What about fish oil?

What about fish oil?

In the last 10 years, fish oil has been touted as a healthy addition to your supplement regimen.  But why? Fish is known to have one of the highest sources of a fatty acid called omega-3.  There are 3 number versions of the omega: omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9.  Fish has the highest amount of omega-3 which is the healthiest fatty acid.  Omega-6 is connected to healthy benefits from vegetables and omega-9 is the least beneficial found in many processed foods and often-used cooking oils.  Based on this information, it is easy to deduce that our population overconsumes the omega-9 fatty acids.  Omega-3 fatty acids have many powerful benefits such as decreasing overall inflammation, protection for the brain as well as providing protection to cells at their membranes.  There have been studies on the benefits of fish oil on elevating mood, increasing memory, relieving joint pain, relieving dry eyes, and preventing heart disease just to name a few.

When reading labels, omega-3’s can be listed in 4 ways: omega-3, ALA, EPA or DHA.  If omega-3 is listed only, the source of it is not specified.  If ALA is listed as the source of omega-3, it denotes that it was found from flaxseeds, canola oil, English walnuts or specialty eggs.  EPA is from marine sources only while DHA can be sourced from marine animals, specialty egg or dairy products.  There are 2 salient points with the breakdown of the omega details: EPA and DHA are naturally occurring fatty acids that do not need to be converted in the body for use and EPA is in the highest concentration in fatty fish.  Obtaining the highest quality fish oil can be tricky and picking a supplement would be best guided by a naturopathic doctor.  Naturopathic doctors are trained in identifying credible sources as well as prescribe the necessary therapeutic doses.  If you are unable to consume fish because you are allergic to it, vegan or environment-friendly, your naturopathic doctor can find alternatives as well.

There have been several nutritional movements in this country, all in the name of health. There was a low fat craze in the 80’s, followed by low-carb and then more recently low sugar.  With all these food movements, fish oil should be a staple because its many benefits stand the test of time.  The information hasn’t slowed down and there continues to be research on it to reveal more advantages of this wonder supplement.

Dr. Magda Peronel, ND