Fish oils- What you need to know

Did you know? Fish oil supplements are consistently reported as among the most popular complementary medicine (CM) supplements used by Australians.

The use of Fish oils, (EPA/DHA) have been increasingly popular over recent years for its benefits with:

  1. Skin health
  2. Cardiovascular health
  3. Joint Health
  4.  Reducing Inflammation
  5.  Improving Cognitive function
  6. Pregnancy
  7. Alzheimer’s/ dementia
  8. Mood Disorders
  9. ADHD
  10. Autoimmune disorders

……and that’s just to name a few……

Fish oils provide a rich source of omega-3 essential fatty acids ( n-3 EFA). More than 4500 studies have been published which explore the potential benefits of n-3 EFAs on human metabolism and health.

So, why are omega-3 essential fatty acids important? Omega-3’s are considered “Good fats” , these are  important for our health, because they

  • provide energy,
  • enhance brain power,
  • improve liver function,
  • Enhance nerve function,
  • improve, restore, gut health and
  • promote a healthy metabolism.

It is important you choose a pure, good quality and sustainable fish oil.

Here’s a few tips to keep in mind when choosing your fish oils:

GOED- Global Organization for EPA and DHA omega- these guys promote safe and good quality omega 3 sources.

MSC- Marine Stewardship Council- as Fish oils are becoming more popular, we need to be mindful of the sustainability and protection of our oceans – this is what these guys do.

IFOS- International Fish Oil Standards –these guys test the quality, safety and purity of fish oils.

Does your fish oil have a fishy taste or smell? Do you burp when you take your fish oil? – these are signs that your fish oil may be rancid.

Its important to choose a fish oil that’s low in Mercury

Fish Oils are particularly susceptible to oxidation, due to the nature of their structure-

Exposure to air, light and heat exposure are factors that can cause oxidation

So what are the risk factors?

Fish Oils are usually well tolerated with few side effects, but there has been some debate over whether they cause thinning of the blood.

Recent randomised trials and observational studies conducted in hospitals with inpatients have largely failed to find evidence of clinically significant bleeding at standard doses.

This conclusion is supported by a 2013 systematic review of 10 randomised trials involving 994 older adults (older than 60) which reported no difference in total adverse event rates between placebo and fish oil groups. (Daily fish oil doses ranged from 0.03g to 1.86g EPA and/or DHA with study durations ranging from 6 to 52 weeks)

Finally, the relative lack of serious adverse event reports to fish oils, despite their extensive use by the Australian population, often as a result of self-selection and not by professional recommendation, provides a further level of surety that serious bleeding events are rare.

The potential benefits of n-3 EFAs outweigh possible bleeding risks for the vast majority of people, when used as clinically indicated

Of course, a diet rich in omega-3’s are recommended as well as supplementation with fish oils Here’s a list of some recommended foods:  1. Salmon, 2. Walnuts 3. Chia Seeds

John T.E. Rebry R.M. et al. Measurement of Environmental Contaminants in a Globally-Representative Sample of Fish Oil Supplements. Nutrasource Diagnostics Inc. Ontario, Canada. GOED, Utah, USA.

Marine Stewardship Council. Viewed 10/01/2020.

Cameron-Smith D, Albert BB, Cutfield WS. Fishing for answers: is oxidation of fish oil supplements a problem?. J Nutr Sci. 2015;4:e36. Published 2015 Nov 23. doi:10.1017/jns.2015.26

Monique Heller, Luke Gemming, Chin Tung & Ross Grant (2019) Oxidation of fish oil supplements in Australia, International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 70:5, 540-550, DOI: 10.1080/09637486.2018.1542666

Villani AM, Crotty M, Cleland LG, et al. Fish oil administration in older adults: is there potential for adverse events? A systematic review of the literature. BMC Geriatr 2013 May 1;13(1):41

Braun LA, Tiralongo E, Wilkinson JM, et al. Perceptions, use and attitudes of pharmacy customers on complementary medicines and pharmacy practice. BMC Complement Altern Med 2010;10:38.

O’Keefe JH, Harris WS. Omega-3 fatty acids: time for clinical implementation? Am J Cardiol 2000 May 15;85(10):1239-41. 3. Harris WS, Miller M, Tighe AP, et al. Omega- 3 fatty acids and coronary heart disease