Posts Tagged ‘fish oil’

What Fish Oil is Right for You?

Friday, January 6th, 2012

omega 3 fatty acidFish oil is reported to be a miracle supplement for every ailment under the sun from heart disease to depression. This has resulted in shelves crowded with a variety of products all claiming to be the best. To ease your confusion, here’s a practical guide to fish oil:

What’s so Great About Fish Oil?
The Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil are composed of DHA and EPA, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. Considered essential fatty acids, the human body requires these substances to function, but it can’t produce them on its own. In other words, you must obtain all of your DHA and EPA from your diet or through supplements. Omega 6 is another essential fatty acid that can be obtained from plant-based sources like flaxseeds, nuts, and olive oil. This substance contains a different amino acid called ALA or alpha-linolenic acid. The body can use Omega 6 fatty acids, but they must be converted into DHA and EPA first. Because this process stresses the body, it’s always better to get your daily requirement of DHA and EPA directly from your diet or through fish oil supplements.

Types of Fish Oil:
Fish oil comes in three basic varieties: old-fashioned cod liver oil, health-store fish oil and pharmaceutical-grade fish oil. All three include Omega 3 fatty acids, but these products are definitely not created equal. Here’s a breakdown of each one:

  • Cod Liver Oil – This inexpensive oil is harvested from fish liver. It’s OK in small dosages, but higher amounts can expose you to contaminants and excessive levels of Vitamin A. An entire teaspoon, five grams, contains about 500 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids, but you’ll also receive plenty of organic mercury and commercial chemicals including DDT and PCB.
  • Health-Store Fish Oil – Slightly more expensive, this type of fish oil is often extracted from salmon, tuna, anchovies, herring or sardines. Some products are filtered to remove a portion of the contaminants and concentrated to provide a higher dose of Omega 3 fatty acids. On average, this type of fish oil contains 300 mg of Omega 3s per one-gram serving, about three times as much as cod liver oil. Although safer than cod liver oil, this type of fish oil can be dangerous at high dosages.
  • Pharmaceutical-Grade Fish Oil – This type of fish oil has been filtered to remove almost all contaminants and concentrated to increase the Omega 3 percentage to very high levels. If you’re interested in using a high dosage of Omega 3s in your diet, this is the safest and easiest way to proceed. This type of fish oil generally contains 600 mg of Omega 3s per one-gram serving, about double the amount of the typical health store product.

Which Fish Oil Should I Take and How Much?
Although the FDA has not yet set a recommendation for fish oil intake, but several other medical groups have presented their opinions on the subject based on specific health concerns. Here are a few of the most popular recommendations:

  • Omega 3 Fish OilHealthy Adults – This group should get about 2,000 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids every day. This fatty acid supports brain development, brain health and memory. Children and seniors can also benefit from additional amounts of essential fatty acids.• Crohn’s Disease – The recommendation for this ailment is 2,000 mg twice a day for a total of 4,000 mg in a 24-hour period.
  • Lupus – This disorder responds well to 6,000 mg per day split into three 2,000 mg doses.
  • Asthma, Arthritis and High Blood Pressure – Doctors may recommend 3,000 mg per day for these health problems, split into three 1,000 mg doses.

Because of the contaminant levels associated with health-store fish oil capsules, pharmaceutical-grade fish oil is always the safest choice.Speak with your doctor about their recommendations for any of your specific health concerns.

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