4 cup melted organic coconut oil. Use refined coconut oil if you don’t like the flavor of coconut.

1/2 cup organic almond butter or peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla extract



Place all dry ingredients, except the dried fruit, nuts and seeds, in a medium bowl and combine with a whisk. Place all wet ingredients in a small bowl, whisk to combine.

Add wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring to fully combine. Lastly, add the dried fruit, nuts and seeds of your choice to the bowl and combine.

The batter will be quite thick. Use a heaping tablespoon and place the cookies onto your cookie sheet. The cookies are about 2 inches in diameter. Flatter them with a back of a spoon or your fingers. They will not spread as they cook.

Bake for 8 – 10 minutes until golden brown.

Place on a cooling rack until fully cooled.


Buon Appetito!

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP
Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Author of “The Gluten Effect”

Success Story

ADHD, Anxiety, Acne and Learning Disabilities – Gone!

In May of 2016 I sought out assistance for my ADHD, Anxiety, Learning Disabilities, and Insomnia. I had been on and off medications for ADHD and Anxiety, but neither felt like they provided any assistance to my daily life. In fact, the medicine often made my symptoms worse.

As a junior in high school at the time, and avid dancer, my life was unimaginably busy. Being the new kid in school did not make it any easier. Struggling with more than I knew at the time, I was skeptical of the treatment at Root Cause Medical Clinic. Nothing had worked before, so why would this? I decided to go in with an open mind and discovered I was dealing with far more than my labeled disabilities which were just surface symptoms.

I had adrenal fatigue and a gluten sensitivity. Surprisingly, these two factors had been creating increased amounts of stress internally in ways I could not have imagined.

I now am completely cured of my adrenal fatigue, and do not consume gluten.

My ADHD and Anxiety symptoms decreased, my most crippling learning disabilities vanished, as well as my insomnia.

As for dance, I had many joint problems. These inconveniences hindered my athletic abilities and forced me to reduce my training hours. After years of physical therapy I had improved moderately, but still danced in pain. Without gluten in my diet my dance abilities soared to new heights. I have increased my hours of training tremendously and do not suffer the consequences of pain. I am physically stronger. I now plan to pursue my dream, and the love of dance in a college setting as a double major alongside English.

Without consuming gluten, my physical appearance has changed. I was never looking to lose weight, but ultimately lost around 15 pounds. My acne cleared up, and now I rarely ever break out.

As a woman my periods were always excruciatingly painful, and many times required medication to alleviate the pain. Without gluten and the help of my healthy lifestyle, periods are no longer painful, I simply never even feel them. The “normal” period symptoms are nonexistent to me.

Overall my life has changed in many aspects due to the help I received. As a senior in high school who works avidly in the rigorous academic environment of a community college, I can only see positives in my future.

Thank you Root Cause Medical Clinic!

A.B., Age 18

Minty and Sweet Green Smoothie

Minty and Sweet Green Smoothie

Minty and Sweet Green Smoothie

If you like the taste of mint this is a fun, creamy and sweet smoothie that’s still healthy for you. I call it a “beginner” smoothie because it’s pretty sweet. If you’re not a beginner but enjoy mint, consider lessening the banana or date ingredients a bit.

There are many people who have a “green” phobia when it comes to food. Unfortunately it’s often the result of someone saying “vegetables are yucky” or “I hate green food” to them when they were young. Some people come to the decision on their own, but when I question patients about their dislike of all foods “green”, they frequently say it began in childhood when a parent or other adult informed them vegetables tasted bad.

Fortunately I was a doctor before I was a mother so I made certain to make green vegetables “fun” and spoke of how delicious they were. All three of my children are good vegetable eaters as a result. Three does not make a definitive study, I know, but I also believe another factor is the quality of the vegetables you buy and how they are prepared. You can take perfectly fresh and delicious broccoli, as an example, overcook it until it’s a sickly grey-green color, and it will taste horrible. Similarly, fresh and organic vegetables will taste very different from those that are less fresh and laden with chemicals.

