What Else You Should Understand Concerning Fish Oil?

understanding fish oil

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We know the benefits of fish oil, but to understand it better, check the history, the amount to take, its effects and the different types and grades of fish oil.

Fish oil has a long history of being used as a nutritional supplement. It is generally derived from oil coming from the tissues of oily fish.

There are many sources of fish that the world gets its fish oil supply from. But about 50 percent of all fish oil production in the world comes from farmed salmon.

Fish Oil Sources

Fish oil is primarily derived from farmed salmon. There are times when  it may also be sourced from other fatty fish notably mackerel, lake trout, flounder, and tuna.

But such types of fish are known to be predatory. And because of this, they run the risk of accumulating certain toxic substances such as mercury, dioxin, and PCBs.

In order to avoid this and have fish oil sources known to be as clean as possible, farmed salmon are the best option.

Fish Oil Benefits

One of the things, why it has become quite a popular nutritional supplement around the world, is because it is very rich in Omega -3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid.

These compounds are said to help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. There are also studies that say that these nutrients also have anti-cancer properties as well as may help in certain cases of depression.

fish oil benefits

Fish Oil Production

Production of fish oil is shared among a number of countries. But it has been seen that there was a substantial decrease in the total of the fish oil supply, mainly because of declines suffered by a lot of the said countries. Countries such as Peru, Chile, Denmark, Iceland, and Norway are known as the five major fish oil exporting nations.

Adverse Effects

Despite the various benefits that fish oil is said to offer as a supplement, medical experts still suggest caution in overusing it. There have been studies that indicate certain risks associated with it.

In some studies, there are suspected risks that researchers have found in the use of EPA and DHA fatty acids in it.

Over usage of EPA and DHA, which is determined at more than three grams daily, are known to increase the risk of bleeding, especially in people who are also taking aspirin or warfarin.

But further research may be needed to determine if EPA and DHA do offer such risks. Extreme dosage intake of fish oil is also associated with a higher risk of experiencing a hemorrhagic stroke. In some individuals, fish oil intake may also affect LDL cholesterol levels.

Cardiac Risk

Because fish oil is still considered as fat, people with conditions arising from too much fat in their systems should also be cautious of taking it as a supplement.

Recent research seems to provide different results when it comes to how the fatty acids in fish oil affect people who may be suffering from heart disease or stroke.

In the absence of definitive research, patients are being cautioned not to take fish oil without the recommendation from their doctor. People with certain heart problems or a history of heart disease should first talk with their doctors about the safety of taking fish oil supplements.

The History of Fish Oil

A breakthrough in medicine practice happened 550 million years ago was brought about by single-cell algae. There was an explosion in biological diversity as multi-cell organisms started to evolve from single-cell algae.

These new organisms had to develop a communication system to enable specialized cells to transmit messages to one another.

The purpose of communication was two-way; one was to build nerve connections between specialized cells and the other involved the use of hormones.

Eicosanoids were the first hormones product of these communications and they utilize fats in cell membranes as their building blocks.

These eicosanoids don’t just use any type of fat for their synthesis but they also require the long-chain highly saturated fat (polyunsaturated) which is only found in algae-derived fats.

And this is what many scientists of today believed to be the cause of breakthrough that separated smart man from average man.

Some 150,000 years ago our ancestors had discovered that fats or fish oil make them smart. The healthy eicosanoids that are derived from those fats that control our health today – the omega-3 rich fish oil.

The first recorded production of fish oil happened in 1775 in England. However, when the cod was brought back from America, the livers appeared to be disgusting as it were slapped onto the filthy streets of London, for the oil would ooze out. This was collected together with other stuffs on the streets and sold as cod liver oil.

Despite its filthy beginnings – for many people at that time the crude liver oil was considered a miracle oil for diseases like arthritis.

The cod liver oil isn’t actually contaminated by street sewage but it’s still full of industrial contaminants like mercury and PCBs.

These contaminants pollute the waters where cod live. Because of this, the end products has some foul taste that turned the stomach of every child in America who took it two generations ago.

So while it’s true that 1 tablespoon of cod liver oil supplies 2.5 grams of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, it is also true that it supplies contaminants and a high dose of vitamin A, which is stored in the body’s fat tissues and can cause toxic effects like hair loss if taken in high enough doses.

The final breakthrough in fish oils happened when Ultra Refined EPA and DHA concentrate Omega-3 product was developed. EPA and DHA are almost found exclusively in sea foods.

The process required advanced chemical engineering that starts with the removal of most of the saturated fat by fractional distillation and the removal of virtually all the PCBs (measured in parts per billion) by more sophisticated molecular distillation.

In the process called polishing, impurities are removed from the hot water. The fish oil is also added with anti-oxidants for longer life and added nutrients.

With these innovations, a new type of fish oil was developed. The end-product ensures you to have a concentrated amount of long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids without unwanted substances like chemical contaminants or harmful fatty acids that can harm your well-being.

It is only with the use of pharmaceutical-grade fish oil that you can get high enough levels of long-chain Omega-3 fats for your brain and body. The effect of the high-grade fish oil usually occurs after taking it everyday in 30 days.

Fish Oil Grades

Fish oil production does not just provide one type of end product. In fact, there are also other grades of fish oil being produced. The three types of fish oil produced today depend on their level of quality.

Cod Liver Oil

Cod liver oil, despite its popularity as a nutritional supplement, is considered as a low-quality grade of fish oil. It may only be used in small amounts as an ideal supplement for this form of fish oil may contain certain contaminants. Cod liver oil is also known to contain high levels of vitamin A which can be toxic to humans in large doses.

