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

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Nadia   
Nadia

OK, some things are starting to make sense... despite divergence on whether ALA can be effectively converted to EPA and DHA, there is a point of overlap in lots of the studies, and in what Chris Kessler recommends AND Brian Peskin, etc. recommend. They both stress that saturated fat is, after all, important for health and not the "bad guy" it's been made out to be. And that the modern diet contains too many "bad" Omega 6 oils... Chris Kessler stresses that we eat too many Omega 6 oils period. Brian Peskin, on the other hand, says the problem is not the Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio, but the fact that the Omega 6 oils we consume now are adulturated (hydrogentated into trans fats or cooked). The Peskin site is so self-promoting, and Kessler seems so much more balanced, that I lean more toward agreeing with Kessler's points... but I think Peskin has a point here, and one I think Kessler would agree with. Kessler stresses that the more unsaturated a fat is, the more easily is oxidizes. Peskin is more of a cancer "expert", so he's looking at evidence of damage from oxidizing more than anything (he links high fish oil consumption with cancer).

 

I guess the conclusion I'm taking away for now is to avoid trans fats and cooking with unsaturated oils. I still think fish oils are good, but not in the mega-concentrated and processed versions. And too much of something can be as bad as or worse than too little.

 

Still have much more reading to do...

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Looking forward to what you find out, N.

 

I'm still taking the evolutionary view, and looking at the change in our diets, which lack so many nutrients (including magnesium).

 

All that omega-6 veg oil does seem suspect to me. Where would hunter-gatherers have found that?

 

I'm much more worried about plastics leaching into my food (estrogenics) than what may or may not be in fish oil.

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Nadia   
Nadia

(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.)

 

Totally agree on the progesterone thing with Peat... it sent up a red flag. And also the self-promotion of Peskin... Still, they might be onto something with a couple of their points. I much prefer Kessler's analysis, though. Much more level and balanced.

 

It's worth reading Chris Kessler carefully, by the way... he ALSO stresses the dangers of oxidation, and does not advocate just taking a whole bunch of molecularly distilled fish oil, but reviewing your nutrition in general... which means lowering Omega 6. And why not, if you're going to lower Omega 6, lower what NO ONE considers "good" Omega 6: trans fats.

 

I'm still taking fish oils for sure... I just am taking non-distilled fish oils (have to watch out for toxins there, of course) and increasing my fish intake. And also now choosing butter, coconut oil and occasional olive oil as my cooking oils, instead of corn oil and sunflower oil and such (which also means staying away from commercially processed foods).

 

By the way... about two weeks after switching from molecularly distilled fish oil to natural fish oil my acne started to improve. A month and a half later, it has all but disappeared. So maybe there was a link there after all? Of course, the effect would not be immediate, which is why I hadn't made the connection before. But who knows... there are so many factors that could be involved.

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Nadia   
Nadia

Looking forward to what you find out, N.

 

I'm still taking the evolutionary view, and looking at the change in our diets, which lack so many nutrients (including magnesium).

 

All that omega-6 veg oil does seem suspect to me. Where would hunter-gatherers have found that?

 

I'm much more worried about plastics leaching into my food (estrogenics) than what may or may not be in fish oil.

 

I totally agree with the evolutionary view... we just aren't designed to eat the junk that passes as "food" nowadays! But that is the very same reason I'm a little suspicious of companies that try to harness the good aspects of fish oil to make a profit. The high concentration fish oils are the result of the same kind of thinking that ruined the food industry. And since they are not as easily absorbed, you're better off with the natural fish oils anyway, especially when taken with a high fat meal (in other words, you have to take less mg of them for the same benefit).

 

I also am anti-plastic. What I found out about chemical leaching in plastics a few years ago made me throw out all my tupperware, for one. I only store in glass containers now. It's hard to avoid plastics entirely since so much food is packaged that way, but I figure the more we can reduce contact with our beverages and food, the better, particularly with high acid foods and hot foods.

