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Omega-3, Fish Oil & Flax Oil: Essential Fatty Acids For Health

Fish oil products are the best way to supplement the diet with important nutrients known as omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential nutrients; humans require two types of essential fatty acids for health and survival, omega-3 and omega-6. We need omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in a certain ratio, however, and most diets do not provide them in the right ratio. Omega-6 fatty acids are usually over-abundant in the diet (most vegetable oils, meat and dairy fats), while omega-3s (oily fish, flax, walnuts, canola oil) are scarce. So most people really only need to supplement with omega-3s, not extra omega-6s. People consuming very low fat diets, however, may need to supplement with both types; products known as 3-6-9 formulas are best for this purpose. Omega-9s are non-essential but beneficial and naturally occur along with omega-3 and 6.

Fish oil and flax oil are the 2 most popular types of omega-3 supplements. Fish oil is more popular because omega-3s from fish oil occur in the 2 forms used by the body, DHA and EPA. Omega-3 fatty acids from plant sources like flax must first be converted into DHA and EPA before the body can use them. This conversion is variable and not very efficient, from 10-40%. So fish oil supplements are the most straightforward way to add the right kind of omega-3 fatty acids to your diet.

All fish oil supplements sold by AllStarHealth have been purified by molecular distillation and other processes to ensure they meet or exceed CA's strict purity and potency standards. These fish oil supplements have lower levels of contaminants than wild or farmed fish.

Health Benefits of Fish Oil Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are used throughout the body in many different ways, providing diverse benefits. Most attention has been given to the cardiovascular benefits of fish oil. Omega-3s support cardiovascular health in several ways such as reducing inflammation, hypertension, and platelet aggregation. Even the staunchly conservative FDA has embraced a cardiovascular health claim for fish oil: "...scientific evidence indicates that these fatty acids (DHA and EPA from fish oil) may be beneficial in reducing Coronary Heart Disease."

Another major benefit of of omega-3 fatty acids is that they're used to form the body's most important anti-inflammatory compounds. It's been theorized that deficiency of omega-3 is a major factor in many diseases characterized by chronic or unregulated inflammation like that which affects vascular and joint tissues. Many doctors and nutritionist recommend fish oil when these conditions are present.

Finally, the human brain has a substantial requirement for omega-3 fatty acids which make up much of its structure. Fish oil supplements have been clinically studied with respect to mood, depression and other aspects of brain health with very positive results. Many people report noticeable improvements in mood when they begin using fish oil supplements.

Using Omega-3 Fish Oil

Omega 3 supplements can be taken with or without food, but are better tolerated when taken with solid food. Some fish oils feature an enteric coat, which delays the softgel's breakdown until it reaches the small intestine where all fat absorption takes places. These may be a better choice for individuals that experience burping or an aftertaste from fish oil.

Fish oil supplements should not be confused with fish liver oil supplements like cod liver oil. Fish liver oil only provides small amounts of omega-3 along with vitamin A and vitamin D. However, it's fine to include both fish and fish liver oils in supplement regimen!

Most experts are recommending at least 1 gram (1000 mg) daily of DHA and EPA in combination for adults; some people take more on the advice of their doctor. When in doubt, follow label directions.

Compare fish oil supplements by looking at the amount of DHA/EPA per softgel or serving. The most popular concentrations are 30%, 50% and 70% (percentage of the oil that the combined DHA/EPA represent). The higher concentrations deliver more DHA/EPA per softgel but also cost more.

Side-effects and Cautions:

Check with a doctor or pharmacist before combining fish oil with prescription medication, especially blood thinners.