If you’re reading this post, I’m assuming that you’re already familiar with all the health benefits that can be derived from taking fish oil (improved cardiovascular health, lower blood-triglyceride level, reduction of arthritis symptoms, reduced inflammation, reduced symptoms of some mental illnesses, reduced symptoms of Alzheimer’s, healthier skin, etc). The primary reason that fish oil has these effects is because it’s high in Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and doposapentaenoic acid (DPA). These essential fatty acids (meaning your body can’t produce them), cause a cascade of beneficial anti-inflammatory (or mildly inflammatory) actions in the body. In order to obtain their benefits, however, they must be consumed in a high amount, because they compete for use by the body with Omega-6 fatty acids. Most americans consume far too many omega-6 fatty acids, which cause negative inflammatory response in the body (vasoconstriction, allergies, Reactive Oxygen Species, etc) and not enough omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, while many supplements out there advertise having Omega-3s, Omega-6s, and Omega-9s, it’s really only Omega-3s that are needed as a supplement in our diets. It should also be noted that Omega-3s from fish are far more potent and effective in the body than the type of Omega-3 obtained from flax seeds or walnuts (called ALA), because it doesn’t have to be converted to the forms useable by the body. With that in mind, here are things to look for when choosing a fish oil supplement for your daily regimen:
1) High-potency: You need something that is mostly Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). Most of the fish oil supplements on the market contain only 30% of Omega-3s per capsule, about 300 mg per 1,000 mg of fish oil. In order to obtain the amount of Omega-3s that provide any real benefit (thought by many to be about 2,500 mg per day), you would have to take 8-9 capsules of market-grade fish oil. The thing is, you would also be consuming over 5,000 mg of others types of fats from the fish that can cause gastrointestinal irritation. You also place yourself at a higher risk for consuming too many toxins. Find a fish oil supplement that is at least 60% EPA and DHA per serving, and take a minimum of 2,500 mg of omega-3s per day. The FDA recognizes 3,000 mg per day as generally safe for consumption (of course always consult your personal doctor before starting any new supplement). FIsh oil can be found in both capsule and liquid form. If you don’t like taking large capsules, liquid form might be better for you. There are products available that provide over 2,500 mg of Omega-3 in a one teaspoon serving.
2) Purity: Though not as much of a problem any more, when fish oil supplements first came out on the market many of them weren’t filtered well for mercury, arsenic, dioxins, or PCBs. Due to consumer awareness, today most fish oils are manufactured using a high level of filtration, but it’s still important to check. Make sure the label clearly lists the chemicals the fish oil was filtered for and to what level they were removed. Dr. Sears, author of The OmegaRx Zone, recommends the following levels:
Mercury: less the 10 parts per billion
PCBs: less than 30 parts per billion
Dioxins: less than 1 part per trillion
These amounts are written as follows:
1 ppm = 1 mg/L =
1/1 million = 0.000001
1 ppb = 1 µg/L =
1/1 billion = 0.000000001
Visit this article for a helpful explanation of PPB and PPM.
3) Fish type: If the fish oil is purified from contaminants, the type of fish it comes from really isn’t that important. Some companies use fish type (such as salmon) as a marketing strategy, but it might just increase your cost. Nevertheless, it may be a good idea to stick to oil that comes from fish that are lower on the food chain (sardines, mackerels, anchovies, salmon, herring), as they accumulate fewer amounts of toxins than larger fish (like shark and tuna). Nearly any fish oil produced for Omega-3 fatty acids is derived from cold-water, ocean fish. Cold-water fish store Omega-3s because they consume high amounts of the algae that make it. Farm-fished, by contrast, usually aren’t fed high quantities of expensive algae and, therefore, aren’t as high in Omega-3s.
The bottom line is that fish oil with at least 60% Omega-3s (EPA/DHA) and filtered for toxins is one of the most important supplements you could add to your daily routine. The Western diet is drastically short on cold water fish and the grass-fed meats that are high in these important nutrients. Our bodies thrive on the right balance of essential fats, but we’ve thrown that balance off by consuming refined oils (canola, corn, soy) that are too high in Omega-6s. Cut out the refined oils, eat more meats that thrive in God’s creation (especially cold-water fish), and add some fish oil to your diet to help your body function at it’s optimal state.
Originally posted 2012-11-09 22:40:00.