If you are new to eating “green”, this smoothie and several others on this site will be fun for you. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: I dislike eating spinach, raw or cooked, yet most days I have two large handfuls of organic baby spinach in my smoothie. Why? I can’t taste it. The taste is completely masked by the other ingredients in the smoothie. It’s perfect – you get the benefits of the fiber, iron, protein, vitamins and minerals spinach provides while not tasting it if you’re like me and don’t like it.

I hope you enjoy this smoothie and it begins to move you towards liking “green”. The green vegetables are some of the most healthy, filled with anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.



Serves 2

2 cups organic coconut milk, unsweetened or any plant based milk of your choosing.

2 cup organic baby spinach leaves or baby kale

½ cup fresh organic mint leaves

2 organic bananas, fresh or frozen

4 organic medjool dates, pitted and steam removed – soak for 15 minutes or more in hot water

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup ice [Optional depending on your taste for cold or icy beverages]



Place all ingredients in high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.


Buon Appetito!

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP
Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Author of “The Gluten Effect”

Saint Patrick’s Day Creamy Green Smoothie

See “Green” with this Delicious Smoothie!

St Patrick’s Day may be the day Americans think “green” but if they embraced the type of green found in this creamy and luscious smoothie America would be a great deal healthier.

Forget the green beer, artificially green colored food and embrace the green Mother Nature supplies naturally. In fact, consider taking the rest of the month to see how much green you can get in your diet.

The recipes we have on this site have a lot of “green” ingredients. The recipes are uber healthy while being simultaneously fast, easy and delicious. Even the green haters in your life will like them – if they close their eyes! And speaking of those a little suspicious of green or anything labeled “healthy”, consider adding some extra banana and/or dates as mentioned below in the ingredients. It’s okay to boost the sweet naturally while a newbie to healthy eating is getting accustomed to it. Once they’re “hooked”, you can decrease the sweet a little and they won’t even notice.

We have many smoothies on the site, but it’s always fun to add another one to the line-up. Different healthy ingredients provide different health benefits.

This smoothie has healthy spinach for anti-oxidants, iron and protein. Flax seeds are an excellent source of fiber and help to lower blood pressure. Cashews lend creaminess and are a healthy fat and protein source.

Please let me know how you enjoy this and any varieties you come up with.



2 handfuls of organic baby spinach or baby kale

½ organic banana [if you want it sweeter, use the whole banana]

1 tablespoon ground flax seeds

1 cup organic coconut water, coconut milk or any plant-based milk of your choice

¼ cup organic raw cashews

Optional: 2 pitted dates, soaked for at least 20 minutes in hot water

1 cup ice – optional



Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. If you like it icy cold, add the ice. It’s optional depending on your preference.


Buon Appetito!

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP
Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Author of “The Gluten Effect”

Nurse Success Story

Nurse Loses 30 Pounds and Regains Energy

By profession I am a registered nurse. In the hospital I have seen so many patients dying from degenerative disease that could have been prevented through better nutrition. I began studying functional medicine and adopted a whole food plant-based diet several years ago. By all rights I should have been perfectly healthy but I felt bloated and gassy, my energy levels had definitely declined and I was over 30 lb overweight. Additionally my blood tests revealed high cholesterol.

I knew I needed to take things to the next level so I came to Root Cause Medical Clinic.  I was very impressed with how the doctors truly did find the root cause to my health issues.

It was a journey, but I feel like a new person – all my digestive complaints have vanished, my blood tests look great and perhaps best of all, I’m thirty pounds lighter.

I had forgotten my energy level could be so high. I definitely run circles around friends my age and my family has definitely noticed a difference. It’s fun to feel great and I would definitely recommend Root Cause Medical Clinic to anyone. In fact my daughters have become patients and they too have noticed remarkable changes in their health.

Thank you!

M.S., Registered Nurse



Meat and Weight Gain

Can Meat Cause Weight Gain?

