Nutrition Spotlight: Fish-oil supplements

By in Nutrition Spotlight

Fish-oil pills are multivitamin supplements composed of two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids are complementary to your diet and can improve your immune system.

Omega-3 fatty acids are not produced by the human body. Therefore, they need to be derived from the foods that we eat. Fish oils are one such source.

Because of how important essential fatty acids are for nutrition, they are linked to many health benefits. Fish-oil supplements can help relieve pain, combating muscle stiffness and aches. Some people have found that this may alleviate the delayed-onset muscle soreness experienced after a workout.

People also take fish oil to treat high blood pressure. Moreover, studies have shown that the EPA present in fish oils can reduce fat levels in people with high amounts of triglycerides — the major form of fat in the body.

Mercury levels in these pills are generally low, as they go through a refinement process. As a general rule of thumb, fish-oil pills sourced from non-predatory cold-water fish are the safest in terms of low mercury content. Finding a Natural Product Number on the package specifies that the product was tested for heavy metals, pesticides and toxins.

As for how much you should consume, Health Canada recommends no more than 3 grams of total fish oil per day — meaning EPA plus DHA. As always, consult a doctor or health professional to find out what considerations may apply to your personal health.

Jenna Leung

Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk / Graphics Editor