About Omega 3 Fish Oils Archives

Find out more about omega 3 for vegetarians and vegans from this video

We have spoken before about the best way for vegetarians and vegans to get their Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

We have talked in greater depth about Omega 3 for vegetarians in our article about Omega 3 in plants, and for more information please read that article.

However to recap briefly, the 2 most important Omega 3 essential fatty acids are DHA and EPA which are found in fish, and in small amounts in some other non-vegetarian or vegan food sources like beef and eggs.

However the Omega 3 fat found in plants is called ALA, and this is only beneficial in so far as it can be converted into DHA and EPA in the body, and this conversion is generally considered to be very poor.

And for this reason people who do not eat fish have some problems maintaining an adequate supply of the Omega3 fats through their diet.

Today we bring you a video by Joseph Hibbeln, MD about Omega 3 for vegetarians and vegans, that will give you some more specific advice.

Joseph Hibbeln works at the Laboratory of Membrane Biophysics and Biochemistry, investigating the role of Omega 3 fatty acids in various mental disorders. Find out more about Dr Hibbeln here.

Here’s his video, essential viewing for any vegetarian or vegan interested in learning more about how they can go about maintaining their intake of the omega 3 fatty acids.

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Yes that’s right, there is a dark secret to the fish oil supplements industry.

Taking fish oil supplements is good for your health right? Not necessarily. Read on to find out why.

Not that the Omega 3 fatty acids are bad for you, in fact quite the opposite, the Omega 3 fats are extremely important to good health. But that doesn’t mean that all Omega 3 supplements are good for you. Why?

First let us say that the best Omega 3 supplements are extremely high quality and are also extremely good for your health. But perhaps not all are. Keep reading.

Fish are contaminated.

You see it goes like this. Fish oil supplements, obviously, contain fish oil, and equally obviously this comes from fish. Unfortunately fish, some in particular, have been contaminated by various chemical toxins.

This is not the fault of the fish, it’s our fault. Human beings have polluted their environment, including the oceans, for a long time. Gradually this pollution is working its way into many living things, including fish.Shocking truth of fish oil supplements

PCBs and Mercury are just two of the contaminants that are now found in fish, and which you do not want to be found in you.

It’s sad but when you eat fish you now run the risk of eating small amounts of these contaminants. As a result of our farming and industrial processes we have allowed sufficient toxic chemicals to leach into the oceans, and we are now getting them back when we eat fish.

In fact the FDA warns us about this

And for this reason the FDA now issues warnings about eating contaminated fish. Here is an example of an FDA warning about Mercury contamination in fish. Note the statement “nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury”.

For more information about specific mercury warnings read that page in full, particularly if you’re a pregnant woman. There are various warnings there about how much of specific types of fish you should eat because of contamination by Mercury, and specific warnings for pregnant women.

So the obvious conclusion to draw is that if fish are contaminated with toxins such as PCBs and Mercury then surely fish oil supplements made with oil from fish are equally contaminated.

And for this reason there are now excellent decontamination processes available to manufacturers of supplements to decontaminate the fish oil that may be used in their supplements.

Are fish oil supplements contaminated?

Despite this however some tests of various brands of fish oil supplements have shown PCB contamination. PCBs are a pernicious chemical linked to birth defects and cancer.

In 2010 a suit was filed against 8 manufacturers of fish oil products alleging that they have violated proposition 65 in the state of California which requires manufacturers to warn consumers of toxins which may be found in their products beyond various limits. The suit alleges a failure to warn.

This is concerning indeed, people take Omega 3 supplements to get healthier, not to ingest toxins.

Of course this isn’t to say that all fish oil supplements are contaminated, far from it. There are excellent fish oil supplements available which are not contaminated, however anyone looking to take supplements needs to satisfy themselves before buying any particular supplements that those they are buying are safe to take.

The purity of the fish oil in the capsules is an extremely important consideration.

There’s a simple way of telling whether fish oil supplements you may be thinking of buying are clean. We won’t go over that now as we’ve done so before and you can read our discussion of how to determine the purity of your fish oil supplements on our page about fish oil purity.

Suffice to say, you should be aware that there is a dark secret to the fish oil supplements industry. There are supplements which have been found to be contaminated with PCBs, there are lawsuits about it, and as an educated consumer you should know about it.

So read our page about fish oil purity and find out how to source clean fish oil supplements that improve your health and which don’t contain PCBs or any other industrial toxins.

Click here to find out which are the purest fish oil supplements.

To read about the Proposition 65 lawsuit on PCB contamination click here and here.

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There’s Omega 3 in fish without doubt, but what goes with it?

Most people know about the Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and that there is Omega 3 in fish, so today we wanted to look at exactly how much Omega 3 there is in fish, and discuss some of the issues of getting your Omega3 from fish.

For anyone who is just starting the journey of learning about the health benefits of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids, the first thing to understand is that an adequate supply of the Omega 3 fats in our diet is very good for us, and that most of us don’t get enough in our diet.

Over the last few decades science has established that the Omega 3 fats are extremely important for good health in a wide range of areas. These fats are known as essential fatty acids because they are essential for the operation of our body, and because they are not produced in our body we need to get them from our diet.

There's Omega 3 in fish

Today we don’t intend to discuss any of the individual health benefits of increasing your intake of DHA and EPA, though if you’re interested to find out more please use the categories on the right.

Today we wanted to discuss Omega 3 levels in fish, in other words to find out more about where to get your essential fatty acids.

That’s because fish is the best source of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids DHA and EPA. There are other sources, for example beef was a good source of DHA in the past, however is now not such a good source because most of our beef is grain fed and grain fed beef has much lower levels of DHA.

