FISH OIL: Could a single supplement really CHANGE MY LIFE?
Did you know that omega-3 fatty acid deficiency is among the top 10 causes of death in America?
It’s true, and it’s scary…..But the good news is that with the proper supplementation of fish oil you can a avoid being a statistic.
Fish oil can be a powerful ally in the treatment of many health issues including heart disease, ADHD, anxiety, depression, high cholesterol, inflammation, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, eczema, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disease, and macular degeneration.
It has also been proven to aid in weight loss, fertility, healthy pregnancy, healthy skin, and increased energy.
WOW! This stuff sounds absolutely magical, right?
RIGHT! IT IS PURE GOLD when it come to your overall health and well being. So let’s jump in and learn a little more about this amazing supplement.
Most of the health benefits of fish oil are because it is one of natures richest sources of the omega-3 fatty acids Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA).
Why do you need EPA and DHA omega-3’s?
The short answer is that EPA and DHA are specific types of polyunsatured omega-3 fatty acids. Your body cannot produce these fatty acids – you must get them from the food you eat, or via supplementation. EPA and DHA are natural anti-inflammatory agents, and as such, play a role in brain health, heart health, protection against cancer, Alzheimer’s and depression, improvement of skin conditions like psoriasis and acne, fetal brain development, inflammatory bowel disorders, and arthritis, to name a few.
Many of the health problems that Americans’ face can be traced back to an imbalance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Omega-6 fats aren’t inherently bad for you, but when they are consumed in large amounts without a proper balance of omega-3’s they can cause inflammation which over time will lead to chronic illness.
The average American generally consumes a ratio of 20:1 of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. A healthy ratio is more like 2:1…..As you can see, there is quite the discrepancy in the typical American diet. And this might show you how adding fish oil to your diet can help move that ratio back into a healthy range.
How do these ratios get so out of whack?
The answers lies in our over consumption of fried foods, fast food, and processed foods that contain vegetable oils, soybean oils, canola oils, cottonseed oils, and corn oils.
Some believe that their consumption of omega-3 rich foods like grass-fed beef and flaxseed will provide them with all of the benefits of omega-3’s, but the key difference is in the makeup of the omega-3.
That’s right, not all omega-3’s are created equally. That’s why it’s important to know where your omega-3’s are coming from. While chia seeds, flaxseed, and grass-fed beef all provide omega-3’s they are not the super beneficial EPA and DHA fatty acids you find in fish oil that medical research is touting.
We will start with the scientific benefits of fish oil and what research has proven.
ADHD – The University of South Australia has determined that a combination of fish oil and evening primrose oil capsules can help reduce common symptoms of ADHD: inattention, hyperactivity, restlessness and impulsive behavior. According to the researchers, “Fish oil is believed to work via its effects on brain function. 60% of the brain is composed of fats, with the most important being polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These must be obtained through diet and can be found in dark leafy vegetables, walnuts, linseeds and oily fish.”
Anxiety – The European Journal of Neuroscience recently published a study earlier this year showing that fish oil reversed all anxiety-like and depression-like behavior changes induced in rats. This is an interesting study because it stresses the importance of supplementing with fish oil at “critical periods of brain development,” which is why we should give it to our kids from early on to help them so that they will not develop anxiety or depression later in life!
Arthritis – An 18-month long study was published this year, which evaluated how borage seed oil –
rich in GLA – and fish oil rich fared up against each other in treating patients with rheumatoid arthritis. It was discovered that all three groups (1 taking fish oil, 1 taking borage seed, and 1 taking a combination of the two) “exhibited significant reductions” in disease activity and no therapy outperformed the others. This is critical to emphasize because taking too many supplements are simply a waste of money.
- Alzheimer’s Disease – For several years now, the fish oil and Alzheimer’s Disease connection has been studied with consistent results: the essential fatty acids vital for brain function that are found in fish oil can not only slow cognitive decline, it can help prevent bran atrophy in older adults.
- Cancer – Fish oil has been found to help kill various cancers including colon, prostate and breast. Not only has research proven that it makes conventional cancer drugs more effective, it’s also an effective standalone therapy!
According to Taiwanese investigators this past June, “Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the major n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in fish oil that decrease the risk of prostate cancer.” Also in June, Czech researchers published a study explaining that DHA not only kills colon cancer as a standalone treatment, but also enhances current drug therapies that utilize TRAIL (tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis inducing ligand)!
And still again in June, a group out of India published a study in Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology that, “Fish oil rich in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids has been preferred to chemosensitize tumor cells to anti-cancer drugs.” It was even revealed that fish oil improved “hematologic depression, digestion, liver and kidney toxicity!”
- Depression – We’ve already seen that fish oil can help with depression-like symptoms in rats, but what about people? This past June, the journal Nutritional Neuroscience published a study evaluating the effects of fish oil supplementation on prefrontal metabolite concentrations in adolescents with major depressive disorder. There was a 40% decrease in major depression disorder symptoms in addition to marked improvements in amino acid and nutrition content in the brain; specifically, the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
- Diabetes – This year, Brain Research published some research that show how far-reaching fish oil can be for people with diabetes. In addition to learning that fish oil helps reduce the risk of diabetics from developing cognitive deficit because it protects the hippocampus cells from destroying. The study also showed that fish oil could help reverse one of the root causes of type II diabetes, oxidative stress.
