Fish oil is a widely used non-mineral, non-vitamin supplement. The misinformation and confusion surrounding this powerful nutritional supplement have increased just as an omega-3 supplement has become more popular over time.
Now, let's get to the bottom of some common myths regarding omega-3 fish oil supplements.
- All sources of Omega-3 benefit equally
There are multiple options for getting essential fatty acids such as salmon, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts. But not all sources of omega-3 have the same value.
We are actually referring to a group of fatty acids when we speak about omega-3. Fatty fish and breast milk (for babies) are the only foods that contain all the essential omega-3 molecules. Only one type is found in plant sources, and that's ALA.
There are many problems with relying on ALA-based foods as your source of omega-3s. Firstly, most of the omega-3 clinical studies have focused on DHA and EPA from fish and oil. This means that there is not much science to support the claim that ALA offers the same benefits as EPA or DHA.
Secondly, people believed for a long period that they could synthesize EPA/DHA from ALA-based food. Recent research has shown that the conversion rate between ALA and EPA, and DHA are so low that they are insignificant for most people. It is for this reason that eating fatty fish and taking quality fish oil supplements are far better to reap omega-3 benefits.
- Fish is the best way to get your Omega-3s
Consuming fatty fish can help increase your omega-3 intake. However, studies show that a lot of people don't get enough omega-3s in their diets.
So, many factors contribute to the fact that not everyone gets enough omega-3s. Many people don't like fish because they aren't sure how to prepare it or can't afford it.
Even for those who eat seafood often, it can be difficult to get enough omega-3s through diet alone. Many seafoods, such as shrimp and tilapia, are low in omega-3 fatty acids. Other factors, such as whether the fish is wild-caught or farm-raised, season and cooking method, can also significantly impact the omega-3 content.
- A little Omega-3 is better than nothing
Research shows that omega-3s are dose-dependent. The amount of these fatty acids consumed will determine the benefits they provide.
That means it is important to maintain a certain level of intake to achieve results.
It typically takes more than 2000mg of EPA/DHA for cellular effects to be demonstrated. The omega-3 doses used for other health benefits, such as lowering triglyceride levels and reducing chances of cancers, are often even higher in clinical trials that were successful.
Understanding how omega-3 fatty acids work inside the body will help you see why we need to have enough of them. The omega-3 molecules in our cells compete for the same enzymes that the omega-6 molecules need to perform their beneficial actions. Humans evolved with a diet that contained roughly the same amount of both omega-3s as omega-6s. Today's processed foods contain 20 times more omega-6s than omega-3s. This imbalance results in chronic inflammation, as the omega-6 molecules always win the enzymes.
For the omega-3s to be able to compete with the omega-6 molecules, it is necessary to consume a large amount of EPA/DHA. It is important that you get a good daily dose of omega-3s. Hence, you won't notice any difference if you don't use an omega 3 fish oil supplement.
- The daily dosage depends on weight and age
An individual's requirements for omega-3s will vary based on a lot of factors, depending on their age, genetics and lifestyle. A person who consumes less processed food (which contains pro-inflammatory omega-6s) often requires less omega-3s.
The most important factor in determining the dose is a person's medical condition. Omega-3 is required to fight inflammation that is more severe.
- Fish oil always tastes and smells fishy
Fresh fish oil is just like fresh seafood. It has no fishy smell or taste. If it does, it is oxidizing and becoming rancid.
Rancid fish oil can be toxic and taste bad. Rancid oil consumption has been shown to cause organ damage and atherosclerosis in animals. Researchers have also found that oxidized fatty acids can cause inflammation and mutagenic reactions. This could even lead to an increase in risk factors for Alzheimer's disease.
Open the fish oil supplement capsule and taste the oil to determine if your omega-3 supplement has gone rancid.
- Fishy burps can be prevented by freezing the capsules of your fish oil
Rancid fish oil can cause foul-tasting burps. However, freezing fish oil capsules can mask fishy flavours and slow down digestion. It won't fix the rancidity problem if it has already started to go bad.
No matter how much your fish oil capsules seem hard to put into your mouth, you should always break them open after you purchase them and then smell and taste the oil to test if it has turned rancid. To prevent future oxidation, place your fish oil in the freezer if it passes the test.
- The expiry date is an indication of the freshness of the tablets
Milk that has been left on the counter for more than a day will go bad regardless of the expiration date. Fish oil is subject to the same rules.
Fresh fish oil can be stored in the freezer for up to one year if it is kept dry. Oils that have been exposed to oxygen will quickly oxidize and give off the fishy smell and taste. Gelatine capsules are not able to provide an oxygen barrier, so the oil will continue to oxidize even after they have been sealed.
Studies have shown that most fish oils are oxidized well before the expiration date. Your sense of taste and smell are the best ways to determine the quality of your fish oils supplement. This is the same method you use to evaluate any other perishable food.
Now that we have busted the most common myths about omega 3 fish oil supplements, there is no reason why you would make any mistake in this regard. Take your time and bring home only the best omega 3 fish oil capsule for better health.