Thursday, December 11, 2014

My Top Pick For Fish Oil

Benefits of a fatty rich diet
Credit Flickr/Danny Hope/CC

Fish oil may be the only supplement you need

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

I was recently at a health conference. The presenters varied in backgrounds, from working with professional athletes to hospital patients. They also had different views on how many supplements we need, from just a few to a whole cabinet full. One thing they all agreed on was that it was a pretty good idea to take fish oil. When asked what brand they like, since there are so many, they all said Nordic Naturals. I've been saying the same thing. They're regarded as the highest quality fish oil company because that's all they do. That matters because there are too many things that can go wrong with omega-3 fatty acids. People who work with athletes to patients don't have time to be mess around and pretend all the brands are equal. Nordic Naturals only fish from cold clean waters, use small fish, controls the process from beginning to end (vertical integration), and is completely transparent. It's the only company that takes it from raw material to consumer. It's more costly but it's the only way to control and maintain pharmaceutical grade quality.

A fish oil company needs to be vertically integrated

When you make a supplement, you really have no idea what goes into it since the FDA has very little control. Even if you take it on good faith, a supplement is a concentration of ingredients and binding agents, along with what you think you're paying for, can also be a concentration of harmful chemicals. Fish oil in particular turns rancid easily. Nordic Naturals offers a third party certificate of analysis. It passes the scrutiny of professional coaches, doctors, and health nuts. If you already take omega-3, you'll be able to notice the difference.

Benefits of Omega-3

There are 3 omega fats, omega-3, 6, 9. Our bodies cannot make omega-3 and 6. Our bodies can make omega-9 fatty acids and it is the most abundant in nature, and we can use it as a substitute in our bodies for omega-3 and 6.

There is a balance between 3 and 6, a ratio we need to uphold. Omega-6 being the inflammatory fatty acids that we need and the omega-3 being the anti-inflammatory fatty acids that our body needs. The problem is we have too much omega-6 in our diet. Practically every man made food has it. The other problem being too much sugar, which is the other form of inflammation.

Out of balance, our whole immune system and the various cell-signaling components that tell the immune system what to do becomes compromised. Omega-3 begins to balance all of this out.

Omega-3 has positive metabolic effects, but more importantly improvements in brain, heart, joints, and hormone functions as well. The brain's cell wall is, in part, composed of omega-3 fatty acids and is a reason why omega-3 is good for the brain.

The nice thing about omega-3, especially in the form of fish oil is that, it's not like other supplements with very little data or the data is funded by the supplement makers. There's decades and decades of peer-reviewed research on the benefits of omega-3 by real academics.

A mistake many people will make is that they believe they need all the omega fatty acids and get omega-3, 6, 9 supplements. It's a huge waste of money and may cause more harm than good.

Why it needs to come from fish

There are other sources you can get omega-3s from like grass, phytoplankton, algae, seaweed, and some seeds. We aren't particularly efficient at breaking down any of these raw materials. Omega-3s are a family of fatty acids, the parent molecule is called alpha linolenic acid (LNA or ALA). The ALA in plants are converted by animals and to greater extent fish to become the potent omega-3 anti-inflammatory EPA and DHA. The ALA itself is not anti-inflammatory and only a small percentage of it can be converted to EPA and DHA. Fish feed off the best source of ALA and do the best job converting it into the concentrated source of EPA and DHA. If not, machines or chemicals will try to break it down to its smaller refined parts which can pose more harm than good.

If we take it in the form of flax or chia or any other plant based source, our bodies have to do the conversion process, which is very energy intensive and can cause more inflammation. EPA and DHA are what we're after, and we actually want to limit too much ALA.

Natural triglyceride form

Natural fish oil absorbs better than purified. The more natural the structure of the fish oil the better it absorbs. Natural triglyceride form has highest absorption rate.

Most fish oil found in stores are in a ethyl ester form, which has poor bio-availability (ability for your body to absorb it), made from farmed fish or larger fish, not fresh/wild caught or from polluted waters, has low EPA and DHA, has impurities, has harmful additives, and already rancid.

The whole point is to lower inflammation and a lot of the omega-3 products out there including fish oil, can cause more problems with inflammation than it can resolve.

Why not krill oil?

Krill oil is also becoming a popular option and its phospholipid structure appears to have better absorption than fish oil. Our cell membranes are also made of phospholipids so it takes to it easier.

Most of the data collected on krill oil though has been sponsored by the manufacturers whereas fish oil as mentioned previously has decades of research. Each krill oil pill has far less omega fat than a comparable fish oil pill. Even with the higher absorption rate, fish oil has higher volume of omega-3. You get more concentrated omega-3 fatty acids with fish oil in your system per pill than you would with several pills of krill oil.

There are also issues of sustainably harvesting krill, which is something to consider.

My Picks

1. Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega

Triglyceride form. Comes from sardines and anchovies. Wild caught. More potency, so you get more omega-3 per pill than cheaper brands. No gluten, milk, artificial flavors, or colors. Exceeds IFOS, CRN, GOED, WHO, Prop 65 and EP standards and provide a COA upon request. Their fish comes off the coast of Peru, from clean waters. Many store brands will never reveal where their fish was sourced. Best potency per pill.

2. Omega Joint Xtra

Collagen is what our joints, cartilage, and skin are made of. This formula includes an undenatured type II collagen along with omega-3, shellfish-free glucosamine sulfate, and vitamin D3 to accelerate benefits and effectiveness. Undenatured type II Collagen is the primary form of collagen found in cartilage. Whereas many other available forms of type II collagen are hydrolyzed, which alters the molecular configuration and renders it biologically inactive, the type II collagen in this formula is undenatured to preserve its native form and efficacy. Targeted and accelerated support for joint mobility, flexibility, and comfort. Promotes the repair and rebuilding of connective tissue and healthy joints. Supports the body’s anti-inflammatory healing response.

3. Ultimate Omega-D3 Sport

Natural version of omega-3 fish oil like the regular Ultimate Omega but blended with natural vitamin D3. Supports a healthy heart, joint mobility, recovery, muscle activity, and hormone balance. This product is certified for sport by the National Science Foundation. Great for athletes or people who need a boost.

My name is Sam Yang. I'm a martial artist, entrepreneur, fitness nerd, information geek, and productivity nut. For more useful information, join my newsletter. You can also connect to All Out Effort on Facebook and Twitter.

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