Learn to Read the Label: What to Look for When Choosing an Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplement

Omega-3 fish oil supplement labels can be very deceiving. This video explains how to choose the appropriate fish oil supplement.

Get more info on the world’s most potent omega-3 fish oil supplement at vitalremedymd.com

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Choosing an Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplement

woman on beachI believe one of the keys to enjoying a long and healthful life is a daily program that includes diet, exercise and a regimen of appropriate vitamins, supplements and doctor prescribed medications.

Today I’d like to examine the process of evaluating omega-3 fish oil supplements – products that I believe can enhance and maintain one’s health, and in particular one’s heart health, by potentially reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.

The American Heart Association recommends that individuals with heart disease consume 1000 mg of combined EPA and DHA each day. For those patients who need to lower triglycerides, the AHA recommends 2 to 4 grams of EPA and DHA daily, provided as an omega-3 fish oil supplement in capsule form, under a physician’s care.

With the growing proliferation of omega-3 fish oil products on the market it’s becoming more vital than ever to be an educated consumer. Here are 5 simple things to look for when evaluating a fish oil supplement.

Get the proper dose of EPA and DHA
Choose a fish oil supplement that provides your target dose of combined DHA and EPA (not ALA, omega-6s, or omega-9s). It’s unfortunate that many supplements claim they contain ‘1000 mg fish oils’; a broad term that often misleads consumers who presume the product contains 1000 mg of essential omega-3s, DHA and EPA.

Look for a fish oil capsule that provides the 3:1 ratio of DHA to EPA that replicates the ratio typically found in healthful fish, such as salmon.

Choose a capsule with enteric coating
Choose a capsule that features enteric coating which enhances absorption and typically eliminates any fishy burp or aftertaste. Rosemary extract and vitamin C may be added for superior antioxidant protection.

Choose a purified product
Search out a supplement that has been refined through a process like supercritical fluid technology — a process that gently extracts omega-3s to produce highly concentrated DHA and EPA while most effectively removing contaminants (PCBs, dioxins, furans, and mercury). Also, look for supplements whose manufacturer is certified by international organizations like EMAS, the European standard for environmental care, or similar organizations.

Keeping it green
Choose a fish oil product made from small, non-endangered species of wild fish, such as anchovies, sardines and mackerel, as opposed to those that may be harvesting endangered or over-harvested larger species. Smaller fish also contain fewer toxins that increase in the flesh of larger predatory fish.

Read That Label
Don’t be fooled by labels that claim “1000 mg Fish Oils” but often contain only 30% of the healthful omega-3s, DHA+EPA. The remaining 70% is unnecessary fat. Study the label’s Supplements Facts. How much DHA and EPA are in one serving? How many soft gels make one serving? You might be surprised to learn that you must take 2, 3, or 4 soft gels to get a full 1000 mg of DHA and EPA. If that’s the case, you are getting too much unwanted fat (which can even translate into unintended weight gain).

In sum, be careful about everything you consume. The old adage, “you are what you eat” is definitely true.

Related: Finding the Right Doctor for You

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Read the Label: A Cautionary Tale

Read the label. Good advice if you know what to look for. Most of us have learned to examine a nutrition label and pay attention to calories, saturated fat content, sugars, sodium, and the latest hot topic for good reason, trans fats. But, that’s old news. When it comes to nutritional supplements you owe it to yourself to learn more.

It used to be that if you ate a healthful diet, you might say that you didn’t need nutritional supplements, but we now know that’s not accurate. Research shows that 80 to 90 percent of the population does not achieve the recommended daily value (RDV) for each vitamin and mineral each day, nor do they even come close. In fact, marginal nutritional deficiencies are present in as much as 50 % of the non-multivitamin-mineral using population. And, keep in mind that RDV levels for each nutrient are only intended to guard against severe nutrient deficiency diseases like scurvy (vitamin C) or beriberi (vitamin B1), but are not intended to serve as levels of vitamin and mineral intake that are optimal in regard to supporting biological functions, preventing degenerative diseases and maximizing our well-being and longevity. Consider the new bottom line: commit to a high quality multivitamin-mineral supplement that provides 100% of the RDV which is intended to be a good base. Then build on that strong foundation with good dietary choices incorporating a variety of foods aimed to achieve even higher levels of vitamins and minerals that are optimal for supporting biological functions, preventing degenerative diseases and maximizing our well-being and longevity.

