Monday, February 15, 2010

Omega 3 Supplements

What Should I Look For In A Fish Oil Supplement?

Not all supplements are created equal, and Omega 3s are one very good example of getting what you pay for.

Most of us have heard of the benefits of Omega 3s and Fish Oils but with so many choices out on the market, it is difficult to determine which supplement is best. It is especially important to ensure quality when it comes to omega 3 supplements. You will need to read labels and compare products.

Two common sources of Omega 3s are fish and flax. They are not equally beneficial however. While fish oil is a readily available source of omega 3s, flax oil must be converted to omega 3 in the body. Depending on the availability of other nutritional factors required for conversion, the body is only able to convert an estimated 10% of the oil in flax to the beneficial omega 3 fatty acids. For this reason, I recommend fish oil supplements over flax oil for therapeutic benefit.

You also want to be looking for a supplement that contains only omega 3. Don’t worry about Omega 6 and 9. We obtain enough omega 6s from our diet, and omega 9 can be found in olive oil. The issue is the imbalance of omega 3 to 6 in the body thus, we need to supplement with omega 3 for a more balanced ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6.

Here are a few considerations when choosing a fish oil supplement:

• The source of fish oil should be listed: sardines, anchovies and mackerel are the most sustainable sources.
• The total amount of EPA and DHA should be listed. If it just says “fish oil” it is not a quality product.
• Look for a highly concentrated fish oil: check the total amount of oil per capsule and then add up the amount of EPA and DHA per capsule. The EPA and DHA combined should make up at least 70% of the total. The higher the percentage, the more concentrated it is. The lower the percentage, the more “other” oils are present. A more concentrated product usually means taking fewer capsules, or less liquid.
• Your fish oil should be guaranteed to be 100% pure. Third party testing should ensure that the fish oil is free of heavy metals, PCB’s, pesticides, volatile organics and other impurities. Just because a company "tests" for contaminants does not mean that they effectively remove them.

Consult with your Naturopathic Doctor to determine an appropriate dosage of omega 3s and whether or not you require a supplement predominant in EPA or DHA.

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