Fish Oil Seem Fishy? Here's Why it's Important.

Most of us know that in order to stay healthy, your heart needs sustained cardiovascular exercise like walking, cycling, swimming or running along with a healthy diet. You may even know that you should either take a good quality fish oil supplement daily or eat plenty of cold-water fish, like anchovies, sardines, or salmon to ensure you are getting enough Omega 3s in your diet. But how much is enough? How do you know if it is good quality, pure, or safe? What if you hate fish and hear that fish oil supplements taste, well, fishy? What even are Omega 3s, essential fatty acids, EPA and DHA anyway?

Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids comprise the two classes of essential fatty acids - essential because they are required for good health, but the body is unable to synthesize them. They must be ingested in the food that we eat.  

Your body needs both Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids in order to be healthy. Omega 6 fatty acids promote inflammation which is necessary for a healthy immune response to injury, allergy or infection. Omega 3 fatty acids promote an anti-inflammatory response to keep inflammation from going overboard and creating other health issues. Your body functions at its best when the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids within a cell membrane is close to 1:1.

The problem arises when things get out of balance. The Standard America Diet (SAD) is high in Omega 6 fatty acids, and in most Americans the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids is much too high, contributing to a chronic state of inflammation. It is this chronic inflammation the drives many of the diseases that we associate with aging such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s dementia.

So, start with a meal make-over. Avoid all foods that are made from refined carbohydrates – sugar, sweeteners and flour. Avoid refined oils and fatty meats. Animals raised in feedlots are fed a diet of grains and corn which are high in Omega 6 fatty acids.

Instead, make sure that most of what you eat comes from vegetables, fruit, raw nuts, fish, and meat and eggs from animals that are pastured and eat grass, as nature intended. Or as Michael Pollan so succinctly puts it in his book, In Defense of Food, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

It would be nice if we could get enough Omega 3 fatty acids in our diet, but research shows that this is difficult at best. Researchers agree that 500 mg/day in the minimum amount of Omega 3s that everyone should be consuming. The American Heart Association recommends 1000 mg/day for anyone with coronary heart disease and 2000 – 4000 mg/day for anyone looking to lower their triglycerides. The FDA supports up to 3000 mg/day for anyone wanting to improve a health outcome. Other studies find that fish oil supplementation can reduce or eliminate the need for anti-inflammatory pain medications in people with back and neck pain.

The most beneficial Omega 3s are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docohexaenoic acid (DHA). Fish is an excellent source of both but concerns about toxins such as mercury in fish make a purified fish oil supplement the safest and most reliable source of these essential fatty acids. It is possible to get EPA and DHA from plant sources such as flaxseed oil, but the conversion from flaxseed’s alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) to EPA and DHA is so poor that it cannot provide the necessary amounts of EPA and DHA for optimal health.

So now you’re thinking about purchasing a fish oil supplement. But how to choose? We’ve done the research for you and are convinced that Nordic Naturals produce the best fish oil supplements on the market. Because they are made in the natural triglyceride form, they are 70% more absorbable than products made in the ethyl-ester form, making them a great value. The triglyceride form is also more stable, so the fish oils don’t go rancid and never taste fishy.

We know that this information my feel like a lot to “digest,” but a good fish oil supplement should not be! In addition to improving heart health, Omega 3s from fish oil support joint health, the immune system, eye health, brain health and memory and are essential in fetal, infant and child development. A quality fish oil supplement promotes key anti-inflammatory pathways, promotes joint mobility and reduces pain, and is safe for long term use.