Category Archives: Supplements

Fish Oils: Are You Getting Enough?

Hello lovely people!

Let me be honest with you. I was never a ‘supplement’ kinda girl.

I was certain my diet contained all the nutrients I needed for optimal health, so why would I want to waste money on expensive supplements? I’d rather just eat the real thing.

I’ve changed my mind on Omega-3 supplements. Why? Finding high quality sources of fresh wild fish these days is tricky. If you’re not paying attention to what you’re buying, you’ll end up with farmed raised, hormone ridden old fish on your plate. Ewww. Plus, there is a ton of positive research literature on fish oils supplementation and the benefits for fat loss, mood and motivation.

What is Fish Oil? Well it is oil from fish.. but not just any fish! ;)

It’s high in two specific groups of Omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA, along with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), are found in flax and walnuts, and fall under the subheading of Omega-3 fatty acids. EPA and DHA are the building blocks for hormones that control blood clotting, immune function, and cell growth and are the components of cell membranes. Omega-3’s have amazing anti-infammatory properties! There are few quality sources of Omega-3 in the modern diet, mainly in the fat of cold water fish such as wild salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, bluefish and black cod.

You may have also heard of Omega-6 and wondered how this is different. Basically, it’s much easier to get Omega-6’s in your diet from seeds and nuts, vegetable oil, corn oil, safflower oil or soybean oil. These refined oils are used in processed foods like cookies, crackers and sweets. The problem is, Omega-6 has a pro-inflammatory effect on the body.

The body does not produce its own Omega-3 fatty acids, nor can it from Omega-6 fatty acids so we need to get it from our diet. It’s hard to get the right ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 from our diet, mainly because of the processed food containing Omega-6 oils. Ideally, the right balance is 1:1 to 1:4. Although, experts estimate the modern diet currently has a ratio of 1:14 to 1:20! Not even close so how can you fix this? Increase your Omega-3 intake.

The Top 5 Reasons Fish Oil is Important

If you do a search on the benefits of fish oils, you’ll find a ton of great reasons showing it helps all kinds of illnesses and disorders. It makes you wonder if this is the magic pill we’ve all been searching for! So what is most relevant for you?

1. The Awesome Anti-Inflammatory: When you think inflammation, you automatically think puffy red ‘I jammed my finger in the door’ inflammation. Sure Omega-3’s will help with that. But joint pain, heart disease and autoimmune diseases (like rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and psoriasis) are chronic inflammations that Omega-3 fatty acids will also help to reduce. You see, acute inflammation is good for us as it’s part of the healing process, whereas chronic inflammation is not. Chronic inflammation leads us down the wrong path to long-term health implications.

2. Fat Loss: Eat fat to lose fat. It’s 2012 not 1990. This isn’t an open invitation to eat a ton of fries – but more healthy Omega-3 fats. The “low-fat” era damaged our thinking – yes, me included. In those days, the thought was all fat was bad for you. Sure, I may have been young but I still remember looking at the calories/gram and thinking it was better to eat more carbohydrates because it had fewer calories. The most popular fat loss study from the University of South Australia shows combining exercise and fish oil supplementation as a great combo for fat loss (1). The Omega-3 fatty acids can improve insulin sensitivity for diabetics and make you more efficient at using stored body fat for energy.

3. Lower High Triglycerides: Your heart health is so important, no matter how old you are.  High triglycerides are associated with heart disease and untreated diabetes. The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that doses of 2-4 grams of EPA + DHA per day can reduce triglycerides levels by 20 to 40%, for people with existing high blood levels. Clinical studies have also proven the effectiveness of Omega-3’s in reducing cardiovascular diseases (CVD) (2). Plus, fish oil may be effective in preventing heart disease in healthy people. Overall, awesome news for your heart.

4. It Can Make You Smarter? Well, I think you are already very smart because you are reading my amazing blog! Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain cells as they provide energy and make up membranes of the cells. It’s no surprise that happier and healthier brain cells improve focus, reasoning, memory and recall.

5. Clear, Clean Skin: Omega-3 fatty acids will help to clear your skin. The EPA greatly benefits your skin by regulating oil production to increase hydration. Glowing, bright happiness. Another great reason to eat fish oils ;)

Liquid or Capsule?

Liquid supplements are higher in purity and also reduce the “fish burps” which is a common side effect. I’ve only had this happen once – the best advice I can give is to take them with a meal. The other benefit of the liquid form is you don’t need to swallow a bunch of pills. One tablespoon is roughly 15g of fish oil – much easier than the pills. Another way to beat the taste is adding fish oil to your super protein shakes! Delish.

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Fish Oil Supplement Label Example

The Dose

There is no “standard” dose, as an optimal dose varies depending on your weight. Research has shown 2-3g/day as being beneficial for fat loss. This is a good place to start. Aim for quality fish oils! In each 1000mg capsule, there should be:

– at least 60% EPA (600mg)

– at least 18% DHA (180mg)

– pure and free of toxins and other additives.

What About Contamination and Mercury Levels?

Try to find the most pure version. As you can see from the capsules to the right, there are some additives. The liquid form is higher quality. Fish oil supplements may contain lower mercury content and other environmental pollutants that are common in wild-caught fish.

The Right Brand?

Find a reputable company selling capsules, like GNC. Make sure you read the label and check what’s in it! My favorite liquid fish oil brands are the following:

• Nordic Naturals (Ultimate Omega)

• Genuine Health (o3mega)

Final notes:

Find a fish oil supplement that you can tolerate the taste of, otherwise you won’t stick with it.

Avoid cod liver oil. It’s just not the same.

Go easy on the Omega-6 vegetable oils, as they will negatively alter your fatty acid ratio.

Is fish oil safe? From what the research shows, the only instance you should be cautious is if you are on blood thinning medication. As always check with your physician first. Otherwise, bring on the fish oil!

Have an awesome day!

Kate :)

References:

1. Hill, A.M., Buckley, J.D., Murphy, K.J. and Howe, P.R.C. (2007). Combining fish-oil supplements with regular aerobic exercise improves body composition and cardiovascular disease risk factors. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 85 (5): 1267-1274.

2. Jacobson, T.A. (2007). Beyond lipids: the role of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil in the prevention of coronary heart disease. Current Atheroscler Rep. 9:145-153.