With the steady decline in the quality of our food supply Americans are starting to understand the importance of including a daily multi-vitamin to help fill in the gaps that may lacking in their food intake. According to a 2013 Gallup poll about half of Americans take a multi-vitamin. So it is surprising for me to find out that only 10% of Americans regularly take a fish oil supplement. Fish oil supplements are one of the most important supplements in rounding out the current American diet. With the high percentage of the population consuming a larger amount of processed goods saturated with vegetable oils, and the fish, poultry, and meat coming from grain-fed animals; our balance of Omega 6s to Omega 3s have spiraled out of control. The average American has a ratio of 26:1 Omega 6s to 3s, when over a century ago it was more like 2:1, which is ideal. This is creating a huge disaster for our bodies. Among the scientific community they are starting to recognize a link between this large imbalance in our bodies and the incidence of heart disease, cancers, diabetes and even autoimmune diseases.
When an imbalance of Omega 6s to 3s develop in mammals inflammation soon follows. Inflammation comes in the form of excess body fat, heart disease, aching joints, metabolic disorder, cancers, etc. Look at the current cattle industry, the cows that are feed a steady diet of grain and corn become fat, and sick and sent to be killed much sooner then there grazing grass-fed counterparts. If we eat these grain-fed animals how can we possibly believe we are not going to be made sick from eating the same diet.
The most important step towards stopping inflammation is ridding the diet of processed foods, meat or eggs from grain fed animals, and sugar. The second step is focusing on eating organic, free range, wild caught, veggie and grass fed meat, and opting for meals made up of organic fruit and vegetables. The third step is incorporating a quality daily fish oil supplement. This will help speed along the process of an imbalance that has taken place over years of unhealthy eating. If I have a client who is showing signs of inflammation (aching joints, depression, brain fog, constipation) or have been diagnosed with a condition related to insulin resistance or autoimmunity I will recommend that they take 1g for every 10lbs of body weight for the first couple months, and then drop it down to just .5g for every 10lbs. of body weight for maintenance. A healthy individual is fine with taking just .25-.5g of fish oil per 10lbs of body weight. The only time I do not recommend fish oil supplementation is when someone is eating at least 4-5 servings of fish or shellfish per week.
What type of fish oils are the best? Capsule or liquid is more of a personal preference. Much of it depends on which you would prefer to take. If you have a fairly high dosage to take I would recommend going with the liquid option. You want to get a fish oil that is extracted from smaller fish due to the potential of mercury toxicity so sardines and mackerel are some good choices. In addition a fairly equal ratio of EPA to DHA, or slightly higher DHA is good. Some brands to turn to are Nordic Naturals, Carlsons, or Barleans. This is the pharmaceutical brand I recommend to my clients the most due to their strict testing and high standards for potency.