What’s the big deal about fish oil? Fatty acids EPA and DHA are essential fatty acids ("EFA"), which means you cannot make them yourself – they must be eaten. Fatty acids EPA and DHA are shown to reduce cardiovascular risk and reduce inflammation. Most of us aren't getting enough.
Can’t I just eat fish? Yes, but you'd have to eat a lot to meet recommendations of 750-1000mg EPA+DHA a day. Unlike other meat, you actually WANT fatty fish. Salmon is pretty much the rockstar of the fish world – coho, chum, canned, filet, farm, or fresh – all have high amounts of EPA and DHA (approximately 1000-1800mg per 3oz serving). Other good sources include herring, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies. Now, there is great debate over the dyes and the farming methods of fish. Wild caught is less likely to contain contaminants and may be richer in fatty acids. Try to do wild caught as much as possible, but other fish, in small volume, shouldn’t be too harmful. White flaky fish – tilapia, catfish, mahi, and cod – are all extremely low-fat, which means they are low in EPA/DHA (approximately 136mg or less per 3oz).
What about flax? Flax is a good option for some (mostly hippies). Technically, though, flax is ALA. The body must break down ALA into EPA and DHA and there is some variability from person-to-person on how efficiently this is done. Predictably, flax seed oil has dramatically more ALA (7000mg+ per Tbsp) than the flax seeds (approximately 1600mg per Tbsp).
But fish oils makes me burp. Try taking it at bed time, theoretically you won’t be burping in your sleep. You could also try refrigerating or freezing them, which slows the breakdown of the coating so the oil disintegrates lower in your GI. Personally, I would forget them in there. Maybe just get a better fish oil....
What is a better oil, you ask? Technically, a triglyceride form is better absorbed than than a cholesterol ester form. I have taken Nordic Natural brand Omega-3 or Ultimate Omega for the last three years. It is more expensive than your CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and Costco brands though. I ran of the Nordic Naturals once and thought I would be lower maintenance and take Allen's Costco oils. He tolerates it well, but I wound up with the fish burps within an hour. So I'm back to the good stuff. (You can find Nordic Natural at Vitamin Shoppe or Amazon.com.) Also, there is no real need to take an Omega-3-6-9 blend. Unless you're a strict herbivore, you don't need extra Omega-6 or 9. We get plenty of that in our diets and excess can actually raise inflammation.
Alright I'm sold. How much should I take? If you have heart disease or high triglycerides, aim for 1000mg EPA+DHA a day. If you don't, 750mg EPA+DHA a day should suffice. Why does she keep saying EPA+DHA? Because 1000mg EPA+DHA is NOT the same as a 1000mg capsule. Supplements and medications are rarely/never 100% of the active ingredient, fish oils are no different. Some fish oils contain as little as 20-30% EPA+DHA in the capsule. Turn over the bottle and look at the supplement facts, make sure the dose you take has 750-1000mg EPA+DHA per dose. This is the problem with krill oil. One capsule only has 74mg EPA+DHA - you'd have to take TEN a day to meet the minimum mg recommended!
Thanks for reading!