You may have asked yourself “why should I take fish oil?” If you haven’t, you should!
Fish oil is a fantastic supplement that might have a bad rap. There are a lot of crappy bottles, plus it’s oil, from a fish. Not that appetizing.
The truth is it’s got some amazing health benefits, and if you find the right kind, you don’t even realize it’s oil from a fish.
The benefits of taking fish oil
You’ve probably heard of omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids, and it’s possible you’ve even heard of omega-6 (n-6) fatty acids. These essential fatty acids are in lots of the different foods we eat, but especially in our Western non-free-range-grass-fed diet we’re running high in omega-6s.
The problem with that is it leads to many problems, like systemic inflammation and autoimmune disorders (your body starts fighting against itself). Hint: if you’re overweight, that’s a good sign you’ve got some inflammation going on.
Taking fish oil helps to bring that n-3/n-6 ratio back into line. As your body begins to get back to a 1:1 ratio, you also notice some other amazing changes in some of the disorders associated with being overweight.
Fish oil isn’t just for the overweight, though. Higher levels of n-3s can help a great deal with cardiovascular issues, diabetes, arthritis, even cancer.
What kind of fish oil should I take?
You have to be careful when buying it. A lot of companies sell you a 1000 mg capsule, but it really only has 200-300 mg of any type of omega 3. The rest of it is just filler.
The first thing you want to make sure is that your fish oil isn’t loaded with crap. Stay away from things like soy, gluten, dairy, and sweeteners. You want your oil to be as clean as possible.
To get the biggest bang for your buck, check the label. Look for the acronyms EPA and DHA. You’re going to want a capsule with at least 200-300 mg DHA. If the bottle you’re holding doesn’t tell you how much EPA and DHA are in it, find another bottle. I take the Kirkland Signature 1200mg capsules from Costco (around $15 for 180).
You’re also going to want to look at the date on the bottle. Make sure it’s not too old or you might get some rancid fish oil.
For most people, the Kirkland brand at Costco is going to work just fine, but there are other brands of straight oil that you can also get. Check out the references below for some of their recommendations. I don’t have any to make myself since I have only used one brand.
How much fish oil should I take?
On most bottles of fish oil you buy, it’ll tell you one capsule per day, or at the most one capsule three times a day. Most of the capsules less than 1000 milligrams I’ve seen tell you to take three. The reason is because they have hardly any of the benefits in one capsule.
How much you should take really depends on your situation. If you’ve got some severe inflammation going on, a bit more will be better. You’ll look for 1-2g of DHA per day, so in my Kirkland brand’s case I was taking 3 capsules 3 times a day. You should only do such a high dose for 2-3 weeks max. I’m working my way back down to 3 a day.
If you’re pretty healthy and just want some maintenance, 500mg a day of DHA should be OK (2 capsules a day of the Kirkland).
To get an idea of how much, I recommend using the Whole9 Fish Oil Calculator that was created using Robb Wolf’s guidelines.
When should you take fish oil? Make sure you do it with meals. If not you’ll get some fun fishy burps.
One final note
Now, after all this you may be thinking to yourself you’d just rather not take fish oil. That’s OK! I have three words that will help you with that.
Eat more fish.
If we had enough fish in our diet, we wouldn’t have to worry about crappy omega-6 fats getting in the way. Especially if you’re unhealthy, eat more fish! I try to have some at least 1-2 times a week, but in a good week I’m pushing 3-4.
So let’s hear it. Do you think fish oil is worth it? If you take it, which do you take and how much?
ps: There are a few different brands online. Check out the fish oil on Amazon for a few of them.
The details behind fish oil are pretty complex, so I’m linking you to some of the resources I’ve used when I was deciding to take fish oil myself.