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Are your fish oil supplements up to par?

The good news is that most of my patients know about the benefits of the essential fatty acids (EFAs) from fatty fish. Some of them take fish oil capsules because of the good things that they do:

1. Treat inflammation

2. Lower elevated blood pressure

3. Reduce high cholesterol

4. Improve memory, concentration, and focus

5. Support balanced mood: help with depression and anxiety

6.  Improve skin health

7. Support immune system

and more!

But, if you are taking fish oil supplements, are you taking good ones? No point in taking something that is either ineffective or actually unhealthy!

Some supplements you can select based on the sale price. Vitamin D3. Maybe. Vitamin C (though you might like to consider Ester-C instead of regular C). Ummm….well, not many in this category. Quality in the things you consume is important.

Fish oils–any oils, for that matter–can vary widely in quality, and thus in their health benefits, so here are some key things to note.

What kind of fish is used in your fish oil supplement? Tuna? There aren’t many that use tuna anymore as they are a big fish that tend to show an accumulation of heavy metal toxins like mercury. Halibut and cod liver oil are other options. They are also large fish, so quality of selection, processing, and testing is really important. A lot of questions have been raised about the healthiness of wild versus farmed salmon. Most healthcare providers recommend wild salmon over farmed.

Your best choice may be sardines and anchovies as they are small fish with high levels of the omega 3 EFAs called DHA and EPA. These fish have short lifespans and do not eat other fish, so they are less likely to bioaccumulate toxins.

It can be hard to know how well a company has chosen their fish stock; how carefully they process the oils so as not to damage them; how well they remove any toxins and test for safety; and whether the oil quality is still high (and not starting to go rancid) by the time you consume it. Because of this, I recommend choosing fish oils from companies with a good record. Some of the companies that I like for their quality of fish oils include: Integrative Therapeutics Inc (ITI), Nordic Naturals, Nutrasea, Barlean’s, and Xymogen.

Does your fish oil supplement repeat on you? Try another brand. Eat them with a large meal. Perhaps you also need to improve your digestive health.

The next time you are shopping for a fish oil supplement, look at more than the price tag so that you will better benefit from their many healthy properties.

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