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Fish oil and omega-3s fats: How to be safer with your supplements. |

Fish oil and omega-3s fats have gained a lot of attention over the years, as they are touted to be a wonder supplement, that can help us live longer, healthier lives and even protect us from the negative effects of the modern-day lifestyle. Fish oil and omega-3s are being used more and more frequently in the modern world, to treat conditions such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, arthritis and depression. However, this has led to a huge increase in the number of fish oil supplements available on the market, which has led to the rise of many adverse side effects and safety concerns, as many of these supplements are being formulated without checking all the safety precautions and ingredients included.

While fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, it’s also one of the most common sources of mercury. A 2006 study of commercial fish in the US found that it contained 1.5-2.1 milligrams of mercury per gram of fish. A serving of fish normally contains about 30 grams, meaning that a person could potentially eat up to 60 grams of mercury each week. While most fish contain less than 0.5 milligrams of mercury per gram, some can contain as much as 1.7 milligrams.

Omega-3 fats are said to help you lose weight, reduce your risk of heart disease, and even make you live longer. Various supplements and foods, such as flaxseed oil and some fish, contain different amounts of each. But the problem is that a lot of them have been found to muck up your blood clotting and leave you at risk of heart attacks, stroke, and other health problems. Still, if you’re feeling healthy and want to take advantage of your body’s potential to ward off disease, you should take omega-3 fats. Here’s how!

Everyone knows how beneficial fish oil is. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have a variety of beneficial effects in the body.

Fish oil, on the other hand, has been criticized. Some argue that technology may be damaging us rather than benefiting us. We’re consuming far too much. That we are in jeopardy.

In today’s essay, we’ll look at a recent research paper that has many people perplexed. We’ll also assist you in making sense of the debate.

[Note: This article is also available to listen to as an audio recording.] So, if you’d rather to hear the piece, go here.]


I’ll admit that I’ve been a huge fish oil promoter in the past.

I’ve given it to everyone from small children to elderly ladies, and I’ve taken more than my fair share. But now, I’ve begun to reconsider.

It all started with a scientific paper titled “Why Fish Oil Fails.” If you want to see what all the excitement is about, here’s the link:

J Lipids; Peskin, B.S. Why Fish Oil Fails: A Lipids-Based Physiologic Analysis for the Twenty-First Century. 2014;2014:495761. Epub January 16, 2014. Review.

This study concerns whether we even require the crucial fatty acids found in fish. It also implies that these fats could be quite dangerous.

First, some background information.

This research evaluation had to be solid if it was able to make me doubt my own belief in fish oil… right? No, not at all. It was a disaster. And there’s a reason for it, which I’d like to share with you.

Let’s start with the author’s believability.

During my investigation of the author, I discovered that he made baseless assertions regarding his academic credentials years earlier. There were substantial legal consequences. The fines have been paid. Reputations have been damaged.

Not good.

Then there’s the actual journal: It’s possible that it’s not as scientifically sound as the author.

For you science nerds out there, this journal’s impact factor is — believe it or not – zero. (If you’re unfamiliar with impact factors, they describe how valuable a publication is to the scientific community.)

Blogs have a scientific impact factor of 0, for comparison’s sake. My daughter’s coloring book is the same way. The impact factor of the highly regarded New England Journal of Medicine, on the other hand, is about 35.

Keep this in mind the next time you’re conducting research. A journal’s scientific credibility, as evaluated by members of the scientific community, is important.

Of course, I’ll point out that the author’s dubious reputation and the journal’s non-existent impact factor don’t automatically rule out the author’s views.

As a result, I’ll center my criticism of this work on the arguments themselves, which were riddled with poor logic, a lack of comprehension of the literature, ineffective analysis, and hazy judgment.

You might be thinking, “Why debate the paper at all if it’s so bad?” Well, I wanted to pay attention to it for two reasons.

First, the research paper received a lot of attention from the media. It’s exciting and terrifying, which draws in readers. The issue: Their reportage unnecessarily alarmed a large number of individuals. So I felt compelled to correct the record.

Despite its shortcomings, the review did raise a few useful points, including:

  1. Is fish oil truly necessary?
  2. If so, how much is sufficient? How much is excessive?
  3. Is it possible that fish oil, even in little dosages, is damaging to one’s health?

These are crucial concerns that far too few individuals think about while making nutritional choices. So let’s talk about them right now.

More information on omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are well-known for their health benefits. And, if you don’t, I believe you should be aware.

These fats are beneficial to cardiovascular health, nervous system function, brain development, and overall immunological health. There’s also a bunch of other stuff.

