Omega 3 Oil – should you supplement or not?

Our body requires a regular source of essential fatty acids, these are the ones that we cannot manufacture ourselves. We require two types of omega oil, n3 and n6, with omega 3 hogging the limelight because most of us consume plenty of n6 fatty acids but are usually deficient in n3 fatty acids. The term omega 3 is often used interchangeably with fish oils although there are other fish-free sources of omega 3 fatty acids. The research suggests that fish oils are the superior source although I do have concerns regarding the toxic accumulation of heavy metals in some fish oils. I also believe that as humans spread across the planet tens of thousands of years ago, a growing number of the population would have inhabited areas that are too far from a fresh source of fish, and so would have intuitively found other plant based sources of omega 3 and/or developed ways of extracting the oils from plant based sources. This most likely would have been intuitive, rather than planned.

With this in mind the main sources of omega 3 are a very pure fish oil, which is derived from wild Alaskan or Nordic fish and is cold pressed to retain the goodness and does not undergo any super heating processes such as pasteurisation. The alternative is a plant based source from flax/linseed, hemp and/or evening primrose oil with the best  veggie nutrients coming from a combination of two plant sources.  Furthermore, in my experience the liquid sources of all varieties are less likely to have been preserved by pasteurisation and it is clearly obvious if the oil is rancid especially fish; something that you are unable to tell from a capsule, until it repeats on you an hour later. My preference it to mix it up and vary the liquid oil that I consume. I add a spoonful to our morning smoothie, you wouldn’t even know it was there.

With fish oils, my rule of thumb is the same as when buying fresh fish "if it really smells of fish, then it's likely rancid and should be avoided." If you already have some fish oil capsules then cut open one of your capsules and smell the ingredients. Although I warn you, it may end up in the dustbin with an order for some liquid omega or flaxseed oil. On that point, some people do not tolerate the fish oil in liquid form very well, even if they like to eat fish.  This isn't usually because of the taste of fish, the liquid omega fish oils are usually preserved with natural lemon juice and so shouldn’t taste of fish, the problem is usually the oily texture. You may recall as a child having to take an oil such as cod liver oil from a spoon, and it's often this generation that cannot stand doing it all over again as an adult.  If this is the case then either get creative and use it as part of a salad dressing or on food (as long as it is not heated) or buy capsules from a good quality supplier, also good if you travel frequently. My wife is one of those that doesn’t like the oil, so we have Omega oil capsules for her and when we travel and flax & evening primrose liquid for our morning smoothies.  Furthermore, some people do not like the taste/texture of the plant based oils, and if you are a vegetarian then it does limit your choice, although the dislike is usually reserved for flaxseed oil as it has quite a strong taste, so try the alternatives. Oils like hemp are fantastic in dressings for salads, pasta, pestos etc. The best thing to do is experiment based on your likes, beliefs and pocket. Try fish oils, flax, evening primrose or hemp oil, and see which one, or combination works for you. Recommended dosage is usually a teaspoon of the liquid oil or one to two capsules per day although follow the instruction on the bottle, taking more if you suffer with any inflammatory conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

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