According Harvard University research, omega-3 fatty acid deficiency ranked as the sixth highest killer in the United States.
You may have been told by your doctor to reduce your fat intake to prevent heart disease. While this is important, it isn’t an across the board recommendation because not all fats are the same.
Saturated fats are the ones you want to steer clear of. The American Heart Association cites that saturated fats raise LDL cholesterol, while lowering HDL cholesterol. These are fats that are commonly found in dairy products, red meat, and often in processed and fast foods.
Unsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids are the beneficial ones. They can actually lower LDL cholesterol when taken in the appropriate amounts. Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that your body does not produce naturally.
Therefore, you need to eat certain foods like salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds, and avocados, or take omega-3 supplements to get these essential nutrients.
Omega-3 fatty acids come in three different varieties:
- EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid)
- DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)
- ALA (Alpha-linoleic Acid)
EPA and DHA are primarily found in cold water, fatty fish. ALA is found in plants foods, such as tree nuts and seeds. All three are necessary nutrients.
10 Surprising Health Benefits of Fish Oil
The Atlantic says, with enough omega-3 fatty acids you can change the balance of oils in your body. This may help preserve the length of your telomeres. Telomeres a part of the DNA which protects the chromosome ends. Think of it as putting a little hat on the strands to keep the cell information intact for proper division. Basically, this is how we continue to stay alive. Omega-3 supplementation has all the qualities needed to fight premature aging.
2.) Asthma Relief
Asthma is often triggered by inflammation. Because a diet high in omega-3s has a direct positive effect on inflammation, it follows that this may help with inflammation in the lungs related to asthma. It has not been determined if essential fatty acid intake can lessen the medication needed to control asthma.
3.) Help for ADHD
Studies have shown that fish oil can reduce the symptoms of ADHA in some children. They found a “statistical significant improvement” in the areas of aggressiveness, restlessness, work completion and improved academic performance. Fish oil can improve mental skills, get better sleep, memory, ability to focus, literacy and behavior in children with ADHD.
4.) Stronger Bones
Preventing osteoporosis may be helped by EPA and DHA in preventing osteoporosis. While this isn’t a substitute for vitamin D and calcium supplements needed for bone density, omega-3s should be supplemental to these nutrients as part of a bone health protocol.
5.) Improved Mood
Researchers have found that people who eat foods with high amounts of fatty acids tend to have less anxiety and depression. Omega-3s seem to boost the effects of antidepressants when taken. They may even help with symptoms associated with bipolar personality disorder.
6.) Stroke Prevention
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), consumption of fatty fish and fish oil supplements can decrease the risk for strokes. Strokes happen when blood flow to the brain is suddenly cut off. This can have devastating consequences. It just makes sense to include essential fatty acids to help prevent a stroke.
7.) Healthier Skin & Hair
Your skin is the largest organ of the human body. Essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins found in fish oil can help to maintain a more elastic skin surface. If you are deficient in EPA and DHA you could be having issues with dandruff, thinning hair, dermatitis, such as seborrhea of the scalp, psoriasis, or eczema. It can even help reduce the inflammation of a sunburn and also provide relief. While topically applied medications and moisturizer may help, treating your skin from the inside out with fish oil may be more beneficial long-term.
8.) Cardiovascular Health
Triglycerides are basically blood fat. While you need some fat in your blood, too much can lead to plaque build-up in your arteries, eventually clogging them. According to the American Heart Association, the omega-3s found in fish have been shown to improve blood triglyceride levels. Essential fatty acids can also reduce blood pressure and heart arrhythmias.
9.) Increased Brain Performance
According to this PubMed.gov study, it is believed that EPA and DHA have a positive effect on cognition. It has also been seen that omega-3s may help protect you from age related memory loss, making early supplementation a wise option for the prevention of dementia and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
10.) Rheumatoid Arthritis & Osteoarthritis Relief
These degenerative conditions cause stiffness and joint pain. EPA and DHA have been shown to curb stiffness and lessen joint pain. These fatty acids have also been shown to boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs that are used to treat arthritis associated pain.
How to Take Fish Oil Supplements
You can get all of the omega-3 fatty acids by eating a diet with good amounts of cold water fish (caught in the wild), tree nuts, avocados, and seeds.
If you aren’t a fan of fish, consider taking a fish oil supplement for the EPAs and DHAs, and maybe adding some walnuts and flaxseeds to your morning cereal or smoothie for the ALAs.
As with any dietary supplement, talk with your health care professional first. Depending on your current health status, and the medications you take, he or she can advise the appropriate amount to supplement with to avoid any negative interactions.
Which Is the Best Fish Oil Supplement?
The best fish oil supplement will…
- Be sustainably sourced
- Provide 1,000 mg (minimum) of EPA+DHA omega-3 fatty acids per serving
- Have proper certification by third-party labs to ensure their label accuracy, purity, and freshness.
Look for approval from at least one of these four 3rd party verifications:
- U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) – This nonprofit organization sets standards for the identity, strength, quality, and purity of medicines, food ingredients, and dietary supplements manufactured, distributed and consumed worldwide that are enforceable by the FDA. You will see a “USP Verified”label on the package to verify it has been properly tested.
- National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) – This independent, accredited organization tests products and inspects manufacturing plants before awarding its certification.
- Labdoor – Labdoor independently buys supplements from retail stores and test them in chemistry labs. Instead of awarding a certification, it gives a letter grade. We suggest not taking any supplement that doesn’t earn at least a rating of 70 or better on a scale from 1 to 100.
- The International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) Program – This is the ONLY third party testing and certification program specifically for fish oils. They are inspected for purity, potency and freshness and will receive a 5-star rating if they pass their inspection.
What to Look for in Fish Oil Supplements
Aside from being approved by one of the 3rd parties above you want to make sure your fish oil supplements have:
- 500 mg combined EPA and DHA in two or fewer pills
- No added colors or flavors that can disguise rancid fish oil
- A 5-star rating from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Highest Rated Fish Oil Supplements
Here are the top 3 picks of fish oil supplements that I recommended based on the criteria above:
- Nutrigold’s Triple Strength Fish Oil Omega-3 Gold 2100 mg, 180 softgels – This is my top choice due to the many accolades it has received. It is also certified by the International Fish Oil Standards and Marine Stewardship Council and was awarded an impressive 77 out of 100 rating by Labdoor.
- Life & Food Omega-3 Supreme 1400 mg – EPA DHA Fish Oil 180 softgels – This is a budget friendly option because it is only half of the EPA+DHA of Nutrigold recommended serving. It is certified by MSC, NSF, and has a Labdoor rating of 73/100.
- Wileys Finest – Wild Alaskan Fish Oil Peak EPA, 1000 mg, 30 softgels – This budget-friendly option (around 42 cents per pill) is a wonderful option if you want to make sure you have a high quality fish oil supplement that is certified by both NSF and MSC.
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