When we talk about omega-3s, we’re usually talking about:

  • eicosapentaenoic acid eicosapentaenoic acid eicosapent (EPA),
  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and
  • lpha-linoliec acid is a kind of linoleic acid (ALA).

The omega-3 powerhouses EPA and DHA have been demonstrated to be the most effective in all of the studies.

On the other hand, ALA is regarded as a “parent” omega-3. Because ALA must be converted to EPA and DHA, this is the case. Only then will these essential fats be able to perform their health-promoting functions.

EPA and DHA are predominantly found in marine animal sources in terms of nutrition (i.e. fish). ALA can also be found in plant-based foods such flax, walnuts, chia, and hemp.

Finally, when you consume ALA-rich foods like as flax, chia, or walnuts, you’re crossing your fingers that enough of it is converted to EPA and DHA. (EPA and DHA are obtained directly through eating fish and taking fish oil supplements.)


Is it true that we “need” EPA and DHA in our diet?

The noteworthy assertion in the paper “Why Fish Oil Fails” is that we don’t need to eat EPA or DHA. That’s right, there’s no fish oil or fatty fish.

According to the writer…

We produce all of the EPA and DHA we require.

Because your body can convert ALA to EPA and DHA, the reasoning goes, if you eat enough ALA, you’ll get all of your essential fatty acid needs met.

In other words, if you eat enough ALA, you’ll produce enough EPA and DHA to meet your needs.

Unfortunately, the idea is incorrect because of how the human body functions. In fact, ALA to EPA and DHA conversion is very modest. To receive a good quantity of EPA and DHA each day, you’d have to eat an excessive amount of ALA-containing foods.

Furthermore, I believe the argument that “if your body makes it, you don’t need to eat it” is flawed in general.

After all, we can generate glucose without carbs, a variety of amino acids without protein, and a variety of fatty acids without lipids. However, ingesting certain carbohydrates, proteins, and fats has been shown to improve our health and performance, allowing us to thrive.

While the author is undoubtedly correct in that we don’t need to ingest EPA and DHA to survive, these marine fatty acids are typically beneficial to our health. I’m going to make sure I get mine because I’m all about thriving, not just surviving.

The author, on the other hand, takes a step farther and suggests that…

Fish EPA and DHA are potentially harmful.

This is an odd claim because, historically, people have consumed naturally occurring foods containing DHA and EPA for a long period.

Oily fish, such as salmon and sardines, are staples in many civilizations around the world. Even newborns receive 300 mg of DHA each day from their mothers’ breast milk.

Indeed, I have yet to see any evidence that omega-3 fats like EPA and DHA from fish are anything other than health-promoting. There don’t appear to be any issues in cultures that consume a lot of fish, and thus a lot of EPA and DHA.

The author even goes so far as to say that consuming too much fish oil can be dangerous because your body is unable to manage it. That’s a true statement, because consuming too much of almost anything is definitely bad for us.

Naturally, this raises the following issue: how much is too much?

When it comes to fish oil, how much is too much?

Let’s say you do your homework, as I did, and determine that some dietary EPA and DHA is beneficial to your health. What about the following logical question: Is more always better?

Should you start eating salmon, sardines, and herring in baskets? Most likely not. Aside from the fact that a major portion of our fish supply is tainted with heavy metals and other potential hazards, balance is perhaps more crucial than anything else when it comes to dietary fats.

Fluidity of cell membranes is one example of why this matters.

It’s worth noting that the fat you consume becomes incorporated in your cell membranes. Your membranes are produced utilizing saturated fats when you ingest more saturated fat, so they become “stiffer.” Unsaturated fats (particularly omega-3 fats) are used to build membranes, which makes them more “flexible.”

Cold water fish, such as salmon, have a lot of unsaturated fat in their membranes, which is interesting. This has an anti-freeze effect. Salmon cells do not become stiff, brittle, or rupture in cold water because of the increased fluidity provided by unsaturated fat.

You can put this to the test on your own. Place some saturated lard and polyunsaturated fish oil in the freezer for at least an hour. The lard will be solid in the morning, but the fish oil will still be liquid. In live beings, the same phenomenon can happen.

When everything is in order, cell membrane fluidity is crucial. When there isn’t enough fluidity, chemicals can’t move as freely into and out of cells as they should. When membranes get too fluid, they become “leaky,” allowing molecules to move freely back and forth.

We attain this equilibrium by consuming a well-balanced diet that includes saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats. That’s why it’s perplexing when people complain to just a few grams of omega-3 fatty acids high in DHA and EPA.

