Ask The Expert: “What type of fish oil should I take? And how do I tell a good one?”
This is an awesome question!
First off we need to back it up and learn a bit about fish oils and fats.
There are 2 types of fatty acids: saturated and unsaturated.
Easiest way to tell, saturated fats are solid at room temperature, you’ll find them in animals and tropical plants (like coconut oil!) and unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature- these are found in vegetables, seeds and fatty fish.
Unsaturated fats are classified as polyunsaturated fats, which include omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 9 fatty acids are classified as monounsaturated.
What are Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
(POLYUNSATURATED) EPA and DHA are the most important omega 3 fatty acids. EPA and DHA play a crucial role in the development of the brain and central nervous system. They also have potent anti-inflammatory properties.
EPA is better to reduce inflammation at a cellular level, both in the body and in the brain! So, if you are someone looking to reduce joint point, inflammation, even depression, ADHD, brain trauma (like a concussion) EPA has been shown to benefit all of these conditions.
Now, you might be wondering what is left over is EPA does all that? Well DHA does a lot, in fact, it does a lot that EPA can’t do.
DHA helps with brain development and function; it helps improve memory. In fact, people with Alzheimers disease habe dramatically lower levels of DHA in the neurons of their hippocampus; an area of the brain several affected by the disease. This are is vital to creating recent memories- aka short term memory. It’s also been shown that DHA can help counteract learning difficulties like autism. And with aging, DHA is actually found in the cortex and cerebellum of the brain, which are involved in motor control. DHA is essential for the upkeep of the adult brain!
Omega 6 Fatty acids (which are called GLA- gamma linolenic acids)
(POLYUNSATURATED) Omega 6’s are most vegetable oils such as corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, and are in eggs and poultry.
Studies show our ancestors ate a 1:1 ratio of omega 3 and 6’s, but nowadays, we get wayyyy more omega 6’s than omega 3’s. So I’m not going to talk about omega 6’s.
Omega 9 Fatty Acids
(MONOUNSATURATED) Omega 9’s are components of animal fat and vegetables oil. Omega 9 is non-essential, therefore supplementation is not necessary. Omega 9 fatty acids are found in olives, nuts, seeds and animal fats.
Sources of Omega 3, 6 and 9:
Omega 3 animal sources of omega 3 are herring, sardines, salmon, mackerel, swordfish, mussels, tilaplia, halibut, and pollock.
Plant sources of Omega 3 include flax seeds, walnuts, help hearts, pecans and hazelnuts.
Omega 6 sources include corn oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil
Omega 9 sources are olive oil and animal fat.
Now what if you are vegan/vegetarian?
There is a common misconception that flax oil can help raise DHA levels, now while flax oil is an omega 3 it actually an ALA, which stands for alpha linolenic oil, which to confuse you, is a short chain omega 3. (Fish contain long chain omega 3 fatty acids which are DHA and EPA). The best way for a vegan/ vegetarian to get DHA is through algae, and NutraVege has a great vegan algae option with 5 ml containing EPA= 400mg and DHA = 600 mg.
WHY TAKE FISH OIL?
- FAT LOSS: Because EPA helps reduce inflammation, and stress, it will help reduce body fat.
- FIGHT STRESS: Lowers cortisol and counters mental stress by reducing your heart rate and blood pressure.
- REDUCE ANXIETY: When you suffer from anxiety, your heart rate and blood pressure increases and your nervous system gets activated, fish oil inhibits adrenal activation and reduces neuro vascular reactivity
- RECOVER FASTER: Workouts are stressful on your body, fish oil has been shown to improve muscular cellular health after an intense workout.
- REDUCE INFLAMMATION: Inflammation is very damaging to the body. It is why we feel paint in our joints as we age, and is a primary factor in heart disease. It reduces joint point, improves digestion, supports bone health by lowering inflammation and improving cellular health.
- HEALTHY SKIN AND HAIR: Fish oils can reduce blemishes, help protect you from a sunburn, and make your health and skin smooth.
WHAT ARE SOME BRANDS BY COMPARISON:
|Brand Name||EPA (per cap)||DHA (per cap)||Cost per capsule|
|Metagenix EPA/DHA 720*||430||290||.42 cents|
|NutraSea Omega 3||375||250||.46 cents|
|Nordik Naturals Ultimate Omega||400||200||.59 cents|
|Walmart- Webber Naturals||180||120||.07 cents|
|Jamieson Wild Salmon and Fish Oils||180||120||.09 cents|
*Highest EPA/DHA per cap
HOW MUCH SHOULD I TAKE?
I personally have seen most women be quite successful around 10-15 grams of fish oil per day. There have been studies done at higher amounts than this (I’ve seen studies as high as 35 grams per day), and studies done at as low as 3 grams per day. This is really dependent on weight, current inflammation and condition you are trying to treat, current eating habits, etc, and what you are trying to achieve.
WHEN SHOULD I TAKE IT?
Because it reduces inflammation, lowers cortisol, etc, the more often you take it, the better. I recommend spacing your doses equally through the day (AM, noon and PM). Of course if you forget to do this, you can take it all at once (preferably bedtime as that’s when we want cortisol to be lower).
Do not take it after a workout though, because it is a fat (and fats should not be consumed post workout (no less than 1 hour post workout)).
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If you would like to purchase fish oils, we ship all over Canada for a flat rate of $10!