Understanding the true power of fish oil supplements.
Whether you train to compete, or just want to lead a healthy lifestyle, a few basic supplements should be in your daily stack. And a good quality fish oil supplement is one of them. Here’s how to choose, use, and make the most of fish oils.
What Are Fish Oil Supplements?
The name is pretty self-explanatory – fish oil supplements are a convenient (and non-smelly!) way to get the goodness of oily fish in your diet. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, especially EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
Every cell and organ in our body needs a daily supply of omega-3 fatty acids, and our bodies can’t make them. In fact, we need more EFA (by weight) than any other essential nutrient in our diet. Healthy fats help our bodies utilise the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Most food contains a mixture of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and they give different messages to your body’s cells. You need to make sure that the beneficial messages from the omega-3 is heard loud and clear.
Along with ALA (a—linolenic acid), EPA and DHA are essential for cell function. They help regulate our hormones, manage inflammation, and play a role in muscle contraction. But our bodies can’t produce EPA and DHA. They are in oily fish and krill (and, to a lesser extent, in flaxseed, hempseed, and walnuts). Now we’re not sure about you, but we’ve yet to come up with a great krill recipe. And not everyone likes oily fish. Even if you do, it can be tricky to eat enough without tipping yourself into a caloric excess.
This is where fish oil supplements come in useful.
Benefits Of Fish Oil Supplements.
People who train hard take fish oil supplements because DHA and EPA support cell renewal and tackle inflammation. But there’s more. Your cardiovascular system will benefit (taking fish oil supplements can help reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, heart attack and atherosclerosis). Your blood vessels will work better (EPA plays a role in the dilation of blood vessels and the prevention of platelet cells sticking).
Studies also suggest that your muscles, bones, and connective tissue benefit. Fish oil supplements could support bone density, boost bone mineral content, and help reduce joint stiffness. We know that fish oil supplements have a positive effect on inflamed tissue, too, which holds obvious appeal for lifters.
How Much Fish Oil Do You Need?
It’s important to look at the DHA and EPA content of your fish oil supplement. Quality and clear dosage really matters! Aim for a daily dose of 0.6g (6000mg) – 0.9g (9000mg) EPA.
Can’t I Just Eat Oily Fish?
Mackerel, trout, salmon, sardines, and herring will definitely help you meet your DHA and EPA quota. But there are three problems (all are easily tackled by using a supplement).
First, it’s difficult to know exactly how much omega-3 you are getting from your portion of fish. Second, you’d need to eat the exact same amount every day to meet your daily needs. And finally, oily fish is high in calories, not always ideal for someone on a lower intake (or in a cutting phase).
Far easier to take a few fish oil soft gels every day and be sure that your bases are covered. A word to you macro counters: yes, you do still need to count the fat macros in fish oil supplements. But it’s much easier to do that than to weigh out precise portions of fish!
About the Author
Nicola Joyce has been writing for (and about) sport, fitness, nutrition and healthy living since 2004. She’s also a keen sportswoman: her background is in endurance sport but she now competes as a natural bodybuilder, most recently winning a world title with the INBF. When she’s not writing content, she can be found blogging. Follow her here www.nicolajoyce.co.uk and on Facebook & Twitter (@thefitwriter) too.