Why Fish Oil?

22 Mar

I have confession to make. Sea creatures FREAK me out. As much as I like watching the Discovery Channel, and learning about the happenings under water, I want nothing to do with the ocean floor. Even when I go swimming in the ocean, I am wondering what ridiculous creatures are swimming around beneath me.

Maybe it’s because I got stung by a jelly fish once. It could be that time I was tubing, and my Aunt’s friend told me if I fell off the tube I might get bitten by fish. I know the documentary I watched on the Humboldt Squid, and how it’s slowly taking over the earth didn’t help either.

This thing scares the crap out of me

All that aside, I still know that fish is good for me. It’s also not easy for me to eat a lot of fish. One, it smells. Two, I’m not great at cooking it. Three, it doesn’t travel well, outside of the water. Four, I don’t have the luxury of eating sushi 24/7. If and when I do, I probably will…I (expletive) love sushi.

Even if you do eat a good amount of fish, fish oil is still something you should consider taking. Here’s why:

1. Our bodies can’t make omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. We need to get these from our diets. Omega-6 fatty acids are actually pretty abundant in the foods we eat. We should strive not for more or less than the other, but a close to equal ratio of both.

2. Fish Oil is composed mainly of omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These are the main compounds that cause the positive effects of fish oil supplementation.

3. Interesting fact, it’s what the animal, or sea animal eats that determines their Omega – 3, Omega- 6 availability in your food. Fish mostly eat green sea vegetation and algae, both of which are high in omega-3. Since the majority of our live-stock is fed corn and soy the meat is rich in omega-6. Grass fed cows have a much better ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. If you eat a lot of processed garbage, you probably eat a lot of corn and soy. Therefore, you take in considerably larger amounts of omega-6, than omega-3. 

4. Fish Oil helps promote the health of your cells. More accurately a healthy ratio of omega – 3’s does two big things: A) it keeps your cell membranes more fluid, how they should be. This means the cell can allow for various things to enter and leave. This has all kinds of positive effects, two of which are increased nervous system and brain health (improved brain function = better cognitive functions, combats memory loss).  B) These healthy fats are vital in the repair and growth of new and existing cells. This function of fish oil is also where claims for better skin, hair, and nails originate. Afterall, we’re just a whole bunch of different cells!

5. It’s good for your heart! Your heart is pretty important, and fish oil improves your cardiovascular function. It can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.

6. It improves circulation, and your ability to use oxygen from the blood during exercise.

7. It helps combat high cholesterol. High cholesterol is very common in our society today. Fish oil can keep you in check by raising your levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and lowering your levels of LDL (bad cholesterol). For those of you using “statins” to lower your cholesterol, it is of note that using these drugs alongside fish oil has been shown to be more effective than using them alone.

8. Fish oil can increase insulin sensitivity. This means more nutrients are going to be delivered to your muscles and it can likely cause a decrease in fat cells.

9. Fish oil increases your metabolism. Better metabolic health means more energy, and more help losing body fat.

10. Fish oil decreases inflammation.

So although fish are slimy, weird looking, and bite you when you fall off inner tubes, they still have a lot going for them.

I subscribe to Ryan Andrew’s from Precision Nutrition’s recommendation on dosing:

 

“Aim for 6-12 daily grams of total fish oil (about 3-6 grams of EPA + DHA) per day from a supplement company that doesn’t contribute directly to the depletion of fish (e.g., they use primarily fish discards). We suggest liquid fish oil, because it’s hard to take so many capsules, and because some supplement companies put lower-quality oil into capsules (or secretly cut it with soy oil). Buy from a reputable company.

Look for small-fish-based formulations (e.g. herring, mackerel). Small fish are lower on the food chain and less likely to accumulate environmental toxins. Or choose krill oil or algae oil.

Add up the amounts of EPA & DHA listed on the back of the product and make sure the total is at least 300 mg per 1000 mg capsule. This will make it easier to get the suggested dose.

Avoid cod liver oil.

Find a fish oil supplement that you can tolerate the taste of, otherwise you won’t use it (unless it’s in capsule form).

Fish oil can taste much better when combined with your favorite protein powder in a super shake.

Avoid trans fats; they can interfere with EPA & DHA in the body.

Use fewer omega-6 rich vegetable oils, which will negatively alter your fatty acid ratio.” (Andrews 2010)

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One Response to “Why Fish Oil?”

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  1. Weekly Recap « Greg Robins - March 26, 2012

    […] Why Fish Oil? […]

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