Fish oil has long been hailed as a good source of essential fatty acids (EFA), particularly omega-3. EFAs are crucial as they cannot be manufactured by the body yet they play an important role in its normal functioning. Now, fish oil capsules are available from practically every neighborhood pharmacy, including those found in Walmart stores. However, not all brands stay true to their claims on labels.
Benefits of Fish Oil
The benefits of fish oil have first been documented among the Greenland Inuit Tribe. Scientists found that cardiovascular diseases are almost non-existent among its members even with their high consumption of fat from fresh seafood. It was then discovered that the omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood is the one responsible for this. Subsequent research found these benefits as well:
• Healthy functioning of body parts – practically every organ, gland, and tissue depend on EFAs. Without these, they cannot function normally. EFAs, specifically omega-3, significantly reduce the presence of triglycerides which are mainly responsible for hardening of the arteries. Because of this, the risks of stroke and heart diseases are, by extension, significantly lowered as well.
• Reduces inflammation – medical research conducted in 2005 and 2006 have shown improved conditions in patients with arthritis and neck pains after taking omega-3 – relief that were once only possible through the intake of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The anti-inflammatory properties shorten the length of recovery from injuries as well.
• Promotes overall vitality – those taking fish oils have noted better immunity. Omega-3 fatty acids help those with sleeping disorders and depression as well. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids in this oil may aid in precluding psychotic disorders.
Achieving Healthy Levels of EFAs in the Body
Though the body can’t manufacture EFAs from scratch, it is possible to maintain healthy levels through proper food choices and supplementation.
• Meats that come from grass-fed and free-range animals are a good source of EFAs.
• Eating wild-caught fish and their eggs, and not ones from the toxic environments of fish farms, is advised.
• Omega-3 can be found in seeds such as chia, pumpkin, and hemp as well.
• Flax and cod liver oils are acceptable sources of EFAs. So are highly concentrated krill and green mussel oils.
• Fish oil supplements are the most popular option because of its convenience and cheaper costs.
Considerations for Choosing Fish Oil
As was said, fish oil supplements abound in the market. But why should one be wary about the typical examples on shelves these days?
• Process, Preservative, Storage – They contain EPA and DHA, two highly purified novel omega-3 fatty acids. Needless to say, extracting these is extremely tricky. The process typically involves use of hexane, a petrochemical solvent used for both extraction and purification. Exposure to hexane plus other chemicals and heat make EPA and DHA prone to oxidation. To combat this, anti-oxidants are used. Now, lower quality brands typically use the readily available anti-oxidant alpha-tocopherol. However, because of the highly unstable properties of EPA and DHA, it is crucial that you look for brands that use more potent anti-oxidants such as gamma-tocopherol, rosemary extract, or astaxanthin. Lastly, warrant only brands that have been stored properly. They should be contained in nitrogen-packed bottles and have been continuously refrigerated to ensure they are not rancid even before their sell-by dates.
• Certificate of purity – Although manufacturers always say their products are chemical-free, this, unfortunately, is not always the case. Organizations such as the Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation have conducted tests on 15% of consumer fish oils and all of these were found to be contaminated with toxic PCBs. So only opt for those that have been certified free of toxins by independent testers.
So where should you get your fish oil.
We’ve found one company, Pharmax Ultra EPA/DHA, to be a good solution for those looking for integrity in fish oil products. The oils are manufactured using only low oxidation processes. Plus, their enzyme technology ensures oils are kept in their native form for optimum absorption. This particular oil has been independently tested and is guaranteed free from harmful compounds such as dioxins and PCBs and certificates of purity for every lot are readily accessible upon request. To find out more, go to http://www.pacificfit.net/supplements.php#fishoilvitamind