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compsports   
compsports

Chris Kresser is one of my favorite healthcare professionals as I have found him to be completely rational and logical. He also realizes that one size does not fit all.

 

Regarding taking fish oil capsules, I think people need to listen to their bodies. I do better taking them vs. just consuming more foods with omega 3.

 

I wish I could consume alot of butter but doing so seems to worsen my nasal congestion.

 

CS

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compsports   
compsports

cs and Nadia, what kinds of natural fish oil do you recommend?

 

Hi Alto,

 

Two posters on the Vitacost forums (one has worked long time in the supplement industry, the other one is a chemist feel that Nordic Naturals makes the best and that the one from Life Extension Formula is 2nd best.) They recommend the Jarrows brand if you're trying to save money.

 

Personally, I have found it makes no difference whether I use a cheap brand vs. an expensive one. So I just purchased the Jarrows Brand with EPA and DHA.

 

CS

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Nadia   
Nadia

Wow... I was looking for Chris Kessler's recommendations and instead found this on his site:

 

http://chriskresser.com/when-it-comes-to-fish-oil-more-is-not-better

 

Excerpt:

 

 

Too much fish oil can wreak havoc in your body

 

Omega-3 fatty acids are highly vulnerable to oxidative damage. When fat particles oxidize, they break down into smaller compounds, like malondialdehyde (MDA), that are dangerous because they damage proteins, DNA, and other important cellular structures.

 

[...]

 

Eat fish, not fish oil – cod liver oil excepted

 

That is why the best approach is to dramatically reduce intake of omega-6 fat, found in industrial seed oils and processed and refined foods, and then eat a nutrient-dense, whole-foods based diet that includes fatty fish, shellfish and organ meats. This mimics our ancestral diet and is the safest and most sane approach to meeting our omega-3 needs – which as Chris Masterjohn points out, are much lower than commonly assumed.

 

Some may ask why I continue to recommend fermented cod liver oil (FCLO), in light of everything I’ve shared in this article. There are a few reasons. First, I view FCLO as primarily a source of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, K2 and E) – not EPA and DHA. Second, in the context of a nutrient-dense diet that excludes industrial seed oils and refined sugar, and is adequate in vitamin B6, biotin, calcium, magnesium and arachidonic acid, the risk of oxidative damage that may occur with 1g/d of cod liver oils is outweighed by the benefits of the fat-soluble vitamins.

 

So I still recommend eating fatty fish a couple times per week, and taking cod liver oil daily, presuming your diet is as I described above. What I don’t endorse is taking several grams per day of fish oil, especially for an extended period of time. Unfortunately this advice is becoming more and more common in the nutrition world.

 

More is not always better, despite our tendency to believe it is.

 

Anyway, here's his page of recommendations: http://chriskresser.com/the-definitive-fish-oil-buyers-guide

 

Right now I am taking Carlson's Norwegian Salmon Oil, not molecularly distilled, because it was what I could get. It's natural and is a mix with other fish oils to increase DHA and EPA content (per 1000mg, it is 375mg of Omega 3 oils, of which 180mg are EPA and 125mg are DHA). They say it is tested using AOAC international protocols for freshness, purity and potency by an independent FDA approved lab, but I've read that they won't release their certificate of analysis (though that was said in relation to a different product), so I'm not sure it's the best choice. Also, I'm not sure if they are a good choice in terms of sustainability or not.

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Nadia   
Nadia

In the comments section of the "too much fish oil can be bad for you" page:

 

David October 30, 2010 at 5:59 pm

 

What about fish oil for depression?

 

Reply

Chris Kresser October 31, 2010 at 8:29 am

 

David,

 

For depression, my recommendation is the same as it is for general health: the first step is to dramatically reduce omega-6 consumption. Then, eating fatty fish like salmon 2-3x/week and adding a moderate amount of fermented cod liver oil should help balance the n-3/n-6 ratio. That’s the intention behind fish oil, after all, but this is a safer way to do it.

