Fish oil is high in the Omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The human body needs Omega-3 fatty acids to properly function but cannot produce them. Therefore Omega-3 fatty acids must be obtained from food sources. Studies have also shown that consuming fish oil with EPA and DHA may:
- Lower triglyceride levels in the blood.
- Lower LDL (Bad) cholesterol levels.
- Raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
- Reduce blood pressure.
- Reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, lake trout, mackerel and herring. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals with "no documented coronary heart disease should eat a variety of (preferably fatty) fish at least twice a week. Patients with documented coronary heart disease should “consume about one gram of EPA + DHA per day, preferably from fatty fish.”
Unfortunately many people do not consume the recommended amount of fish regularly. For those who are unable or unwilling to eat the recommended amount of seafood, but would like the health benefits of fish oil, supplementation is a recommended alternative.
Here are some things to consider when choosing the best fish oil supplement:
- Select a supplement manufactured by a reputable company. This does not necessarily mean that the best fish oil supplements are expensive. On the contrary, many reputable brands are quite economical.
- Avoid supplements that do not have the specific type of fish that the oils are derived from. Supplements that have do not have specific fish listed may be made from inferior or undesirable sources.
- The best fish oil is purified. Many fish and fish oils have high levels of toxins such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The purification process reduces the amount of toxins in the fish oil.
- Be sure the amounts of DHA and EPA are clearly listed on the label. Although the label may state that there are 500 milligrams of fish oil, this does not necessarily mean that there are 500 milligrams of DHA and EPA.
- Patients with coronary heart disease should check with their doctor if you have before beginning fish oil supplementation. A doctor will also be able to recommend factors to consider when choosing the best fish oil.
- Check with a doctor or health care provider before taking cod liver oil supplements. Cod liver oil is rich in Vitamin A, which is a fat soluble vitamin. This means that any excess that the body does not need is stored in the body. Excess levels of Vitamin A can be harmful.