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Supplement of the month

Back in the day many youngsters were forced to swallow the dreaded cod liver oil for health purposes. Fortunately we can now get the benefits from taking a capsule form that can even be enteric coated (to eliminate fish burps) with lemon flavor.

So why all the fish hype? EPA/DHA (found in the fish oil supplement) are two fatty acid chains that do several wonderful things in our bodies and we cannot make them- we must consume them.

1) All your bodies cells have a lipid (fat) layer that allows enzymes to pass in and out of the cell to function. The type of fat we consume reflects what our cell lipid layer is made up of. EPA fat layer increases the speed and ease in which enzymes move, other fats (meat, butter, cheese etc) do not allow such easy transportation.

2) Cardiovascular benefits were discovered in the 1970s by researchers studying the Greenland Inuit people. These people  consumed large amounts of fat from meat, but displayed virtually no cardiovascular disease. The high level of omega-3 fatty acids consumed by the Inuit reduced triglycerides, heart rate, blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

On September 8, 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave “qualified health claim” status to EPA and DHA n−3 fatty acids, stating that “supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA [n−3] fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary artery disease (meaning reducing your risk of heart attack, stroke, or peripheral artery disease)

3) What are the other health claims? EPA/DHA is responsible for creating anti-inflammatory prostaglandin which can decrease inflammation in the body which may decrease pain symptoms from arthritis.  It is also shown clinically to reduce gout flare-ups.

The key to fish oils is the amount and brand. In order to get benefits you must ingest close to 3 grams per day in most cases. When consuming such large quantities its important to have a brand that is not contaminated with heavy metals (it should be third party assayed- if you don’t know what this is I would suggest trusting a health care provider for suggestions). You may want a capsule that is enteric coated in order to eliminate the fishy burps. My favorite brand is Nutrition Dynamics EPA/DHA 720. I feel in four capsules a day your getting 2.8 grams of protection with no fishy burps at a bargain price of a little more than a dollar a day. Of course there are other wonderful brands- Carlson, Pure Encapsulations, Nordic Naturals (they make the best kids fish oils)

Please remember this is only for your information- at no time should you stop taking any prescribed medication without your primary care physicians knowledge. In many cases fish oils can be used in prevention and in conjunction with other medication.