 

That said, if someone has done all that and they’re still not getting the results they want, and additional fish oil provides a benefit, I’d choose that over an SSRI any day of the week.

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compsports   
compsports

Personally, I tried just consuming the cod liver oil that Chris had recommended as it was also mentioned in the "Cure Tooth Decay" book. And it helped my tooth greatly.

 

However, that was not sufficient for providing enough omega 3 fatty acids even when consuming more omega 3 in my diet. Since I don't take an extraordinary high amount of fish oil, I am not worried about experiencing the dangers that are mentioned in that article.

 

Unfortunately, I know I am adding to a high omega 6 content by consuming alot of sunflower seed butter. But I gotta eat something if I am not eating junk food (exception today) and can't consumer too many dairy products because they aggravate nasal congestion.

 

CS

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

I see Nordic Naturals omega-3 line contains the "natural triglyceride form for optimal absorption" (according to their Web site).

 

They tend to be pricey. I saw their Ultimate Omega XTRA (600 EPA + DHA per capsule, comes in a liquid, too; contains vits D and E) in Whole Foods and it cost twice what Nordic Naturals has listed on their Web site. Shop around!

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Nadia   
Nadia

Personally, I tried just consuming the cod liver oil that Chris had recommended as it was also mentioned in the "Cure Tooth Decay" book. And it helped my tooth greatly.

 

However, that was not sufficient for providing enough omega 3 fatty acids even when consuming more omega 3 in my diet. Since I don't take an extraordinary high amount of fish oil, I am not worried about experiencing the dangers that are mentioned in that article.

 

Unfortunately, I know I am adding to a high omega 6 content by consuming alot of sunflower seed butter. But I gotta eat something if I am not eating junk food (exception today) and can't consumer too many dairy products because they aggravate nasal congestion.

 

CS

 

Compsports... have you tried ghi instead of butter? I wonder if maybe with all the milk solids out it might not aggravate your nasal congestion... I know a few people who can't tolerate dairy products in general but do well with ghi. In any case, not sure how you eat the sunflower seed butter, but canola oil and olive oil are better if you want to improve your Omega 6 to 3 ratio. And then there is also coconut oil, if you do well with that. Not sure if you could find a way to substitute the sunflower seed butter with those, but maybe it's worth looking into.

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alexjuice   
alexjuice

I've been trying sardines. They are very stimulating maybe from high concentrations of b12 or the dmae... A good brand fished and packed in olive oil gives a good punch of omega3 fats, calcium, and protein priced under $3 a tin.

 

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread10121.html

 

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread36044.html

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compsports   
compsports

<<<Compsports... have you tried ghi instead of butter? I wonder if maybe with all the milk solids out it might not aggravate your nasal congestion... I know a few people who can't tolerate dairy products in general but do well with ghi. In any case, not sure how you eat the sunflower seed butter, but canola oil and olive oil are better if you want to improve your Omega 6 to 3 ratio. And then there is also coconut oil, if you do well with that. Not sure if you could find a way to substitute the sunflower seed butter with those, but maybe it's worth looking into.>>>

 

Great suggestion. Next time I go grocery shopping, i will see if I can find it.

 

As an FYI sunflower seed butter is equivalent to peanut butter. I had felt that eating peanut butter was causing a food intolerance and seemed to do better with the sunflower seed butter.

 

I think Macadamia nut butter is a good substitute but fortunately, it is so expensive.

 

CS

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Are nut butters a problem re omega-6s? If they're pure and don't have added veg oils, all they are is crushed seeds. Hunter-gatherers would eat seeds.

 

cs, I'm also allergic to peanut butter and I've got some sunflower seed butter instead. I don't eat it very often. Lately, I'm eating hummus (chickpeas and olive oil) and tahini (crushed sesame seeds) instead, for a light lunch.

 

Sardines, great omega-3 suggestion, alex.

