Most of us are aware that fish oil is good. It helps your joints, your brain, reducing risks of diabetes, arthritis, it can help your mood… the list goes on.
However, in my never-ending quest to call out the supplement industry on the amount of BS they sell consumers, there are so many horrible fish oil supplements out there.
Right off the bat, according to Labdoor, most fish oils are not even accurate in their labeling. Take a look: here. I’m not a fan of wasting money, and I’m sure you aren’t either. If one of the supplements you take is at the bottom of the list, don’t buy that brand again.
Keep in mind, Labdoor mainly tests for label accuracy and chemicals that hurt your body in the supplement. That DOESN’T mean the ones at the top of the list provide enough omega-3’s, it just simply testing if you are getting what the label says you are.
So, don’t just go to the top of the list and assume those are the best there is.
Why you need omega-3’s
Your body can’t produce omega-3’s. It’s something you need to get in a supplement. Of course, ideally you’d be getting it from your food each day, but not everyone can afford eating quality fish each day. Not to mention, a lot of fish is farmed (which can be good or bad depending on the fish), has mercury, or the label is lying. (Source #1, Source #2.)
^ Seriously, though. You should read those articles. As a passionate sushi-eater, it makes me livid. I haven’t figured out how to guarantee that your fish is what it says it is, but the day I do I’ll be blogging about it.
The benefits of omega-3’s
“University of Pittsburgh researchers recently reported that in adults age 35-54, the higher their blood levels of DHA, the better their performance on tests of nonverbal reasoning and mental flexibility, working memory, and vocabulary.” Source.
Fish oil can also help your body fight against air pollution. Source. For me, this is huge. I live in Denver and am moving to Los Angeles within the next year. Both cities have horrible air pollution, basically where the recommended level is “Don’t go outside” every single day. (Yeah, you won’t find that on a travel guide.)
For lifters, fish oil has also been shown to help with muscle-building. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why or how, but they believe it has something to do with assisting muscle protein synthesis.
How much you need
Generally, you need 1,500 mg of DHA and 1,500 of EPA per day.
Now, when you look at most fish oils, they barely have ~100-150 DHA per pill. So yes, you’d need to take a lot of pills to get your daily amount. Also, most brands will make claims like, “Doctors only recommend 300 DHA and EPA a day,” which is not true. They just want to claim their amount is right.
How can they do that? “The FDA does not regulate omega-3 dosages, and the manufacturer is responsible for determining that the serving sizes recommended are safe for the public. FDA approval is not needed to sell any dietary supplements containing omega-3, provided these ingredients were approved for use before 1994.” (Source.) THIS is exactly why I eye-roll at so much of the supplement industry.
However, there are also rarely any pills with an equal amount of DHA and EPA, so you basically are stuck either overdosing or underdosing for each.
In case you’re like, “WHAT DO I TAKE?”, I take Jim Stoppani’s Omega Jym. I’m not linking it because I don’t want anyone to think I’m getting some kind of monetary kick back for writing this. That’s truly what I take. In 4 pills I get everything I need daily and on days where I go on a sushi binge or eat fish, I cut back.
What else you need to know
You can also take your fish oil in liquid form. Not everyone can or likes to swallow pills daily. Here’s some info on liquid vs pill fish oil.
There are also vegetarian options out there for omega-3’s, but that would require additional research depending on what you’re looking for.
Be sure to read the entire label. Most companies include other BS into their supplements.
For example, a quick google search of algae omega-3’s as an alternative brought up a pill that has carrageenan and caramel color as additional ingredients. You just want a fish oil, why do they feel the need to add an essay of other ingredients?
My goal is always to arm you with the information, research, and studies you need to know so you can make the best decision for you and your health.