Is Meat Causing You Weight Gain?

Our last blog on chicken, The Dark Side to Chicken You Need to Know, prompted some good discussion. Since we’ve opened the door to obesity and meat, I thought I’d do a follow-up article…

The EPIC-PANACEA study was a HUGE study observing over 100,000 men and over 270,000 women, aged 25-70 that were followed between 1992 and 2000 in 10 European countries. No, this study was not conducted in the U.S., but the similarities in eating habits and disease risk is quite similar.

The researchers noted meat intake is positively associated with weight gain during adult life in European subjects. The association was true for red meat, poultry, and processed meat. Even adjusting for calories, it was the meat that put the weight on.

Researchers concluded they were in favor of formal public health recommendations to decrease meat consumption to manage weight and for overall health improvement. [Ref: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010. “Meat consumption and prospective weight change in participants of the EPIC-PANACEA study”].

Was the meat industry happy with this study? Not so much…as you might expect. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association stated that perhaps the weight gain was due to increased muscle mass, not fat. The researchers kindly reran their numbers taking a sample of over 90,000 individuals, measuring their abdominal obesity, the most dangerous place to carry fat, as its associated with degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes – our top killers.

Their findings?

Even when calories were kept the same, the more meat the participants consumed, the more their belly fat increased, the larger their abdomens grew. [Ref: Nutritionfacts.org, Dr Greger]

Chicken, which we spoke about in our earlier blog, The Dark Side to Chicken You Need to Know, was found to be the worst. The strongest association with annual weight increase was tied to poultry consumption. Simply, the more chicken you ate, the more likely you were to gain weight.

Another U.S. study came to the same conclusion. Comparing those who ate no chicken to those who consumed a mere 20 grams of chicken. The chicken consumers had significantly greater increase in their BMI (body mass index – indication of overweight or obesity) as compared to those who ate no chicken. [Ref: Journal of Nutrition 142, 2012. “Longitudinal changes in BMI in older adults are associated with meat consumption deferentially, by type of meat consumption”]

Chicken is a high fat food. Why are our chickens so fat? They are confined, unable to exercise, they are fed growth promoters to get them to market faster (the fattest chickens win!), not to mention many who receive GMO feed, and antibiotics.

It used to be that chickens provided a nice amount of DHA, a fatty acid important for brain health. Today, you would have to eat 6 chickens (a mere 9,000 calories!) to get the same amount of DHA found in a single chicken from the 1970s.

Researchers from the Institute for Brain Chemistry postulated such changes in our food system may correlate to increased mental illness. They believe the accelerated growth rate of today’s chickens simply don’t allow them the time to develop the healthy DHA fatty acid, and instead today’s chickens have DPA, a fatty acid that cannot readily convert to healthy brain protecting DHA. Researchers don’t put the entire blame for mental illness upon chicken, however, they do feel the alterations in our food overall have moved away from health and more towards inflammation and disease.[Ref: Nutritionfacts.org, Dr Greger]

We support a move towards a whole food, plant-based diet. If you need recipe ideas, feel free to visit our website under recipes. There are videos of me cooking healthy meals, along with great recipe ideas, all plant-based, all uber healthy, all delicious.

We help the world’s busiest people regain, retain and reclaim their health, energy and resilience. We are here to help you!

Contact us for a FREE phone or in-person consultation, or call us at 408-733-0400.


To reclaiming your best health,

Dr. Vikki Petersen DC, CCN
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner
Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”

Dangers of Fish Oil

Are Fish Oils Dangerous? Learn the facts

Do you need fish oil?

It is said: A lie repeated often enough becomes the truth.

In the field of clinical nutrition I have grown to appreciate that “truths” can alter. Due to increased knowledge gained through research, what we believed was accurate several years ago has now been disproven or elaborated upon. In our field you must stay on the cutting edge because we are constantly learning and discovering new things about the human body. It’s actually one of the things I love about what we do.

