With all the recent research on the importance of fish oils in heart and brain health every health food store, grocery store and big box store carries what they call the “highest quality fish oils.” But what makes fish oil high quality and what should one look for when purchasing a fish oil to improve their health?
First off let’s get a little background on omega fatty acids. There are 3 types of omega fatty acids, Omega 3’s (n-3), Omega 6’s (n-6), and Omega 9’s (n-9) many fish oil supplements will list these or a variation of these on the label. Let’s start with n-9 fatty acids, unlike n‑3 and n-6 fatty acids, n-9 fatty acids are readily made by the human body. N-6 fatty acids are considered an essential fatty acid since they are unable to be made by the human body however n-6 fatty acids are found in high concentrations in animal products like eggs, beef and pork and also canola, soy and vegetables oils. N-3 fatty acids are essential like n-6 fatty acids so they must be consumed they can be found in flax seed and flax oil, trout, salmon, sardines and herring. Currently the ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids consumed in the standard American diet is about 15:1 to 20:1 an ideal ratio is between 1:1 and 2:1 a far cry from what we actually get. For this reason it is important to supplement n-3 fatty acids.
N-3 fatty acids can further be broken down to 3 different components EPA, DHA and ALA. EPA and DHA are actual complete n-3 fatty acids ready to be incorporated into your body tissues. ALA is a precursor to EPA and DHA and must be further changed by your body to make n-3 fatty acids that can be incorporated into your cells. Flaxseed oil has only ALA so for that reason it may not be the best choice, however if you are a strict vegan or sensitive to fish it is the only choice. Fish oil has EPA and DHA and is a better option however when looking for a quality fish oil there are a few things to be aware of. Be aware that fish can have many contaminants like mercury and PCBs look for a fish oil where much of the contaminants have been removed look for molecular distillation or assayed for PCBs and mercury on the label. Also remember that we want to improve the ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids so look for a supplement that is at least 50% total EPA, DHA and/or ALA. This would be at least 500 miligrams of EPA plus DHA and/or ALA per 1 gram capsule fish oil.
Improving the ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation, which is a large component of heart disease, autoimmune conditions, aging and degeneration.
Your health is by choice not by chance. Your choice to eat well, move well and think well outweighs chance.
**If you’re still not sure about quality supplements, please call our office (952-471-2560) we would be happy to set up a free consultation to help you. Also Dr. Jayme is teaching multiple classes through Westonka community education this fall, all about nutrition, health and wellness. See our website or the fall Westonka Community Ed catalogue for more information.**