The best fish oil supplements can be hard to spot. There are probably hundreds of different fish oil supplements on the market today. They all contain the same active compounds. The difference between them is potency and purity.
Some forms contain too little active ingredients to see benefits. Others have harmful contaminants. What you want is the best fish oil supplement for your money. Let’s explore what to look for and what to avoid.
First let’s look at what fish oil is…
Well, it’s basically anti-freeze. That’s right! Fish store it in their bodies so they won’t freeze in the frigid waters they live in. But the fish don’t actually make it.
It’s produced by plants like plankton that grow in cold climates. The plants use it as anti-freeze too. Those plants are eaten and everything moves up the food chain. Large amounts collect in the fat of cold water fish.
Fish Oil Sources These fats are called omega-3 fatty acids. They are a form of polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats are one of three major types of fats. Those are saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated.
Saturated fats come mostly from animal meats. They are solid at room temperature. The white fat on the edges of a steak is a saturated fat.
Monounsaturated fats come from certain vegetables. Olive oil is an example of a monounsaturated fat. These are liquid at room temperature.
Polyunsaturated fats like fish oil stay liquid even at very cold temperatures. They are one reason that fish like Salmon can survive and thrive in cold regions like Alaska.
…but what can this fish “anti-freeze” do for you?
Well, taking the best fish oil supplements can have a big impact on your overall health. Positive effects can be seen in every part of the body.
It’s major benefit is it’s anti-inflammatory effects. It can reduce inflammation and pain common in arthritis, nagging injuries, and other inflammatory conditions. The best fish oil supplements can also help with recuperation after hard workouts through this process.
Other benefits include promoting healthy blood pressure, regulating cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and preventing arteriosclerosis. Hair, skin, and nail health is also improved. There are almost too many specific benefits to list.
So how does it work?
The omega-3 fats found in cold water fish are very special. They are called EPA(Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA(Docosahexaenoic acid). They are special because they form important hormones in your body.
These powerful hormones are called eicosanoids. The eicosanoids made from EPA and DHA produce all the desired benefits of fish oil.
What to look for in a supplement
Being an oil they will generally be in liquid or softgel form. Bottles of liquid may be cheaper overall. However, some people find the taste unpleasant. Softgels are more convenient, especially if you need to take them with you. They also make it easier to spread your doses throughout the day.
The best fish oil supplement will have three important factors. The first two are the potency and purity of the final product. The third being the addition of sesame lignans.
Potency and Purity
EPA and DHA are the active compounds. These are what you are paying for. Quality versions will have higher amounts of these compounds(per softgel or teaspoonful).
The typical potency of a quality product will have approximately 400mg of EPA and 200mg of DHA per 1 gram softgel. In liquid form you would want to see around 1800mg EPA and 900mg DHA per teaspoon. The higher the concentration the less pills you have to swallow depending on your daily needs.
Daily dosages can vary depending on your age, health, and bodyweight as well as other factors. Poor quality versions may have less than half the potency of high grade products. You get what you pay for. Beyond that, the cheaper versions may actually be harmful to you.
Purity is a very important thing to consider when purchasing a fish oil supplement. Our oceans contain pollutants such as PCB’s and mercury that get into the food chain. The cold water fish that provide the omega-3’s are fairly high up on that chain.
They eat the smaller fish that ate the even smaller critters that ate the plankton….. You see how this goes. The contaminants get more and more concentrated as it moves up the food chain. These chemicals get lodged in the animal’s fat. These have to be removed before going on the shelf or they will go into you!
The best fish oil supplements are molecularly distilled. This is a process that removes almost all the the mercury, pcb’s, and other chemicals that could be in the raw materials.
This distilling process concentrates the EPA and DHA in the final product. Products that contain the amounts listed above have been cleaned or distilled down to have those high concentrations.
Looking for the term “molecularly distilled” and ensuring high concentrations of omega-3’s should keep you safe from pollutants.
Some very good products also say “pharmacuetical grade”. This usually just means it’s been molecularly distilled. The term is not standardized though so watch out.
Another way to determine purity is to place a capsule into the freezer for a day. Highly concentrated omega-3’s won’t freeze. They may become a bit hazy but they will still be liquid. If they do freeze, then you have an inferior product. Don’t buy that brand again. After all, you want to supplement the good stuff not the bad, right?
Sesame Lignans: The supporting nutrient
The third factor to look in finding the best fish oil supplement is the addition of sesame lignans or sesame lignan extracts. These compounds help interfere with the production of arachodonic acid and it’s pro inflammatory effects. This allows the EPA and DHA to more efficiently quench silent inflammation.
Finding the best fish oil supplement may take a little investigating, but will be worth the time. Look for a molecularly distilled product. Make sure the potency(per capsule)is in line with the above numbers and see that it passes the freezer test. Finally, look for a product that includes a form of sesame lignans or extracts. Find a quality source and you’ll soon be on your way to increased health and well being!