Altostrata

King of supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil)

337 posts in this topic

A lot of us have found omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish oil capsules, help withdrawal symptoms.

Our nervous systems need omega-3 fatty acids for healthy operation. Because of factory farming, which depletes nutrients in food, our food may not be providing us with the daily amounts of omega-3s our bodies need.

Around the Web, some people say omega-3s are particularly good for brain zaps.

Fish oil capsules contain the omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA. For nervous system support, take 2,000-3,000 mg EPA + DHA a day. You may need to look at the label and add up the amounts of EPA + DHA in a capsule. Usually, this amounts to 4-6 capsules of fish oil per day.

Do not take fish oil that does not specify how much EPA and DHA is in each capsule -- it's probably weak.

To help fish oil to work, take it with 400IU vitamin E per day. This helps metabolize the fish oil. Good types of vitamin E to take are d-alpha-tocopherol and natural mixed tocopherols. (Also see

<a data-ipb="nomediaparse" data-cke-saved-href="http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/3860-vitamin-e-tocopherol/%20)%20You%20don"href="http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/3860-vitamin-e-tocopherol/%20)%20You%20don" t%20need%20to%20take%20any%20more%20than%20400iu%20vitamin%20e%20per%20day."=""> Fish oil should be refrigerated. People who get "fish burps" say keeping the fish oil capsules in the freezer eliminates them.

Some people are hypersensitive to fish oil. Try one capsule a day for a few days to see how it affects you. If you feel okay, continue to take it and gradually increase the dosage.

Don't take fish oil if you're allergic to fish.

For those who cannot take fish oil, Dr. Weil has these recommendations at http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400645/Vegetarian-Sources-of-Omega3.html (from 2009)
 

 

...the two essential omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are most available in fish oil. Vegetarian sources of omega-3s provide only ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), a precursor form that the body cannot convert efficiently to the DHA and EPA it needs....

I recommend that anyone who eats no oily fish at least twice a week take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement. The best available of these is fish oil at a dose of 2 to 3 grams per day, but vegans and others whose diets don't include fish can substitute Neuromins DHA, a product which is extracted from carefully grown microalgae (vegans can break the gelatin capsule to get the oil). Taking 400 to 600 mg a day of Neuromins DHA and relying on dietary sources of ALA is probably the best vegan strategy for getting omega-3s. A daily handful of walnuts or one to two tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed per day provide ALA. I hope we will soon see products made from algae that provide both EPA and DHA....

If you avoid fish oil because you are vegetarian or vegan, you might consider making an exception for a while to get omega-3 fatty acids from the best source available to help your nervous system heal.

 


 

ADMIN NOTE - SUMMARY OF THIS TOPIC, up until post #475. 

 

The Following Posts have key information

Links to key studies - 4, 19 & 20

What to look for in a fish-oil – 22, 23, 38, 50, 86, 90, 93, 109.  

The benefits of fish oil for Post-natal  depression - 24

Best brands, plus studies - 65

Possible vegan dha/epa supplements - 96, 97

Video on the benefits of fish oil - 366

Contamination test results – 37

 

Some figures

Noticed improvements in w/d symptoms -  19 members (relaxing, cleared brain fog, helped brain, lessened depression, calming, stopped brain buzzing, better sleep, less brain zaps, dizziness, clearer vision, calmness, more focused, positive feelings, less panic, improved mood).

 

Noticed improvements once taken in conjunction with vitamin E – 1 member.  Also, Alto commented ‘The mixed tocopherol form of vitamin E is best for general health. The vitamin E helps the fish oil stay active as you metabolize it.

 

Didn’t notice benefits at first, but when they tried to stop they noticed the difference greatly – 4 members

 

Tolerance to fish oil has lessened over time – 2 members

 

Can’t tolerate fish oil – 17 members (some reported feeling ‘wired’ or anxious, had worsened sleep, acne.  One of these members can however tolerate salmon).

 

Haven’t noticed benefits – 2 members, but one was too scared to stop and put it to the test.

 

Haven’t noticed problems or benefits from fish oil – 1 member

 

Other remarks taken from the posts.

A few people experienced both positive and negative symptoms, and sometimes tweaked things by lowering their dose. 

 

Hypersensitivity can change over time – for better or for worse. 

 

As with many supplements, once you are taking the dose recommended above, more is not necessarily better.

