Not all Omega 3 Fatty Acids that you can buy over the counter are the same. There are several important factors to look for when buying Omega 3 Fatty Acids from fish oil. Omega 3 fatty acids cannot be made by the human body – they are essential, meaning that they must be consumed in our food. Diets high in Omega 3s have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, arthritis, beast cancer, macular degeneration and dry eye.
Look for a product that is pharmaceutical grade fish oil from the North Sea (unpolluted waters) and has been certified to be free of heavy-metals, dioxins, and PCBs. Many store brand fish oil pills come from China and polluted waters.
The FDA, the American Heart Association and the American Cardiology Association recommend 2-4 grams (2000 – 4000 mg) of Omega 3 daily (in a 3 to 1 ratio of EPA and DHA) for the full, therapeutic effect. Many people who take fish oil only take 300 -1000 mg a day, and this dose is much too low.
Look for Omega 3 fish oil (EPA and DHA) in a “re-esterified triglyceride” form.
Our bodies are able to absorb 25% more Omega 3s in a triglyceride form than a typical serving of fresh fish and 70% more than Omega 3 pills manufactured in an ethyl ester form. Many over-the-counter and prescription fish oil products are in an “ethyl ester” form, including Lovaza, the only FDA approved fish oil product.
Fish oil products in a triglyceride form will have higher absorption in the intestine, allowing you to take a lower dose for the full therapeutic effect, and decreasing the risk of an upset stomach.
Some fish oil products contain other Omega fatty acids, such as Omega 6 and 9. Omega 6 is an “essential fatty acid” meaning that our bodies cannot make it, but it is pro-inflammatory, and the Western diet has an over-abundance of Omega 6, which might be harmful. We should not be taking extra Omega 6. Omega 9 are not essential, meaning that our bodies can manufacture them.
Source (Plant vs. Fish vs. Krill)
Many people ask about Omega 3 from plant sources (such as flax seed.) Omega 3 from plants contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is only partially and slowly converted to EPA and DHA and results in a lower concentration of Omega 3 in your system. Therefore, flax seed and other plant-based sources are lower quality sources of Omega 3s. You need to take much higher dose of flax seed oil to have an effect.
Fish oil has a higher concentration of Omega 3 than krill and there is more research to support the use of fish oil over krill oil. Krill are shrimp-like animals that form an important link in the ocean’s food chain. Over-fishing of Krill is leading to decreased fish stocks and has been banned on the West Coast. Fish oil comes from sardines and anchovies, fish that are abundant and are thus a more sustainable source for Omega 3 production.
We recommend Nordic Naturals and PRN (Physician recommended Nutraceuticals)
Both Nordic Naturals and PRN offer wild-caught fish (anchovies and sardines) from the North Sea, purified Omega 3, and processed into a triglyceride form.
PRN Omega 3 is available by mail. Shipping is free.
You can call to order, 888-776-9144 or it can be ordered on-line.
For patients with dry eyes, we recommend Dry Eye Omega
(667 total Omega 3 — 420 mg EPA, 280 DHA, 100 other Omega 3’s per pill).
The starting dose is 2 pills a day (best taken with food, preferably after a meal with some fat.) Some people will notice an increased benefit after increasing to 4 pills a day (2 with lunch and 2 with dinner.)
Nordic Naturals can be purchased at our office, Whole Foods, Amazon.com and some GNC stores.
We recommend ProOmega 2000.
This new product has a concentrated amount of Omega 3 and delivers more per pill.
(1075 total Omega 3 — 560 mg EPA, 435 DHA, 75 other Omega 3’s per pill).
The recommended dose is 1 pill a day after dinner. Some people will benefit from an increase to 2 pills after meals.
For people who do not like large pills, ProOmega liquid offers 2510mg of Omega 3 (1450 EPA and 1060 DHA) in 1 teaspoon.
The recommended dose of the liquid is one-half teaspoon after meals. Some people will benefit from an increase to a full teaspoon.
Many patients ask us about supplements to help with the health of the retina. The AREDS 2 (Age Related Eye Disease study) found benefit to the retina with Omega 3, and the carotenoids, Lutein and Zeaxanthin.) ProDHA eye has 360 mg of DHA and 845 of DHA and Lutein in the FloraGlo form for better absorption in the body.
For patients who are vegetarian or vegan, we recommend Algae Omega. Algae are aquatic plant-life that are the original source of Omega 3. Algae Omega contains 715 mg in 2 pills (195 EPA, 390 DHA).
We recommend 3 pills a day.