Are You Getting Enough Omega-3s From Your Fish Dinner?

It is well-known that fish is a healthy food. Even the American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fish every week for heart health. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the differences in omega-3 levels in fish.

For example, a woman who eats tilapia three times per week may think she is getting plenty of omega-3s, when in reality tilapia is much higher in omega-6 than omega-3. Or a man who eats a large portion of fried fish twice a week may think he is in the clear, but fish used for frying tends to be lower in omega-3s, and high in fat.

On the other hand, eating spicy tuna sushi rolls a few times a week may give you plenty of omega-3s, but what about the mercury content of that tuna? Fish that are higher up on the food chain (especially albacore tuna) concentrate toxins like mercury, and end up on your plate.

What’s a person to do? How can you protect your heart by eating the right fish in the right ways? It’s not easy, but it can be done. Honestly, your best bet is probably sardines, as it is a small fish (low in toxicity) with high omega-3 levels. But let’s face it, sardines aren’t exactly high on the list of big cravings. Another good option is wild salmon, baked or grilled.

But if you have more serious heart concerns and need more than the minimum recommended two servings of fish per week (which is equal to about 500 mg daily of the combined omega-3s EPA and DHA), then you’ll probably have to eat far more fish than you can stomach. This is where a good fish oil supplement comes in. A high-potency, concentrated fish oil can give you plenty of omega-3 in one softgel. Look for a fish oil that has the IFOS seal (International Fish Oil Standards), which exceeds world standards for purity. This ensures you are getting a pure fish oil, without all the toxins. Not all fish oil meets these standards.

Do I Really Need a Prescription Fish Oil?

Like many people, you might have questions about those ads you’ve seen on TV or in magazines for a prescription fish oil pill called Lovaza. Questions like: Do I really need a prescription for fish oil? And is Lovaza really better than a fish oil supplement I can buy at my health food store? The answer to both questions is a resounding no. In fact, an independent comparison found that there’s nothing in Lovaza that can’t be found in many quality non-prescription fish oils that are typically less expensive and certainly more convenient.

Here are the facts:

  • Lovaza contains only 840mg combined of beneficial EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil—about 200mg less than the leading maximum-strength fish oil supplement.
  • Lovaza costs approximately $180 dollars for 120 pills (a 1-month supply)—about $150 more than the leading maximum-strength fish oil supplement.
  • The recommended daily dose of Lovaza is 4 per day. Many non-prescription fish oil supplements come in an easier one-a-day dose.
  • Lovaza capsules are not enteric-coated. (In vitro studies show 3X more Omega-3 absorption with enteric-coated capsules when compared with non-coated capsules.)
  • Lovaza does not include lipase, an essential fat-splitting enzyme necessary for complete oil digestion in the body.
  • Lovaza soft-gel capsules are made from both pork- and beef-derived gelatin. Many leading non-prescription fish oil supplements use superior fish-derived gelatin capsules.
  • Lovaza fish oil capsules are unflavored, while many non-prescription supplements include natural orange or lemon flavor to help lessen fishy aftertaste.
  • Lovaza does not include any added beneficial ingredients such as vitamin D₃.

In fact, the only thing that sets Lovaza apart from the leading maximum-strength fish oil supplement is that it has been approved by the FDA to “treat a specific condition” (i.e. high triglycerides). However, the majority of premium non-prescription fish oils undergo strict purification processes to ensure purity, potency and freshness and are guaranteed safe and effective by International Fish Oil Standards.

About the Benefits of Fish Oil…

Experts like the American Heart Association agree that taking a daily fish oil supplement is one of the best things you can do for your body, since fish-derived Omega-3 fatty acids help to nourish active tissues in the body like those found in the heart, brain, eyes and joints. Not only that, but beneficial Omega-3s help with digestion and bowel regularity, and current research links a diet rich in Omega-3 fats with enhanced memory, mood, and even improved fat metabolism.