 

Alto:  ‘So many people with withdrawal syndrome have responded well to it, I believe the benefits outweigh any risks for this purpose.’

 

It’s worth trying different brands to find one that works for you, or trying capsules or no capsules.

 

If you find fish oil to be mildly stimulating, take it in the morning.

 

Alternatives to fish oil suggested by members

Flax seeds, chia seeds and walnut seeds;  Sardines (but they can be activating for some);  Fresh or canned fish;  Grass-fed meat;  Children’s products for lower dosages;  Hemp seed oil - posts 232, 409, 451.

Edited by KarenB
added summary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How many of you are taking fish oil at present, what dose and how do you react to it? Thanks for the input!

 

I have been taking various brands of 1.5mg. Also, I have tried a wide range of EPA/DHA ratios

 

I feel it really hasn't done much for me but interestingly, when I have tried to stop it, I felt the effects big time. Since it has a lot of health benefits, I will keep taking it.

 

I have tried increasing the amount but my body seems to reject anything much over 1.5mg.

 

CS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't tolerate the supps at all. I do okay with some nuts, walnuts. And I do okay with Salmon filets. I can't do flax seeds, I tried the seeds themselves not a supp, as they are as stimulating as the fish oil supps.

 

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

cs, do you mean 1.5 grams or 1500mg?

 

alex, unfortunately, while omega-3s seem to help a lot of people, some people are hypersensitive to them, too. Yet this can change over time.

 

I've been taking fish oil for years, I found it made a noticeable improvement in my withdrawal symptoms. When I was having acute symptoms, I found it relaxing.

 

I'm currently taking at least 3600mg EPA plus DHA (the two main omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil). This is 6 capsules a day, each capsule containing 600mg EPA plus DHA, which is a good strong fish oil supplement. (From the US grocery chain Trader Joe's, about $9 for 90 capsules.)

 

A psychiatrist told me omega-3s were good for mood at 2000mg EPA plus DHA per day.

 

An orthopedist told me omega-3s were good for inflammation and joint pain at 3000-4000mg EPA plus DHA per day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been unable to take the Omega 3's although I can eat nuts and fish. It makes me feel like I'm "wired". I may try it again sometime in the future though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

""cs, do you mean 1.5 grams or 1500mg?""

 

Hi Sur,

 

I did mean to say 1500mg. And actually, I miscalculated as I have been between 2000mg and 2500mg. So when I said I tried to increase the amount, I meant anything over 2500mg.

 

I think because of my sleeping issues, it really is hard to fairly evaluate the effectiveness of the fish oil.

 

Regarding its use as a pain reliever, a brand with a higher EPA than DHA works best for a toe that never healed correctly after being sprained. It is my understanding that EPA is an inflammatory agent so that isn't surprising.

 

I am glad it is working for you.

 

CS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been taking fish oil for a long time, since before I started tapering. I don''t take a lot of it and I can't tell if it makes things worse. I take quite a long list of supplements for my MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity)(also called EI for environmental illness in some places). Fish oil is one of them.

 

I did try quitting supplements at one point in my taper to see if it made a difference to my withdrawal symptoms. I found that the increased sensitivity to chemicals was too much so I went back on them.

 

But anyway, I do take fish oil, fairly small quantity; I also eat fatty fish about once or twice a week, and I also use ground flaxseed in my diet. Haven't noticed any obvious problems with any of them. I probably don't take enough to really make a big difference as far as pain, but I take a lot of turmeric for that. (Have had constant pain since I began tapering but it's better since I started the turmeric.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey but while I'm here, I'm interested in hearing that the fish oil makes some people feel "wired." Is that just during and/or since withdrawal or was that before too?

 

For me, I can't say with certainty. I never tried fish oil until I was in w/d and it was recommended for w/d symptom relief. My very strong supposition is that I would have tolerated fish oil just fine before w/d. But I have no way of knowing.

 

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

oops accidental double post...

 

Hey but while I'm here, I'm interested in hearing that the fish oil makes some people feel "wired." Is that just during and/or since withdrawal or was that before too?

 

 

Hi Rhi,

 

For me I never tried the Omega 3's until withdrawal so I don't know how I would have reacted prior to ssris. I felt like it made the anxiety worse for me. If I remember correctly it aggravated that inner restlessness. I haven't tried it for a very long time, but I may try opening one up and start with a drop or two sometime soon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An integrative doctor once told me that omega-3s increase cell permeability, thereby enhancing nerve transmissions. Don't know if that is accurate, but it seems to explain why some people find it activating.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hi Guys,

 

I did omega 3 fish oil early on in my taper at higher doses

hoping to relieve some of the symptoms and promote some calm,

it " made me very wired" anxiety ramped up and the inner restlessness

kicked off. Only took it once, i was a bit scared to try it again.

