We continue our series of questions reviewing the benefits of Omega-3 fish oils with Drs. Wilson and McGinty (part one available here).
4. Can I not just eat more fish and not use supplements?
“YES!!!!!!! is the short answer. You would need to eat approximately 3.5oz of fish every day to acquire the desired daily amount of Omega 3 oil. You also need to remember that this figure can vary due to things like the variety of fish you choose or how it’s prepared.” Dr. Wilson answers, “As with most things fish is much healthier baked or broiled. Deep frying may just undo all the good work you’re trying to do.”
He goes on to add, “With supplements you have the really big advantage of consistency – you can know that you are consistent with your doctor recommended dosing regime. Another advantage of using a supplement for Omega 3 is all reputable manufacturers screen their product for unwanted elements, like mercury, thus reducing the health risks associated with these heavy metals. The supplements also make it easier to add in to a busy lifestyle, whereas switching to a fish rich diet may mean a major change for some.”
5. So if I’m going to start taking these supplements, is there an omega 3 fish oil that is better quality?
“That’s a really interesting question,” Dr. McGinty responds, “To answer this it really is best to look at the kinds of fish oil supplements available, there two different kinds:
a) Triglyceride or TG and
b) Ethyl Ester or EE
TG is naturally occurring and the EE is synthesized chemically. Putting it another way. EE omega 3 is like having fruit juice made from concentrate and I for one prefer my juice freshly squeezed. TG
for me then!”
“Great point!” Dr. Wilson adds to the explanation, “There has been various studies into the comparison between the two forms and the long and short is that the EE is not absorbed nearly as effectively as the TG. Some studies showing an absorption rate up to 50 times slower for the EE derivative. Strike 2 for EE!”
“Looking into it further, there’s also some debate about the harm that could come from the metabolism of the EE type in the intestines. During it’s synthesis the EE form has a single fatty acid molecule bonded to an ethanol “backbone” whereas the naturally occurring TG has 3 fatty acid molecules bonded to a glycerol “backbone”. The ethanol is released when broken down in the gut and this for many is a cause for concern. That said, tests have shown that the amounts of ethanol (an alcohol) should be safe for humans. Not quite strike 3 but that bonding to the ethanol “backbone” also means technically that the EE form isn’t a true oil.
That’s a home run for TG in my game!”
6. Can I not just take omega 3,6 and 9 combined?
Dr. Wilson is enthusiastic to answer this question, “Firstly Omega 3 and 6 are essential acids and need to be consumed in our basic human diet through food sources or supplements. Omega 9 is non-essential and as such isn’t actually required so why supplement it at all.
Omega 3 has a potent anti-inflammatory response in the body. This helps reduce the pain and swelling from most inflammatory responses in the body whereas Omega 6 has the complete polar opposite being pro-inflammatory. Maintaining a balance between these two important acids is critical. The kicker is that Omega 6 is abundant in the Western diet so you’re much less likely to need a supplement.
So, yes, you could take an Omega 3, 6 and 9 supplement but in the words of my esteemed business partner, Dr. Euan McGinty, “You can but you’d be wrong!”
In conclusion, I believe supplementation of Omega 3 fish oil in the Western diet is essential, but, as with many things, the simple rule is everything in moderation. Obtaining it in it’s most natural form is always preferred and regularity works best. Always check with your doctor before starting any new medication or supplements.
Remember, we’re always interested in peoples experiences, comments or concerns and would love to hear from you so please do not hesitate to fill in our contact form or reach us through our social media with a tweet or a post.”
Many thanks to optometrists Dr. John Wilson and Dr. Euan McGinty for taking the time to answer these questions.