Just a few short years ago, everyone was taking Fish Oil.
Now it doesn't seem nearly as popular, and for good reason. The studies are not consistent on the impact Fish Oil has on the body. We'll cover what happens when Fish Oil goes in the body and why too much may be a bad thing.
Here's why we take it:
Fish Oil provides Omega 3 fatty acids (so termed because they have a double bond located 3 carbons from the end of the molecule.) You may have heard of Omega 6 fatty acids? Yep, you guessed it, 6 carbons from the end in that case. This fairly simple difference changes how easily these molecules bend, The Omega 3s are more flexible, and make structures built out of them more flexible The Omega 6s are stiffer and make structures more stiff.
Ok, so? Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids have very different impacts on the body. They integrate into the cell membranes and influence the viscosity of the cell wall. They also become the precursors for hormones called prostaglandins. If there are more Omega 3s, then it will be more likely that an anti-inflammatory prostaglandin will be formed. If there are more Omega 6s, then the prostaglandins that are made are more likely to induce inflammation.
It's all about the ratio.Our evolutionary ancestors consumed between 1:1 and 3:1 omega 6s to 3s. The typical American diet, because of its reliance on certain types of oils and grains, runs closer to 20:1. Now you know why that's a bad thing, and means a lot more inflammation.
Omega Fats are fragileOkay, so omega 3s are good for you. But only up to a point. They are also very fragile molecules. If not sourced from from high quality fish oil, omega 3s can actually cause some harm. Not only that, but your total intake should be pretty low. (they should only make up about 1% of your total caloric intake, about 1 teaspoon) Chris Masterjohn (PhD in lipid biochemistry) likens Omega 3s to wine glasses. They are fragile, so you'd rather not have them all over your house. A few is good, more is not better.
Okay, so what should you do?Quick and simple, here's the take home:
Do you have a favorite brand?
I'd love to hear about your experience, questions or comments.
All the best,
I'm Kieran, clinician and founder at The Parani Clinic. I'm an acupuncturist, herbalist, and functional medicine practitioner for the past 10 years. I have a deep curiosity in health, biology, culture, medicine, history, and a healthy obsession with the pursuit of the perfect state of health.