 

if it works for you, then great, it is very good for us,

but sadly, some of us are far too sensitive, thats not to say

i wont try again when i get further away from paxil though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been taking a high epa fish oil right from the begining of my taper, but I honestly have no idea if it's made a difference or not, I suppose the only way for me to find out would be to stop taking them, and I don't think I want to risk it in case they are making a massive difference :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Two notes

 

Rhi - do you know we have a famous EI clinic in Coos Bay Oregon at the coast. I went to one in Portland and they darn near killed me.

 

In January 2011 I joined a clinical trial at Johns Hopkins Lipid research clinic. It was to access the brain healing potential for Omega 3's.

 

Because of problems with suppliments we were to use only high Omega foods. I ate 1/4 to 1/2 pound a wild, pure Alaskan salmon a day, high EPA eggs and a bit of flax.

 

After three weeks I was getting worse but told by the doctors to stick it out. On a Sunday morning at about 4 weeks I had a full psychotic break. It was hideous.

 

The doctors told me to stop the diet immediately as they had had a few other people react very negatively. For the next month I had full blown terror attacks - worse than panic and a host of severe symptoms I never had in AD withdrawal.

 

They told me later that the EPA can stimulate brain function, positive or negative.

 

Then they told me to eat a diet high in animal fats since the arachodronic (sp) acid would offset the DHA/EPA. I was to eat them in high amounts with every meal - that did eventually start to settle my brain but then I got severe gastroenteritus and was sick with that for two months.

 

For me I am going to stick with my plain old organic whole food diet. Suppliments and radical diets dont agree with me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From years if being involved with community anxiety support groups and my own body I have noticed that many people with a primary anxiety disorder are highly sensitive to many things.

 

I found that during my years of recovery the sensitivities went way down or stopped. since this AD withdrawal I have had near 911 events with foods I have eaten all my life...adn I mean severe reactions. Balsamic vinegar sent me into near AP shock.

 

My wife can take any drug with no side effects, drink coffee right to bed time and never reacts to anything - that would be such a sweet gift.

 

She even took 5 different SSRI's over a year for pain control after an accident - just went off...no worries no symptoms!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found that fish oil was very helpful in clearing some of the brain fog when I ct/ed Sexax (a benzo) and inderal(a beta blocker) in 2007. Then 3 months after the ct, I started my Cymbalta taper. All was well for about two years, then I stopped taking supplements because they made me jittery. I think fish oil is good for us and would like to take it again if I ever get over whatever is the problem currently.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I want to share some wonderful news with everyone about omega 3. I was feeling really weak all day, but then read on some website that during taper take high dosage of omega 3, to be honest i didnt trust them but i was so desperate and i did that. I took 6-4 epa vs dha 1000mg pharmacautical grade. I know its chemically process, but my brain has been posioned by prozac for so long i dealt this chemical cant be that much worse. So i take 3 in the morning, and 3 at night, according to that website it says i need vitamine e so i take 800 ui of that really helped my brain! And i am also planning to take omega 3 at high doses for the rest of my life! Cause i dont want parkenson and altimer, which a lot of expert have theorized which is what ultimalely will happen.

 

By the way i do recommend prozac backlash, its a book we can find in the library :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yay! Good to hear of another omega-3 fan, serotonin.

 

See post #1 in this topic for some info about fish oil.

 

I don't believe you need to take 800IU vitamin E a day, 400IU is enough to help the fish oil to work. For a lot of vitamins, more is not better.

 

I found Trader Joe's has good-quality, strong fish oil (600mg EPA+DHA per capsule) for a very reasonable price. Get the red-label omega-3s.

 

Good fish oil has at least 600mg EPA+DHA per capsule and says it is "molecularly distilled" or purified to remove mercury and other contaminants on the label.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am finding that I no longer can take as much.

I wasn't taking a lot to begin with. Is that common in withdrawal?

 

CS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Omega-3 Supplements May Lower Anxiety

 

Deborah Brauser www.medscape.com

 

July 22, 2011 — Increasing omega-3 intake may lower both anxiety symptoms and proinflammatory cytokines in healthy young adults, new research suggests.

