Fish Oil's 8 Anti-Agers

Fights the body's inflammatory army

Fish Oil's 8 Anti-Agers, Jonny Bowden, Anti-Aging

Fish Oil's 8 Anti-Agers, Jonny Bowden, Anti-Aging

Besides a good multi, fish oil is the one supplement for just about everyone. Why? Because the omega3 fatty acids found in fish oil rescue the body from overly processed omega6 rich foods and oils (corn, for example) that stoke inflammation.

Fish oil comes–not surprisingly– from the most oily fish species such as sardines, anchovies and mackerel. The fish themselves get their omega- 3s through their diet by consuming microalgae and smaller species that have accumulated these fatty acids.

Along with omega 6 fatty acids, omega 3 fatty acids are called essential because the human body cannot synthesize them. That means the body must get them from food or supplements. These contribute to numerous physiological functions including cell membrane, oxygen transport and inflammation.

The body needs three omega3s: ALA (alphalinolenic acid) found in plant foods like flaxseed and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) found in fish. The circulatory flow improvements seen due to with omega3s are thought largely DHA and EPA, the omega3s that have the most research showing heart and brain.

Two Armies, One Body

The body makes inflammatory and anti-inflammatory chemicals and needs both for dynamic balance. A certain amount of inflammation is needed for the healing process (like a fever when sick). But the body’s anti-inflammatory response must be as powerful. When inflammatory “army” and anti-inflammatory “army” are both well funded and operating properly, it’s a promise for a healthy future.

But here’s where it gets tricky. The body makes its “anti-infammatory soldiers”–little hormones known as eicosanoids–from omega3s. And makes its inflammatory eicosanoids from omega6s. Perhaps we’re beginning to see the problem.

Dangerous Imbalance

Experts believe the ideal ratio of omega6s to omega3s in our diet should be about 1:1. This is the ratio our Paleolithic ancestors apparently exhibited to keep inflammation in check and everything running smoothly. Experts even think we could have good health with an omega 6: omega 3 ratio as high as 4:1, though I personally think 1:1 is a better target. Want to know what we’re currently consuming?

Sixteen to one. That amounts to “funding” our inflammatory army with 1600 times the fuel we’re giving to the anti-infammatory army. Not a good recipe for peace or health.

We want to do everything to restore funding balance, including eating more wild-caught fish and other anti-infammatory foods (like vegetables, beans and spices such as turmeric) as well as supplementing with fish oil.

How Often Do You Really Eat Wild Caught Fish?

So if we eat wild-caught fish three or four times a week, do we need to supplement with fish oil? Maybe. Salmon and other wild-caught fish provide adequate amounts of essential fatty acids but we’re trying to correct an enormous imbalance between omega 6s and omega 3s; frankly, most people don’t eat wild caught fish all that often, at least not on a regular basis. (Or they’re eating farm-raised fish which has a whole separate set of problems.) Some are concerned about mercury levels, while others just don’t care for fish or find wild-caught fish too expensive.

So even if we do eat fish regularly (and by all means do), I recommend fish oil supplements as the best way to obtain therapeutic amounts of omega3s.

Flaxseed and chia seeds are among the richest plant sources of the omega3 ALA. The body will convert a sufficient amount of the ALA to the longer chain EPA and DHA fo und in fish and these plant sources pro vide valuable rhythm soothing nutrients to the heartbeat. If one is a strict vegan or vegetarian and can only get omega-3s from fax oil, be sure to take at least one tablespoon per 100 pounds of body weight to insure physiologically adequate amounts.


• Anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is a part of nearly every degenerative disease. Fish oil is among the most anti-infammatory substances.

• Cancer. Studies show fish oil can reduce risk for breast, colon and prostate cancers.

• Cardiovascular. Studies show fsh oil can become part of an over all healthy lifestyle that alle viates cardiac dysrhythmias and fghts premature coronary artery hardening. American Heart Association recommends one gram of fsh oil—from fsh or supplements.

• Hypertension. A study in the journal Connecticut Medicine found “a small but significant decline in blood pressure” for fish oil users.