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Nadia   
Nadia

<<<Compsports... have you tried ghi instead of butter? I wonder if maybe with all the milk solids out it might not aggravate your nasal congestion... I know a few people who can't tolerate dairy products in general but do well with ghi. In any case, not sure how you eat the sunflower seed butter, but canola oil and olive oil are better if you want to improve your Omega 6 to 3 ratio. And then there is also coconut oil, if you do well with that. Not sure if you could find a way to substitute the sunflower seed butter with those, but maybe it's worth looking into.>>>

 

Great suggestion. Next time I go grocery shopping, i will see if I can find it.

 

As an FYI sunflower seed butter is equivalent to peanut butter. I had felt that eating peanut butter was causing a food intolerance and seemed to do better with the sunflower seed butter.

 

I think Macadamia nut butter is a good substitute but fortunately, it is so expensive.

 

CS

 

Oh, I get it... it's the actual crushed sunflowers, as opposed to a butter created from the sunflower oil. Right!

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Nadia   
Nadia

Are nut butters a problem re omega-6s? If they're pure and don't have added veg oils, all they are is crushed seeds. Hunter-gatherers would eat seeds.

 

Since my BF can't eat most grains, we tend to eat a lot of nuts and seeds. Thus, I've been pretty sad to read about how nuts may contribute to the omega 6/omega 3 ratio (see, again, Chris Kessler for a pretty good summary of this).

 

I was also disturbed to read this on his site: Another Reason you shouldn't go nuts on nuts. Basically, nuts contain a lot of phytic acid, and that can interfere with absorption of minerals such as magnesium.

 

Studies suggest that we absorb approximately 20 percent more zinc and 60 percent more magnesium from our food when phytic acid is absent.

But I suppose it's like with anything else... just don't overdo it. I think hunter-gatherers certainly ate nuts, but they didn't have access to huge bags of unshelled almonds from Costco!! So they probably ate them in moderation.

 

Still, I'd say eliminate cooked and processed vegetable oils from your diet to improve the omega 6/omega 3 ratio before eliminating nuts!

 

In trying to optimize my mental health, I can go crazy weighing all the pros and cons of each little dietary decision. I think the secret is to eat a variety of whole foods and see how you respond (this can be difficult, as some stuff takes days, weeks, or months to figure out). I think most of the problems in nutrition nowadays have to do with processing and then singling out individual nutrients and concentrating them too much at the expense of balance. It's the typical response of the food industry... for example, I've been seeing all kinds of "resveratrol chews" with concentrated resveratrol based on studies that it's good for you. But these studies have the same problem as drug studies... they tend to be short-term studies, and often a few select positive studies are favored over ones that show no real benefits. The marketing industry is quick to jump on the to make a buck.

 

(By the way, while I was looking for the nuts link, I found this, which is really a worthwhile read: Food Fascism and the 80/20 Rule. Man, I like this guy more and more.)

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Nikki   
Nikki

Hi all...

 

When I went thru th Lexapro taper/wd I took many supplements to find relief. I real don't know if Fish Oil helped.

 

I did find Calcum/Magnesium Citrate did provide almost immediate relief from anxiety, however I was in the bathroom too much.

 

A few weeks back I purchased (pill) Magnesium Glycinate and I felt that it did have a calming effect. Again....back in the bathroom.

 

I don't ever remember having an adverse reaction for Vit E, so I think I'll order it. I ran out of Fish Oil and would like to try what Alto suggested (a small dose) to see what happens.

 

I had lots more anxiety from B-complex when in w/d from Lexapro. I haven't take it in awhile as I just got off Imipramine.

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Jemima   
Jemima

I started taking fish oil a few months ago, but only one 1200 mg. cap three times a day. As it turns out, that's not nearly enough. Recently there was an article (which I can't find) recommending at least 8000 mg. a day, and since I started taking the higher dose, I've noticed the calming effect. My current caps contain 360 mg. of EPA and DHA combined. Next time I'll look for a supplement with a higher level of those components.

