The consumption of lipids is considered an important part of a healthy dietary pattern. In this context, fish oil is an excellent source of important omega-3 fatty acids, such as the eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It also contains significant amounts of the vitamins A and D.
Fish oil is a combination of lipids naturally present in cold-water fatty fish and other seafood.It is obtained by pressing cooked fish and centrifuging the extracted liquid.
More research is needed to completely clarify the properties, effects and potential benefits of the regular consumption of omega-3s as a dietary supplement. Nonetheless, studies have consistently shown that eating fish and other seafood implies lower risk of several chronic diseases.
Fish oil is believed to be safe when taken in appropriate amounts. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, omega-3 rich supplements are unlikely to cause any severe adverse effects.
If taken in large amounts, some fish oil supplements that are high in vitamin A, such as cod liver oil, can cause hypervitaminosis A.
Don't use fish oil if you're allergic to fish or shellfish: you may be at risk.
You should always consult with your doctor before taking any new supplements. Consider the following before taking fish oil:
The consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is important and encouraged both during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Most of the time, the daily goals are met from a balanced diet. Supplementation may be needed, in specific cases. In those cases, look for a quality product from a reputable fish oil manufacturer.
Don't forget that you always need the approval of a physician before taking a supplement, especially during pregnancy or lactating.
Most of the time, children get enough omega-3 fatty acids from a balanced diet. Giving them omega-3 supplements when not needed might prevent children from developing healthy eating behaviors.
When a child cannot eat a balanced diet or absorb nutrients properly, fish oil supplementation may be helpful, with the approval of their doctor. In those cases, look for a quality product from a reputable fish oil manufacturer.
No. It’s sourced primarily from fish (mainly cold-water fatty fish such as cod, herring, mackerel, menhaden, pilchard, salmon and tuna).
Yes, there are various alternatives.
Omega-3 fatty acids are present in a variety of plant foods. Sources include nuts (such as walnuts), seeds (such as canola seed, chia seed, flaxseed and hemp seed), leafy vegetables (such as Brussels sprout, kale and spinach), beans (such as soybean), and algae (such as chlorella, nori and spirulina).
Most vegan sources, such as nuts and seeds, contain mainly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a different kind of omega-3 fatty acid that can only be partially converted to DHA and EPA in our bodies.
Algal oil is considered to be the best fish oil alternative, as it contains the best fatty acids profile, including EPA and DHA in abundance.
The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) of omega-3s has been established by the National Academy of Medicine based on the adequate intake (AI, assumed to ensure nutritional adequacy, due to lack of better data) of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the only essential omega-3. For a healthy adult this value varies from 1.1 g/day for females to 1.6 g/day for males.
The National Academy of Medicine has not established specific intake recommendations for eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Experts estimate the ideal consumption might vary from 100 to 250 mg/day.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers up to 3 grams of fish oil per day to be generally recognized as safe (GRAS) as a food.
You can take it at any time of the day, as most of the benefits are achieved over long-term usage. It is recommended to take the fish oil supplement with a meal as taking supplements on an empty stomach can cause nausea.
To reduce the chance of side effects such as acid reflux and/or "fish burps", you can choose to freeze the capsules before taking them or to split your daily dose in two smaller doses, one in the morning and one at night.
As alternatives, you may prefer to consume the enteric-coated capsules that only dissolve in the small intestine, or the fruit flavoured gummies as they tend to have a more agreeable taste.
Keeping your fish oil fresh requires proper storage. Most brands design their packaging with optimum conservation in mind, so all you have to do is to seal it well and to keep it in a cool, dark and dry environment.
You should always observe its "best before" or expiration date. The content of the bottle should be consumed in 90 days once it is opened. If you want to slow down the inevitable oxidation process, it is a smart move to keep the bottle refrigerated (below room temperature) and in the dark (completely away from light is ideal) to gain maximum shelf life.
Labdoor is not a medical source. Don’t take supplements before talking to your physician.