 

In a small randomized controlled trial of medical students, those who received omega-3 supplements for 3 months showed a 20% reduction in anxiety scores and a 14% reduction in stimulated interleukin 6 (IL-6) production.

 

According to the investigators, the study "provides the first evidence that omega-3 may have potential anxiolytic benefits for individuals without an anxiety disorder diagnosis."

Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser

 

"We were impressed by the magnitude of the anxiety effect and the evidence for its anti-inflammatory effects, suggesting that it might have broader benefits," lead study author Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, professor of psychiatry and psychology and S. Robert David Chair of Medicine at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University College of Medicine (OSUMC) in Columbus, told Medscape Medical News.

 

She noted that the significant reduction in IL-6 is especially important because the young study population had low rates to begin with.

 

"So our findings could possibly be much more significant in a group that was older and had more health problems."

 

The study was published online July 19 in Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

 

Fish Oil Benefits the Body

 

"Chronic inflammation has been linked to a broad spectrum of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, and rheumatoid arthritis," write the researchers.

 

"Large population studies suggest that greater fish consumption may help control or protect against the onset of these and other inflammatory conditions," they add.

 

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are 2 key omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) found in fish oil, which may also benefit mood.

 

In fact, previous research, including a study reported on last year by Medscape Medical News, has suggested that omega-3 can lower depressive symptoms in patients diagnosed as having clinical depression.

 

Because both depression and anxiety have been found to increase the production of proinflammatory cytokines, the current investigators hypothesized that giving omega-3 PUFA supplementation to healthy subjects would lead to a decrease in this production.

 

Secondary outcome measures were lowered anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as lowered negative mood symptoms associated with taking stressful exams.

 

A total of 68 first- and second-year medical students (56% male; mean age, 23.65 years) were enrolled and randomized to receive 3 times daily either omega-3 supplement capsules (consisting of 2085 mg of EPA and 348 mg of DHA, n = 34) or fish-flavored placebo capsules (n = 34) for 12 weeks.

 

"We chose the 7:1 EPA/DHA balance because of evidence that EPA has relatively stronger anti-inflammatory and antidepressant effects than DHA," explain the investigators.

 

"The supplement was probably about 4 or 5 times the amount of fish oil you'd get from a daily serving of salmon," added coauthor Martha Belury, PhD, RD, professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University, in a release.

 

....

Reduced Anxiety, Cytokines

 

....

Still, the treatment group showed a significantly greater reduction in anxiety symptoms at 20% than did the placebo group (P = .04).

 

They also had a greater decrease in their amounts of stimulated IL-6 production (0.15 units lower, P = .04).

 

"Anything we can do to reduce cytokines is a big plus in dealing with the overall health of people at risk for many diseases," said coauthor Ron Glaser, PhD, professor of molecular virology, immunology, and medical genetics at OSUMC.

 

There were no significant changes in depressive symptoms for either group.

 

"Again, this was not a depressed group, and without more severe depression, you may not see an effect," said Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser.

 

"Overall, that both anxiety and inflammation were altered is notable, especially in a group that was not clinically anxious," she added.

 

....

Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser reported that the investigators have just finished another trial that examined the effects of increasing omega-3 in a population between the ages of 40 and 85 years who have an average body mass index of 30.

 

Omega-3 for All Psychiatric Disorders?

Capt. Joseph R. Hibbeln

 

"This study reveals 2 remarkable, clinically solid findings," Capt. Joseph R. Hibbeln, MD, acting chief, Section on Nutritional Neurosciences at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland, told Medscape Medical News.

 

The first, "which cannot be understated," is the reduction of anxiety scores in a normative population, said Dr. Hibbeln, who was not involved with this study.

 

....

"The second was that they probed the question of whether or not omega-3 fatty acids at least work in part through changes in the immune system and neural-immune interactions by measuring the effects of cytokine release in the patients' white blood cells ex vivo."

 

He noted that the "very marked decrease" in cytokine production in the treatment group was impressive.

 

"This is absolutely consistent with the hypothesis that one of the mechanisms of action for omega-3 fatty acids is not necessarily central but is through down-regulating the immune system. The study begs the question: is increased anxiety a manifest symptom of omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies? And their answer is yes."

 

Dr. Hibbeln said that the current 2010 US Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines recommend omega-3 PUFAs for the protection of heart disease and for pregnant mothers to prevent deficiencies in their offspring.

