Reeling in The Facts on Fish Oil Supplements
Guest Post By: Lisa Schrader, Dominican University Nutrition Student
Does the recent debate on fish oil supplements have you feeling like a fish outa water? The current 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that eating at least 8 ounces of seafood each week is good for your heart. But, can taking a fish oil supplement do the same thing? While fish oil supplements have been backed by many medical professionals, websites, and heath related blogs, no one knows the real health benefits of these so-called magic pills. As of right now, researchers cannot say that fish oil supplements are as good for you as eating actual fish on a weekly basis.
So What’s the Catch?
The first thing to know about fish oil supplements is that they have EPA and DHA in them. These are two omega-3 fatty acids that the body cannot make on its own. In food, these fatty acids are in the form of triglycerides, a type of fat that can be found in your blood. But in supplements, they are not the same. The fatty acids found in fish oil supplements are only about 30% EPA and DHA. This means that 70% of this so-called magic pill is full of other fats.
The small amount of EPA and DHA in fish oil supplements is also hard for the body to absorb. Our bodies were designed to pull nutrients out of food, not supplements. So, when we take a supplement the body is asking itself, “What is this thing and what do I do with it?” With only 30% of the fatty acids in fish oil supplements being the ones we want, who knows how much EPA and DHA we are actually getting in each pill. Yet, over 18.8 million Americans take a fish oil supplements on a daily basis.
Let’s Take a Nibble
Based on the United States Department of Agriculture, 80-90% of Americans do not meet the weekly 8-ounce seafood recommendation, which studies have found can help protect against heart disease. According to MyPlate, seafood is a lean source of protein and includes both fish and shellfish. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are also important for your muscle activity, blood clotting, digestion, fertility, and cell division and growth.
The easiest way to tackle the recommendations and add fish into your weekly routine is with quick and delicious recipes. I suggest trying fish tacos and grilled blackened fish to start. Both of these can be prepped, cooked, and served in 30 minutes or less!
Are You Hooked?
So now that I have cast all of this information at you, let’s reel in the most important facts on fish oil supplements.
- Fish oil isn’t bad for you. There is no proof that fish oil supplements are bad for your health, they just aren’t the best option when it comes to getting EPA and DHA.
- The body loves food. Even though fish oil supplements have those heart healthy omega-3s we love, the body can absorb them better when we eat fish and shellfish.
- Take the bait. You can easily increase the amount of fish you eat in a week with fast and tasty recipes. Don’t forget, this will also help you protect yourself from heart disease!