I knew that fish oil was important, and that most of us don’t get enough of the right kind. But I wasn’t sure off the top of my head what “enough of the right kind” meant. So I did a little research to decided to share. Because maybe some of you are like me and need accessible, down-to-earth explanations!
Fish Oils are Essential fatty acids (EFAs), dietary fats your body cannot produce independently. We need both omega-6 and omega-3 fish oil EFAs to remain healthy. But the omega-6 fats are very easy to obtain through diet–too easy, in fact. They are in seeds and grains, which livestock eat; large amounts of omega-6 fats get passed on this way. For anybody not on a low-fat diet, we are consuming much, much more omega-6 than needed. For people eating low carb/high fat, the difference will be even more notable.
So who cares if we get more omega-6 than we actually need? The problem is that while both these EFAs are required for cell membranes to function, there is competition for absorption into the cells. Therefore, the ratio matters. Ideally, we’re looking at a 1 to 1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 EFAs for the best health. But we don’t live in an ideal world.
Most modern Western diets have a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fish oil of about 16:1!
Too much omega-6 (inflamatory) in relationship to omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) is associated with many, many chronic health problems. Incorporating more Omega-3s can help sometimes prevent, improve or reverse those health problems.
Maladies helpfully impacted by adequate omega-3 intake make up a long list.
Omega-3 fish oil is believed to aid in fat burning, improve glucose sensitivity, lower insulin resistance and speed fat oxidation.When your body is burning fat for energy, it burns off EFAs as well, but the omega-3s get burned off faster than the omega-6s do. So it’s even more important to be aware of omega-3s while losing weight. In addition to a high quality multivitamin, omega-3s are the only supplement recommended across the board for the Atkins plan.
We can certainly make conscious choices to help improve the omega-3 fish oil ratio.
Improve your omega-6 to omega-3 fish oil ratios:
For almost all of us, though, dietary management is just not enough. So it’s prudent to consider supplementation.
Recommendations vary on how much omega-3 fish oil is enough, but most range from about 1-3 total grams a day. To further complicate matters, omega-3s are made up of fats called EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These are the active compounds and are processed a little differently in your body. A fair range to start might be about 1200-1600mg EPA and 600-800mg DHA daily, putting you somewhere in the middle of that 1-3 grams recommendation. For the many supplements, that would mean taking them twice a day.
The most common side effects are indigestion, upset stomach, gas, or a “fishy” aftertaste/belching. Unpleasant side effects are much more likely if you have just started taking fish oil, or have just made an especially large increase in how much you are getting. Most side effects disappear over time so if you’ve been taking supplements for a while and are still having issues, you could be taking more than necessary.
Because omega-3 can impact blood clotting, be cautious if you’re taking anticoagulant drugs, have any clotting related issues or are scheduled for surgery. Also check for potential allergens if you have fish allergies. If you have other medical concerns or are on medications, of course it’s best to consult with your doctor.
I learned not all omega-3 fish oil supplements are created equal. Fortunately, there are many signs you have a high quality omega-3 supplement. You want as many of these qualities as you can find:
I received a review bottle of Omega-3 Supreme 1400mg Fish Oil Concentrate by Life & Food.* I was surprised how different this was from the omega-3 fish oil supplements I had been taking so I set about to understand the difference. Hence, the research binge!
Size – The first thing I noticed was they were so much smaller than what I had been taking! I’ve always disliked taking fish oil because of the humongous capsules. At first, I thought it was a lower dosage, but after checking, I realized it’s not. The Life & Food Omega-3 Supremes actually have more of what I want in them; they are just a lot more concentrated.
Smell – Comparing the smell of the two on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being not fishy smelling and 10 being extremely fishy smelling), the old capsules I would rate about a 5 on the fish-smell factor: tolerable but you don’t really want to sniff ’em. The Supremes would score a 1. They had a very slight fish odor, but if I didn’t already know it was fish oil, I am not sure I’d be able to identify it.
Side Effects – I have experienced upset stomach and fishy-tasting reflux with supplements before, leading me to cut down on the amount I took. These ones, I doubled the dosage from what I had been taking, with absolutely zero side effects.
Quality – The Life & Food supplements met every quality standard I found suggested in my research.
Do you take Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplements?
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