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Udo's Oil: Can Essential Fatty Acids Promote Weight Loss?

Can Udo's Oil plus a healthy diet and exercise help with weight loss? Also, can it help with thinning hair?

Answer (Published 8/11/2011)

Udo's Choice Oil Blend is a good product, but despite claims on the manufacturer's website, I wouldn't depend on it for weight loss or to improve the look and feel of skin, hair and nails. The website maintains that the essential fatty acids (omega-3s and omega-6s) in the product help with weight loss by improving mood and energy and suppressing appetite. I've seen no scientific evidence to support this claim.

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However, the imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the typical American diet may contribute to obesity, as well as to a long list of diseases including coronary heart disease and many forms of cancer, which are believed to stem from excessive inflammation. In addition, the imbalance may lead to depression, dyslexia, hyperactivity and even a tendency toward violence.

Many nutrition experts believe that before we relied so heavily on processed foods, humans consumed omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in roughly equal amounts. Today, most North Americans and Europeans get far too much of the omega-6s and not enough omega-3s. Bringing these fats into proper proportion may contribute to better mental as well as physical health, according to Joseph Hibbeln, M.D., a psychiatrist at the National Institutes of Health, and perhaps the world's leading authority on the relationship between fat consumption and mental health.

If you follow my anti-inflammatory diet, you should get a healthy ratio of essential fatty acids. In general, I advise cutting down on omega-6 intake by reducing consumption of processed and fast foods and polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Use extra virgin olive oil for cooking and in salad dressings. Eat more oily fish and take fish oil supplements. Also, eat walnuts, freshly ground flax seeds, and omega-3 fortified eggs.

The claim that Udo's Oil will improve the look of skin, hair and nails is probably based on the fact that dry skin is a symptom of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. Correcting that could improve matters, but I would also recommend taking GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) in the form of black currant oil or evening primrose oil, available in capsules or soft gels. Try 500 mg of either twice a day for six to eight weeks to see if it helps along with the omega-3s. (I'm afraid none of this will help with weight loss, however.)

Bear in mind that thinning hair may stem from the hormonal changes leading to menopause, from severe stress, damaging effects of hair care treatments or styling, and habitually twisting or pulling your hair. Some prescription drugs can cause excessive hair shedding so if you're taking any medication, check to see if hair loss is a side effect. You also might ask your doctor to test you for thyroid disease, which can frequently cause hair to thin. If so, treatment should result in hair regrowth.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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