This is part two of the “Basic Supplement Cornerstone,” which supports the use of a general health supplement regimen consisting of a multi-vitamin supplement, fish oil supplement, probiotics, and vitamin D. These are all supplements that everyone should consider taking at some point in their lives.
Over the years, fish oil has been gaining popularity and the evidence supporting healthy omega 3 fats has been building up. Your diet should already include an abundant source of healthy fats. Due to the diminished quality of the fats in meats, eggs, and dairy, not to mention the abundance of corn, vegetable, and soy bean oils in packaged foods, the omega ratio in our diets are skewed in the wrong direction. Here you will learn what an omega fat is and how it effects the body. Omega fatty acids are a saturated fat and come in different molecular forms. Tiny molecular differences in the fats determine different functions that the fats perform in the body. The most common types of omega fatty acids are omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9. However, you may see omega 7 listed on some supplement labels.
What Should Your Omega Ratio Be?
Biochemists, nutritionists, and other scientists have determined that an ideal omega ratio is a balance between 1:1 to 1:2 of omega 6 to omega 3. Multiple sources show that the standard American diet (s.a.d.) has an omega ratio of 6:1, with some estimates as high as 20:1. Why is this ratio so important? While it is true that both fats are essential, proportionately higher levels of omega 6 fatty acids in the diet can trigger systemic inflammation. Inflammation is your bodies natural response to damage and is meant to heal and protect the afflicted area. However, the inflammatory process itself causes a huge drain on your immune system and creates metabolic end-products that need to be excreted from the body.
What is Fish Oil Good For?
Systemic inflammation means that your body’s immune system is constantly taxed because it is trying desperately to repair all of the chronic damage caused by the omega 6’s in your diet. Over time, these negative effects spread to all areas of your body; joints, bones, organs, blood vessels, skin, muscles, including the heart, connective tissues, ect. It is well understood that systemic inflammation is usually involved in diseases such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, irritable bowl syndrome, high blood pressure, some cancers, memory and cognition related disorders, autoimmune diseases, and other health related issues such as acne, menopause related symptoms, migraines, general aches and pains, poor recovery, and increased susceptibility to colds. Need I go on? The bottom line is that in order to avoid disease and achieve optimal health, unnecessary inflammation is to be avoided like the plague. One of the benefits of fish oil is that it can heal existing inflammation and moderate the levels of omega 6 to prevent future inflammation.
Get Yourself an Omega 3 Supplement
Convinced yet? You need to be taking an omega 3 supplement no matter your health status, age or gender. Similar to the multivitamin, any drugstore brand fish oil will be sufficient. But with everything, you get what you pay for. There are high quality, purified fish oils that are available in higher concentrations, but at a higher price. You can expect to spend between $10 and $40 for a bottle of fish oil. I recommend buying the biggest bottle you can afford right now. Buying in bulk is the smartest choice for fish oil (keep it in the fridge), and many other supplements. Recommended brands include Jarrow Formulas, Kirklands, New Chapter, Cormega, Carlsons and NSI.
How Much Fish Oil Should You Take?
The general dose for most people is 2-4 grams of DHA/EPA (keep reading to find out what that means).
Taking many pills in one sitting may seem ridiculous, but can be remedied by spreading out your doses with each meal. Liquid fish oil is available and often has much higher concentrations than the pills do. Although liquid fish oil is available in fruity flavors, some may have a hard time swallowing it. One of the benefits of fish oil pills is it helps to avoid any unpleasant flavors. Be careful when determining how many pills of your particular brand you need.
Side Note: Better brands will allow you to get this dose with 1-5 pills. If your bottle of fish oil requires you to take 6+ pills to hit this dose, it’s probably not a pure or concentrated enough formula.
Just because the label says 1 gram of fish oil, it might not all be from omega 3 fatty acids. Additionally, just because the label says, for example, 800 mg of total omega 3’s, some brands use fillers. What you really want to go by is the amount of DHA and EPA. It is not uncommon for a 1 gram pill to have just 300 mg of DHA+EPA. So you would need 3 pills to equal just under a gram of true omega 3. This is not a daunting process, it just requires a little bit of initial investment to determine how many grams you need, and how many pills you need to take daily. Once this has been determined, all you need to do is simply remember to take them every day.
And as Always...
I’m always available to make specific recommendations for your individual needs – let me know if you need any help!