It’s PC day again! (PC = product comparison)
Today will be about fish oils! If anyone has any requests of future products they would like to see me compare on PC day please feel free to leave a comment here, or on The Lavender Owl facebook page 🙂
Below is my current collection of fish oils.
But I know there are lots more available out there!
So how do you choose the one that’s right for you? The general theme I’ve seen in practice is usually “you get what you pay for”. However, in order to be the educated wise consumers I know you all are (or can be!), there are a few other things to keep in mind when purchasing your oils. Below are a few key topics to check out next time you’re re-stocking your shelf 🙂
Why fish oil?
Did you hear about fish oil on TV? Maybe a health care provider told you to take some? Or maybe you’re just obsessed with fish. Either way, fish oils are usually a great addition to your diet if you don’t already consume 2-4 servings of oily fish (salmon, mackarel, sardines, halibut, herring, etc.) each week. This is because fish oils are a natural source of the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA.
“Essential fatty acids” (EFAs) are fats that the human body does not create on its own, and therefore needs to get through diet. EFAs are the “good” fats I mentioned in a previous blog post that are super good for you and help with lots of body processes, for example making hormones, keeping your skin healthy and strong, coating nerves, providing energy, and decreasing inflammation. An example of EFAs would be Omega 3s. Fish oils are just one source of Omega 3s, but there are others like flax seed oil, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and chia. People buy fish oils in order to get the 2 very potent Omega 3 molecules “EPA” and “DHA”.
What to look for:
1. Are you vegetarian? – Good news! You can still get the benefits of the Omega 3s in fish oils….only smaller. There is a vegetarian source of DHA from algae that you can buy. Your body is able to make DHA from EPA, but not the other way around, so when you supplement with DHA you’ll just be getting DHA. But that’s ok! DHA is fabulous for nourishing and supporting the brain and central nervous system. That includes all your nerves, brain health, memory, and concentration.
2. Where are the fish coming from? – As you progress on your health journey, it may become important to you to learn more about where your food (or supplements) come from. An example of this importance is in fish oil. When we were young we learned that fish live in the ocean. But nowadays that isn’t always the case. Some fish are born, live, and die in fisheries (aka. fish farms). Some fish live in different parts of the ocean which are closer or farther away from pollution. Mercury and all sorts of crap now pollute our oceans. 😦
So…when you look at buying fish oil, I encourage you to educate yourself about where the company acquired the fish for the bottle you are about to consume. Look for things such as:
– Is there a seal of approval from a credible source stating this fish oil is sustainable? (i.e. OceanWise or Marine Stewardship Council)
– What type of fish is the company using? (i.e. anchovies and tiny fish vs. salmon or herring)
(*A brief FYI: Peru has one of the worlds biggest fisheries….which leads some sources say it has the worst pollution. Over-fishing from some fisheries means a more un-sustainable practice, hurting the fish and the species that rely on the fish. My buddy David Suzuki has a nice piece on sustainable sea creatures. You can also check out this comparison of fish oils by Adria Vasil of The Ecoholic Body. She’s a great resource in the nutrition industry for those looking to compare anything and everything!*)
3. Other ingredients – technically if you have a good quality fish oil, let’s hope the ingredients just say “fish oil” from XYZ species. But lots of companies have started adding flavours to their fish oils because most people don’t like the taste of fish (or fishy aftertaste of capsules). The term “natural flavours” can actually incorporate up to 200 ingredients all falling under the term “natural”…… Check out the ingredients on your label and see if they make sense to you!
Should I get one high in EPA or DHA?
EPA is a molecule found in numerous research studies to decrease inflammation and inflammatory conditions, such as: eczema, allergies, arthritis, cholesterol, mental health
DHA is a molecule found in numerous research studies to protect and nourish the brain and central nervous system, important in: pregnancy (growing a new brain!), growing children, learning difficulties, memory, concentration
ALL fish oils will have a blend of both these molecules, just in different amounts. Choose what sounds more particular to your case, or ask a health care provider!
What’s the deal with krill oil?
Krill is a tiny pink crustacean that whales eat. Krill oil has been popular recently because along with EPA and DHA, it also has a compound called “astaxanthin” which is a super good antioxidant. It is the pigment that makes them pink! The downside right now with krill oil though is that Krill is the main food source for lots of marine animals, specifically in the Antarctic. It is too early to tell if Krill oil truly is sustainable, or if its harvesting will negatively affect the delicate ecosystem relying on it.
My personal experiences:
Alright now down to the good stuff; which ones I’ve actually tried!
Personal favourite = Wholemega, from New Chapter. Sourced from wild atlantic salmon. Certified sustainable by OceanWise of the Vancouver Aquarium. The capsules are a beautiful deep amber colour, which is what I think fish oil should look like (not the clear pale yellow colour common of over-purified oils…….kind of like the difference between real beer and light beer, people). Includes omegas 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, vitamin D, astaxanthin from wild alaskan salmon, and rosemary oil as a natural antioxidant. Sometimes i even chew these instead of swallow them, I’m crazy!
Others = NutraSea (I got the high DHA one for free so I’m going through it) – their company is great for transparency; you can enter the lot # on your bottle on their website and it will tell you the lab results for any contaminants (hopefully none!). They fish from Peru……also they use “natural flavours” in their ingredients and their website does not specify what these are. So….yeah….
Omegalicious by Botanica – great for people who don’t like the taste of fish oil. It literally tastes like pie filling. Pretty minimal and clean ingredients too, except “natural flavours”. Damn those natural flavours!
Nordic Naturals – sustainable, sourced from Norweigan fisheries, third-party tested, lots of naturopaths recommend them. Hooray!