“I don’t want to carry a pillbox full of supplements,” a reader will sometimes say. “What are the absolute essentials everyone should take?”
That’s an excellent question because I find folks often search for a middle ground between completely blowing off supplements and buying a huge array of overhyped or useless products. So let’s simplify things.
Everyone should take a professional-quality multivitamin/mineral (or multi). Too many obstacles, from topsoil erosion to chronic stress, deplete the nutrients in our food and our bodies, and getting optimal amounts from diet alone becomes a real challenge.
My other must-take supplement would be fish oil. Even if you’re eating wild-caught fish regularly, you’re probably getting too many inflammatory omega-6s, edging those crucial omega-3 fatty acids out of your diet.
A quick history lesson: when the Industrial Revolution occurred around 140 years ago, we started eating more omega-6 fats at the expense of omega-3 fats, thanks to the growing vegetable oil industry and increased use of grains to feed livestock, which alters meat’s fat composition. If you’ve read The Virgin Diet or my Sugar Impact Diet, you’re familiar with these issues.
Vegetable oil consumption rose dramatically during that time, adversely affecting omega levels. Between 1935 and 1939, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids was about 8 to 1. Today, estimates range from an average of 10-20 to 1, with a ratio as high as 25 to 1 in some individuals. That means today we get about 25 times more inflammatory omega-6s than anti-inflammatory omega-3s.
Never mind that we’ve strayed considerably from our natural diet. The resulting chronic inflammation contributes to ever-increasing rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.
“Omega-6 fats not only fuel your body’s inflammatory pathways, but also reduce availability of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats in your tissues, resulting in more inflammation,” writes Dr. Mark Hyman. “In other words, omega-6 fats undo any benefit eating omega-3s would normally give you… Consuming too many omega-6 fats also increases the likelihood of inflammatory diseases and links to mental illness, suicide, and homicide. In fact, studies have shown a connection of mental health with inflammation in the brain.”
Fish oil becomes the ideal way to better balance those anti-inflammatory omega-3 levels. While numerous reasons exist to take a high-quality fish oil, let’s briefly look at these 7.
- Fat Loss. Studies show a diet that includes omega-3 fats, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), lead to significantly lower total body fat compared with diets rich in other fatty acids. Fish oil positively impacts your stress hormone cortisol and lowers inflammation, both of which help fat loss. One double blind, randomized, control study with 44 men and women determined fish oils’ effect on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and cortisol production. After 6 weeks taking a fish oil supplement, researchers found significant increases in lean body mass and decreased fat with lower cortisol levels.
- Overall brain health. Research shows the fatty acids DHA and EPA can improve mood, alleviate depression, and boost overall cognitive performance. DHA seems to benefit brain development and performance, while EPA helps mood and behavior. Both fatty acids protect your brain.
- Improved insulin sensitivity and lipid profile. If you have metabolic syndrome, your doctor warned about pre-diabetes, or you have full-blown type 2 diabetes, you especially should take fish oil. One meta-analysis that looked at how fish oil supplements impacted blood sugar and blood lipids for type 2 diabetes found it lowered triglycerides almost 30% while also lowering blood pressure and improving vascular health. Another study found fish oil improved lipid profiles and reduced inflammatory markers significantly. Yet another study found omega-3 fats can improve glucose metabolism by improving insulin’s function among type 2 diabetics. Animal research also shows fish oil can improve the pathways that process glucose; good news regardless of whether you have diabetes.
- Dementia and anti-aging. Inflammation adversely impacts every disease on the planet, including dementia. Evidence shows omega-3 fatty acids can decrease symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and reduce your risk for dementia. EPA specifically can protect the hippocampus region from aging, thanks to its anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Stress. Research shows fish oil can dial down stress. One small study found just 3 weeks of fish oil supplementation reduced all stress markers, including adrenaline and cortisol.