However, I’m not a fan of being lied to and I don’t like finding out a nutritional “truth” was based on poor research and laziness.

The ingestion of fish oil to improve heart health was based on research conducted in the 1970s by Danish researchers, Bang and Dyerberg, who apparently confirmed a very low incidence of heart attack amongst the Inuit Eskimos. It came to be known as the Eskimo paradox, because, of course, how could it be that a mainly meat-based diet virtually devoid of any healthy fruits and vegetables could be heart protective?

Good question! The researchers attributed the heart “health” to the consumption of seal and whale blubber found to be rich in omega-3 fish oils. We all swallowed this “fish tale” and a billion dollar industry was built on this data… that was completely untrue.

I know; shocking. It turns out there is plenty of research stating the actual truth. Apparently those researcher papers just didn’t rise above the noise adequately and they were drowned out by louder fiction.

But why did we believe something that, on the face of it, just didn’t make sense?

It has been suggested that we love to believe supposed good news that lends support to our bad habits. I concur.

What is the truth? Clinical research, results of autopsies and the use of imaging has proven heart disease to be just as common amongst Eskimos as non-Eskimos. Their rate of fatal stroke however is twice as common, and their life expectancy is quite short. It is rare to find someone who appeared to be over the age of 60, and Eskimos live a full decade less than the average Dane, according to Dr McDougall.

The health records used by the Danish researchers were flawed. It turns out the Inuit lived at such a distance from any hospital their illnesses frequently went undiagnosed and their actual causes of death often remained unknown. More recent studies reveal those sticking to a traditional Eskimo diet suffer from heart disease more often than the typical American eating our horrendous diet. Now that’s saying something!

As one doctor put it, if you have to adopt the traditional American diet in order to see an improvement in your own diet, that’s truly scraping the bottom of the unhealthy barrel.

Is it okay to take fish oil anyway? Maybe not, unless you eat zero fish – more on that a little later.

A nutrition expert from University of Eastern Finland states fish oil increases the LDL (bad) cholesterol and leads to increased risk of type 2 diabetes. That would mean fish oil increased, rather than decreased, our risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Why would fish oil increase our risk of diabetes? It may very well be due to the source of the fatty acids EPA and DHA, rather than the fatty acids themselves. Fish, these days, are living in polluted oceans. Toxins such as PCBs, pesticides, heavy metals and dioxins, can all place burdens on our health.

PCBs, specifically, are tied to increased stroke risk and triple the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. PCB exposure, for Americans, is primarily from fish consumption, although there is some exposure from meat as well. Salmon is particularly high.

Toxins alter the metabolism of the human body in ways that can lead to type 2 diabetes. Some studies reveal just one weekly serving of fish is enough to not only counteract any benefit of omega-3s, but it is factually increasing your risk of our two major killers, heart disease and diabetes.

I will admit to “falling for” the research citing omega 3s are good for heart health, but, in our defense, we have been sourcing fish oil for our patients that is  assayed to be free of toxins for decades. During the past few years we have moved away from fish altogether and are utilizing a plant-based, toxin-free source of EPA and DHA – algae. The algae in these products have not ever touched toxic sea water, but still provides healthy omega 3s.

Did you ever wonder why fish are high in omega 3s? They don’t manufacture it. They get it from eating algae. Now you can too!

Do we need to consume any omega-3s? Yes. It’s estimated we need a whopping ½ of 1% of our daily calories from the essential omega 3 called ALA. A tablespoon of chia seeds (see a fun pudding recipe here) or ground flax seeds (great granola recipe here) and you’re done. Our bodies can take the ALA and turn it into the needed EPA and DHA, but the big question is, does it? And does it do so in enough quantity.

