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Benefits of fish oil

Fish oil has wide ranging benefits particularly due to its high DHA and EPA content. Some examples of its benefits include supporting eye, brain and heart function. It also reduces triglyceride levels, supports skin health, improves mood in cases of depression and also reduces inflammation throughout the body. Fish oil can also be a food source of vitamin D and as a result supports bones, muscle function, normal teeth and cell division.

Additionally it is important that we have a specific ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3. Research is showing that we are not consuming adequate Omega-3 to counteract the abundance of Omega-6 fatty acids we consume. Aiming for 3:1 balance between essential fatty acids Omega-6 and Omega-3 is recommend.

The problem with fish oil

Unfortunately today it is hard to obtain adequate Omega-3 through our diets. Major sources of Omega-3 are usually found in meat from animals consuming their natural diet rather than feed such as grains and wild salmon on a diet of algae rather than fishmeal. Sources of these animal products are becoming harder to access. Therefore, fish oil supplementation is extremely beneficial. However, when choosing fish oil supplements it is important to know that not all are created equal.

Consider the following when purchasing fish oil supplements

Sourcing
It is important to select fish oil supplementation that meets international safety standards for heavy metals and other contaminants. Smaller fish, lower in the food chain such as sardines and anchovies naturally have lower levels of contaminants. It is also important that the fish are sustainably sourced and harvested.

Oxidation
Omega-3 oils oxidise easily because they are unsaturated fats leading them to become damaged and rancid when exposed to heat. Rancid oils are very inflammatory to the body. For this reason it is important that fish oils are stored in the fridge and away from light and come with antioxidant protection. Unfortunately most fish oils are already oxidized before you open the bottle.

Processing
It is important that the processing of fish oil is standardised and that low temperatures are used to ensure quality fish oil.

Bioavailability/Poor absorption
The molecular shape of fatty acids affects how available they are to be utilised by the body. The fatty acids naturally found in fish are most bioavailable such as oil derived from sardines, anchovies and mackerel.

The problem is that most Fish oil products are not that great (even reputable brands). Speak to a Merge Health Practitioner to find out which Fish oil you should be taking.

By Alex Mitchell

References

Fujioka, S., Hamazaki, K., Itomura, M., Huan, M., Nishizawa, H., Sawazaki, S., … & Hamazaki, T. (2006). The effects of eicosapentaenoic acid-fortified food on inflammatory markers in healthy subjects—a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology, 52(4), 261-265.

Sarris, J., Mischoulon, D., & Schweitzer, I. (2011). Omega-3 for bipolar disorder: meta-analyses of use in mania and bipolar depression. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 73(1), 81-86.

Wei, M. Y., & Jacobson, T. A. (2011). Effects of eicosapentaenoic acid versus docosahexaenoic acid on serum lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Current atherosclerosis reports, 13(6), 474-483.

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