Fish oil is one of the most common supplements on the market. We see it everywhere, but what is it for? Do we actually need supplementation? UFIT Nutrition Manager Pamela Ibarra gives us the lowdown on fish oil supplementation to help you make an informed decision.
Fish oil is commonly used to refer to 2 kinds of essential omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA – They are called essential because our body alone can’t synthesize them. To get the right amounts, we need to eat foods that contain it, and that's basically fish. There’s also another type of omega-3 fatty acids (ALA - from vegetarian sources), but our body is not so efficient when it comes to absorbing and utilising them.
Research has shown that an appropriate intake of EPA and DHA can be beneficial for our health because they have have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. We want that because there are so many things in our daily lives that can produce free radicals that cause oxidative stress and damage our cells. For example, eating lots of fried foods, breathing polluted air, prolonged sun exposure, drinking alcohol, smoking, and even exercising. Having good antioxidant in our diet is useful to reduce and curb the effects of those free radicals. EPA and DHA can also help decrease triglycerides and blood pressure, and is associated with possibly lowering rates of depression.
The World Health Organization recommends a daily intake of 200–500 mg of combined EPA and DHA. However, it may be necessary to increase the dosage if you are pregnant, nursing, or at risk of heart disease.
For the general population, ideally, there should be a 1:1 ratio between omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids intake but a lot of the food we usually eat provides more omega-6 fatty acids, so we need to balance that ratio by consuming omega-3 with either food or supplementation. The more EPA and DHA is provided by the diet, the less supplementation is required. So if you don’t like fish or don’t eat fish very often, it is probably something you should look out for BUT always ask your doctor or dietitian first before taking any supplementation.
Learn more about nutrition and supplementation with our UFIT Personalised Nutrition programs to find what works best for your body.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pamela started her college studies in Engineering. She spent a year in the US, where she was part of an inspiring bootcamp community which changed and impacted her life in a very positive way. Upon returning to Mexico she did a 5-year degree in Nutrition (with a clinical approach) and is also a Level 2 Anthropometrist (body measurements) by the International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry (ISAK) and a Certified Personal Trainer.
Pamela finds passion in guiding people through a lifestyle change that they will stick with for life, not just for several days or weeks.