Last week, I discussed the underwhelming effects of taking supplements. But if you recall, I did say there were some supplements I do take and would recommend. (If you didn't read my previous post, you can read it here.)
Now, don't be fooled by the super catchy title. Fish oil supplements are NOT miracle supplements. I've said multiple times, and will repeat again, there are no magical pills. Supplements will not do the work for you. You have to put effort into your training and nutrition to stay healthy and reach your goals.
That being said, out of all the supplements out there, fish oil is one of the best supplements you can take, in my opinion. If you go to Examine.com (great resource for nutrition and supplementation), you will see that they have compiled 725 scientific literature references for fish oil to date.
There are so many different things fish oil affects that you wouldn't believe me anyway so I will just name a few that I find particularly interesting: reduces triglycerides, reduces effects of depression, reduces ADHD in children, reduces blood pressure, increases HDL-C (the "good cholesterol"), reduces inflammation, and the list goes on and on and on. In case you still don't believe me, just check this out instead and scroll down to the "Human Effect Matrix".
You may be thinking, "You just told me that fish oil was not a miracle supplement and then you told me all those great things it does. It sounds like a miracle supplement to me." Keep in mind, supplements have their best effect when taking someone from deficient to adequate, not from adequate to a surplus.
To dig a little deeper, I'd like to point out that within fish oil, there are omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, and omega-9 fatty acids. Omega-3 and 6 are essential fatty acids, meaning the human body cannot produce these and therefore must consume them. Omega-9 is a nonessential fatty acid, meaning that the body can produce them, if it has a proper ratio of omega-3 and omega-6. This is an important statement because studies suggest that the typical American diet may consist of a ratio of up to 16.7/1 omega-6 to omega-3. Ideally, we would have a ratio of close to 1.
That sounds pretty extreme, right? Maybe, but we can correct it easily enough. We have a couple of options in order to do that. Option 1: Eat more cold water/fatty fish. Option 2: Take an Omega-3 supplement. Again, I would like to point out that supplements aren't necessary, but they can help.
If you will permit me, I'd like to take you just one step deeper. I promise this is the last one before I give some general recommendations. Within the category of Omega-3, there are two that we particularly care about. The first is Eicosapentaenoic acid, 20:5 (ω-3/n-3) or EPA. The other is Docosahexaenoic acid, 22:6 (ω-3/n-3) or DHA. I promised I would only go one step further so if you want to know what the numbers mean, ask in the comments.
Now that we've established we care about EPA and DHA it's time for practical recommendations.
- Who should take an omega-3 supplement?
If you are not getting 3-4 servings of cold water/fatty fish per week, you're in this category.
- How much should I take?
For the average person, who isn't eating 3-4 servings of cold water/fatty fish per week, I would recommend supplementing a total combined intake of EPA/DHA of 1.8-3 grams per day.
I would like to remind you one last time- a fish oil, along with other supplements, are NOT completely necessary. I'd also like to remind you that you should consult your doctor before taking any new supplement. If you do find yourself in the category of people who would benefit from taking fish oil, I've provided you with a link to the omega-3 supplement that I personally take as well as a cheaper alternative from the same company. The only difference is the cheaper one is less concentrated so you have to take more capsules to get the same dosage.
Full Disclosure: The following links are Amazon affiliate links. I am in no way trying to sell you anything but if you would like to help out the blog and are interested in buying an omega-3 supplement, using the following links to do so would be greatly appreciated.
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