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tezza   
tezza

I take a lot of supps, don't seem to be sensitive to any so far. I take B-Complex, Lecithin, L-lysine, magnesium, Co Q-10, DHEA, 400 IU Vit.E and Fish Oil 550 mg. I feel the B-Complex and Fish Oil/E are the most beneficial as far as WD is concerned. But, I obviously believe there is some added benefit from the others or else I wouldn't be taking. Also sometimes sublingual B-12. I take eight FOs at this time. I will probably eventually try a few other supps. I like fish oil!!!

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

From the article:

They found that when used by itself, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) alone did not seem to offer any benefit. However, DHA combined with a rather high dose of EPA (eicosapentenoic acid) did improve depressive symptoms.

 

"Preparations with some EPA had some consistent antidepressant effects, while preparations of pure DHA had no antidepressant effects," said lead study author Dr. John Davis, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "I don't think we can prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt, but there is now evidence from a number of double-blind studies that suggest mixed DHA/EPA has antidepressant properties, whether by itself or given along with traditional antidepressants."

 

The study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, was designed as a meta-analysis, in which researchers combine the results of multiple prior studies. The findings were slated for presentation Thursday at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology meeting in Miami.

 

....

Epidemiological studies, in which researchers look for associations across populations, have linked DHA deficiencies to depression. However, it's unknown if the depressed people in the study were DHA-deficient and therefore the supplements were simply returning their DHA levels to normal, or if an added boost of DHA/EPA was helpful even for those with sufficient levels, Davis said.

DHA and EPA used to be in a lot of our foods, particularly meats, but modern farming methods that raise animals on grain deplete meat of its omega-3 fatty acids.

 

We're all probably somewhat deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. We also consume a lot of omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable oil. Our bodies require much more omega-3 fatty acids relative to omega-6 fatty acids, so this perpetuates the omega-3 deficiency.

 

It's very possible a lot of what we call "depression" is omega-3 fatty acid deficiency brought on by poor nutrition.

 

It's likely there's not any ideal ratio of EPA to DHA; our bodies were designed to change EPA into DHA, which constitutes a lot of our brain matter.

 

Pre-industrial foods and, now, fish oil naturally contain much more EPA than DHA.

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Also see these topics about omega-3 fatty acids:

 

Fish Oil with High DHA/EPA Helps Depression

 

Military suicides linked to low omega-3 fatty acids

 

Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce post-partum depression

 

Olive oil vs fish oil

 

 

 

Below are the best and most cost-effective fish oil capsules I've found with high EPA and DHA. The stronger EPA/DHA means you can take fewer capsules. For mood, take at least 2000mg EPA + DHA per day.

  • Trader Joe's Omega-3 Fatty Acids, red label (Trader Joe's is a US grocery store) (400mg EPA/200mg DHA per capsule) 90 capsules $9-$10
  • Now Foods Ultra Omega 3, Fish Oil Soft-gels, 180-Count Amazon $22.28 (500 EPA/250 DHA)
  • Natural Factors Dr. Murray's Rx Omega-3 Factors (400 EPA/200 DHA)
  • Natural Factors Maximum Triple Strength RxOmega-3 900 mg Enteric-coated (600 EPA/300 DHA)
Natural Factors, from Canada, is probably the best quality. Google to find best price.

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enufodat   
enufodat

I've been using Arctic Pure EPA, which is 90/10% EPA/DHA. From perusing the recent literature (maybe a year ago) it seemed there was a general tendency for more EPA to be better, but I'm wondering if there may be a point at which there is too much of it relative to DHA. I doubt we can know, but wonder if anyone has thoughts on that, or perhaps there's more recent work that's come out?

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

DHA is better absorbed, but expensive. The body naturally converts EPA to DHA.

 

It's unknown which is better for withdrawal syndrome. I took 100% DHA for a while and felt no difference from fish oil with 200 DHA: 400 EPA.

 

(I always felt fish oil to be soothing.)

