Fish oil is a good source of Omega 3. Fish oil supplements on the market can basically be grouped into 3 broad categories, fish oil, fish liver oil and krill oil.
- Fish oil, depending on the manufacturers, are either sourced from wild-caught fish or farmed fish, which can be small fish like anchovies and sardines or big fish like tuna and salmon.
- Fish liver oil usually sourced from cod liver. Cod liver oil is also rich in Vitamin A and D too.
- Krill oil are sourced from krill, which are basically small shrimp. Apart from Omega 3, krill oil also comes with astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidants which give krill their red colour.
Omega 3 refers to a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
EPA and DHA can be found in seafood, whereas ALA can be found in vegetable oils, seeds and nuts.
So what is so good about fish oil?
EPA and DHA found in fish oil are essential building blocks for cells.
Most notably, scientific research have shown that Omega 3 helps lower triglycerides level which is bad for your heart.
While there may be arguments whether fish oil supplements are beneficial in slowing progression of various other health conditions, studies found that people who take diets rich in Omega 3 are less likely to die of heart diseases and develop other age related disease.
As the old saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure.” Why not boost up your Omega 3 intake now?
Note: You are advised to consult your health professional first before supplementing yourself especially if you are allergic to seafood, pregnant or taking other medications.
Choosing the Right Fish Oil Supplements
So what do you need to look at when choosing the right fish oil supplements?
- Fish Source – Ideally, you will choose fish oil sourced from small wild-caught fish. This is because farmed fish are likely to have higher concentration of antibiotics and pesticides. Larger fish, on the other hand, are further down the food chain and will therefore accumulate more toxins from the smaller fish they eat.
- Purity – Choose fish oil that has been molecularly distilled as this ensures even the smallest contaminants are removed. You might also want to avoid products with added artificial colours, sweeteners and emulsifier.
- Eco-friendliness – Make sure you only buy products that are from a sustainable source. You wouldn’t want to be an accomplice in overfishing. That’s not good for you either if you want to always get the fish oil you need.
- Formulation – Fish oil supplements can be found in capsule or liquid form. The pro about capsule form is that they usually last longer before they go bad (yes, fish oil can go rancid), however, the capsules which are usually made of gelatin can be a problem for people who are allergic to gelatin or those who don’t eat gelatin. The good thing is for many of the fish oil capsules on the market, you can just squeeze the fish oil out without taking the gelatin. Liquid formulation, on the other hand, is good for people who want to avoid gelatin or have difficulty swallowing capsule. However, liquid fish oil does go bad faster.
- Concentration – The most important thing about taking fish oil supplements is that it is the amount of Omega 3 (DHA and EPA combined) that matters rather than the amount of fish oil. Taking fish oil supplements with higher strength means that you will not have to take as many capsules each day.
Side Effects of Fish Oils
There is no serious adverse effects associated with fish oil supplements. The more common side effects will be:
- Stomach pains or nausea
- Fishy burps (if you consider that a side effect?)
- Potential for excess bleeding on very high doses (especially if you are taking blood thinning medications)
P/S: Fish oil supplement is best taken with meals.
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A few good reads have also been included below if you would like to find out more around this topic:
- Fish by Better Health Channel discusses about fish, the goods and the bads, as well as how you should prepare you fish.
- 15 Omega-3 Foods Your Body Needs Now by Dr. Axe explains the dangers of Omega 3 deficiency and natural sources of Omega 3. There are also some nice recipes there!
- Omega-3 Supplements: In Depth by US NIH has a nice summary of what the science says about fish oil supplement for those who want to go deep.
- Dietary Fats by Medline Plus has a very brief summary about dietary fats and links to various tools, clinical trials and journal articles related to fats.