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Fish oil supplementation

It would be lovely to say that your diet will provide everything you need and that there is no need for any supplementation. The unfortunate truth remains that supplementation is essential for most people. Fish oil is especially important as our waters are heavily polluted and can mean that the fish you eat actually causes more harm than good. The mercury debate and the issue of farmed fish presents questions and potential health ramifications.

Fish oil supplements are not equal. There are reasons why some are cheap and nasty and higher quality ones cost more. You get what you pay for and with a substance as important as essential fatty acids (EFAs) I wouldn’t take the rubbish. Common tricks in the industry include the use of poor quality oils that may be rancid, encapsulation processes that use plastics and plasticizers (yep you’re swallowing plastic), the use of fish that come from polluted waters that contain various toxins including mercury, lead and other nasties; manufactures that take their time from catching to processing causing the fish to lose freshness, or they may use of fish that are poor quality. When you buy something, test it. If it smells fishy or tastes fishy its probably rancid (fresh fish oils generally don’t). If you have the lovely experience of burping a fishy aftertaste, the product is likely to be poorly manufactured and/or rancid.

The total fish oil quantity (i.e. 1g) is less important than the active component quantity. The most well-known and studied Omega-3 fatty acids are DHA and EPA. DHA is well known for brain development and psychological benefits whereas EPA is considered superior for arthritis or cardiovascular concerns. EPA and DHA are found in cold-water fish such as sardines, mackerel, anchovies, and cod liver. As always, speak to a qualified health professional.