Supplementation: Fish Oil

Back to my talk about supplements….if you were paying attention, I said that everyone should be taking 4 supplements regardless of their health status.  Supplements should only be in addition to a healthy diet.  If you aren’t eating the right foods, then you are merely trying to use a pill in place of food; that idea NEVER works.  That is why they are called SUPPLEMENTS; they SUPPLEMENT a healthy diet.  Therefore, the ONLY supplements that ANYONE should be taking are those that you can’t get adequately from foods.  The three I have previously mentioned are VitaminD, Probiotics, and a whole food supplement.  The fourth one I am about to cover is by far the most important supplement anyone can take, and I try and encourage everyone to integrate it into their healthy lifestyle.  What is it?  Omega 3 fatty acids aka Fish Oil. 

What exactly are Omega 3 fatty acids?

Omega 3 fatty acids are nothing more than fat!  They are fat compounds found in marine life, algae, and some plant oils.  They are ESSENTIAL fats.  “Essential” is term that refers to things that your body needs to function but can’t produce on its own.  Therefore, Omega3’s are essential for our health, our bodies can’t produce them, and therefore we must consume foods that contain them.  Simple!

What does our body do with them?

Omega 3’s are super important in the structure and function of every single cell in your body and the function of your cell is in direct relation to your health.  Your cells contribute to immune function, blood pressure, digestion, mood, and the list goes on forever.  Omega 3’s are part of every cell membrane and are REQUIRED to maintain proper shape and flexibility in addition to letting nutrients in and out of the cell.  You remember those vitamins you are taking, you need Omega3’s present for all of them to get to the right places!

How does deficiency happen?

Most people eat diets that are rich in grains, processed meats, fried foods, etc. and all of these things are extremely high in Omega 6 fatty acids.  You need BOTH types of omegas; however, you need the balance to be such that you have MORE omega 3’s or inflammation is a huge problem.  Having too many Omega 6’s and not enough Omega 3’s creates a pro-inflammatory state in the body.  Inflammation is at the heart of so many chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, arthritis, Crohn’s, IBS, Psoriasis, Fibromyalgia, MS, and once again, the list goes on.

*For you Paleo folk saying “I don’t eat ANY of that stuff you listed!”  Wait just a second;  you are probably not eating all your meat from organic, grassfed sources, you may not eat salmon regularly, you probably eat your fair share of nuts, you are probably eating MORE eggs than the general population, and even avocado has omega 6 fatty acids in it.  Like I said, you need both kinds of omega’s but you need to end up with more omega 3’s than 6’s at the end of the day.

What if you don’t have any of those illnesses?

It is so important to supplement Omega3’s  BEFORE an illness develops!  Trying to recover from a full blown deficiency is much harder than getting enough early on.  Trust me; my patients that suffer from omega 3 deficiencies would much rather have taken their fish oil in their childhood, teens, and 20s as opposed to seeing every doctor known to man, take a million medications, and go through the hassle of trying to fix it in their 50s.

Can’t I get them from fish?

Yes!  I want you to ask yourself a few questions though:  Do you eat fish daily?  Is the fish wild caught?

If you aren’t eating fish daily, then you aren’t getting enough Omega3’s, period.  Let’s say you were eating fish daily, you may then have issues with heavy metal toxicity due to polluted waters.  I know…..there’s always something.

Where did our ancestors get Omega 3’s if they didn’t live by water?

Wild game!  When animals run around and eat green leafy things and grass, guess what?, their meat has tons of Omega 3 fatty acids in it!  However, when they eat grains, their meat is full of Omega 6’s.  This is another reason choosing grassfed animals is important!

What to look for in a Fish Oil supplement….

This is key people.  Most brands at the store aren’t doing your dollar any justice!  If you look at the back of your fish oil bottle and add the EPA and DHA numbers together, THAT IS THE NUMBER YOU ARE GETTING IN EACH CAPSULE.  It may say “1000mg” on the front, but when you add those numbers together, you may actually only be getting 300mg.  Now you would have to take more than 3 of those pills to get the dosage you believed you were taking. Also, you want 3:2, EPA to DHA; make sure you have these ratios in your pill!  Form is another issue.  Companies are not required to tell you whether or not the fish oil is in a triglyceride form or an ethyl ester form.  The triglyceride form is how you would encounter it in nature, and that’s absolutely the form I recommend.  The EE form is a manmade version.  Quality is usually the other big kicker.  I have no idea how the fish oil is processed, how much it was heated, if it’s already rancid when you buy it, etc without truly knowing the company processing standard. Therefore, I take Orthomega Fish Oil that you can find at many healthcare professional offices because I know the company standards, have researched their potency, spoken directly with the company representatives, etc. There are very few that I would recommend outside of a practitioner’s office.  You can get a brand at Healthy by Nature on Bristol St. I believe called Innate Choice.  That is an awesome product; other than that, I’d stay away from readily available brands.

How much do I take?

Depends (as always).  If you are healthy and just want to add it to your healthy lifestyle, I would say that 720mg a day is adequate.  If you are battling health issues that are linked to inflammation, brain health, or are pregnant/nursing, I would say closer to 3,000mg a day minimum.

How much do they cost?

The product that I mentioned, is $75.00 for 180 count.  If you are a healthy individual, you can take one a day.  That turns out to be 42 cents a day for a product that plays a major role in your health (which is my most prized possession for those of you that have heard my health talk ;)) The children’s version is $21.00 for 120 count.  Not bad if it can keep you from paying for ADD medication, ensure proper development, and protect your children from development of asthma, allergies, and eczema! Visit the link to fullscript under my “store” tab to find the brands I prefer.  This product is actually one of the products that required me to create the store.  This company specifically is shutting down amazon sellers because of the inability to regulate the product potency upon arrival, etc.  If you have a doctor that carries this line, then you could most certainly buy it there, as well!

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