Supplement Saturday – What the fish?
Today’s supplement I’ll be talking about is wonderful fish oil and why you should be using it to upgrade your health.
Firstly, fish oil was popularised by Bang et al. (1971) who conducted a study on the Greenland Eskimos. They found the Eskimos were consuming massive amounts of fat and that their ischemic heart disease chances were very low, contrary to what people believed a high fat diet would do.
This sparked the interest of many researchers globally providing us with tons of research on fish oil. This article is going to tell you the latest information on why adding more fatty fish food into your diet or a concentrated fish oil supplement would be incredibly beneficial to your health.
Fish oils contain high levels of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential, meaning you must include these in your diet because your cant synthesise them in your body. These include Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA).
Each chemical has its own uniqueness which effects the body differently.
However, most of the research is done on EPA and DHA. And, this is what we find in fish oil supplements.
You will read many benefits about fish oil but they primarily come from the following physiological changes;
- Modulation of cell and organelle membranes structure and function. What this means is that EPA and DHA alter your cells and organelles (structures within cells) by increasing membrane fluidity. This influences signalling and how chemicals move in and out. Cells that are rigid don’t perform very well.
- Modulation of ion channels and cellular electrophysiology. Essentially, we are one big battery. EPA and DHA alter membrane ion channels to allow better elemental exchange so this battery is much more effective = faster processing of information.
- Regulation of Nuclear receptors and transcription factors. EPA and DHA are natural ligands (produce signals) that regulate gene expression. Some of which contribute to lipid metabolism (burning fat for fuel) and lowering inflammation.
Major health organisations have made recommendations to increase EPA and DHA by eating the flesh of oily fish (Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna, Sardines, Anchovy) or by consuming fish oil. The food and Agriculture organisation of the United Nations (2010) recommends 250mg/day of EPA + DHA for males and females (non pregnant). The American Heart associated recommends about 1g/day for patients with known coronary heart disease and 2g to 4g who require lowered Triglycerides (TAG’s).
I personally take Fish oil (2g) every day and have for the past 2 years. The two noticeable effects it has had on myself is improved cognitive function and my skin, which is softer and more supple now.
There can be problems with eating too much fish and problems with certain fish oil supplements that you must be aware of. It’s not as easy as heading down to your local supermarket and buying any fish. You must buy your fish from a trusted source (not farmed fish) and you must buy fish that is low in Mercury. Mercury is highly toxic in large amounts. It’s naturally occurring in the environment and can also be released into the air through industrial pollution. Mercury can then get into the surface of water which accumulates in streams and oceans and eventually into fish. As a general rule of thumb we want to be buying the smaller fish because it has less Mercury than the larger marine species.
Therefore, I think supplementing with fish oil is a much safer option than consuming fish every day. Currently on the market there are highly concentrated fish oil liquids or capsules (if you cant handle the taste) with EPA and DHA that will provide you the health upgrade your body wants. Don’t be fooled by cheap fish oils in the supermarkets and chemists. Many of these have been tested, and what they have found is many of them contain harmful toxins (mercury, lead, plastics etc) that could do more harm than good. I choose NutriDyn and Nordic Naturals personally as they contain the highest quality of pure fish oil. They both use independent testing in labs to make sure what you get is written on the label with no hidden nasties.
With that all said, I hope this invites you to the idea that fish oil could the missing ingredient you have been looking for to take your health to the next level.
Article Written by
Level 2 Senior Coach, naturopathy student and transformation expert
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