Simplifying the facts and understanding your supplements
We have all seen the myriad and abundance of fish oils on the market. It seems like every second ad on the TV is advertising a different fish oil, super strength, small capsule, krill oil, aaaaaaghhh!! Are you confused?? Do you want to know exactly what fish oil does? Will fish oil benefit you in any way? Read on to find out the ins and outs of fish oil.
To understand why fish oil is beneficial, first, let me get a bit of chemistry out of the way:
Every cell in the body is covered in a fatty layer that requires omega 3 fatty acids for structure. Therefore, omega 3 is an extremely important addition to our diets, or in conditions of deficiency or increased need such as inflammatory conditions and cardiovascular conditions, supplementation is strongly advised. The term omega 3 refers to the type of fatty acids present in fish oil, also found in flaxseed oil, however, flaxseed has a much lower level, about half, of the EPA and DHA that fish oil does. However, flaxseed oil is also great for the bowels and skin.
Fish oil has 2 primary active ingredients, EPA and DHA, these are acids that are responsible for its actions. If you have a look at the label on your bottle of fish oil, you will see these listed. EPA is the ingredient that makes fish oil anti-inflammatory and protective for the cardiovascular system, hence its use in inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, skin conditions, auto immune conditions, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Recent research has implicated inflammation as one of the major causes of elevated cholesterol.
The DHA helps with memory, learning and concentration and is more commonly prescribed and recommended for children and the elderly.
The most common breakdown of EPA:DHA found in a 1000mg capsule is 180mg:120mg respectively So, when a fish oil is advertised as being “strong”, it either means that the capsule weighs more, ie 1500mg or that it contains more EPA/DHA per capsule.
As a practitioner, for these acids in fish oil to therapeutically beneficial for your condition and to notice change, I recommend at least 1200mg EPA and 800mgDHA daily. Liquids and practitioner only fish oils are much stronger and make it easier to get the required dose.
Dietary sources of omega 3’s include oily fish just as salmon and tuna, eggs, flaxseeds (oil, meal, seeds) and nuts, especially walnuts.
With regard to krill oil, it does not contain as much EPA/DHA as regular fish oil, however, it does contain an ingredient, astaxanthin, an anti-oxidant found to be specifically cholesterol lowering, more so than regular fish oil. Krill oil isn’t overly beneficial for osterathritis, is it specific for cholesterol and cardiovascular conditions.
If you are no good at maths (!) or want some more specific advice regarding fish oil, please don’t hesitate to pop in and have a chat.