 

In 2006, the treatment committee for the American Psychiatric Association (APA), of which he was a member, issued recommendations that all patients with a psychiatric disorder should take at least 1 gram a day of omega-3 PUFAs to prevent the medical complications that often co-occur for them, such as cardiovascular disease and metabolic problems.

 

"This paper should be another signal that the practicing psychiatrist should follow the 2006 APA recommendations," concluded Dr. Hibbeln.

 

The study was funded in part by a grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is part of the NIH. The study authors and Dr. Hibbeln have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

 

Brain Behav Immun. Published online July 19, 2011. Abstract

 

 

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/746870?src=rss

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's all good.

 

Study Identifies Fish Oil's Impact On Cognition And Brain Structure

19 Aug 2011

 

Researchers at Rhode Island Hospital's Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center have found positive associations between fish oil supplements and cognitive functioning as well as differences in brain structure between users and non-users of fish oil supplements. The findings suggest possible benefits of fish oil supplements on brain health and aging. The results were reported at the recent International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, in Paris, France.

 

The study was led by Lori Daiello, PharmD, a research scientist at the Rhode Island Hospital Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center. Data for the analyses was obtained from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), a large multi-center, NIH-funded study that followed older adults with normal cognition, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer's Disease for over three years with periodic memory testing and brain MRIs.

 

The study included 819 individuals, 117 of whom reported regular use of fish oil supplements before entry and during study follow-up. The researchers compared cognitive functioning and brain atrophy for patients who reported routinely using these supplements to those who were not using fish oil supplements.

 

Daiello reports that compared to non-users, use of fish oil supplements was associated with better cognitive functioning during the study. However, this association was significant only in those individuals who had a normal baseline cognitive function and in individuals who tested negative for a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's Disease known as APOE4. This is consistent with previous research.

 

The unique finding, however, is that there was a clear association between fish oil supplements and brain volume. Consistent with the cognitive outcomes, these observations were significant only for those who were APOE4 negative.

 

Daiello says, "In the imaging analyses for the entire study population, we found a significant positive association between fish oil supplement use and average brain volumes in two critical areas utilized in memory and thinking (cerebral cortex and hippocampus), as well as smaller brain ventricular volumes compared to non-users at any given time in the study. In other words, fish oil use was associated with less brain shrinkage in patients taking these supplements during the ADNI study compared to those who didn't report using them."

 

....

Daiello is a research scientist at Rhode Island Hospital, a member hospital of the Lifespan health system in Rhode Island and an assistant professor of neurology (research) at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Direct financial and infrastructure support for this project was received through the Lifespan Office of Research Administration. The study was supported by career development grants from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (Daiello) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (Gongvatana).

 

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/232952.php

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have decided to quit taking fish oil capsules unless the pain in a toe I injured last year is too great and requires the anti inflammatory effect that fish oil provides.

 

What led to this decision is that last week, I forgot to bring my fish oil capsules to work. Initially, I panicked but then I realized that while my functioning wasn't perfect, it seemed to be better in many areas. My mood definitely didn't suffer and in fact, seemed to be improved in spite of dealing with a stressful situation.

 

So I have continued the experiment. Today, I am not working and noticed that I had no problems getting motivated to work on various tasks. In fact, I am tackling cleaning my iron which I knew needed to be dealt with previously but I didn't have the cognitive power to do so.

 

I am continuing to take coconut oil so perhaps that is providing the cognitive power that I need. Taking fish by itself or with coconut oil was not working.

 

Also, I have noticed my gums don't bleed now that I am not taking the fish oil.

 

Only time will tell whether I am taking the right action or not. But after my experience, I would recommend that if you notice that something isn't right and you're taking supplements, see if stopping them helps.

 

CS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going a little nuts trying to figure out what kind of fish oils to buy... Since I'm in Canada now, I am able to order a bunch of stuff I normally don't have access to, and I want to take advantage, but it seems like there is a lot of conflicting info out there on the best fish oils. For example... fish oil vs. krill oil? DHA to EPA ratio? Distilled or not distilled?

 

What made me look more into this now is that I had lowered my Omega 3 intake from 6 gelcaps to 2 because I thought they were making me kind of wired. Then after a few days I realized I was getting really depressed. So I started taking more and almost immediately felt better. BUT I noticed that when I was taking less my acne improved. I have had really bad acne, uncharacteristically so, since I started taking so much of the fish oils (hadn't made the connection though until now). So I though maybe I should improve my fish oil source (right now I take the GNC brand) and see if that helps, because the acne came back with a vengeance (even though omega 3 oils are supposed to improve acne!).