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Jarrow Formulas Max DHA looks like a pretty good source of omega-3 fatty acids. What you want is at least 600mg DHA plus EPA per capsule; I figure $.10 per capsule is a good price.

 

Some people think DHA is a better form of omega-3 fatty acid than EPA. (Personally, I don't think it makes much difference.)

 

There are a number of articles summarizing the Consumerlab.com findings. Brands might have improved their quality control since that study. I've contacted Trader Joe's and Natural Factors to verify their quality.

 

You might want to write Jarrow to get their assurance their Max DHA is pure, toxin-free, and as claimed.

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jr1985   
jr1985

Bump!

 

Ok, when I stopped taking my fish oil for a few days my symptoms started flaring up - lethargy, low mood, "heavy head", nerve tingling/stinging, metallic taste in mouth, hot flashes, etc. Then when I took 2 capsules yesterday I felt a little wired, but today all the symptoms are almost completely gone! I didn't think the Omega3 was really doing anything, but I kept taking it anyway because "it's good for you". I guess I was wrong, as it seems to be keeping my w/d symptoms at bay.

 

I've been taking "Omega 3 Triple Strength Fish Oil Capsules (1360mg)" from the UK Holland and Barrett. I'd been taking a single capsule (680mg EPA/272mg DHA) per day, and since two capsules made me feel wired, I'm gonna try taking one with Vitamin E, to see if I can get more benefits without the over-stimulation.

 

When is the best time to take it? I've been taking mine in the evening with my Effexor, but maybe the morning would be better if it's stimulating.

 

Also, can your brain find stability while taking omega-3, so that eventually you no longer need to take it to prevent w/d symptoms? Or am I somehow prolonging recovery by taking it?

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

If you find it stimulating, by all means take it in the morning.

 

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential building blocks for our nervous systems. The modern diet doesn't contain enough of them. The fish oil supplement might be making up to some extent a true nutritional deficiency, which is more noticeable in a hypersensitive nervous system.

 

That sounds like good, strong fish oil, jr. Correct, one takes fish oil with 400IU vitamin E per day, it keeps the fish oil circulating longer.

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jr1985   
jr1985

I forgot to mention, I noticed I haven't been depressed at all during this whole experience, mostly anxious if anything. The only time I felt depression creeping in is during this past week, when I stopped the fish oil. So I wonder if the omega3 has been keeping my mood up all along.

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gruvedaddy   
gruvedaddy

I have been taking fish oil ,Natures Bounty 1000mg x 3 per day, for the better part of 3 years now. I found i had high cholesterol and triglycerides and was told by my family doctor to start taking the fish oil and see how much it would bring my numbers down. It brought my triglycerides down drastically about 150 points over just 3 months! However my cholesterol was still too high so he prescribed me Zocor in addition to the 3000mg of fish oil and it brought those numbers down too. During my stepping down from 150mg of Zoloft to 25mg i never noticed any brain zaps. So, for what it's worth, it is possible that the fish oil curtailed any zaps without me even knowing it was good for that. And as for the fishy taste, Natures Bounty gave the least amount of after taste and fish burps as compared to several other brands i had tried. Hope this info helps.

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

You may wish to look into the side effects of statins and minimize your dosage. Depression is among them.

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Skyler   
Skyler

Just adding a post that was in Alex thread.

 

 

 

I have a consumerlabs subscription, do you know of other good resources?

 

Chris Kresser's Fish Oil Guide I only link him because he's my very good friend. ;-)

 

Cool, thanks.

 

Edit.. Woa, they recommend the type I just bought on Amazon. Fancy that! Chris Kresser's Fish Oil Guide

 

Supplemental

Jarrow Max DHA

 

Ingredients: 600 mg of omega-3 (250 mg DHA, 36 mg EPA) per capsule; one capsule is one serving.

 

Price: $14.85 (at Vitacost) for 180 capsules. $0.08/serving.

