You’ve probably heard of the importance of supplementing our diets with Omega-3 fatty acids. And you may have been like me, and at one point decided to pick up some generic fish oil from the grocery store only to find the stereotypes to be true: it’s gross! This was my experience with fish oil about six years ago and it wasn’t until last year that I found that taking fish oil doesn’t have to be disgusting. After about a month of taking this supplement daily, I began to see the huge difference it made in my energy level, emotions and physical health.
Why Fish Oil?
Without getting too technical, fish oil is high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3s are essential for health, yet our bodies can’t make them (and our diets are often lacking). Research suggest that this leads to a long list of modern diseases and disorders, including memory loss, depression, heart disease, cancer and arthritis. If you consider that omega-3s are needed to build and repair our most vital tissues, it makes a lot of sense.
The Big Difference
Research shows that there is a huge difference between omega-3s gained from animal sources (DHA specifically) and those gained from plant sources (known as ALA). DHA is a fancy type of omega-3 that the body utilizes with ease. ALA is much harder for our bodies to put to use, so you wont get as much out of it as you would an animal source. I was vegetarian for three years, so I know that isn’t great to hear if you don’t eat animals. But, including a plant-based omega-3 (like from flax oil) is still better than nothing!
Consider the Source
When you buy a generic “fish” oil, you’re getting the fats from a seafood slurry of who-knows-what that could very well contain unsafe levels of mercury. This is bound to impart an awful taste on the end product. If you go with a trusted (and yes, more expensive) brand, you will be surprised to find that even the liquid fish oil is tasteless. This is because quality fish oil is made by extracting the oil from fish livers specifically. I don’t exactly know why, but this type of oil isn’t fishy in the slightest. The brands that I have tried and love are Carlson’s and Nordic Naturals. Both of these I have taken in liquid form without noticing any fishyness. There’s also fermented cod liver oil which, in my experience, is not as nasty as it sounds. Fermentation is the traditional extraction process used and is ideal in that there is absolutely no heat involved, so you don’t lose any omega-3 potency. I have been taking Green Pasture’s fermented cod liver oil encapsulated as of late. I would warn against their flavors. I don’t taste any fishyness in their oils, but they sweeten their flavored kinds with stevia which I abhor (I spend whole afternoons squirting it into capsules to avoid the taste). Some people are into that kind of thing, I guess.
Compare the back labels carefully as the quantity of omega-3s can vary greatly between brands and products. Generally, cod liver oil has more omega-3s per tsp or capsule than fish oil. Salmon oil depends on the brand. You can often find concentrated omega-3s that may be more cost effective. If you’re having trouble with the idea of taking liquid fish oil, you may change your mind when you see how many doses are in one bottle compared to the capsules. It can save a lot of money!
How to Take it
How much fish oil you take is dependent on what you’re going for. I read once that physicians recommend a “therapeutic dose” of 3000mg daily for people with heart disease. I was personally having some bone/joint issues so I decided to shoot for the therapeutic dose and see what happened. Most labels recommend around 1000mg/day.
As I’ve said, I haven’t found any off taste when taking liquid fish oil. However, I usually take offense to the, well, oilyness of it. To counter this, I started taking my fish oil in a shot glass with lemonade. If I down it all at once, I taste the lemonade but I don’t feel the oil. Some people aren’t bothered by a mouthful of oil, in which case you can just take it by the spoonful!
Keep in mind that you probably wont notice a difference overnight. If you are deficient, it will take your body time to restore its omega-3 levels. Most of what I have heard suggests taking omega-3s for a full month to see results.
What I’ve Noticed
This is where I may start to sound a bit crazy. I had been taking standard fish oil at therapeutic doses for around a year. I was loving the results – I felt great, had high energy, less bone pain associated with a childhood foot surgery and severely lessened menstrual cramps. One day I noticed what looked like the start of a small cavity on a bottom molar (my one bottom molar that hasn’t been drilled and filled to a smooth finish). I kept taking my fish oil and soon forgot about it. A few months later, I was starting to get some sensitivity in the tooth. I remembered reading this blog about how a mother had reversed her son’s cavity by using fish oil and decided to go for it. She had been using a fermented cod liver and butter oil blend specifically, available from Green Pasture. This was about two months ago, and believe it or not, that small, suspicious spot on my back molar is almost entirely gone! I didn’t change anything else in my diet (but I do eat very little carbs and no refined sugars). In addition to my normal brushing routine, I would scrub the molar with a toothpick dipped in tea tree oil nightly. Cheaper than a dentist, and it feels better too!
I know I do sound crazy at times, but I recommend fish oil to anyone who complains to me about an ailment, whether physical or emotional. This is just my experience, and I’m not suggesting that fish oil be taken as an alternative to medical care when needed. But increasing omega-3 intake doesn’t hurt, and it’s very likely to help!