Not all Fish Oils are equal

A client asked a few questions about taking fish oils – here’s a little bit of helpful information you should read when choosing your supplement.

Fish oils are great for keeping joints healthy, as well as other connective tissues, brain function, skin and the cardiovascular system – where there is any inflammation in the body fish oils are great. The thing to remember is that not all fish oils are created equally. Most fish oil capsules comes in a dose of 1,000mg of Omega-3 – but the real numbers you need to look at is the EPA and DHA breakdown on the label. Simply put the EPA part is great for inflammation, the DHA has a good affinity for brain function and cell repair.

Clinical trails on fish oils for inflammation (including joint damage) shows that an EPA dose of (at least) 2,000mg of EPA daily does the trick. Most capsules come with a maximum of EPA at around 340mg per 1,0000mg of Omega-3 – which means you’ll need to take at least 6 caps per day. Lesser quality fish oils come with around 180mg EPA (which means you’ll be taking at least 11!) so take time to read the labels before buying to ensure you’re getting the maximum therapeutic dose with minimum capsules.You can get fish oils in liquid, often at much higher doses than capsules so one teaspoon a day can give you your 2000mg of EPA, people also find that they get less reflux with the oil than with the capsules and its obviously easier than swallowing 6 caps a day. They are flavoured and are generally palatable.Ensure that your fish oils are sourced ethically and cold pressed. The smaller the fish they use the less chance of heavy metal toxicity, especially mercury. Its worth spending a little more on your oils than you think for this quality reason alone. Go for practitioner-only brands they all ensure high quality and high EPA/DHA doses. Speak to your naturopath or health care professional for more information on brands they prefer.

Contraindications for fish oils are for anti-platelet and anti-coagulants (like Warfain) medications, and possibly NSAIDS – anything that can thin your blood, so care needs to be taken if you are currently on this medication – just be safe and make sure your doctor is monitoring you. It is also important to stop taking fish oils at least two weeks before any surgery to reduce excess bleeding.

Generally however, fish oils are well tolerated and can really make a difference to a huge range of conditions – but don’t forget that you can get all the benefits of fish oil supplement by eating cold water oily small fish a few times a week – always let food be your medicine!

If you have any health related questions you’d like answered as well just ask!