After all, if the average individual consumes roughly 100 grams of fat per day and aims for a balanced diet of saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats, they’ll consume around 30-40 grams of each type.

Consider this: If you consume 30-40 grams of polyunsaturated fat per day, 3 grams of EPA and DHA account for less than 10% of your polyunsaturated fat and only 3% of your overall fat consumption.

As a result, even conservative organisations advise that daily dosages of a few grams of EPA and DHA are safe and healthful.

For example, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that we consume up to 3 g of EPA and DHA each day. According to the European Food Safety Authority, up to 6 g of EPA and DHA per day is perfectly safe.

For the record, 3.75 grams of EPA+DHA are found in an 8 oz chunk of salmon. (A spoonful of fish oil, such as ‘s recommended Super EPA Fish Oil Complex, also helps.) In one study, supplementing with 7.5 grams of DHA per day resulted in only beneficial results.

Salmon filet on a wooden carving board.

The omega-3 index is a measure of how much omega-3 fatty

Consider checking your omega-3 index if you want to get really sophisticated and figure out how much fish oil you need.

The omega-3 index is the percentage of EPA and DHA in your red blood cell membranes. This metric provides an overview of your omega-3 status. In addition to the fluidity of your cell membranes, which we discussed before.

Your risk of sudden cardiac death will also be determined by the omega-3 index test. Consider the following scenario:

  • A score of less than 4% on the omega-3 index indicates a high risk situation.
  • In the range of 4 to 8%, you’re at a medium risk.
  • Over 8% equals low risk.

Are you in a high-risk situation and wish to boost your omega-3 index? It’s simple: Increase your intake of omega-3-rich seafood. Alternatively, you might take a fish oil supplement.

Of course, the effects of EPA and DHA on your omega-3 index will vary depending on your body weight, age, sex, amount of physical activity, and initial omega-3 index.

For example, ingesting more EPA and DHA would result in the biggest increase in omega-3 index for an elderly lady with a low body weight, low initial omega-3 index, and high physical activity level.

How much of an increase in the index is actually possible? According to a recent study, taking 1.8 grams of EPA and DHA (combined) every day for 5 months can increase a person’s omega-3 index by over 5%.

In other words, consuming a tiny amount of EPA and DHA on a daily basis has the ability to reduce a person’s risk of sudden cardiac death from high to low. Isn’t it true that there’s a lower danger of death? Please add me to the list.

But wait, there’s another issue that we haven’t covered yet: oxidation, which is particularly relevant to fish oil supplementation.

Fish oil supplements spontaneously oxidize

One of the most powerful reasons in the “Why Fish Oil Fails” research is that fish oil supplements containing oxidation products may potentially affect our health.

Fish oil, for example, is more susceptible to chemical oxidation than saturated fats. When lipids are oxidized, their metabolites can cause a variety of health problems in the body.

Oxidation, as the name implies, necessitates the presence of oxygen. When lipids, such as those found in fish oil, are exposed to air, they begin to break down.

Other factors also hasten oxidation: the more unsaturated a fat is, the faster it oxidizes. Heat, light, and metal exposure can all hasten oxidation.

Why is oxidation harmful?

Oxidation is divided into two parts: primary and secondary. The products include hydroperoxides, aldehydes, and ketones, and the details of the chemical processes aren’t crucial here.

Any of them in excess can be harmful, as they have been related to cancer, inflammation, toxicity, and other issues.

There are a few scientific measurements that can help us determine how much fish oil has oxidized, including:

  • value of peroxide (PV),
  • AV stands for anisidine value, and
  • TOTOX (2 X PV + AV) is an anti-aging treatment.

When it comes to fish oil in your refrigerator, the smaller the number, the better.

As is customary, there is some disagreement over the appropriate top safe level. After all, it’s difficult to completely remove these contaminants from any oil.

However, the majority of people agree on the following criteria:

  • PV less than 10 meq/kg,
  • AV 20 and AV 20 AV 20 AV 20 AV 20 AV 20
  • TOTOX 30 is a toxin that is used to treat wrinkles.

How do you tell whether your fish oil is within these safe levels if you don’t have a lab in your basement?

Fish oil is tested by a number of independent companies, which is fortunate. Furthermore, the majority of producers test their own products.

Many people will have the results for each lot number they’ve made on hand. If you have any questions, you should contact the company directly. Alternatively, you can contact the International Fish Oil Standards program.

Keeping oxidation at bay

As a consumer, you can also take actions to safeguard your fish oil from oxidation.

