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By Carolyn Brown, MS, RD


Do you take an omega-3 supplement? I’m sure many of you answer ‘yes,’ but do you take it daily? Suddenly few hands remain up! The benefits of omega-3’s to heart health aren’t new news but the pro-omega research keeps piling up – so much that even my non-committal self (when it comes to supplements and other things) is making it a point to pop a good quality fish oil capsule daily. A few weeks ago I went on a quick trip to Florida for a PBS taping focused heavily on omega-3’s. Here’s what I learned:

* Be a brainiac: Research has shown that omega-3’s have major brain benefits, from improved mood, concentration, memory, and vision to decreasing symptoms of depression, ADD/ADHD, and bipolar disorders. Low levels of omega-3’s have been associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s and increased brain shrinkage in older adults.

* Digest well: Omega-3’s keep things moving through your digestive tract – they actually act as lubrication. Beyond that, the fatty acids strengthen your intestinal lining and preventing toxins from getting into your bloodstream.

* Bye-bye inflammation: Omega-3’s decrease inflammation – this is major for sufferers of joint pain (arthritis or sports-induced) and those at risk for heart disease (high blood pressure, cholesterol, or triglyceride sufferers).

* Get your weight and blood sugar under control: research has shown that omega-3’s help regulate hormone levels and have beneficial effects on glucose and insulin metabolism – great news for Type 2 diabetics or pre-diabetics. There is also some evidence that omega-3’s can aid in weight loss.

While you can and should get omega-3’s from cold-water fish, nuts, and seeds, in this case extra supplementation seems to be have extreme benefits. Not all fish oil supplements are created equal, so I asked Brenda Watson, the host of the PBS special, what someone should look for in an omega-3 capsule. Here’s what Brenda said:

1. Quality:  Make sure you have a high concentration of omega-3, not just fish oil (fish oil is where the harmful heavy metals are; we want less of that).  Look for a supplement that has 1,000 mg of omega-3 per capsule, not just 1,000 mg fish oil.

2. Delivery:  Make sure your omega supplement is Enteric Coated.  This will ensure it gets into the intestinal tract where it is absorbed and will help heal the gut.

3. Vitamin D:  Make sure it has Vitamin D added.  This will supercharge the omega supplement and help you heal inflammation faster.

4. Purity:  Make sure it is independently certified for purity. The IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards) are the most stringent in the world.

Do you take an omega-3 supplement? Will you join me in popping one daily? No brain shrinkage here!

Photo: Pixland

The opinions expressed in WebMD Second Opinion are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Second Opinion are... Expand


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