Fish oil is a popular choice in the supplement aisle. What does it do and who could benefit from its use?
First, the way the fish oil is prepared is important. The natural triglyceride form of fish oil is much better absorbed than the ethyl ester formulations.
Quality control is also another factor. Make sure the product is free of heavy metal contaminants. This is why cold water fish is important to incorporate in the diet but not to excess due to the risk of exposure to higher mercury levels derived from polluted waters. Moderation is the key, limit to 2-3 servings per week. Safe and reliable fish oil brands will also likely have third party testing that guaranteed the quality and dosage of the ingredient.
The potent omega 3’s are EPA and DHA. These are essential fatty acids that our body cannot produce and can only be derived from diet. They play a large role in controlling the inflammatory pathways of the body. If omega 3 levels are downshifted in relation to omega 6 (another essential fatty acid) our body may move toward a MORE inflammatory state.
Thus, when you are reading a label for a fish oil supplement look at the back of the label and specifically the dosage of EPA and DHA per serving. Add those two milligram dosages up and that will determine the general potency of the fish oil product you have and not necessary what the front label dosage reports.
This will help you decide how many milligrams and up to how many grams of fish oil to take in a day. Generally avoid dosages greater than 4 grams a day unless being monitored by a physician. Greater levels increase risk for blood thinning side effects. For some individuals even dosages at lower levels may need to be monitored, especially if they are already on a blood thinner. Consider checking cholesterol levels too as sometimes fish oil can elevate cholesterol.
See my blog post tomorrow for more information about specific conditions fish oil can be helpful for.