  1. Purchase high-quality fish oil that has an expiration date and utilize it before it expires.
  2. Keep it refrigerated or, better yet, frozen. Fish oil keeps for around 40 days at 4°C (the temperature in your refrigerator) and more than 100 days in the freezer.
  3. Instead of large bottles, get smaller bottles (250-300 mL). Because you finish smaller bottles faster, there is less oxidation (breakdown).
  4. To remove oxygen from an open bottle, use a wine saver pump (available at kitchen supply stores and wine shops).
  5. Toss it if it smells or tastes awful (not fishy, but off, like mushroom or cucumber), or if it smells or tastes rotten or strange.
  6. To protect your fish oil from light, wrap it in aluminum foil. That is what scientists do in laboratories to preserve light-sensitive substances.

What you should know

Continue to take your fish oil and/or consume oily fish. Don’t allow the fear mongers scare you away from doing something that’s naturally good for you. Each day, consume at least 1 g of EPA and DHA together.

According to conservative estimations, you can safely consume up to 6 g of EPA and DHA each day. And, for brief periods of time, potentially even more. Just make sure to check with a professional to discover what’s safe for you.

Check to see if the fish you’re eating has a healthy fat balance. Not all fish have a good fat balance. Farm-raised fish on a diet rich in non-marine items, for example, may have far less omega 3 fats and far more omega 6 fats.

Of course, even if your fatty acid profile is fine, all those contaminants and heavy metals aren’t going to help you. So look into where your fish comes from, rotate your fish sources, and stay away from contaminated sources.

If you opt to supplement, make sure you get high-quality fish oil. The fact that most supplements have relatively low levels of environmental contaminants and heavy metals is one of the benefits of taking them. However, oxidation must be taken into account.

Check the expiration date and seek up the oxidation levels from a third-party tester or an internal report before making a purchase. Make sure the following chemical products are at or below the following levels: PV 10 meq/kg, AV 20 meq/kg, and TOTOX 30 meq/kg

Purchase smaller fish oil bottles. Because the bottles are little, you’ll be able to finish them sooner after they’ve been opened. As a result, there’s a lower risk of oxidation over time.

Once you’ve opened your fish oil, keep it in the fridge for up to 40 days before using it, or freeze it for up to 120 days. Longer than that, and the risk of oxidation increases.

Find a happy medium.

Finally, if a particular cuisine or health solution becomes extremely popular, the most vocal individuals fall into one of two factions.

Camp A: Wow, this food is incredible! Everything is cured by it! It is open to all! There’s nothing to be concerned about, of course!

Camp B: What a bunch of jerks! This dish can be extremely harmful to your health! And I have to inform everyone! I’m going to the roofs, so keep an eye out! Pay attention to the yelling!

Smart people, on the other hand, wind up in the middle.

Yes, the proper fish oil can be really beneficial. For the appropriate individuals. In the right proportions. However, vigilance is advised. If you use the wrong kind of oil in the improper proportions, you may actually be putting your health at danger.

As a result, make use of the solutions mentioned below. And don’t get too worked up the next time the media goes crazy about a new study published in a dubious journal by a dubious person.


To see the information sources mentioned in this article, go here.

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Chemistry of autoxidation: Mechanisms, Products, and Flavor Implications, Frankel EN (1985). Flavour Chemistry of Fats and Oils, edited by DB Min and TH Smouse. Champaign, Illinois: American Oil Chemists Society, pp. 1-37.

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Better eating, moving, and living.

The realm of health and fitness can be perplexing at times. It doesn’t have to be that way, though.


It will teach you the optimal diet, exercise, and lifestyle strategies that are specific to you.


Fish oil is an essential ingredient in any supplement regimen. This is because the body can not synthesize omega-3’s, so they must be obtained through dietary sources or supplements. The best source of omega-3 oils are cold water marine fish, such as salmon. Salmon have had their fatty acid omega-3 content improved by some of the latest genetic technologies in aquaculture. Other foods that contain an appreciable amount of omega-3 fats include flax seeds, soybeans, and walnuts. The omega-3’s found in flax seeds are known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Alpha-linolenic acid is an essential fatty acid, which means the body needs to obtain it from your diet or your. Read more about omega-3 side effects and let us know what you think.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to absorb omega-3?

Omega-3 is a type of fatty acid that can be found in fish, eggs, and other foods. Its important for your body to have omega-3 because it helps with brain development, heart health, and mood regulation. The best way to absorb it is through food sources or supplements.

Can fish oil supplements be harmful?

Fish oil supplements are not harmful to the body.

Is omega-3 fatty acids supplement safe?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are found in fish oil. They are considered safe for most people, but they can be dangerous to those with certain medical conditions.

Related Tags

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  • omega 3 benefits
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  • omega 3 side effects