Fight the effects that aging has had on your brain & body

Fish Oil Supplements, or Not?


By now you've surely heard about the benefits of "essential fatty acids" (EFA's) -- those good-for-you fats rich in Omega-3/EPA/DHA -- the brain-friendly, heart-friendly, longevity-friendly fatty acids found primarily in cold-water fish such as wild salmon, mackerel and sardines, as well as in walnuts, Acai berries, flax seeds, olive oil, and some other foods.

Those of you who've read our BrainReady Blog feature on wild salmon versus farm-raised salmon know that wild-caught fish, and wild salmon in particular, are one of the best sources of these good fats. So it's no wonder that salmon (and some other cold-water fish) has been called a 'brain food' for centuries.

In fact, eating fish rich in Omega-3's is one of the only ways to get enough of these important fatty acids, particularly when it comes to brain health, as our brains are largely made up of fats -- fats that are directed affected by your diet. So if your primary source of fats in your diet are comprised of unhealthy saturated animal and vegetable fats, or even worse, trans-fats which are STILL prevalent in so many snack foods/pasteries/cookies/etc. these days, how do you think your brain is going to operate? And we won't even talk about what those kinds of fats do to the rest of your body.

It's no wonder that study after study continues to show how those whose diets are rich in fish and fish oils consistently have significantly lower incidence of everything from mental diseases, mental deterioration, heart attack and stroke, depression, even wrinkles and skin disorders. Yet despite all of this recent research and findings and news that you've surely heard, our typical convenience-oriented, pop-it-in-the-microwave modern society (particularly in the West) is simply lacking in these all-important brain & health fats -- while being absolutely loaded by comparison with all of those unhealthy fats which have been proven to contribute to everything from mental diseases to heart & artery problems to depression (and pretty much everything in between).

And, even those who at least try to get some salmon or other fish in during the week often don't realize that the fish they're eating may likely be the color-added, farm-raised or polluted variety (hear about the canned tuna findings recently? Scary...we may do a future BrainReady Blog story about it) which may be very low in EFA's as a result, compared to a fish like line-caught Wild King Salmon caught in clean waters. Worse, many people think that just popping some cheap frozen breaded/fried fish fillets in the microwave will do the trick...sad but true! Not all fish are created equal, but more importantly, common sense should kick in when you're wondering about the health benefits of heavily breaded/crusted farm-raised low-quality white fish produced by a 'quantity over quality' frozen seafood conglomerate...

But lest we digress. Okay, so we know that cold-water fish such as wild salmon is not only great stuff, but absolutely essential for optimum brain health, body health, and optimal aging. Many leading health experts and those concerned about age-related decline even go to great pains to try to incorporate wild salmon into their diet, DAILY. Aha, but that's where the problem comes in for most people: not everyone can find wild salmon at their local store (particularly off-season), and certainly, not everyone can afford to be buying expensive wild salmon and other healthy seafood, every day.

Or even once or twice per week.

It's just hard, and we can relate from personal experience, even living in a seafood-abundant place such as Seattle.


Fortunately, this problem has a good, practical and cost-effective solution: supplementation. Yes, getting your EFA's is one area where supplementation with pills DOES make sense, and you know how we generally only recommend taking supplements for those dietary areas where it REALLY makes sense (still, never at the expense of an overall healthy diet of REAL foods).

Despite getting our weekly fresh sushi fix and trying to grill some wild salmon as often as possible, we at BrainReady all take fish oil supplements, daily, to ensure that we get at LEAST 1500mg of Omega-3's and other EFA's each day as part of the daily diet. And fortunately there are several high-quality fish oil supplement products on the market to choose from. But here's a few important things that you should look for before you spend money on another fish oil capsule:

Make sure the fish oil product is certified to comply with California Proposition 65, which requires that there is less than 3ppm for heavy metals (mercury, etc.), and ideally less than 1ppm if possible. This will help ensure that you're not getting any of the toxic chemicals that can unfortunately come along with the larger fish such as tuna.

Molecularly distilled - this process helps to ensure high quality and purity so that you're getting fish oil, and nothing else.

Should contain BOTH EPA and DHA fatty acids, to ensure that both fatty acid types are included and provide balance.

Ideally, the source of the fish oils should come primarily from cold-water, wild-caught fish, and less so from shellfish and other sources.

There are many fish oil products on the market that meet the above criteria. At BrainReady, we've tried (and continue to try) several different ones, and have found a few current faves amongst us which we feel are good enough to recommend and list in the new BrainReady Store (check out the BrainReady Store for more info & links if interested). But you may already have a brand you like or perhaps you've been taking a particular kind for a long time now; if so, it's worth checking to make sure your brand meets or exceeds the above criteria (and you can always check out the brand websites to get more info if your bottle/packaging doesn't list the source of the fish oil, for example).

Regardless, do your best to incorporate healthy fish such as wild salmon, as well as walnuts, olive oil, flax seeds and other known sources of these healthy fats (variety is GOOD!) into your daily diet if possible. There are so many great ways to cook and prepare your fish, that it really should be a labor of love, if you can find it (and afford it).

But if you're not someone who wants to get quite that fishy and oily, supplementation with a high-quality, comprehensive fish oil supplement makes a lot of sense, particularly in a world full of animal-fat, trans-fat, fried vegetable fat-laden foods out there.

Either way: give your brain (and body) what it really WANTS: fishy fats!

- The BrainReady Team

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