For PEAK DAILY HEALTH, a fish oil concentrate provides highly absorbable omega-3 fats that are essential for mood support; joint mobility and reducing inflammatory aches or pain; for healthy skin and hair; boosting good cholesterol; and for heart and eye protection. Whole fish oil is poorly absorbed, and a concentrate gives better blood levels with fewer pills, without a fishy after-taste.
High levels of omega-3 fats are naturally found in the human brain and eye, and reproductive organs and spermatozoa. These crucial omega-3 fatty acids are an integral part of every cell membrane throughout the body, and they are required for membrane cell receptors to function. All cells are wrapped in a membrane that acts as a selective barrier to regulate passage of nutrients and waste in and out of the cell. The membrane is made of fatty acid phospholipids and cholesterol, which serves a very important function.
Each new cell will try to form its membrane with generous and optimal amounts of omega-3 fats. If these are lacking, the membrane will include saturated or other fats. But cell membranes lacking omega-3 lipids are impaired: they are less fluid, and less able to function as a vital barrier. They fail at keeping electrolytes, water, and vital nutrients within the cell; and they cannot efficiently communicate with other cells or fully receive regulating hormones such as insulin or thyroxine from the thyroid gland. Homeostasis that should maintain stable conditions within tissues, is then compromised.
Equally important, omega-3 fatty acids are building blocks for prostaglandins, body mediators with widespread functions. Various types of prostaglandins help control inflammation, allergic reactions, immunity, and cardiovascular functions such as blood pressure, platelet stickiness and clot risk, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and more.
Omega-3 oils promote the pathway that forms the beneficial prostaglandin 2 series and the inflammation-calming leukotrienes. Omega-3’s also bind to cell receptors that regulate genetic function. It is through the helpful influence on membranes and prostaglandin balance that omega-3 fats have their widespread beneficial actions. Disturbance of membrane quality and prostaglandin balance underlie most disorders related to omega-3 deficiency.
The term ‘omega-3’ refers to the chemical structure of these fatty acids, and the location of its double bonds. Omega-3s are a specific type of long-chain unsaturated fats. The key fact is that our bodies cannot make omega-3 fatty acids: they are essential fats that we must consume to reap wide-ranging benefits for optimal mood, brain and eye function, muscle and joint health, and immune support. Because we cannot produce omega-3s ourselves, we need to ingest them in the richest form possible.
Only small amounts of omega-3 fats are found in foods. The main dietary sources in the animal kingdom include oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines; and organic cold-pressed flaxseed oil in the vegetable kingdom. The main omega-3s in fish oil are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), while the omega-3 in plant sources is mainly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). In the body, plant-derived ALA is converted into an active omega-3 form.
Too many people lack these crucial healthy fats. Omega-3s are often lacking in our meals because in the standard Western diet, omega-6 oils and saturated fats predominate, replacing food sources of omega-3s. The human body’s genetic patterns are established on a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 and omega-9 fats are not essential: they can be made in the human body, and they are found in many foods including olive and other vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, eggs and legumes. However, omega-3 fatty acids are essential, and those we cannot produce ourselves; we need to ingest them in the richest forms possible. The standard present-day diet with a distorted ratio high in saturated and trans-fats and omega-6s may contribute to numerous diseases.
For peak daily health, omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory, which protects against many degenerative conditions linked with inflammation. Studies have shown that increased levels of omega-3 fats help to prevent many disorders including cardiovascular disease. Fish oil concentrate may reduce c-reactive protein, a key blood marker for heart risk. It also lowers risk factors associated with heart disease by increasing levels of ‘good’ high-density cholesterol, lowering triglycerides, reducing blood pressure, deterring plaque formation in artery linings, and reducing abnormal heart rhythms.
A comprehensive meta-analysis of 38 studies over a span of 30 years supported dietary guidelines that encouraged fish oil consumption for all for people with or at a high risk of cerebrovascular or coronary heart disease.2 Fish oil concentrate cuts the risk of tiny blood clots and platelet clumping, both of which are risks for heart attacks and strokes.
