Why we need them
Fish oils are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, namely, EPA & DHA. These are potent anti-inflammatory agents in the body and make up a large proportion of the outer layer of our cells. Most notably, they balance out the overly consumed omega-6s that we get from plant oils and packaged goods (pastries, crackers, etc). The key is to balance out the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6, either by consuming less omega-6 (not always possible since many healthy plant foods contain this) or by increasing our omega-3 intake. Bottom line: eat less packaged, processed foods and take a high-quality fish oil supplement.
Who can they help?
The research on using omega-3 supplements in the form of fish oil range from mood disorders like depression to joint pain, to heart health and help boost healthy skin!
A lot of our health problems today stem from the same place: inflammation. Think of it as an ‘internal fire’ that causes pain, irritation, low energy and poor brain health. Yikes! The good news is, fish oils can help. Don’t get me wrong, fish oils can be effective but they take some time to work (no quick fix here). I tell my patients to commit to around 2-3 months as a general rule before assessing whether or not it’s the best course of action for them.
As a healthcare provider I can’t stress this enough, especially when it comes to fish oil: Quality is the most important factor in your omega-3 supplement. Since the source of the oil is fish, we have to be weary of contamination and heavy metal toxicity.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Make sure the fish used are small fish like sardines and anchovies.
- When buying liquid oil (which I prefer for easy dosing), make sure you buy a small, dark coloured bottle to prevent the oil from going rancid. Many products often contain an antioxidant like vitamin E or green tea extract for maximum longevity.
- Look for higher doses of EPA for skin health and mood support. Balanced or higher DHA formulas are best for brain and heart concerns.
If you’re concerned about a ‘fishy aftertaste’, rest assured, taking your dose of a quality omega-3 supplement with a meal should eliminate this worry. If not, talk to your healthcare provider or naturopath to get your digestive tract running smoothly first!
Dr. Laura Belus is a Naturopathic Doctor that focuses on detoxification and hormone balance for weight loss, stress management, and greater energy. She believes in making simple, yet powerful, changes to diet & lifestyle habits that create lasting results. She practices in Mississauga and Toronto.