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Omega-3 Supplement: Good Or Bad?

August 15, 2017

 

I often have patients proudly say they are taking Omega-3 supplement pills.  I cringe and only hope they didn’t waste much money on them.  Omega-3 is an anti-oxidant that is very healthy for our bodies.  It can help fight inflammation and therefore potentially help fight against many diseases including arthritis and obesity.  Get it from food rather than in a supplement pill.

 

WHAT IS BAD ABOUT OMEGA-3 SUPPLEMENT PILLS?

Omega-3 oil is produced from fish oil.  Commercial fishing boats use huge seine nets to drag along the ocean to capture all fish that get tangled in their nets.  The prime fish, tuna, swordfish, salmon, etc. are sold whole.  The unwanted junk fish are either chopped up for cat food or ground up into fish oil.  Most of these “unwanted” fish are off the bottom of the ocean where they end up digesting large amounts of mercury and other potentially harmful substances.  Analysis of many different brands of store bought fish oil/omega-3 oil have been found to have high levels of mercury which is potentially harmful to humans. In other words, Omega-3 supplement pills may have dangerous contaminants.  Manufacturers of supplements have no regulation to require them to prove what is in their pills.  Their main goal is to make a profit and that usually means to get the cheapest (dirtiest) fish oil available. There are also many food items on the market today that are "fortified with Omega-3". When these processed foods have Omega-3 supplemented, it naturally adds a fishy aroma to foods. So, these processed foods must undergo extensive chemical purifying preparations in order to mask the taste and smell. This likely reduces or changes Omega-3 and antioxidant content within the foods, making them inferior to unaltered, whole food sources.

 

WHAT IS A BETTER OPTION?

It is best that you buy foods that are a natural source of Omega-3. Omega-3 is found is many healthy foods. Organic eggs and grass fed beef are two such examples.  Flax seed is another good example.  Buy flaxseed whole: grind it up yourself and keep it in the freezer to stay fresh.  Sprinkle it on salads, vegetables, plain Greek yogurt and mix it in your steel cut oatmeal.

 

No set standard for a daily recommendation, however suggestions range from 500-1,000 mg daily.  Following is a list of excellent sources of natural Omega-3's. Add two or three of these in your diet each day to achieve a daily dose.

 

Meat: Wild Caught Salmon, Herring, Tuna, Sardines, Anchovies, Free Range Eggs (yolks)

Nuts & Seeds: walnuts, chia, flaxseeds, butternuts, brazil nuts, cashews, hemp seeds, hazelnuts

Vegetables: brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, watercress

Oils: Hemp oil, walnut oil, mustard oil

 

Avoid farm raised fish (which contain high levels of antibiotics & pesticides), meat that is not grass-fed, pasteurized dairy products, and supplements and/or processed foods fortified with Omega-3.

 

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