If you’ve ever looked into any nutritional supplement, either to make your hair grow or to quell anxiety, you will know that the medical community is a perennially hung court, where studies are inconclusive.
When it comes to fish oil, it has been proven effective against triglycerides but not much else, and some experts warn it can negatively interact with medications or worsen health problems.
Talk to your doctor to find out if some common concerns with taking fish oil should concern you.
A supplement is designed to complement your diet, and if your diet is already rich in fish and omega-3-stocked nuts and grains, you probably don’t need to augment it with daily capsules.
For the majority of Western populations, they exhibit half the bodily supply of EPA+DHA than the population of Japan, where fish consumption is much higher.
Health Benefits Of Fish Oil
EPA and DHA are thought to assist brain function and support normal growth and development. Fish oil is typically consumed to treat the following:
- Mood disorders
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Some Cancers
- high triglycerides and cholesterol (the only afflictions that fish oil is clinically proven to relieve)
How To Find The Right Fish Oil
People commend fish oil for soothing their joints and lowering their blood pressure, but it won’t have a chance to create any positive effects in you if you can’t afford it or can’t stomach it.
- Identify whether its price, flavor, or background practices that most impact your perspective, and shop for that reason.
As with any good thing, you can overdo fish oil, and even if you’re taking a top-of-the-line supplement that has been third-party tested for purity, like any of our top picks, an excessive dose can mess with your body.
Like aspirin, fish oil is a blood-thinner, which makes it desirable for lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease, and too much fish oil increases bleeding time.
If you’re already on anticoagulants to prevent issues like blood clots or strokes, make sure to talk to your doctor about how much fish oil is safe for you to take.
Which Foods are Good Sources of Omega-3s?
Most experts agree that whenever possible, it’s best to get nutrients from whole foods rather than vitamins, and as is almost always the case with all nutrients, they are better absorbed as food, because that’s what our body was created to process.
Omega-3 from whole fish is better absorbed than from fish oil capsules, plus, whole fish provides nutrients like protein, vitamin D, and selenium that fish oil supplements can’t. These added nutrients help protect against mercury toxicity.
Experts recommend eating “oily fleshed, wild-caught, cold-water fish” two to three times per week, and favorites are salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, and black cod. This amount, combined with a lower omega-6 intake, would be enough for most people.
Even if you don’t eat animal protein, you can get omega-3s from food, which is where the third omega-3 comes into play — alpha-linoleic acid (ALA).
ALA is found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and grass-fed animals, and our bodies convert it into EPA or DHA in order to be used. Some of the best sources include chia seeds and flax seeds, which contain 2,600 mg and 2,300 mg of omega-3s per tablespoon respectively.
Risks Of Eating Fish
Fish are only as healthy as the water body they swim in, and increasingly reflect worrisomely high levels of mercury and plastics.
Eat lower on the food chain, and when it comes to toxins, not all fish are created equal. Just imagine a little fish with low levels of mercury in its system, and if a medium-sized fish eats these little fish every day, its body will fill up with mercury, and it continues all the way up the food chain, straight back to us.
As a result, experts recommend eating sardines, which offer high levels of omega-3s and, because they’re low on the food chain, have very low levels of toxicity. They’re also a more sustainable source.
Why Take Fish Oil?
There are a couple of reasons why getting all of your omega-3s from whole fish might not be the best or most practical way to go, being that fish contain contaminants like PCBs and mercury, eating enough for a therapeutic dose of EPA+DHA could be dangerous.
While nutrients may be better absorbed from whole foods, buying all the fish you need could get expensive. Also, some people just don’t like eating fish.
Can Fish Oil Go Bad?
When unsaturated fats, like EPA and DHA, are exposed to heat, light, or oxygen, they can oxidize, and this can happen during production or even afterward, once the oil has already been packaged if it’s stored improperly or kept for too long.
Because of its molecular structure, fish oil is especially vulnerable to oxidation, so most supplements come in dark brown or opaque bottles; if they don’t, be careful with them.
Oxidation doesn’t just mean going stale or becoming less effective, it actually turns a healthy, anti-inflammatory substance into a harmful, pro-inflammatory one that might contribute to the diseases you’re trying to avoid.
Rancid fish oil “increases inflammation, just like rancid cooking oils, and that’s why you want to make sure you’re taking fish oil that is outside-tested for quality, for purity, for cleanliness, and that has an expiration date on it.