Friday, May 2, 2008

Understanding Fish Oil and its Use

[Thanks for your patience in my absence from this site. I've had a heavy travel schedule.]

There have been so many positive studies on fish oil and its benefits to humans that there are few people who haven’t yet incorporated it into their diet, whether it is by enjoying fish once or twice a week or to add it via a supplement.

The better quality supplements come primarily from Anchovies and Sardines, two species of fish that are not in short supply and that come from clean waters, often off the coast of South America. These fish have a very short life span, and because of this they have a minimal time in the water to accumulate toxins. Plus, they aren’t bottom dwellers or top dwellers (those areas that are the most concern for pollution and toxins). The better manufacturers stay away from larger fish that are predators, and which have longer life spans. (Predatory fish eat smaller fish and increase their toxin load).

The cod, used in numerous Cod Liver Oil products, is a rapidly declining species, particularly the Atlantic Cod and the Rock Cod. While there are several good brands of pure Cod Liver Oil, some companies still cut in Haddock and other byproduct oils while labeling their supplement as “pure.”

If you are concerned about the fish oils industry depleting the world’s fish supply for nutritional supplements, keep in mind that the entire business represents no more than 2 to 3% of the total global fishing industry, according to Holistic Primary Care, a leading journal for integrative physicians.

When buying fish oil, remember that any exposure to light or heat will spoil the product. This is one supplement that you can keep in your refrigerator. If you have some older fish oil capsules and you want to test their viability, simply bite into a capsule. If the oil inside smells or tastes like fish, it is garbage. Throw it away.

There are two types of fish oil manufacturing processes, and only one of them mimics nature. Products produced as an “ethyl ester” are man-made chemical versions of fish oil that are more like drugs in the way they are made. The other type, “triglycerides” are made in the same way they appear in nature. The triglyceride approach is more expensive for the manufacturer and it is much harder to get the high (70% plus) yields of Omega 3 fatty acids that the market demands.

Lastly, always remember to take your fish oil with food, as this is the best way for the oil to be used by your body.


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