Omega-3 fatty acids contain eicosapentaenic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA), found in fish, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in plants. Unlike saturated fats in foods which can raise unhealthy (LDL) cholesterol, polyunsaturated fats found in fish oil help lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation.
EPA and DHA are essential fatty acids because the body doesn’t produce them, making it a necessity to acquire omega-3 fatty acids from diet and supplements. You can find omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed, walnuts, walnut oil, and winter squashes — such as pumpkin, butternut, and acorn. The best source of omega-3 oil is from cold salt-water fish such as sardines, anchovies, tuna, and salmon. Warm water and fresh water fish may be good for you, but are not considered acceptable sources of omega-3.
Research has found that omega-3 fatty acids are proactive for health in many ways:
- They help lower levels of triglyercerides up to 30%, and LDL (bad) cholesterol — the fatty substance that can build up and clot arteries, thereby increasing risk of heart attack or stroke.
- They can lower blood pressure and inflammation in the body, the precursor to many autoimmune diseases
How do you know which brand or type of fish oil to buy? If we had two different bottles of fish oil next to one another, and each bottle contained 1000 mg capsules, each capsule may be very different. There can be big differences in its sources, quality, potency, and quantity. To choose the right omega-3, we must look at which type of extraction process of the oil is used, as well as the elimination of PCB’s, toxins, lead, mercury, and other heavy metals.
How do you determine the right amount to take? An average adult should be taking at least 1,000 EPA per day. EPA is the necessary component of fish oil. It is crucial that EPA is taken with DHA. DHA is also an important nutrient source for infants. Two 1,000 mg capsules from two different manufacturers may have very different amounts of EPA. Some contain less than 80mg, while others can contain upwards of 750mg.
How do you know which one to buy? It is best to purchase only the finest and purest of quality of omega-3 oil. It is best to purchase omega 3 from a reliable source, even though it may be more expensive than what you may find in a supermarket or pharmacy. I prefer the Nordic Naturals brand. Each dose of Fish oil capsules that our patients use contain no less than 650mg of EPA, 450 mg of DHA, and 180 mg of other omega-3’s, and are purified of contaminants like mercury, lead, and PCB’s. Ours also don’t have a “fishy” smell or after-taste, and is third party tested.