- Eye Disorders – Fish oil has been shown to reverse dry eye, age-related eye disorders like cataracts. This past March, French researchers evaluated 290 patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and they discovered that dietary oil fish and seafood intake were significantly lower in AMD patients. Due to the high EPA and DHA levels, it was concluded that people at risk for neovascular AMD should take fish oil supplements.
- Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) – According to the Cardiovascular Research Institute in Maastricht in Netherlands, “Epidemiological studies showed that replacing fat by carbohydrate may even be worse and that various polyunsaturated fatty acids (FA) have beneficial rather than detrimental effects on CVD outcome.” This includes, they continue, fish-oil fatty acids with anti-inflammatory properties, which can help prevent and reverse a plethora of cardiovascular diseases.
- Immune Compromise – A recent study has shown that when the antioxidant astaxanthin is combined with fish oil, the immune boosting power is multiplied. This is why I recommend using an omega-3 fish oil supplement with astaxanthin and Vitamin D3 to increases how it’s absorbed into the body becoming even more effective!
Now that the science is out of the way, here are a few more overall health benefits you will receive by supplementing with fish oil.
- Reduction in inflammation
- Improves gut health
- Thicker hair
- Healthy skin and nails
- Weight loss
And the list goes on and on…….fish oil is liquid gold and you should be taking it.
With the increased studies on of the benefits of fish oil come the increased production of fish oil supplements from the unregulated supplement industry. With this increased availability comes a wide range of fish oil supplements that are NO CREATED EQUALLY. I want make sure you are armed with the knowledge necessary to better navigated this crowded market of fish oil.
How much fish oil should I be taking daily?
The real question you need to be asking is, “how much EPA/DHA should I be taking each day?” The reason I prefer to phrase it this way is because not all fish oil is created equally. The recommended dose of EPA/DHA is between 2-4 grams (2000mg-4000mg).
If you bought a low quality capsule form of fish oil that says it is 1000mg per capsule, this measurement is actually only representative of the volume of the gel pill itself. The pill may be a total of 1000mg of liquid, but more often than not, those liquid capsules are full of garbage fillers like silicon, gelatin, and soy. And the actual amount of EPA/DHA is only 200mg…….
With that example in mind, in order to get the proper recommended dose of EPA/DHA of 2000mg-4000mg a day, you would need to take 10-20 pills a day…….YUCK! Bring on the upset stomach and fish burps.
So when looking at fish oil, be sure to look at how much EPA/DHA a single dose actually provides and look out for fillers.
When should I take my fish oil?
The most important things here is that you are in fact taking fish oil. I recommend taking it with food whenever possible to avoid the possibility of it upsetting your stomach. But different people respond differently and it may or may not upset your stomach.
Should I be worried about mercury levels or other contaminants in fish oil?
- Probably not. The larger the fish, the higher up the food chain it is, and the greater the potentialit has to being exposed to heavy metals and other contaminants. Fish oil is almost always derived from small fish like herring, anchovy, and sardines, all of which are very low on the food chain. Most high quality fish oil brands are tested to ensure mercury or other heavy metals are all below detectable levels (0.1 ppm).
Is there a particular fish oil you recommend?
In fact there is! I have been taking fish oil for several years now , and have changed brands over the years as I learned more about the quality of fish oil and the garbage that some brands try to sneak in. I currently use SFH – Liquid Fish Oil + D3. I have a few reasons why I ended up choosing this product and recommending it to anyone that asks.
The ingredients are super clean. There is no soy, dairy, sweeteners, or other artificial ingredients.
It is highly concentrated at about 3.19g (3019mg) of EPA/DHA per teaspoon + the added 1000iu of Vitamin D3.
It comes is a variety of palatable flavors. (Orange, Lemon, Vanilla, Chocolate, and Mint). And they actually taste pretty good for fish oil.
Liquid fish oil huh? Does it taste like fish?
Not usually since it comes flavored. They are definitely oily, but shouldn’t leave a fishy aftertaste because the highly concentrated dose is so small (1 teaspoon). But if you’re having trouble taking a shot a of liquid fish oil, try chasing it down with some coffee or a bite of fruit.
How should I store fish oil?
It should be stored in a cool dry place for longevity of the product. Most likely in your refrigerator. Fish oil can react to light and heat and can go bad. If you feel it tastes rancid, it probably is and should be thrown away.
I’m a vegetarian/vegan – are there any plant based alternatives to fish oil?
Is it safe to take fish oil while I’m pregnant?
First and foremost you should always consult with your doctor before starting any medication or supplementation. The general consensus is that EPA and DHA provide amazing benefits for your baby’s neurological and early development and may reduce pregnancy complication like pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, post-partum depression, and pre-term delivery. But your recommended dose will be different than stated above. Check with your doctor to find a range that is healthy for you and your baby.
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