• Brain health. Fish oil can reduce depression, decrease risk for Alzhei mer’s and Parkinson’s and im prove cognitive function. About 60% of brain is fat and a majority of that is the omega-3 DHA.

• Pregnancy. Observational studies show omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy (via diet or supplements) can improve the child’s neurodevelopmental outcome. Because high quality fish oils are tested for toxic impurities (unlike much of the fish sold today), marine oils could be a safer alternative to eating fish for pregnant women.

• Diabetes. Studies show fish oil can lower blood pressure, triglycerides and inflammation: all hallmarks of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

• Osteoporosis. Fish oils definitely can improve bone mass and bone density.

Show Me The Omega -3S

Fine fish oil supplements are sold as soft gels, liquid and (for children and others adverse to any hint of fishi ness) a fruity smoothi-like formula (Barlean’s Omega Swirls, which have won awards from the Healthy Living Foundation and other organizations for taste and environmental stewardship.) The company’s complete line of marine oils is awarded the highest certification for sustainable resources and purity.

Some people like to knock out their fish oil with a teaspoon. (I add mine to my morning green drink) whereas others prefer the convenience of soft gels–or from smoothie like Barlean’s Omega Swirls.

Some manufacturers label omega 3s as triglyceride (TG) or ethyl ester (EE) forms. Studies show for the most part we absorb EPA and DHA similarly regardless of form provided supplemented consistently. While most clinical studies use the EE form, both forms more or less offer equal stability and bioavailability.

Don’t be fooled by bargain basement fish oils that boast about high amounts of omega 3s but actually contain small amounts of EPA and DHA. Re member, EPA and DHA are the gold nuggets in the prospector pan. We’re not interested in the total amount of fish oil but EPA and DHA content. So when we see fish oil with “1200 mg per capsule” on the label, turn the bottle around and see how much EPA and DHA is in each dose.

Brand Matters

Source also significantly matters. While large predator fish like swordfish accrue high amounts of omega 3s, their “top of food chain” status means they also accumulate high amounts of mercury, PCBs and other toxins. Always buy from a source that independently verifies their fish oil free from mercury and other toxins.

Just like fresh caught fish, fish oil easily becomes oxidized. Inferior fish oils that linger on drugstore shelves for months can do more harm than good. Better manufacturers will add antioxidants like to copherols (vitamin E) to stabilize fish oil but we want to be cognizant about date of manufacturer and/or sell by date.

Regurgitation (more commonly known as fish burp) is a sure sign of rancid fish oil. If using soft gels, experts recommend occasionally biting into one to test for rancidity.

Another source of omega3s is krill oil. Numerous sea creatures depend on krill, little shrimp like crustaceans whose oil is rich in omega 3s and super potent antioxidants like astaxanthin.

Besides less chance of oxidation, krill oil may be more potent than fish oil and comes in readily bio available phospholipid form. A few studies do show krill superior to fish oil but foremost people the slight difference may not matter that much and may not be enough to offset the extra expense.

I suggest using both krill and fish oils. (Krill oil tends to be more expensive.) Another strategy is to try each individually for a few months to determine whether krill or fish oil better improves joint stiffness or whatever issue we wish to alleviate.

The bottom line is this: fish oil is one of the most powerful natural medicines on the planet. I personally think the big debates over ethyl ester vs. triglycerides vs. phospholipid form are interesting but not significant. Wherever from, what ever form just make sure fish oil is from a reputable source.

Again, I like Barlean’s, which insures its fish oils meet the standards set forth by the Marine Stewardship Council and International Fish Oil Standards Program for both sustainability and purity.

Coletta JM, et al. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Pregnancy. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Fall;3(4):163-71.
Lee JH, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids for cardioprotection. Mayo Clin Proc 83(3):324-32, 2008.
Sampalis F, et al. Evaluation of the effects of Neptune Krill Oil on the management of premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhea. Altern Med Rev. 2003 May;8(2):171-9. Yang H, et al. The role of fsh oil in hypertension. Conn Med. 2007 Oct;71(9):533-8. 3s-which-is-better-W119.aspx archive/2012/06/21/krill-oil-radically-better-than-fshoil. aspx
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