But fish, and particularly oily fish, is rich in DHA and EPA, and, for most of us other than vegetarians who don’t eat fish, is the best way to increase the amount of essential fatty acids in our diet.

But exactly how much Omega 3 is there in fish? Lets have a look.

Here’s the list, presented by the American Heart Association, of the top 10 fish and shellfish for Omega 3 content.

Type of fish Omega 3 content Mercury level
Canned tuna (light) 0.17–0.24 0.12
Shrimp 0.29 ND*
Pollock 0.45 0.06
Salmon (fresh, frozen) 1.1–1.9 0.01
Cod 0.15–0.24 0.11
Catfish 0.22–0.3 0.05
Clams 0.25 ND*
Flounder or sole 0.48 0.05
Crabs 0.27–0.40 0.06
Scallops 0.18–0.34 0.05

The first column of figures indicates the Omega 3 content in the fish, in grams per 3 ounce serving. The second column of figures is the average Mercury level in parts per million. ND means not detectable.

And there lies the problem. Although there is plenty of Omega 3 in fish, as you can see from the table, there’s other things included with your Omega 3, like Mercury.

Sad to say much of the fish that we eat is contaminated with Mercury, PCBs and other nasty chemical contaminants. In most cases it is not much, but who wants any?

For this reason the American Heart Association, whilst recommending that we eat a couple of meals of fish a week, also recognizes the risks of contamination of fish and tempers their recommendations with warnings from the FDA that children and pregnant women should avoid eating the fish with higher levels of Mercury contamination, and to mix up the type of fish you eat.

The Australian government website Better Health also specifies exactly which fish are the riskiest for contamination with Mercury, identifying “shark, swordfish (broadbill) and marlin, ray, gemfish, ling, orange roughy (sea perch) and southern blue fin tuna” as being high in Mercury, and which should be avoided.

And it has some good advice for fishermen, suggesting that they pay attention to the possible levels of pollution in any area where they are fishing, and to avoid bottom feeding species like catfish. All good advice.

Of course there are various ways to get your Omega 3 fats.

There are plenty of fish oil supplements available with high levels of DHA and EPA. Sadly some of these have also been found to be contaminated.

There’s no doubt that eating more fish, particularly fish high in Omega 3, is an effective way to increase your intake of the essential fatty acids DHA and EPA. But it’s sometimes not quite so simple.

Yes there is Omega 3 in fish, but before you start adding heaps of fish to your diet be aware of the different types of fish available, how much Omega 3 is found in those fish and whether they may also have higher levels of Mercury contamination, along with other contaminants.

Choose your fish carefully and choose your fish oil supplements carefully.

Either way it’s important to increase the amount of DHA and EPA in your diet for the sake of your health. It’s not an easy choice, and you need to do a little research first.

Omega 3 in fish table source

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It seems that frying affects the amount of Omega 3 in your fish

Probably by now most of our readers have heard that the best Omega 3 fatty acids come from fish. But is there much Omega 3 in the fish that you’re eating tonight? Not if it’s fried fish.

Whilst our preferred option for getting plenty of high-quality Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet is by taking  fish oil supplements there is no doubt that eating fish is another way to do that.

Eating fish for your Omega 3 however does have its problems. We’ve spoken before about the contamination of fish, including with Mercury, and also about how expensive it’s getting.

But we haven’t discussed how much Omega 3 is in fish that is cooked in different ways.Omega 3 in fried fish

Unfortunately there is evidence that the amount of Omega 3 in fish that makes its way onto your dinner plate can vary enormously according to how it’s cooked, and that frying your fish robs it of much of those important Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

Yes unfortunately the way you cook your fish has a large bearing on how much Omega 3 there is in your fish it seems.

A study done in December 2010, and published in the Neurology journal, has found that those living in the so-called “stroke belt” in the southern States are eating too much fried fish.

The “stroke belt” is a series of states including North and South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas and Louisiana where there is an uncharacteristically high rate of death from stroke, and a particularly high rate amongst African-Americans.

The study established that people who lived in the “stroke belt” were 32 percent more likely to eat at least 2 or more servings of fried fish than those of us who live elsewhere in the country.

And African-Americans were 3 1/2 times more likely to eat 2 or more servings of fried fish than Caucasians.

The suggestion is that frying the fish will leach out those all important Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

The lead author of the study done at Emory University in Atlanta has postulated that one of the reasons for the higher incidence of stroke and death related to stroke in these States is the higher rate of consumption of fried fish.

And that the high rate of fried fish consumption amongst African-Americans may be a factor in explaining their higher rate of stroke.

Now of course the study doesn’t mean that it is just fried fish causing all those strokes. But it is certainly highly coincidental that the highest rate of stroke both by region and by racial differences coincides exactly with a high rate of intake of fried fish.

So is there Omega 3 in the fish that you’re serving up tonight? It is of course very hard to know, it varies enormously from one species of fish to another, it depends on whether, in the case of salmon for instance, it’s wild or farmed fish, and a host of other factors.

But the study certainly gives reason to doubt that you should be frying your fish if you’re eating it hoping to attract the health benefits of more Omega 3 in your diet.

As said before the best way to take regular daily doses of Omega 3 is to take Omega 3 capsules. The best Omega 3 capsules, (though not all) are entirely free of contamination, have very high levels of the active ingredients DHA and EPA, and are much more cost effective to take daily than it is to buy fish.

However there is no reason to swear off fish.

But you might be better to steam or bake it than to fry it.

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