 

I am at the moment totally overwhelmed and exhausted and overstimulated by being out of my normal environment, so I can't manage to really research this properly. BUT the Healthy Skeptic has a whole bunch of info on the subject.

 

Excerpt:

 

Fish oil has become wildly popular these days. Most people who are at least relatively health conscious understand that they need omega-3 in their diet, and are probably not getting enough from food (unless they eat a lot of fish).

 

Health care practitioners have caught on, too. I constantly hear both conventional and alternative practitioners telling their patients to take fish oil. In fact, I was listening to a podcast last week by one popular health and fitness guru in the paleo/primal world, and he advises his clients to take up to 20 grams of fish oil a day. That made me cringe.

 

Why? Because what most people – including health care practitioners – don’t seem to understand is that not all fish oils are created alike. There’s a tremendous difference in the ingredients, purity, freshness and therapeutic benefit of the fish oils available today. The supplement industry is rife with false claims and unsavory companies that are far more interested in profiting on the fish oil craze than they are in your health and well-being.

 

Recommending that people take up to 20g/d of fish oil without conveying the importance of choosing a high quality fish oil, and teaching them how to do that, is irresponsible and possibly dangerous. Taking 20g/d of a poor quality, oxidized fish oil could dramatically increase oxidative damage and inflammation – which is of course exactly the opposite of the desired effect.

 

In this article, I’ll focus more on dispelling common misconceptions about fish oil and helping you to choose the best product for your needs.

Factors to consider when buying fish oil

 

There are seven primary variables to be aware of when shopping for a fish oil:

 

1. Purity. The oil must meet international standards for heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins and other contaminants. Many do not – even when they claim they do.

2. Freshness. Omega-3 oils are susceptible to oxidation, which makes them rancid. Rancid oils are pro-inflammatory and contribute to the diseases you’re trying to relieve or prevent by taking fish oil in the first place!

3. Potency. In order to have the desired anti-inflammatory effect, fish oil must contain an adequate amount of the long-chain omega-3 derivatives EPA and DHA. DHA is especially important.

4. Nutrients. All fish oils contain some amount of EPA and DHA. However, fish liver oil (from cod, skate or shark) also contains naturally occurring fat-soluble vitamins that are difficult to obtain from foods.

5. Bio-availability. The ability to absorb the beneficial components of fish oil is based on the molecular shape of the fatty acids. The more natural the structure the better.

6. Sustainability: The fish should be harvested in a sustainable manner and species that are under threat should be avoided.

7. Cost: the product must be relatively affordable to be practical for most people.

 

Anyone have particular brands that have helped? Any opinions about more EPA or more DHA?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coincidence: I was just thinking that I should add tips for selecting fish oil.

 

Here's what I look for:

 

- Purified or "molecularly distilled." This removes contaminants such as mercury.

 

- A good strong, per capsule amount of EPA plus DHA, such as 600mg per capsule. If there's a lot of EPA+DHA in a capsule, you will need to fewer capsules.

 

Read the label carefully because a lot of them exaggerate their strength by displaying the amount of EPA+DHA in TWO capsules.

 

(It doesn't matter if it's EPA or DHA -- our bodies are designed to convert EPA into DHA. It's not necessary to get pure DHA, which is more expensive.)

 

- Look at the "other ingredients" and make sure there's nothing added that you're sensitive to -- some contain vitamin D. Other than EPA and DHA, the rest of the oils that might be in a capsule are filler.

 

- Many fish oils have a little vitamin E in them. That's okay, it's a natural preservative.

 

- Last year, there was a lot of concern about PCBs in fish oil. Fish oil from wild fish rather than farmed fish is less likely to contain PCBs.

 

- I found a good price is about $.10 per 600mg EPA+DHA capsule.

 

- Personally, I don't think krill oil or salmon oil yield better EPA+DHA -- and they're more expensive than regular fish oil -- but if you want to try a different formulation for some reason, you might try them.

 

- Vegetable omega-3 fatty acids have to go through a lot of conversion by the body and are not as effective as marine fatty acids.

 

 

In general, I'm not impressed with GNC quality or value. Their main advantage is they are convenient.