- Heart health. Research shows fish oil can lower triglycerides and those small, dense LDL particles (also called VLDL) that potentially trigger heart disease. Studies show fish oil can lower VLDL and total cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol. Other research finds fish oil decreases the risk of heart attacks and myocardial infarction (MI), sudden cardiac death, and stroke.
- Cancer. Fish oil can potentially reduce your risk for numerous cancers, including colon, prostate, and breast cancer. Research shows fish oil makes conventional cancer drugs more effective and provides an effective therapy by itself. Another study found the fatty acid DHA kills colon cancer and enhances current drug therapies that use TRAIL (tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis inducing ligand). And researchers found fish oil “has been preferred to chemosensitize tumor cells to anti-cancer drugs.”
Finding the Right Fish Oil
Now that I’ve hopefully convinced you to take fish oil, let’s talk about choosing the right one. Unfortunately, most over-the-counter fish oils are junk, and you need to read labels very carefully to avoid throwing away your hard-earned money on an inferior, ineffective, and potentially harmful supplement.When you choose a fish oil, here are some things to consider:
- Efficacy. Never mind that the label says “1,000 mg omega 3” or whatever. The 2 numbers that count are amounts of EPA and DHA, the 2 active fatty acids in fish oil. Keep reading that label: many inferior brands only have 200 mg or so of those two crucial fatty acids. Ideally, each dose should contain about 1 gram combined of EPA and DHA. To get that amount probably means swallowing several softgels.
- Quality. Shelf life, processing methods, inferior sourcing, and other obstacles can render fish oil ineffective or rancid, creating more harm than good. Buying fresh, reliably sourced, professional-quality fish oil becomes essential. This is one supplement you don’t want to skimp on, believe me.
- Results. Don’t expect overnight results with fish oil. With a quality brand at the proper dose, you might require weeks or months to notice an effect. Be patient, and you should see results.
None of the brands I found – including professional brands – met those and other stringent criteria, so I created my own.
Omega Ultra is a highly potent, non-genetically modified (GMO) fish oil, containing an impressive 1,000 mg of omega-3 oils in EVERY softgel.
If you want to talk specifics, every softgel contains a whopping 662mg EPA and 250mg DHA. I haven’t seen any other product on the market to match that amount in ONE softgel.
I’m also proud to say I’ve found a manufacturer that uses the latest innovation in EPA/DHA technology to insure purity and absorption.
Omega Ultra comes from the triglyceride (TG) form of fish oils. Why is that so important? Well, the TG form naturally occurs in food and in your body, carries a much higher bioavailability (how well your body can utilize it), and is less likely to increase fatty acids, which can increase blood glucose. (Increased blood glucose is definitely something you don’t want for fat loss!)
Sourcing becomes another issue with fish oil. Omega Ultra comes from 100% certified-sustainable, US-caught, wild Alaskan fish. My manufacturer ensures fisheries are managed through a holistic approach that respects and evaluates the impact on the entire Bering Sea ecosystem.
I’ve also taken environmental concerns and sustainability into account. Omega Ultra uses refined omega-3 fish oil concentrate that carries the prestigious ecolabel certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the world’s leading certification and ecolabelling program for sustainable seafood.
Altogether, Omega Ultra provides the highest quality, freshest, most rigorously tested fish oil without fish burp, weird aftertaste, rancidity, and additional problems common in other fish oils. If you want to get all of fish oil’s benefits in just ONE softgel, you’ve got to add this supplement to your regimen.
My mission here is to educate you about the importance of your brain health and to encourage you to take care of your brain. In addition to taking a fish oil supplement, quality fish is the nutritious, delectable rock star of the food world and contains one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids to balance a pro-inflammatory diet and fight inflammation. In this downloadable guide, I’m sharing with you 10 of my favorite, easy-to-prepare fish recipes that you and your family are going to love, including: Pesto-Topped Sea Scallops with Asparagus; Pan-Seared Salmon over Tri-Color Salad with Dijon Dressing; Lemon Sole with Almonds and Thyme and more!