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Omega, How to choose one.


By Dr. Keith Lewis
May 9, 2008

The Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are essential for maintaining optimal mental and physical health. Today, there are several thousands of studies that document the health-promoting effects of Omega 3 fatty acids. Research continues in a variety of different areas concerning mental and physical health.  When discussing essential fatty acids or which fish oils to take with my patients, I found there to be a great deal of confusion concerning this area. Patients simply do not know what to choose. The prices vary greatly from very, very low cost fish oil to very expensive fish oils. The patients do not really understand how to make the best choice. The following guidelines should help anyone make better choices concerning their fish oils. 

Pharmaceutical grade fish oils as well as all nutritional supplements should be the primary choice by all consumers.  Fish oil quality standards do not exist in the United States, so therefore there is no governmental check on the quality of fish oils that are consumed by our patients. 

Some of the pharmaceutical standards that we look for in a fish oil supplement include the following: 

1)   Freshness:  This can be measured by the peroxide value.  It is measured in mEq/kilo. Basically,           this checks for rancidity. Just as butter and any other oils that we consume, fish oil as well can               become rancid if it is not fresh, so freshness is a vital importance. 

2)   Heavy metals: Heavy metals are measured in parts per billion. Heavy metals would include                   mercury,  cadmium, dioxins as well as other impurities which would include furans and PCBs.                Dioxins and furans are measured in parts per trillion.  PCBs are measured in parts per trillion.

It is extremely important to feel confident and comfortable that the company that you are utilizing or purchasing your fish oil products from pay close attention to pharmaceutical standards. Freshness which ensures product integrity and biological efficacy may be the single most important quality of fish oil. As I previously stated, the peroxide value is extremely important; the lower the peroxide value, the greater the freshness and quality of the fish oil.

Why is freshness important? It is important for several reasons. 

Freshness guarantees a non-fishy taste or fishy burping-type sensation after ingesting the fish oil.  On a physiological level, a low level of peroxide prevents free radical formation which has been shown to have a negative effect on the human body.  A low peroxide value may be the key reason why so many patients who previously did not benefit from fish oil supplementation report much better results when using a fresh grade of fish oil.

There are also several negative effects of rancid oils or non-fresh fish oil.  Other than the fishy taste and obnoxious odor or smell, ingesting rancid oils has a negative effect on the human body.  Multiple studies have shown that oxidized DHA have been detected in patients with Alzheimer's disease at higher levels than in control groups. It has been detected or determined that rancid oils affect neuron function as a result of alterations they induce in the biophysical properties of neuronal membranes.  Several aldehyde compounds also are the result of this rancidity and have been shown to be harmful in human cells.  Purity levels have become extremely important when consuming fish oils. The fish oils that you consume should come fresh from fish in the cleanest waters in the world in the pattern that laboratories for heavy metals and other environmental contaminants need to test these products to verify purity levels. Healthy Life omega 3 products are produced in a multipatented manufacturing process without chemicals or excessive heat. Dosage level of fish oil has been recommended by the National Institute of Health that recommends 2 to 3 g of fish oil per day. They found clinically and there are several research articles that support the fact that many times the therapeutic doses could range anywhere from 4 g to 8 g per day. 

In summary, the keys to good fish oil product:

    1)   Knowing your manufacturer. 
    2)   Knowing who you are purchasing a product from. 
    3)   Consuming a products that guarantees freshness, guarantees purity, and  
          also tastes good.