 

Two brands I think are good values are Trader Joe's Omega-3 Fatty Acids (red label in a grocery chain store) and Natural Factors Dr. Murray's Rx Omega-3 Factors 400 EPA/200 DHA. I wrote to both of them and verified they tested for PCBs and removed them.

 

Natural Factors also has Maximum Triple Strength RxOmega-3 900 mg Enteric-coated, which contains 600 mg EPA plus 300 mg DHA.

 

The Natural Factors products are available on the Web.

 

Natural Factors is a Canadian company. Their quality control may be better than any US companies -- this is what they wrote me:

 

Natural Factors is committed to providing the highest quality products

to our customers and enhancing their health. Before being released for

sale, all of our products undergo rigorous testing as required by Good

Manufacturing Practices regulations. We manufacture all of our products

under the mandatory standards of Health Canada's Natural Health Products

Directorate (NHPD). NHPD guidelines include IFOS testing which involves

everything that we test for in our fish oils (heavy metals, dioxins and

PCB's).The regulations found under the NHPD are comparable to the

regulations of the United States FDA and Canada's Therapeutic Drugs

Directorate (TPD), both who regulate pharmaceutical products. The only

difference is that the NHPD governs supplements considered to be natural

health products, which include products such as herbals and vitamin

supplements.

So while you're in Canada, you might want to stock up on Natural Factors.

 

Reminder: Take fish oil with 400IU vitamin E per day, it helps the fish oil to work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was using 6 capsules a day. I had to lower it to two. Six gave me oil overload and my eyes got very teary and goopy. I also got a lot of ear wax and ended up with an ear infection. Two a day works good for me.

 

As Alto said, the marine oil is best. But for those that have trouble with the fish oil, you can find Omega 3 in Flax Seeds and Walnuts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, after thinking fish oil capsules weren't doing any good and discontinuing them, I realized they were more beneficial than I thought they were.

 

I seem to do best with the ones that have mostly EPA and a little DHA. The omega 3 joy brand is the cheapest.

 

CS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The DHA gets into your CNS faster, maybe that's too strong for you, cs.

 

I recently discovered chia seeds. They have more omega-3s and other nutrients in them than ground flax seeds, which I had been putting into my cereal before.

 

Eating chia seeds also makes me smile -- we had a fad here a while back for "chia pets," chia seeds sprouted on top of clay animals. Weird.

 

But, yes, processing veggie omega-3s is much more difficult for our bodies, and we don't get as much usable omega-3s into our nervous systems from the plant sources.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never heard of Chia Seeds. But I have heard of Chia pets lol. I'm a person that is very much into symbolisms. I've read Jung's Man and His Symbols and books like that. So I take interest in things like the Walnut being good for the brain, and it looks like a brain. Chia pets had sprouts growing from the head. Coincidence? I don't think so ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

<<The DHA gets into your CNS faster, maybe that's too strong for you, cs.>>

 

Hi Alto,

 

My mood and concentration seem slightly better with the high EPA oil. I won't swear to it as I have tried all combinations.

 

But to save myself from driving myself nuts, I have settled on this formula. I could change my mind tomorrow:)

 

CS

 

PS - Actually, I think the EPA may be stronger for my system.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Consumer Reports just published a report finding relatively high levels of PCB contaminants in four brands of fish oil: CVS Natural, Sundown Naturals, Nature's Bounty Odorless, and GNC Triple Organic.

 

It said the coating on Kirkland Signature Enteric 1200 may not be effective and dissolve quickly, leaving a fishy aftertaste. The lemon flavoring in Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega may have confused a quality test.

 

The other 11 brands they tested passed the contaminants test. All the brands contained the claimed amount of EPA and DHA.

 

http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-fish-oil-supplements-consumer-reports-20111206,0,6978756.story

 

http://www.medpagetoday.com/PrimaryCare/DietNutrition/30031

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coincidence: I was just thinking that I should add tips for selecting fish oil.

 

Here's what I look for:

 

- Purified or "molecularly distilled." This removes contaminants such as mercury.

 

- A good strong, per capsule amount of EPA plus DHA, such as 600mg per capsule. If there's a lot of EPA+DHA in a capsule, you will need to fewer capsules.

