The Many Different Fish Oils and Their Benefits
Author: Jillian Foster Date Posted:9 October 2018
Fish oil has been a complementary health mainstay for many years now with advocates reporting it has helped with a variety of health concerns and helped improve overall general health. To discuss the different types of fish oils and their benefits, it’s important to delve into omega-3 fatty acids as they are the component of fish oil that provide benefits. Omega-3 are polyunsaturated fats called essential fats as the body is not capable of making them and they need to be obtained from your diet or supplementation. There are three main omega-3s:
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) - found in oily fish, fish oil and in some microalgae. It is found alongside DHA in fish oil and plays an important role in human health by supporting heart and cardiovascular health; and may help temporarily relieve the inflammation, pain and swelling associated with mild osteoarthritis.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – also found in oily fish, fish oil and microalgae as well as meat, eggs and dairy from grass-fed animals. DHA is a key structural component of the brain and the retina of the eyes. It is particularly important during pregnancy and infancy due to its involvement in the development of the baby’s brain, nervous system and eyes.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – the most common omega-3 found in food (walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemps seeds). This form is not active in the body and needs to be converted into EPA and DHA to gain benefits.
Fish oil, krill oil, and calamari oil all contain significant levels of both EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. However each fish oil type contains different amounts of these important fats and can offer different health benefits.
Fish Oil 1000mg
This is a standard fish oil that contains 180mg of EPA and 120mg of DHA. It may help support and maintain heart health, support healthy triglyceride levels in healthy individuals and assist peripheral circulation. It may also help temporarily relieve mild osteoarthritis pain and inflammation, and improve joint mobility in mild osteoarthritis. Fish oil dosages are important when you are targeting specific health conditions. We generally suggest the following:
For mild osteoarthritis take 3-4 capsules 3 times daily
For heart health take 2 capsules 2-3 times daily
For healthy triglyceride levels in healthy individuals take 1-4 capsules 3 times daily.
Most fish oil is sourced from smaller, oily fish such as sardines, anchovies and mackerel as they have a lower life expectancy and smaller body mass, which means less chemical and heavy metal exposure than bigger fish such as salmon. These cold water fish also have a greater purity, and are higher in the good monounsaturated fats compared to fish that live in warmer waters.
Super Strength Fish Oil
As the name suggests this fish oil has higher amounts of the key fish oil components EPA and DHA. It contains nearly double the amount of EPA and DHA than our standard Fish Oil 1000mg. This fish oil will provide all the same benefits that a standard fish oil does, just with fewer capsules to take each day.
The new kid on the block, Calamari oil hit the scene with a bang mainly because it contains a whopping 400mg of DHA and a decent amount of EPA at 100mg. DHA is a major structural component of the brain and is found in high concentrations in the membranes of cells throughout the central nervous system. It’s also known to support eye health, including the delicate retina. DHA plays a vital role in helping to maintain our brain health throughout life and may even be important for maintaining cognitive function as you age. Research suggests that higher intakes of DHA in the diet may be associated with better cognitive function in the elderly and that low levels of DHA may be linked to poor memory function.[i]
If your main aim is to support brain and eye health but you still want the temporary relief from the pain, inflammation and swelling of mild osteoarthritis and cardiovascular health benefits found in EPA, then Calamari oil may be the right omega 3 oil choice for you. Again, dosage impacts the benefits you may receive and we suggest between one and six capsules daily.
Not technically a fish, krill are crustaceans that are similar to prawns but much smaller. Krill oil naturally contains both EPA and DHA in lower levels than found in fish oil, however they are bound to phospholipids which makes them more easily absorbed into the cells than omega-3 from fish oil. In addition to the omega-3 content, krill oil is a natural source of astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant, which further helps support health by neutralising free radicals that can damage body cells.
Krill oil may help maintain and support general health and wellbeing, eye, brain and heart health. It may decrease mild joint pain and help in the maintenance of healthy blood lipids in healthy individuals. For women, krill oil may aid in the management of premenstrual syndrome and may relieve the associated symptoms such as breast pain or tenderness, irritability, stress and moodiness. Krill oil may also assist in the management of dysmenorrhoea and provide symptomatic relief of period pain and menstrual cramps.
It is important krill oil is sustainably sourced as krill is the main food source for whales and other marine animals and we want to ensure by-catch (the accidental capture of other species of marine or bird life) are minimised or eliminated with the use of specialty equipment with the whole process being audited by independent environmental auditors.
Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is a little different to fish oil. It comes from a fish but specifically comes from the liver of a cod fish and it naturally contains both vitamin A and D and only trace amounts of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. This makes it beneficial in supporting a healthy immune system and healthy bones. Vitamin A helps protect the respiratory mucous membranes and increases the body’s natural resistance to colds. Vitamin D is also essential for healthy immune function. Overall, cod liver oil may help support healthy skin, a healthy immune system, mucous membranes, and bone health.
With the variety of fish oils available now it can be confusing to know which one is right for you. It may be a good idea to chat to one of our qualified naturopaths about the right fish oil for your current healthcare needs.
[i] *Am J Clin Nutri. 2007;85:1142-1147. Arch Neurol.2006; 63(11):1545-1550. Y Alzheim Dement. 2010: 1-9. Sponsor: Martek Biosciences Corporation.
|Written by Jillian Foster|
Jillian (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified naturopath who believes through a healthy and balanced diet and lifestyle, we have the power to influence our health and the health of future generations. With a passion for herbal medicine, Jillian loves helping people find the right solution for their health needs and educating people on how they can lead a healthy and happy life.
Jillian enjoys keeping active with her two young children and baking them delicious and healthy treats.