 

Advantages: even after considering the differences in absorptions between Jarrow Max (an ethyl ester) and the two natural triglyceride oils listed above, Jarrow Max is significantly cheaper. It’s possible to get 1g/d of DHA for $0.32. Made with anchovies and sardines, both of which are naturally low in contaminants. Jarrow faxed me their certificate of analysis, which checked out fine. This is a good choice for those wishing a high-dose of DHA in addition to eating fish or taking one of the natural triglyceride oils above.

 

Disadvantages: has a 7:1 ratio of DHA to EPA. Although I believe DHA to be more beneficial than EPA, the research is mixed on this and some people report that they do better with EPA.

 

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gruvedaddy   
gruvedaddy

You may wish to look into the side effects of statins and minimize your dosage. Depression is among them.

 

Ahh yes, that is true. But what i forgot to mention, and am very proud to say, is that back in the summer i was able to stop taking the statins as i was able to bring my cholesterol numbers down enough with a much healthier diet. :D I have been statin free for 6 months now and my numbers are still down. But i am still taking my 3000mg of fish oil daily, and see far too many benefits to stop that supplement.

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jr1985   
jr1985

This is interesting -

 

Although we need both EPA and DHA equally, as Ralph Holman, an expert on fatty acids once said “DHA is structure and EPA is function”. We need DHA for the proper development of the brain during pregnancy and through the first few years of life, but the rest of the time we need EPA for the brain to function efficiently. Some research has also indicated that the presence of DHA might actually interfere with the beneficial properties of EPA making it somewhat less effective than fish oil with a very high EPA content.

 

http://www.dietivity.com/omega-fatty-acids/

 

Has anyone had any experience switching from EPA+DHA fish oil to pure EPA fish oil?

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Humans have been eating fish for millions of years and converting the EPA in fish (and other foods) to DHA.

 

There's a lot more EPA in fish than DHA, which is why most fish oil contains mostly EPA.

 

DHA is more expensive because it's harder to get from fish, but sometimes people think that's because DHA is better than EPA.

 

You can get pure DHA and pure EPA, but all you'd be doing is paying more for fish oil that's gone through some extra processing steps. Our bodies naturally convert EPA to DHA.

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Another consideration when purchasing fish oil: Whether it is "synthetic" triglyceride oil or not. The natural triglyceride form is best absorbed, but may contain contaminants such as mercury.

 

Ethyl ester oil results from the molecular distillation process that removes the contaminants. It's a little less effective than natural triglycerides but it's the best you can do, other than raise your own fish in your own ocean.

 

From Chris Kresser's The definitive fish oil buyer’s guide (there is a discussion of best brands in the comments).

 

When it comes to fish oils, there are three forms currently available on the market:

  • Natural triglyercide oil. This is what you get when you “squeeze” the whole fish and extract the natural oil from it. It is the closest to eating fish oil in its natural form, and is highly bioavailable. The drawback of this form is that, because it’s not concentrated, it usually has low levels of EPA and DHA. And because it isn’t purified, it can have high levels of contaminants such as heavy metals, PCBs, and dioxins.
  • Ethyl ester oil. Occurs when natural triglyceride oil is concentrated and molecularly distilled to remove impurities. The ester form is still in a semi-natural state because it is the result of a process that naturally occurs in the body. The advantage to this form is that it can double or triple the levels of EPA and DHA.
  • Synthetic triglyceride oil. This form occurs when natural triglycerides are converted to ethyl esters for concentration (as above), but then re-converted into synthetic triglycerides. The original position of the triglyceride’s carbon bonds change and the molecule’s overall structure is altered, which impacts the bioavailability of the oil.

Studies on absorption of the various types of fish oil suggest that, unsurprisingly, the natural triglyceride form is absorbed better than the ethyl ester form, which in turn is absorbed better than the synthetic triglyceride form.

Contact the manufacturer to find out what form the oil is in.

 

(Yes, I know Chris Kresser has reservations about fish oil. So many people with withdrawal syndrome have responded well to it, I believe the benefits outweigh any risks for this purpose.)

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