 

I've been doing a whole lot of research into fish oil, Omega 3 fatty acids and depression, and Omega 6 fatty acids and depression. I hope to summarize what I've gathered from the studies soon because there are some interesting new studies that qualify/contradict the claims being made for fish oils (don't worry, there is still no question about them being good for you)... but thought I'd post ONE thing, in relation to the molecularly-distilled recommendation:

 

There are several studies that suggest that you are better off taking fish oils in their natural form or a reesterified form.

 

There are several reasons for molecular distillation... primarily two:

 

1. Decontamination

2. Concentration of EPA and DHA

 

However, the process results in a different form for the fatty acid. Instead of a Triglyceride, you end up with an Ethyl Ester, which studies have shown is much more difficult for your body to absorb (look at the conclusions of this 6 month study, for example). So maybe you are taking a higher amount of EPA and DHA total, but you'll really be getting less of it. And, of course, not all sellers disclose that the form of EPA and DHA they are selling you is really an Ethyl Ester instead of a Triglyceride.

 

Now, there is a way to "reesterify" the molecularly distilled oils into a form that is better absorbed by your body, but this is expensive. But if you do your research and can find a good source of reesterified molecularly distilled fish oil, you may decide that is the best option (and there is, in fact, one two week study that found that the absorption rate for DHA & EPA was better for reesterified fish oil than for natural fish oil).

 

On the other hand, there are other considerations... some nutritionists suggest that concentrating EPA & DHA might be sacrificing other important fatty acids, or fatty acid ratios. Also, there are studies that suggest THE most important factor is not the amount of EPA & DHA you consume, but the ratio between Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6 fatty acids. I'll post more about that as soon as I can. As a preview, I'll just say I have come to the conclusion that I'm never cooking with sunflower or corn oil again!

 

Anyway, here's a good summary of the Triglyceride vs. Ethyl Ester info: http://www.langeeyecare.com/article_fish_oil_triglycerides_vs_ethyl_esters_main.htm. It doesn't cite all the studies but has a good way of explaining things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, we are only beginning to find out how important omega-3 fatty acids are, and how to get them back into our diets.

 

When we hunted animals, cows ate grass, and barnyard animals were allowed to roam and eat the foods they evolved to eat, humans got omega-3 fatty acids in their foods.

 

For now, fish oil is the best option, but it's probably not ideal.

 

Agree that too much omega-6 also plays a role in a lot of health issues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you read "The Omnivore's Dilemma"... great book.

 

I've found a couple of studies or reviews of studies that suggest that rising rates of depression could be partially associated with the dietary changes that have occurred over the past century, which is exactly what you're talking about. Apparently our Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio used to be about 1 to 1, and now it is 9 to 1!

 

I'll post links to some of the more interesting studies as soon as I can.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right, that info is from Michael Pollan.

 

(One of those wacky name coincidences. Pollan = pollen.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The more I research this, the less I know.

 

Recently I've found claims that fish oil may be harmful from this site: http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/fishoil.shtml

 

Ray Peat is one of a few people who are warning against the fish oil "craze". There is also Brian Peskin.

 

Don't know yet what to make of it, but it makes sense that going overboard with high concentrations of any one nutrient is going to throw other stuff off balance. Even someone like Chris Kesser (the Healthy Skeptic), who highly recommends fish oil, also stresses not taking too much because of oxidative damage, and says it's better to eat fish instead of taking supplements.

 

I find all of this maddening to figure out. My instinct tells me it is better to eat whole foods and to stay away from processed foods, and that fanaticism in any one direction is what has caused most of our dietary problems. For example, the no-fat craze, the soy-protein craze, etc. I think the problems Michael Pollan points to are key.

 

Trying to derive conclusions from the scientific articles out there is so hard... so many of them have bad methodology, or leave so many questions unanswered... and the interplay between all our bodily functions is so complex.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would be happy to eat fish morning, noon, and night, if I could afford it.

 

Given the lopsided ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in our diets, it's hard to believe one could take too much fish oil.

 

I know without a doubt it definitely helped me to feel better, so I'm continuing with it.

 

Even if you have reservations, I suggest you take it for a while to support the recovery of your nervous system.

 

I don't think we'll ever have 100% consensus on the benefits of any health measure, except maybe exercise.

 

(Ray Peat seems very enthusiastic about progesterone supplementation. Hmmmm....

 

As near as I can tell, Peskin, in a very self-promotional tone, thinks he's debunked fish oil as a cure for cancer, Alzheimer's, and heart disease. As far as I know, no one has ever made those claims for fish oil. Peskin himself thinks he has found the key to treating cancer and sells a book about it.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now