Michelle Peden Big Rigs columnist Photo Contributed
Michelle Peden Big Rigs columnist Photo Contributed Contributed

How to find the best fish oil

THERE is such a variety of fish oils available today, so how does anyone decide which is best for them?

The term "fish oil" is commonly used as a collective name for the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids found in the oil from fish. There are two types of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA for short. The higher the concentrations of these, the better.

The EPA content is known to have high anti-inflammatory properties which makes it a great choice for arthritis, auto-immune conditions and other inflammatory conditions such as asthma, eczema and irritable bowel disease. EPA has also been shown to be beneficial in times of stress as it can reduce the hormone cortisol which is released from the adrenal gland in stressful situations.

DHA has been shown to be cardiovascular protective, making a fish oil with high DHA levels an excellent choice when treating conditions such as high blood pressure, angina, elevated cholesterol and LDL/HDL ratios. DHA is also extremely important in protecting neurons in our nervous system and as such is vital for nerve signalling, brain development and for memory improvement.

Always look to see what type of fish has been used in the supplement. Avoid products that do not label the type of fish the oil came from. Some fish, such as shark and king mackerel, contain heavy contaminants and should be avoided. Smaller fish like sardines and anchovies are your best choice, even salmon oil can be a good choice. Krill oil is becoming a popular choice due to its health benefits, but that's next week's story.

Manufacturing of fish oil has come a long way and often now liquid fish oil doesn't even taste like fish - what a bonus. Liquids are usually slightly more expensive as they are a higher dose than tablets - the upside is you need to take less of the liquid to get the same dose as you would from the capsules.

So when buying fish oils, it's important to read the label to know exactly what you're getting. Don't forget to consult a medical professional before starting fish oil or any other supplements. And ask your pharmacy or health food store assistant before purchasing a fish oil so you get the right product for what you need.

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