Fish oils, also known as omega 3 fatty acids, are polyunsaturated fats that are essential for human health. These healthy fats are anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is associated with degenerative conditions including cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, arthritis, and dementia. Omega 3 fatty acids also offer protection against depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The American Heart Association recommends 3000 milligrams of fish oil everyday for the prevention of heart disease. Therapeutic doses are much higher around 8300 mg of fish oil.
Good food sources of omega 3 fatty acids include flaxseed and cold water fish such as mackerel, sardines, herring, trout, and salmon. Unfortunately, due to environmental pollution, eating a lot of fish can lead to a build up of toxins in your body. A diet of two to three servings of cold water fish each week and taking a high quality fish oil supplement is the safest way to reach appropriate levels of omega 3 fatty acids. High quality fish oils are processed by molecular distillation which gets rid of the toxins in the oil. It is difficult as a consumer to know the quality of fish oil because the supplement industry is unregulated.
If you have questions about the quality of fish oil, you can call the manufacturer and ask for a certificate of analysis from a third party lab that reports levels of heavy metals, PCBs, or dioxins. As always, consult your healthcare provider when making decisions about your health.