For the last few years, I’ve been recommending omega 3 fish oil supplements to practically everyone I know. Do you know why that means something? It’s because I am FAR from a supplement-person.
I barely use anything. Not only do I hate wasting money on junk I don’t need or could get from actual foods, I’m also WAY over cautious about side effects and the things I put into my body in general.
At the same time, I’m also usually the first one laughing at the supposed “magical” health benefits of all of the weird nutritional products, vitamins, herbs and minerals on the market. Really, I’m the last person to take or recommend any kind of nutritional supplement.
With all of that being said… I’ve personally been taking and recommending an omega 3 fish oil supplement to practically everyone I know. And that, my friends, should tell you just how useful and important I think it is.
In this article, I’m going to explain exactly why fish oil has become my personal favorite supplement and the only one that I recommend to every single person reading this no matter who you are. I’ll explain all of its proven health benefits (yes, scientifically proven) and whether or not there are any side effects (there aren’t).
I’ll explain omega 3 fatty acids in general, cover exactly how much you should take, and give you my recommendation for the highest quality fish oil supplement brand on the market. Basically, by the end of this article you’re going to want to start recommending it to everyone you know, too.
What Is It?
The only real reason fish and fish oil are considered so healthy is that they contain the omega 3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). You know how there are good types of fat and bad types of fat? Well, this is the really good one. Fish just happens to be the best and most abundant source of it.
Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid, which means is cannot be manufactured by our own body and therefore must be obtained through our diet alone. The thing is, most people’s diets contain an insufficient amount of omega 3.
Not to mention, they also contain a very high amount of the omega 6 fatty acid. The ideal ratio of the two is something near 2:1. In reality for the average person, it’s more like 20:1 or even worse, and this has been shown to cause a variety of health problems.
So, since most people are lacking omega 3, a fish oil supplement could be beneficial to pretty much everyone. Speaking of benefits…
What Are The Benefits Of Taking An Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplement?
It’s magical! Ok… that’s obviously an exaggeration, but from all of the scientific studies done and all of the medical research known, omega 3 fish oil supplements are my pick for the closest thing we have to a real life miracle pill.
Let’s take a look at some of its benefits taken directly from MedlinePlus, which is a service of the US National Library of Medicine:
- lowers blood triglyceride levels
- reduces the risk of heart attack
- reduces the risk of dangerous abnormal heart rhythms
- reduces the risk of strokes
- slows the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques
- lowers blood pressure
- reduces stiffness and joint tenderness associated with Rheumatoid arthritis
An omega 3 fish oil supplement may also help improve or prevent the following:
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- heart disease
It has also been shown to improve a person’s ability to concentrate and just think clearer in general. And, as if all of this isn’t enough, fish oil is also highly recommended by nearly every well respected strength and conditioning coach, trainer, and diet/fitness/nutrition expert of any kind as one of the few supplements that should be taken by anyone with the goal of building muscle, losing fat, or improving their fitness level or athletic ability in any capacity.
Everything mentioned above has at least some amount actual scientific proof behind it. Researching some other sources showed me that some people experienced other benefits not mentioned above. For example, I’ve heard of people claiming to have improved vision, improved memory, improved mood, and less back pain.
Long story short, a fish oil supplement appears to improve our body’s ability to do damn near everything.
For me personally, I feel I experienced some of the mental and physical benefits. I noticed a definite improvement in mental clarity and really just the way I feel in general. Now, I didn’t develop any kind of super powers or anything, but after a couple of weeks, I felt like I noticed a difference. I remember reading the phrase “an enhanced well being” when doing my fish oil research. That’s a really good way of describing it.
And physically, I feel I noticed an improved calorie partitioning effect, meaning when consuming an excess of calories, more calories went towards the building of new muscle rather than the storing of new fat. I also felt a similar effect when in a caloric deficit, meaning my body did a better job of using stored body fat for energy rather than muscle. Basically, I felt I did indeed experience an overall improvement both physically and mentally.
But really, even if I felt exactly the same, I’d still be taking an omega 3 fish oil supplement anyway. Why? Because even if I didn’t notice any of its benefits, the fact that there is actual scientific proof that it may help improve or prevent even 1 (let alone all) of the diseases and disorders listed above is MORE than enough convincing for me.
Can’t I Just Eat Fish?
Technically, yes. Fatty fish contains omega 3 just the same as fish oil supplements would. The only problem is that in order to consume a good amount of omega 3 on a regular basis, you would have to consume a good amount of fish on a regular basis.
And, in case you haven’t heard, due to all of the toxic contaminants found in fish these days (mercury, chlordane, dioxin, PCBs, and more), it is pretty hard to recommend anyone eat fish on daily basis. Fortunately, supplement companies can greatly improve its purity by removing these contaminants. Of course, some brands do this better than others. More on that later.
Are There Any Side Effects?
No, for the most part, there are no side effects. You have to realize here, it’s oil from fish. It’s not like a dangerous fat burning or muscle building product. I mean, do you think about side effects before eating a piece of salmon? I didn’t think so. Taking a fish oil supplement is no different than just eating fish (minus the contaminants, of course).
So, for the average healthy person, it’s completely safe. Of course, if you are pregnant, allergic to fish, or already have any kind of known health issues, you should check with your doctor first just to be safe.
The only other thing I’ve heard of that even slightly resembles side effects is “a fishy after taste.” While this is far from a serious side effect, this appears to only happen if you are taking a low quality fish oil supplement. For example, I’ve never tasted a hint of fish even for a second in all of the time I’ve been taking it. (More on which brand I use below.)
How Much Should I Take?
Pretty much all of the research and recommendations I’ve seen suggest taking between 1-3 grams of combined EPA and DHA per day. These are the fatty acids we care about most.
For the brand I’m going to recommend below, 1 serving (2 capsules) contains 650mg of EPA and 450mg of DHA. Combined that is 1.1 grams of EPA/DHA. If you took two servings per day (4 capsules), that would be a 2.2 grams of combined EPA/DHA. This is the amount I personally take and most often recommend.
So, for the specific brand I recommend below, 1 serving (2 capsules) would be a perfectly fine minimum, with 2 servings (4 capsules) being a perfectly fine maximum amount. That would mean staying between 1 and 2 servings per day, which is between 2-4 capsules per day of this specific brand.
Again, I personally take 4 capsules of this brand per day myself. Speaking of brands…
What Brand Should I Use? Is One Really Better Than The Others?
Now this is something I did a lot of research on. Like I mentioned at the very beginning, I’m extremely careful about what I put into my body, which is why I spent a lot of time researching fish oil brands to find out if some were indeed better than others.
And, the brand I can definitively say is the highest quality omega 3 fish oil supplement available today is Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega.
Besides seeing this brand specifically recommended by a handful of doctors, I also read two different consumer reports that performed a variety of tests on a variety of brand name fish oil supplements. And, while most of them passed, Nordic Naturals scored the best.
So, yeah, a lot of brands are probably perfectly fine. But for me, when it comes to something like an omega 3 fish oil supplement, I want the best. I’ve done enough research to be more than confident in the fact that Nordic Naturals is one of, if not THE best. I’ve been using this brand for years now, and they get my highest recommendation.
Another reason why I use Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega is that it contains significantly more EPA and DHA per capsule than most other brands.
This not only means more bang for your buck, but it also means you won’t have to take a million capsules per day like you do with other brands. Most of them contain half the EPA/DHA per capsule, which means you’d have to take twice as many capsules per day. Who wants to do that? Not me.
So, there you have it… everything you need to know about my personal favorite supplement, fish oil.