By Guy Lawrence
Ah the supplement industry, full of hype and claims to attract your attention. Weight gain protein supplements, fat blockers, creatine… the list goes on and on. From my experience though, what actually increases daily performance (whether it be athletic performance or just day to day stuff) is clean living.
I also find self-experimentation a great way to see if supplements actually work. Without undergoing rigorous blood tests etc, most of the time it’s hard to tell whether the pill you pop or supplement you take is actually doing you any favours.
But if there’s one supplement I take without fail, which I truly notice after a few days if I run out and haven’t taken it… it’s fish oil. And here’s why I think it’s liquid gold.
The importance of fatty acids
It never used to occur to me how important essential fatty acids really are. Yes, you’d often here ‘eat your good fats’, but what exactly did that mean? Add extra olive oil on your salad? The more I’ve delved in to understanding fatty acids and increased my daily amount, the more I’ve been consistent and the better I have felt in general.
We’ve all heard of the omega fats. There’s omega 3, 6 and 9. But our western diet is overloaded with omega-6, when it’s actually omega-3’s we need the most of. If you eat a typical western diet there’s a good chance you could be deficient. There are now links with deficiency in essential omega-3 fatty acids to many modern diseases, weight problems, affective disorder and learning disabilities.
What is omega-3 fatty acid?
As simply as I can put it, omega-3 fatty acid is made up of ALA, EPA and DHA (If you want to know what they stand for, click here). We need all three of them. DHA for example, makes up the highest percentage of the fatty acids in the human brain, facilitating visual and cognitive function. Fall short on this stuff and so will your attention span.
There is actually a whole conversion process of ALA to EPA & DHA, within animals and the human body. But I won’t go into it as this will start to read like a science paper, not a blog.
You may be reading this thinking ‘I eat plenty of fish and meat, or drink flaxseed oil’, but here are a few things to consider. When a grass eating animal is fed grains, it changes it’s own fatty makeup to more omega-6 instead of omega-3. I’ve also read that farmed raised fish are devoid of significant omega-3 due to the feed… it certainly makes you wonder.
So what about flaxseed?
Yes, flaxseed is a rich source of omega-3. We even have it in our 180 protein supplement. But I feel plant-based sources of omega-3 like flaxseed and hemp oil won’t cut it alone. Why? From what I’ve researched, these plant based oils are mainly a source of ALA. There is minimal EPA and DHA, all three are ‘essential’ to the body. So if you are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and you are supplementing it through plant-based oils, you are not getting the complete profile.
And for vegetarians and vegans? I’d be researching this topic very thoroughly as it’s vitally important.
Make no mistake, omega-3’s are essential to the body. They are vital for normal electrical functioning, cardiovascular system, your immune system, joints, all anti-inflammatory processes, function of the human brain and nervous system. See the importance?
And from an athletic performance? Fish oil should be the first supplement you take after your workout, along with your food or protein supplement or whatever it is you do. I’ll take about 3000mg after my workout usually to aid inflammation and speed recovery. I usually work out in the evening, and along with this I’ll take 2000mg in the morning when I get up.
Which fish oil should I take?
I always try to get practitioner only fish oil as I have more faith in the quality of the oil.
Krill oil is another exceptional fish oil where you will get more bang for your buck. But expect to pay more for this. I’m also a fan of the brand Metagenics, but again this stuff is pricey. So I guess it depends on where your priorities lie.
I also take cod liver oil along with fish oil. I buy this in liquid form which you can get infused with lemon. It’s palatable like this and a must for me. The plain raw stuff makes me gag. I put it in my smoothie once and I thought I was drinking a sardine shake! But I take it in the infused lemon liquid form as this is more potent and drinkable. I will take a dessert spoonful every morning.
Why do I take both? I look at cod liver oil more as a vitamin A and vitamin D supplement, as they are rich in both. Also the fatty acids are there but the make up is a little different to fish/krill oil. So I like to cover both bases.
Take the fish oil test
Have you tried the fish oil test? This is a great tip! When you open a new bottle, literally take a capsule and chew it up.
It should taste fairly bland. If it tastes a little bit acidic, rancid or nasty, it’s probably been oxidized. If this is the case, don’t use it—return it or throw it away
And the dosage?
I guess that will depend on whether you are deficient or you are maintaining. I split the dosage between each end of the day. I take 2000mg (2 x 1000mg capsules) in the morning with breakfast, and 3000mg after exercise in the evening. Along with this I will take a dessert spoon of cod liver oil in the morning as well.
Current research shows in the area of human longevity and life extension recommends up to 3000mg of fish oil a day for maintenance. When related to more serious cases like mood disorders or bipolar disorders, depression or ADHD etc, up to 10,000mg a day can be needed!
If you want to learn more about this, a great book that goes into it thoroughly is Nora Gedgaudas – Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet. A fantastic read.
Do you take fish oil? How much? When? What are your thoughts? Would love to hear from you…
On a side note: I truly enjoy writing these posts, hence our frequent blog posts. At the end of the day though, these are just my thoughts and feelings around a topic I’m passionate about. I encourage everyone to do their own research and check out the facts for themselves.
If you did enjoy the post and got something from it or have something to share on the topic, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. If you feel others would benefit from this then it would be great if you could share it using one of the icons below (Facebook etc). Cheers, Guy…