Debunking the Most Common Myths about Fish Oil
Lisa Nelson, RD, LN | April 2, 2014
Do omega-3 supplements help to lower cholesterol?
Too many people say their doctors recommended that they start taking fish oil because their lipid profile was high. They mistakenly think this supplement will help their HDL and LDL cholesterol. But the omega-3s found in fish, in particular the EPA and DHA fatty acids, work on a different blood lipid called triglycerides.
Do all types of omega-3 supplements provide close to the same benefits?
Omega-3 products derived from krill oil typically have less than 25 percent EPA and DHA concentrations. Compare that to super concentrated omega-3 products that have 80-88 percent EPA and DHA concentrations. The best-selling krill oil product currently on the market contains 74 mgs of EPA and DHA in each 300 mg capsule, or less than 25 percent. Many fish and krill oils also have a strong fishy smell even though they claim otherwise.
In order to avoid the fishy aftertaste of omega-3 supplements is it necessary to take krill oil?
Not anymore. Most omega-3 and fish oil supplements are simply mixtures of unrefined fish fat, which can turn rancid and create an unpleasant odor. To eliminate the odor, the manufacturing process requires repeated distillation of fresh fish oil, which removes the unpleasant odor. In refined pharmaceutical grade oils, such as those used in Ocean Blue products, the oil is molecularly distilled 26 times, resulting in a product that has virtually no smell or taste.
Are the large bottles of low-cost fish oil just as good as the higher-priced brands?
Most fish oil is typically made from the by-products of fish processed for food and other uses. This oil is unrefined and not concentrated, resulting in very low levels of omega-3 fatty acids and high levels of saturated fats, which are actually detrimental to your health. This is the oil that is used in most omega-3s and fish oil supplements. You can find brands of fish oil made from highly-refined, ultra-pure pharmaceutical grade omega-3.
Do the eggs that contain omega-3s provide an adequate source of DHA and EPA?
No. The Omega-3 found in these eggs is plant-based alpha linolenic acid. It does not contain EPA or DHA.
Should omega-3 supplements be limited to patients with heart disease?
The World Health Organization recommends that people without a history of heart disease consume 200-500 mg per day of EPA and DHA. The American Heart Association recommends 500 mg daily. Those who have a history of heart disease or related concerns should strive for at least 1,000 mg per day of EPA and DHA. And those who have high triglycerides should be getting 2,000 to 4,000 mg per day of EPA and DHA.
Do omega-3s help alleviate pain?
Omega-3s help reduce the body’s inflammatory response. Every cell membrane is made of omega-6, omega-3, phospholipids and cholesterol. If you damage a cell membrane, the omega-6 starts the process and switches on the pain. At the same time, the omega-3 starts the anti-inflammatory process that turns off the pain. So we need a balance of omega-3s and omega-6s.