A study showed women to be significantly better at converting ALA into EPA and DHA than their male counterparts. Women converted 21% to EPA and 9% to DHA, while men achieved a poor 8% to EPA and zero conversion to DHA! Zero? Is that correct? Per this study, it is. Some surmise women are inherently better because we continue the species. DHA is important for brain development of babies. Therefore it would be important to have healthy levels during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Nutrition studies and research have deemed that over and above the tablespoon or chia or flax seeds mentioned above, we should take an additional 250 mg of preformed EPA and DHA. This can be acquired from algae (product you can try here) as I mentioned earlier with no downside of eating toxic fish.

Why do we need additional omega 3 supplements if we don’t eat fish? Did you ever hear fish called “brain food”? It turns out that wasn’t off the mark.

Our brains are predominantly fat and omega 3 fatty acids are important to maintain brain health. The plant sources aren’t sufficient because the ability to make the active omega 3s from plant foods seems to decline with age; plus some Americans just don’t like fish.

Patients with dementia and pre-dementia have lower levels of EPA and DHA in their blood. Studies where individuals were followed over time reveal a decline in brain power consistent with omega 3 levels. Those starting out with the highest levels have a slower rate of cognitive decline as compared to those starting with lower levels of omega 3s. This was evident on MRI scans of the brain. Brains normally shrink with age, sadly, but the shrinkage was exacerbated in those with the lowest EPA and DHA levels.

Can such brain shrinkage be slowed?

A nice study showed improved brain function in elderly adults through the use of omega 3s. After just 6 months of supplementation, there was less brain shrinkage and greater brain integrity in the omega 3 group as compared to the placebo group.

If you eat fish you’re probably getting sufficient quantities. The liability of that is the stress on your heart and increased diabetes risk due to toxic exposure, but your EPA and DHA levels are likely adequate. My recommendation is to eschew fish and its toxins and, in addition to eating the plant sources mentioned earlier, supplement with a minimum of 250 mg of preformed EPA and DHA from algae.

A study evaluating vegans with low omega 3 levels were able to normalize those levels with the use of an algae supplement within just 4 months.

Note: I used to hate taking fish oil because I would “burp” fish. Have you experienced that? What’s great about the algae supplement is no fishy burping. It’s healthier of course too! Here is the link. Most people should only need one per day, two at the maximum. Check with your doctor.

Are you shocked to find out this information? Don’t be discouraged, if you are. The truth always comes out and one thing I can tell you after well over two decades of practice, the basics of how the body works, the benefits associated with plant foods, the dangers associated with drugs and chemicals – those things never change. If something sounds too good to be true it usually is – eating a lot of animal fat and no fruits and vegetables to achieve heart “health” just didn’t make sense! The human body is truly an amazing machine. It works and heals as long as you treat it well. It doesn’t hold a grudge for prior misdoings, thank goodness!, and is very willing to improve with the correct assistance.

We help the world’s busiest people regain, retain and reclaim their health, energy and resilience. We are here to help you!

Contact us for a FREE phone or in-person consultation, or call us at 408-733-0400.


To reclaiming your best health,

Dr. Vikki Petersen DC, CCN
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner
Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”


1.B Sarter, K S Kelsey, T A Schwartz, W S Harris. Blood docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid in vegans: Associations with age and gender and effects of an algal-derived omega-3 fatty acid supplement. Clin Nutr. 2015 Apr;34(2):212-8.

2.Burdge GC, Jones AE, Wootton SA. Eicosapentaenoic and docosapentaenoic acids are the principal products of alpha-linolenic acid metabolism in young men.British Journal of Nutrition. 2002 Oct;88(4):355-63.


Name Change

Root Cause Medical Clinic Same Team – New Name

After years of servicing you as HealthNOW Medical Center, we’ve hit an exciting new chapter in our evolution. We decided to isolate what we offered that truly assisted you with the quality of health and well being you need in your day-to-day living.

It is:
Finding the root cause of what creates physical stress and wear and tear on you, our patients.

In recognition of this distinction, and the remarkable value this has provided our patients, we have a new name: Root Cause Medical Clinic.

This ushers in a new era of health and well being with even more focused services and solutions than ever before.

We look forward to seeing you very soon!