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!