One teaspoon of cod liver oil contains 500 mg of long chain omega 3 fatty acids. Cod liver oil contains the highest levels of contaminants which may include DDT, PCB’s as well as organic mercury. Taking this type of fish oil may not be safe in large quantities.

Health Food Fish Oil

Better quality grade fish oil is one that is sourced from a particular species of fish such as salmon.

Most of these health food grade fish oil are usually available in soft gel capsules because they still carry with them a very poor taste profile. There is also a cholesterol-free version of this type of fish oil grade.

This type of health food grade fish oil undergoes a slightly more purification process by means of limited molecular distillation in order to remove some of its cholesterol content in order to label it as cholesterol free.

An even purified version of this health food grade version of fish oil is known as fish oil concentrate. This is the type of fish oil consisting of ethyl esters of the fish oil that undergo fractional cooling. This allows a more purified form of fish oil with lesser amounts of contaminants that cod liver oil.

Generally, this type of fish oil contains a better concentration of omega 3 fatty acids. A single one-gram capsule contains about 300 mg of omega 3 fatty acids. One capsule of a thermally fractionated health food grade can contain as much as 500 mg of long chain omega 3 fatty acids.

Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil

Pharmaceutical grade fish oils have been ultra-refined in order to provide the highest quality of fish oil. This grade of fish oil undergoes through certain specialized processes in order to come up with the most refined fish oil.

Certain specialized equipment is usually used in order to detect the minutest amount of contaminants in the fish oil. Because it is ultra-refined, it is thousand times purer than the molecularly distilled health food grade fish oils.

Ultra-refined pharmaceutical grade fish oil contains more omega 3 fatty acids than the previous two fish oil grades. One gram of this type of fish oil contains around 600 mg of long chain omega 3 fatty acids. And for being the most refined of the three grades of fish oil, it contains the smallest amount of contaminants.

fish oil benefits

Fish Oil: The Quantity to Take

For people who came to know the health benefits of fish oil, the next question they ask is how much quantity does one take?

Well, some would recommend at least 3.5 grams a day while others suggest a mere 2.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids would be enough to get the whole health benefits of fish oil.

To be on the safe side, it would be better to consult your doctor of nutritionist for the proper dosage of fish oil.

There are in fact a number of factors to consider. Take age for example. It has been found out that the needs of younger people for essential fatty acids are higher than the older folks.

One of the possible reasons is the fact that young people are more active which makes their needs for essential fatty acids greater than old people who have gone on with their retirements.

However, this should not be misunderstood that older people do not need  a daily intake of fish oil. The dosage or amount only diminishes but the importance of taking fish oil does not.

Nothing can stress this more than the studies that have been conducted in the past which shows that the healthy essential fatty acids in fish oil help reduce and prevent the inflammation of blood vessels which is linked to heart disease.

According to experts, the lack of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can result in depression and heart disease.

And since EPA and DHA are the primary omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil the significance of fish oil in one’s diet cannot and should not be undermined.

Plus, our body cannot produce essential fatty acids so our only hope to get them is through an outside source. Only by eating fish rich in fats and oil or taking those commercially available fish oil supplement capsules does our body get the necessary supply of omega-3.

Probably one way of determining the amount of omega-3 you take also depends on your intake amount of omega-6 fatty acids.

You can find omega-6 acids from common vegetable cooking oils like canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil and sunflower oil. These are present in a lot of food available in the supermarket, most especially the processed ones.

We need to balance the intake of omega-3 and omega-6 since the latter compete for enzymes with the former. And too much omega-6 could result to inflammation which can later affect the heart.

The effects of omega-6 counter the benefits omega-3 give the heart. According to some experts, having a ratio of 2 to 1, omega-6 to omega-3, would be the best combination to have. The ratio properly balances the effects of both essential fatty acids.

Other doctors recommend taking only a minimal quantity of say 2.5 grams per day or even lower depending on how much it will take to maintain your state of health.

Taking too much might result in a bodily imbalance which can become harmful to your overall health. However, if you have a certain disease or existing condition like your doctors might prescribe you a stronger daily dosage of fish oil to help you cope and regain your health.

To sum up, the quantity of fish oil you should take depends on your state of health, diet, age, among other factors. Consulting your doctors would be the best move before starting on a daily intake of fish oil.

 


POINTS TO REMEMBER

Fish Oil Sources
They are farmed from salmon or other fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, flounder, and tuna.

Fish Oil Benefits
It is very rich in Omega -3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.

Adverse Risks
Over usage can increase the risk of bleeding, higher risks of experiencing a hemorrhagic stroke.

Cardiac Risk
Fish oil affect people who may be suffering from heart disease or stroke.

The History of Fish Oil

  • The first recorded production of fish oil happened in 1775 in England.
  • The final breakthrough in fish oils happened when Ultra Refined EPA and DHA concentrate Omega-3 product was developed.

Fish Oil Grades
The three types of fish oil produced today depend on their level of quality.

Cod Liver Oil
It is considered as a low-quality grade of fish oil.

Health Food Fish Oil
An even purified version of this health food grade version of fish oil is known as fish oil concentrate.

Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil
Pharmaceutical grade fish oils have been ultra-refined in order to provide the highest quality of fish oil.

Fish Oil: The Quantity to Take

  • According to some experts, having a ratio of 2 to 1, omega-6 to omega-3, would be the best combination to have.
  • Some would recommend at least 3.5 grams a day while others suggest a mere 2.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids would be enough to get the whole health benefits of fish oil.

TAKEAWAY QUESTIONS

– Are you eating enough fish?

– What other facts you know about fish oil?

– Are you taking some fish oil supplements?

– Are you taking the right amount of fish oil supplements?


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