Every day it seems there is another headline making claims about fish oil, the supplemental source of omega 3 fatty acids. From being the key supplement to save your life or a total waste of money – the media makes it difficult to decipher fact from fiction when it comes to determining if you should be supplementing fish oil. As your physician, I want to share with you the importance of fish oil supplementation, who needs them, and what you should look for in a high-quality fish oil product.
Based on the overwhelming research conducted on fish oil over the last 30 years (there are more than 10,000 published studies on the benefits of fish oil), I can tell you that fish oil is a crucial foundational supplement to include as part of your healthy lifestyle plan. Omega 3 fatty acids are important components of the membranes in all your organs and tissues and play a role in the health of your metabolism, heart, skin, joints, eyes and immune system.
Like most nutrients, omega 3s are not manufactured within the body, therefore levels must be maintained through the diet. While seeds, nuts, vegetables and fish are viable sources of omega 3, it is difficult to ensure you meet healthy daily intake levels of these important nutrients through diet alone. Not to mention, the typical American diet is notoriously low in omega 3s and excessively high omega 6s, which can promote extended inflammation and lead to a number of health concerns. For this reason that supplementation of EPA/DHA to balance the all-important omega 6:3 ratio has become necessary. Supplemental EPA/DHA (omega 3) from fish oil is an easy way to ensure you reach optimal omega 3 levels and establish healthy inflammatory balance.
The Major Benefits of High-Quality Fish Oil
If you don’t consume fish three or more times per week, you need to supplement your diet with high-quality fish oil. In some cases, you may need one regardless of how much fish you consume. Fried fish negates the valuable nutrient content of the food, while overcooked fish can destroy nutrients before they ever reach your system. In some regions of the nation, high levels of mercury can make a steady diet of fish dangerous. Consuming carefully selected and cooked fish is part of a healthy diet, however, a high quality fish oil supplement is equally effective and safer, given contamination concerns. The Westernized diet is loaded with processed foods containing high levels of omega 6s, which, when combined with low levels of omega 3s within the body, can lead to the formation of dangerous disease-causing free radicals. Maintaining balance through diet alone is challenging, but a high quality supplement can ensure adequate absorption and balanced ratios of omegas 3 and 6. The symptoms of omega 3 deficiency are classically overlooked. If you are experiencing dry, itchy or flaky skin, poor sleep quality, poor circulation, eye discomfort and mood imbalance, your diet may be lacking in omega 3s altogether, or your fish oil supplements may not be providing the potency necessary to help you achieve omega 3 balance. Supplementing appropriate amounts of high-quality fish oil daily is considered part of a healthy lifestyle.
How to Choose the Right Fish Oil
Understanding the importance of fish oil is important, but choosing one that is effective and high-quality is even more critical. Taking a low-quality fish oil supplement can potentially do more harm than good. Rancid or oxidized oils, high concentrations of mercury and other pollutants found in fish often make it into the bottles of low-quality fish oil supplements. In addition, many retail products are labeled for total fish oil content and not specific EPA and DHA concentration. Don’t be fooled, it is the EPA and DHA numbers that really matter. When selecting a fish oil supplement for my practice, I not only look for products with a high concentration of EPA and DHA, but it must be in the all-natural triglyceride form for optimal absorption and proven to be free of metals, pesticides and other contaminants. Taste and tolerability matter, too, so it is important to use a supplement that won’t make taking your daily fish oil unpleasant.
When choosing a fish oil supplement, look for:
A fish oil containing the triglyceride form, the natural, “bioidentical” form found in fish, is essential to achieving superior absorption. The natural triglyceride form has a vastly superior absorption prole as compared to the semi-natural ethyl ester form commonly used in many fish oil brands. Many companies choose to use ethyl ester-based fish oils because they are lower cost; however, these formulations result in lower absorption and incorporation into cells and tissues, meaning the nutrient content stated on the label is not being completely absorbed by your body.
The freshness of fish oil is an important consideration because rancid fish oils have an unpleasant odor and taste and contain compounds that are harmful to your health. Make sure the product you choose for daily fish oil intake is processed in small, frequent batches and includes potent antioxidants to maintain peak freshness and prevent them from becoming oxidized or rancid.
Seek products that have been clearly purified of contaminants, such as mercury, lead and other harmful chemicals and pesticides. In a recent study, 35 retail fish oil products were tested for purity—only 24 passed quality testing, meeting requirements for freshness and purity as established by GOED (the Global Organization for EPA and DHA).
Look for products that have completely removed all fish protein content making them “burp-free.” Products that are pure, fresh, and free from fish protein have had all fish protein removed should have no fishy taste or odor.
Seek supplements that have independently tested to guarantee purity, freshness and overall safety.
Your environment is as much a factor of your health as what is occurring inside your body. Look for supplements that adhere to responsible shing and processing to maintain the earth’s treasured marine resources.
My Preferred Fish Oil Supplement
With so many choices on the market and a variety of information rampant online, in magazines and on TV, it can be difficult to determine the fish oil that is the best choice for your health and your wallet. After extensive research and observing patient results, I chose Aliza as the primary fish oil to recommend to my patients. I established the previously discussed critical criteria to help patients choose a better fish oil product. I use Aliza and have made it the primary fish oil in my practice.
Why I Recommend Aliza:
- The American Heart Association recommends a minimum daily intake of 1gram of EPA/DHA daily for people with cardiovascular concerns. I recommend a variety of doses based on each patient’s individual needs; some patients may need much higher doses initially to achieve the best results. I like that Aliza delivers 950 milligrams of highly puried EPA/DHA per softgel in the natural triglyceride form to rapidly increase cellular Omega 3 levels for the greatest impact.
- Aliza is manufactured using all-natural triglycerides, the preferred form, to allow for maximum absorption and incorporation within the body.
- Adherence to a supplement regimen is challenging enough without having to deal with foul smells and tastes. Aliza has no fishy smell or aftertaste, a characteristic often found with other fish oil supplements.
- Aliza is independently tested, and guaranteed for purity, freshness and safety.
- My Aliza formula adheres to the strictest trade standards. This ensures that Aliza is comprised of the purest ingredients and free from harmful toxins and dangerous chemicals. The same cannot be said for many OTC supplement companies, as recent Consumer Labs testing has shown.
- My supplier ensures freshness by manufacturing Aliza in small, frequent batches with a proprietary blend of antioxidants to prevent rancidity.
The choices you make for your health each day, including the supplements you take, can have a serious impact on your well-being, that’s why only the best will do. Choosing a lesser quality supplement will deteriorate the effectiveness of your treatment plan and waste the time, money and effort you put into your health. With the right care, a healthier lifestyle, and high-quality nutritional supplements, you will be on the right course for a healthier future.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.