Fish or Fish Oil Supplements?
by David McEvoy
Tuna, Herring and Mackerel, because the Omega 3 fatty acids they contain are good
for our health. But at the same time they limit the recommended daily amounts to 2
portions of oily fish a week for women and girls who may want to have a baby one
day and for breastfeeding mothers, and 4 portions for everyone else. So first we are
told to eat more fish in order to gain the extraordinary health benefits of Omega 3,
but then we are told not to eat too much because our fish are polluted with toxins,
particularly methylmercury. What are we supposed to do with this advice? Perhaps we
should look at how much Omega 3 we actually need.

Omega 3 - how much is enough?

No official recommendation exists as to how much Omega 3 is required for optimum
health but on an individual basis the ideal amount is linked to our intake of Omega 6.
The more Omega 6 fatty acids that we consume, the more Omega 3 fatty acids we
need to counteract the imbalance. First of all it might help to explain that the body is
unable to synthesise Omega 3, or Omega 6 fatty acids for that matter, so we have to
rely totally on our diets to get them. Now here's the astounding part.

Most of us today are eating diets that are deficient in the anti-inflammatory Omega 3
fatty acids but excessive in pro-inflammatory Omega 6. Over the past 70 years or so
our consumption of fish has drastically diminished and at the same time we are eating
more processed foods, grains and vegetable oils. These foods aren't bad in
themselves it is just that this imbalance in our diets is believed by some to be the root
cause of a huge rise in inflammatory conditions, heart disease and depressive
disorders, hence the need for more Omega 3.

The important Omega 3 fatty acids are Eicosapentaenoic acid and Docosahexaenoic
acid or EPA and DHA. Generally speaking, 1g of EPA/DHA daily is considered enough
for everyone. To give you an idea of what this equates to in real terms, to get this
amount of EPA/DHA from the diet, you would have to consume a 3-oz portion of
salmon every single day, seven days a week.

Bearing in mind the toxicity problem, one might think it's safer to get Omega 3 from
fish oil supplements, but here's the 'catch'. Fish oil is made from the very same fish in
the sea, so it stands to reason that fish oil supplements can be toxic too unless of
course the fish oil has been purified.

What types of fish oils are there and which one is best?

To put it simply, there are basically 3 types of fish oil available.

• Cod Liver Oil
• Standard fish oil
• High-grade concentrated fish oil

Cod liver oil is produced from the liver of fish and although contains high amounts of
Omega 3, the liver is where most of the toxins are stored and so potentially, cod liver
oil can contain a high level of pollutants. Cod liver oil also contains high amounts of
vitamin A and D and too much can result in Vitamin A toxicity.

Standard fish oils are produced from the flesh of the fish as opposed to the liver of fish
but again, they can contain impurities as whatever was in the fish at the time it was
caught is transferred to the oil. The amount of Omega 3 fatty acids they contain can
also vary depending on a number of factors including the time of year, environmental
conditions etc.

High-grade concentrated fish oil has an advantage over the others in that not only has
all the impurities been removed, the oil can be concentrated to contain much higher
levels of Omega 3. For example, concentrations of 70% EPA is possible and so fewer
capsules are required in order to produce the same effect. With some of the standard
fish oils, 5 or 6 capsules are required every day. EPA is rapidly gaining recognition as
the most important fatty acid as the body can produce DHA when enough EPA is
present but this isn't effective the other way round.


To date there has been no real studies done on whether there is a significant
difference or benefit in getting Omega 3 from fresh fish or from fish oil supplements.
However, as it stands today, it would appear that the only way to ensure a healthy
intake of Omega 3 without the risk of harmful pollutants is to take a high-grade fish oil
supplement that has been through processes to filter out the impurities.

About The Author

Dave McEvoy is an expert in EPA with over 20 years experience; for more information
about fish oil and how it can help come and visit.
Both fish and fish oil supplements
contain important essential
Omega 3 fatty acids needed for
good health, but as we will see, it
isn't just any old fish and nor is it
any old fish oil that can do the
job properly.

The Paradox

Today's consumers must be very
confused about seemingly
contradictory advice about eating
fish.  The food standards agency
says most people should be
eating more oily fish like Salmon,
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