The worst “drags” are those that you’re unaware of, especially when you are honestly trying to do your best with healthy fuel and supplements. This week, here’s what I’m talking about: Fish Oil supplements with very little fish oil, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in them. Like wolves in sheep’s clothing, these “dressed” up and rather pricey supplements are usually the ones that taste like candy (for kids, adults, pregnant women, etc) – if your fish oil doesn’t taste a tiny bit like fish, something’s fishy. But, sometimes it’s not so obvious. Sometimes, regular looking fish oil capsules can be so under-concentrated that it takes 8 or more softgels per day to get in enough. And now, your 90-count $30 bottle of supplements will last you about 10 days. What a drag!
Before we discuss how to get the best fish oil for your money, how much DHA and EPA should you be taking? In general, I recommend 1000-2000 milligrams (in combination) of DHA/EPA for adults and teens, and 500 mg for 2-12 years olds. The ranges depend on how much fatty fish is eaten during the week; if 12 oz. per week, 1000 mg DHA/EPA per day is adequate, if no fatty fish, I recommend the full 2000 mg DHA/EPA for adults. And, while I won’t go into ALL the benefits of DHA and EPA for your body, if suffices (for this post) to say that it’s extremely important for health to increase levels of these omega-3s in the body. And, for endurance athletes, it could very well decrease fatigue and general cellular inflammation.
Now, let me show you what I mean about the pricing and concentration using 2 brands I like, one higher-priced, and one generic (you do need to be picky with fish oil brands) . These prices come from the one of the lowest cost supplement sources of which I know:
- Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega (adult) = $59, 2 softgels per day for 1100 mg DHA/EPA per day. One bottle supplies 180 softgels or 90 servings. So, $59 provides a 3 month supply, at ~$20/month.
- Nordic Naturals Children’s Chewables = $36, 4 chewables = 200 mg DHA/EPA, so you need 10 chewables per day for 500 mg. One bottle supplies 360 softgels = 36 servings. For 500 mg DHA/EPA per day, $36 provides a 1 month supply.
- Vitacost Omega-3 Gummies for Kids = $7, 1 gummy = 25 mg DHA/EPA (are you kidding me?!?). So, it will take 20 gummies per day, and your bottle will last 3 days. This is just the kind of “drag” that gets me fired up! Just $70 per month for these little fish oil candies (and, I normally like this brand).
So now, to the good stuff. Since money doesn’t grow on trees, here’s a tip: Take fish oil in the liquid form. Yuck! Oh, I know, doesn’t sound so good, right? Well, most liquid fish oil has antioxidants and natural lemon flavors added both to improve the taste and protect the oils so they actually make it to your bloodstream. It’s readily absorbed. And, despite many claims, I find much less fishy-burp side effects with a good quality liquid than softgels. And by using my “Mary Poppin’s” trick, you (and even your kids) will look forward to a spoonful of fish oil each day.
1. Using organic (and/or raw & unfiltered), draw a circle of honey on a spoon. The honey will actually provide extra antioxidants to protect the oil, enzymes and antioxidants and increase absorption, and a great taste!
2. Fill the circle with liquid fish oil.
3. Take it straight off the spoon because “just a spoonful of honey helps the medicine go down…”
4. If you do experience any fishy burps or stomach upset, try dividing the dose into 2 doses at different times of day.
Some liquid fish oil details:
- Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Purified Fish Oil = $38.2, 1 tsp = 1375 mg DHA/EPA. One 16 oz. bottle supplies 96 tsp. So, adults can take 3/4 tsp per day for 1000 mg DHA/EPA at $9.50 per month; and, children can take approximately 1/3 tsp per day for 500 mg DHA/EPA at $4.80 per month.
- Vitacost Finest Fish Oil = $19.50, 1 tsp = 1300 mg DHA/EPA. One 16.9 oz. bottle supplies 100 tsp. So, adults can take ~3/4 tsp per day for 1000 mg DHA/EPA at $4.25 per month; and, children can take approximately 1/3-1/2 tsp per day for an average of 500 mg DHA/EPA at $2.40-$3.00 per month.
Here’s some criteria for picking a good fish oil:
- Choose fish oil made from small fish such as anchovies, sardines, and krill.* The 2 liquid brands above list “Other Ingredients: Purified deep sea fish oil (from anchovies and sardines), natural lemon flavor, d-alpha tocopherol, rosemary extract” and “Other Ingredients: Fish oil (sardine, anchovy), natural lemon flavor, natural tocopherols,” respectively.
- Choose fish oil with added antioxidants such as lemon components, rosemary, etc.
- Avoid fish oils with strong odors (may be rancid).
*Of note, krill is another option for fish oil, and some studies have shown increased absorption from krill – so, the dose may be sufficient at 30-50% of fish oil. Krill has a natural antioxidant that protect the oil. Additionally, emulsified preparations may enhance absorption.
Lastly, know how to read the label. Since different fish have different percentages of DHA and EPA in their oil, the mg of fish oil is different than the mg of DHA and EPA. You must turn the supplement bottle around and look at the nutrition label to see these amounts. And, note the serving size!
This week, let’s drop the candy-coated brightly colored fish oil with hardly any fish oil in them. Get the omega-3s you need. All of them.
Give your body what it needs for great energy and health every day and during training with the right Foods, Drinks and Supplements. If you would like my help with it, I offer comprehensive plans as Instant Downloads and as Custom Clients starting at just $20. And, as a FuelRightBlog reader, get a further discount with coupon code: password-frblog username-reader. I’d love to work with you!
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