Flexibility of artery walls or arterial elasticity is improved by omega-3 fatty acids, meaning that arteries stretch easily to accommodate fluctuations in blood pressure. Researchers at the Medical Defense College in Tokyo discovered that subjects with abnormal lipid levels taking 3g of both EPA and DHA, the two main omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, daily for seven weeks experienced major improvements in arterial elasticity, compared with men who took a placebo.5
For joints and connective tissues, a fish oil concentrate can also reduce the risk and progression of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, as indicated by research since at least 2002. A review of these studies has shown that the optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids may vary with the disease and with genetic predisposition.1 Conditions such as mixed connective tissue disorders, lupus, inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune conditions can benefit from the anti-inflammatory effect of fish oil concentrate.
The nervous system can profoundly benefit from generous amounts of fish oil concentrate. The brain is nearly 60% fat, including myelin that wraps around nerve sheaths, and much of this is composed of omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, omega-3s are nutritive to the brain and nervous system, and essential for normal brain function. Supplementation with an omega-3 fat concentrate can improve mood because of its well-known anti-depressant effect.
The production of uplifting neurotransmitters like dopamine are boosted by fish oil concentrate. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for healthy brain cell fluidity, so that transmitters can be released, and nutrients can enter brain cells efficiently. Omega-3 oils can ease emotional stress and have antidepressant actions. The omega-3 fats in fish oil concentrate can help us cope better with stress and reduce its associated symptoms, and they can strengthen the brain and central nervous system. High blood pressure is aggravated by stress, and omega-3 fatty acids help keep blood pressure in check.
Research indicates that fish oil concentrate can prevent the onset or improve the symptoms of some serious mental disorders. Psychiatry research in 2010 investigated the use of omega-3 fats for reducing major psychotic episodes. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial in Austria studied 81 patients for a year. Those given omega-3s had significantly fewer symptoms of psychotic disorder.3
Interestingly, studies looking at the implication of aging and brain function found that people who eat more fish and higher amounts of fish oil have slower age-related mental decline.4 The eyes also rely on omega-3 fats, as they include similar tissues to the brain. Evidence supports the protective effect of consuming a fish oil concentrate on eye health, visual acuity, and macular vitality.5
For men, fish oil concentrate can boost production of testosterone by increasing luteinizing hormone, which triggers cells in the testicles to make testosterone. Testosterone levels slowly decline naturally as men age. Low testosterone can cause poor muscle strength and tone, and a decline in mood, sleep, libido, as well as sexual function. Reproductive health and ample sperm count also require omega-3 fatty acids.
In our clinic we prefer a pure concentrate of fish oil because it gives much higher absorption of omega-3 oils than standard fish oil pills. The concentrate has no fishy after-taste, requires far fewer pills, and is therefore more economical. Because of its ultra-high absorption, more of the essential omega-3 fats enter the body than with regular whole fish oil, and so far fewer capsules are needed to attain good tissue levels of omega-3 fats. Two or three fish oil concentrate capsules daily are ample; and are the equivalent of two tablespoons of whole fish oil, which would translate to about eight to ten regular fish oil pills.
Patients taking a daily concentrate of fish oil observe that they have less joint pain or muscle stiffness, cheerier moods, stronger hair and healthier skin, and over time they experience stable eye and macular exams, improved ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reduced inflammatory blood markers such as C-reactive protein.
Recommendation: Concentrate of omega-3 fish oil 1,000 to 2,000mg daily, with any meals, or as directed by your healthcare provider.
- Simopoulos, Artemis P. “The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids.” Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy 56.8 (2002): 365-379.
- Chowdhury, Rajiv, et al. “Association between fish consumption, long chain omega 3 fatty acids, and risk of cerebrovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis.” Bmj 345 (2012): e6698.
- Amminger, G. Paul, et al. “Long-chain ω-3 fatty acids for indicated prevention of psychotic disorders: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial.” Archives of general psychiatry 67.2 (2010): 146-154.
- Nurk, Eha, et al. “Cognitive performance among the elderly and dietary fish intake: the Hordaland Health Study.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 86.5 (2007): 1470-1478.
- Merle, Bénédicte MJ, et al. “High concentrations of plasma n3 fatty acids are associated with decreased risk for late age-related macular degeneration.” The Journal of nutrition 143.4 (2013): 505-511.