Fish Oils: What it is and why you should be taking it.

Fish Oils: What it is and why you should be taking it.

Fish oil is derived from the tissues of oily fish and is a source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. These fats are considered ‘essential’ because they cannot be synthesised by the body and must be supplied through the diet or via supplementation.

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Fish oil and Omega 3: What’s the difference?

Omega-3 is a component of fish oil. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). It is the EPA+DHA content of fish oil which provide many of its therapeutic benefits. While omega-3 can be found in foods such as linseeds and wheat-germ, combined omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid are available in large amounts in deep-sea cold water oily fish such as salmon, anchovies, mackerel and sardines.

I’ve heard of other Omega’s.

There are a few types of omega fatty acids, including:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids are found in both plant and animals but the most concentrated dietary source of combined omega-3s EPA and DHA is fish oil from cold-water fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel.
  • Most omega-6 fatty acids obtained from the diet such as linoleic acid (LA) and gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) come from vegetable oils.Omega-6 fatty acids are important for the health of our cell membranes, and may be recommended for conditions of the skin including dry skin and eczema.
  • Omega-9 fats are a class of mono-unsaturated fats and are found in vegetable oils such as olive oil.

If I can get Omega from other sources, why fish?

Most dietary EPA and DHA are consumed in the form of fish or seafood. Deep sea cold water fish, such as salmon, mackerel, halibut and herring, provide the most concentrated sources.

I thought fat was bad for you?

Some people think that all dietary fat is bad; however, some fats are good, such as the mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Omega-3 fats are a class of polyunsaturated fats that are sometimes also known as essential fatty acids (EFAs) because they cannot be made by the body, and must be obtained from the diet. Omega-3 fats therefore, are a class of fatty acid that is important for good health.

The benefits of fish oil were first realised when researchers observed Inuit in a Greenland population in the 1970’s. These Inuit had healthy cholesterol and triglycerides levels despite eating a high fat diet. This was determined to be because of their diet rich in marine mammals and fish that contain high amounts of the ‘good fat’ omega-3. Since that time, more and more benefits of fish oil and omega-3 have been discovered. 1

Who should be taking fish oil supplements

The average modern Western diet is generally quite low in omega-3 essential fatty acids so most people may benefit from increasing their omega-3 intake whether this is through consumption of oily fish or fish oil supplements.

Omega-3 from fish oil may be particularly beneficial for those wishing to support:

  • Heart health
  • Brain health
  • Joint health
  • Nervous system
  • Pregnancy – foetal development
  • Children – brain and eye development
  • General wellbeing

Heart health

The National Heart Foundation of Australia currently recommends that all adult Australians consume at least 500mg per day of omega-3 (combination of EPA and DHA) to maintain heart health.1

Omega-3 from fish oils have many effects on the cardiovascular system including:

  • Supporting general cardiovascular health
  • Supporting normal cholesterol levels in healthy individuals

Children

Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of a child’s dietary requirements for normal growth and development and because they can’t be produced by their body it’s important to include Omega-3’s in your child’s diet.

As children grow, their requirements for omega-3 intake increase. See the table below for a general guide.

Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand (NHMRC)2

Recommended adequate intake Long chain omega-3 fatty acids (DHA/EPA/DPA) mg/day
Age group and gender AIa ULb
Children 1 – 3 years 40 3000
Children 4 – 8 years 55 3000
Boys 9 – 13 years 70 3000
Boys 14 – 18 years 125 3000
Girls 9 – 13 years 70 3000
Girls 14 – 18 years 85 3000

aadequate intake

bupper level of intake

Our Process for Quality Fish Oils

We understand that when it comes to bringing nature into your daily lives, every little bit helps. With this in mind, we constantly strive to create products that are as pure and as close to their natural form as possible.

Nature’s Own products are manufactured under the principles of Good Manufacturing Practice, with product claims supported by evidence. Our success stems from a commitment to collecting research about the healing properties of herbs, minerals and vitamins. We then combine this modern research with traditional knowledge and state-of-the-art technology to produce high quality products.

What to look out for in fish oil supplements.

When you refer to a Fish Oil product the label may show the total omega-3 content, but will show the level of EPA and DHA. It is important to look at and understand exactly how much EPA and DHA is contained in your product of choice as it is the content of EPA and DHA that provides the therapeutic benefits.

The EPA+DHA content in a product will vary from one formula and brand to the next, as omega-3 is now available in standard and concentrated liquids and 1000mg, 1500mg and 2000mg capsules.

As a general rule, a standard 1000mg fish oil capsule contains 300mg of EPA+DHA [180mg of EPA and 120mg of DHA].

Please see the recommended dosage indicated on the product label or consult your healthcare professional. For further information on Nature’s Own range contact our naturopathic health line 0800 445 365.

Always read the label. Use only as directed.

References:

  1. Bang H, Dyerberg J, N ielsen A. Plasma lipid and lipoprotein pattern in Greenlandic west-coast Eskimos. The Lancet 1971:1143-1145
  2. National Heart Foundation ‘Position statement – Fish, fish oils, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and cardiovascular health’ 2008; pp 1-8
  3. NHMRC Fats: Total and Fatty Acids Recommendations. 2005; 35-41