Fish Oil…many benefits, but not all are equal. What you need to know…

Omega 3sFish oil is one of the most popular supplements today. You regularly see advertisements on T.V. touting all kinds of benefits ranging from lowering cholesterol, to heart health, and brain health. But what many people don’t realize is there are a lot of different brands out there of Omega 3’s and Fish Oils, but not all of them are good for you…in fact, some of them are kind of scary and others are pretty useless. The reason that some of these fish oils are useless, is because the FDA doesn’t have real strict labeling standards for supplements. There are lots of loopholes, and about 60% of the fish oils on the market contain markedly less Omega 3s, EPA, and DHA than they claim on the label (one example of how they can get by with selling fish oil for such an inexpensive price).

Most of the inexpensive Fish Oil supplements have not gone through an extensive refining process, so the oils are not very bioavailable (easily absorbed by the body). And many of them even have a cloudy appearance…generally a good sign you have a lower quality fish oil. They also tend to be diluted down by other oils trying to stabilize their inexpensive fish oil blends, so you tend to have to take at least 2-3 pills, whereas if you had a higher quality fish oil it would only take 1 pill to equal 2-3 of the others.

One of the more alarming things you will find about fish oil is that some fish oils will actually eat through Styrofoam…yes, you read that correctly. So, what exactly does this mean? This means that the fish oil is an ethyl ester (EE) fish oil. The EE fish oils are less stable, less bioavailable, and tend to have a fishy smell or taste….which is not good (sensory wise or health wise). The reason they break down styrofoam is because the EE binds to the polymers in the styrofoam and breaks it down; so even if you had a spoon full of this fish oil and dropped a small piece of styrofoam into it, it would completely dissolve the styrofoam (sounds like a good solutions for all that styrofoam they say won’t break down in the landfills, right? 😉 ).

The natural triglyceride form of fish oil is much more bioavailable and will not break down styrofoam. Most of the high quality fish oils are in the triglyceride form. These high omega 3 fish oils have great anti-inflammatory properties, as well as the ability to help with cognitive functions by assisting the neurotransmitters in the brain, they lead to higher fat breakdown (weight loss), improving the delivery of oxygen to the tissues (especially the heart), help reduce exercise induced asthma, moisturize skin from the inside out, and can help with eye health (including dry eyes).

When looking for a fish oil, don’t compromise because of price…but that doesn’t mean that you have to spend a fortune. My favorite fish oil/omega 3 oil is made by Barlean’s. Barlean’s has very strict quality control and purity standards in place. They make some liquid fish oils that taste like candy! Seriously! I hate taking liquid medicines and supplements, but you don’t have to twist my arm to take this stuff! Do a little research and read some reviews….you’ll find that that most people love this stuff! My favorite flavor is Orange Cream. They do make vegan flavors as well…those include a Strawberry Banana and a Mixed Berry. Two other brands that I like are from New Chapter and Minami Nutrition. Minami Nutrition is a company that is run by Garden of Life (for those of you that are familiar with that brand). But if you were to ask me which one I would recommend above all is the Barleans Orange Cream 🙂 ; liquid vitamins are always the best because they are more bioavailable. Most of these brands will only be found in health food stores, or in a few online stores including Swanson’s Vitamins, iherb.com, and Amazon. However, recently I was in Sams Club and found Barlean’s fish oil in their supplement section…they just had the Lemon Zest flavor (which isn’t quite as strong as the Orange Cream); even though that’s not my favorite flavor, I was super excited to see it in Sams!

If heart disease runs in your family, or if you are trying to get healthy, lose weight, or find some relief from your dry skin and/or eyes…give some good quality fish oil a try. Skip the stuff from Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens unless you’ve done extensive research and know that you are getting a good quality fish oil. When I switched to Barlean’s I could tell a HUGE difference in my skin in less than two days!

**I am not endorsed by any of these companies. These company recommendations are based on my personal experience with fish oils. Always consult your physician before starting and new supplement! Fish oil, if taken in high enough concentrations can thin your blood, so check with your doctor if you are on blood thinning medication or have a clotting disorder.**