Should you be supplementing with Fish Oil?
If you are a human, living in the year 2015, and you want to be healthy/healthier, the answer is yes.
Here is why?
Fish Oil is heralded for its health benefits because it contains high levels of two omega-3 fatty acids known as DHA, and EPA. These fatty acids are essential for cell function, and are unfortunately relatively non-existent in the average persons diet today, even for people who eat quite healthy. Omega-6 Fatty Acids are also important, however, these fatty acids, are more common in today’s diet, and therefore we do not need to supplement with Omega-6.
Humans evolved on diet that included a ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 Fatty Acids roughly equal to 1:1. Our ancestor’s diets had a much more balanced fat profile, than we do today. Don’t worry, they didn’t do this intentionally. Cavemen weren’t measuring and weighing their food, or calculating their fat intakes. Their food sources simply contained higher levels of Omega 3’s.
Today’s average diet provides an Omega3/Omega6 ratio of roughly 1:20. This is a staggering difference. This is why when it comes to Omega 3’s, it is important to use supplementation, as even an average healthy diet will fall brutally short of this 1:1 ratio.
Not convinced yet? Here’s some more information…
Balancing our fat profile leads to:
-Nervous System Function and Brain Development
-Fish Oil can increase metabolism by increasing levels of enzymes that boost calorie-burning ability.
-A diet lacking in Omega 3's can lead to inflammation in the body. Fish Oil supplementation can even improve joint and muscle pain, as well as fat loss. National Institute's of Health researchers have said that the billions we spend on anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen is money spent to undo the effects of too much omega-6 fat in the diet.
What does low levels of Omega 3’s do to our body?
To provide some sensationalist reporting, to scare you into Omega 3’s, consider that years of studies and research has linked lower fat (unbalanced) diets with aggression, depression, and suicidal ideation. Our brain runs on DHA, and therefore if we are not giving our brain what it wants, it will start functioning on other fat sources, which can be somewhat related to putting diesel in a gas engine.
Why does Fish Oil Work?
It all comes down to functioning on the cellular level. Sorry, this gets a bit sciency. Credit for the information goes to Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition.
“Essential fats have an integral role in promoting cell health.
Cells in the human body have a fatty membrane (known as the lipid bilayer). This membrane is semi-permable: It regulates what gets into the cell and what goes out of it. The fluidity of cell membranes depend on the fatty acid composition of the diet.
• If the fatty membranes surrounding brain cells are relatively fluid, as they are with lots of omega-3s, then messages from neurochemicals such as serotonin can be transmitted more easily.
• On the other hand, if people eat too many saturated fats (which are solid at room temperature), without enough omega-3s, then these membranes become more rigid, and stuff can’t get through.
Cells also require these good fats for repair and regeneration.
With lots of omega-3s, muscle cells become more sensitive to insulin, while fat cells decrease. This may mean that the body can divert more nutrients to muscle tissue.”
In summation, high levels of omega 3 (from fish oil) in our system allows our body to function better by more efficiently processing what we eat.
You’re convinced? Well, better tell you how much to take.
-Aim for 3-9 daily grams of total fish oil (about 1-3 grams of EPA + DHA) per day. Take time when shopping for your fish oil. You want to find a fish oil that is high in DHA and EPA (more concentrated). The cheaper options will usually look good but if you check the labels, they will generally have much lower levels of DHA and EPA than the more expensive ones. In turn, when trying to hit 1-3 grams of DHA and EPA, you will end up consuming the cheaper one much more quickly, and in the end spending more money.
-Avoid Cod Liver Oil.
-Avoid Trans-Fat, this can mess with the DHA and EPA in your body.
If you have any more questions about Fish Oil, send me an e-mail, and I’d be happy to help you out. firstname.lastname@example.org
Crossfit 46 Coaching Staff