heart health

Is Fish Oil a Waste of your Money?

The short answer is, it could be…if you just don't know, or you're not careful about what you’re buying. It’s widely recommended by doctors and nutritionists, and that alone is reason enough for some companies to prey on unsuspecting consumers who will buy on price without ever considering the potency, source, or purity of the product. Here’s the skivvy, and besides reading this, the other thing you should always, always do is read the label of whatever you are buying.

First, what is fish oil? It is a rich source of the two essential omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). (Please don’t ask me to say those; even spellcheck is confused.) Fish oil comes from the fatty tissues of cold water, oily fish, like salmon.

Both omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fatty acids, which means your body can’t make them, they have to come from your diet. The typical American diet today provides an overabundance of omega-6 fatty acids, mostly from refined vegetable oils that are used in fried food as well as many processed foods, snacks, cookies and crackers. Omega-3s, on the other hand, are now relatively rare in American diets. The result is an imbalance of these essential fatty acids. That imbalance has been shown to promote inflammation and shows links to diseases commonly plaguing Americans, including heart conditions, several forms of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and Alzheimer’s disease. A deficiency in omega-3s can also show itself in symptoms like excessive thirst, frequent urination, dry hair and dry skin.

By regularly consuming fatty fish and/or fish oil as a dietary supplement and reducing intake of omega-6 fatty acids, we may help protect our mental and physical health. EPA supports heart health and DHA is thought to play an important role in normal brain development and function.

Any independent expert will tell you that when you are choosing a supplement, look for one derived from molecularly distilled fish oils – these are naturally high in both EPA and DHA and low in contaminants. Also choose a supplement brand that has been independently tested and guaranteed to be free of heavy metals such as mercury and lead, and other environmental toxins including PCBs.

If you currently take a fish oil supplement, try this to test its potency. Put the oil or the pills in the freezer. They should not freeze solid. If they do, you should be looking for another brand. And check those labels! See my notes in the photo caption below.

Top: Life's Abundance Fish Oil Capsules. Middle: A brand sold by Sam's Club. Bottom: I don't remember where I saw this one, but let's call it "don't bother".

Top: Life's Abundance Fish Oil Capsules. Middle: A brand sold by Sam's Club. Bottom: I don't remember where I saw this one, but let's call it "don't bother".

Life’s Abundance fish oil supplements are ultra pure, ultra refined, ultra concentrated, and the purity of every batch is third party certified. Taken in capsule form (4 per day) or concentrated liquid (1 teaspoon per day), there is no fishy aftertaste. My personal experience with this product is that it has eliminated my dependence on anti-inflammatory products like ibuprofen, and has improved the condition of my hair, skin and nails.