The following examples looking at several of the most frequently used supplements will give you some idea of what you need to look for in a product. VitalRemedyMD provides top quality pharmaceutical grade supplements that are independently assayed for content, quality and purity. All formulations are designed by Dr. Seth Baum; based on sound scientific evidence and clinical experience, incorporating ongoing research findings when they deserve merit. VitalRemedyMD provides you the peace of mind of knowing that you are receiving products that reflect state of the art in science with unsurpassed quality and safety.

The daily multivitamin-mineral

A daily multivitamin-mineral supplement is essential in addition to a healthful varied diet, avoiding processed foods and fast foods that are either lacking in nutritional value or are flat out working against you to promote better health. It is not necessary to customize a daily multi; it should simply provide the vitamins and minerals truly proven essential to human health in a balanced formulation that provides 100% of the daily recommended value (RDV).

Some of the more common problematic nutritional deficiencies include vitamin B12, magnesium (Mg), calcium and vitamin D. Symptoms of low levels of vitamin B12 may present as subtle cognitive and neurological changes; more serious shortages can result in dementia or anemia because B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. Dietary sources are animal derived: meat, fish, poultry, and to a lesser degree, eggs and milk products. Vegetarians can eat tempeh made of fermented soybeans (the bacteria produce B12). The RDV set by the FDA is 6 mcg.

Magnesium is required for 350 enzymes in the body to function, and for healthy maintenance of bones, arteries, heart, nerves, and teeth. A staggering 80% of the population is deficient in this mineral! Dietary sources include dark green vegetables, nuts seeds, and whole grains. The RDV is 400 mg.

Central to the prevention of osteoporosis is adequate daily intake of calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, copper and zinc which work together to strengthen bones. Calcium is essential for bones as well as teeth, blood and muscle contraction. Dietary sources include tofu, sardines, salmon, broccoli, kale, grains, nuts, and seeds. The RDV is 1,000 mg; taken in divided doses of 500mg or less. Vitamin D is essential for absorption of calcium in the body; the RDV is 600 mg. Requirements for calcium and vitamin D are higher in adolescents and the elderly.

A note on vitamin A: it can come from retinol (often called vitamin A palmitate or acetate) or from beta-carotene, or a combination of both. The label should specify. Optimally, vitamin A would be supplied as beta-carotene since the body can convert it to vitamin A on an as needed basis and high levels of retinol have been linked with weaker bones.

Look for things like USP Pharmaceutical Grade Quality products, chelated minerals which enhance absorption and bioavailability, natural color coating which avoids lead and other toxins, and independent assays to ensure safety, purity and content. Vitamin E should be should be natural (specified as d-alpha/mixed Tocopherols) NOT synthetic (dl-alpha Tocopherols). The natural form of vitamin E is better absorbed and retained by the body, but because it is more expensive it may be substituted by synthetic alternatives. Lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes, is often added to a daily multi because of its association with cardiovascular and prostate health. Studies have shown these benefits with doses of 6 mg daily.

Finally, don’t take “one-a-day” multivitamin-mineral formulas seriously; you simply can’t pack in decent amounts of all the necessary nutrients in one tablet or capsule. A good product cannot be packaged in less that 2-4 tablets per day, taken in divided doses with two meals. Many of these details will of course increase the cost of the product, but as an educated consumer you will know just why it may be worth it.

The Essential Fatty Acids: Omega-3s

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) have become best known for their anti-inflammatory effects associated with decreased risk of inflammation based degenerative diseases (like arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, migraine headaches, heart disease and cancer. EFAs belong to a class of healthful lipids known as polyunsaturated fatty acids and are unfortunately consumed far less than unhealthy fats in the typical American diet. Polyunsaturated EFAs include omega-3s, omega-6s, omega-7s, and omega-9s. These occur naturally in vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, seeds, and various animal sources. Popular sources of omega-3s include fish oil, flaxseed, and hemp, while omega-6 supplements are frequently sourced from evening primrose oil, black currant, and borage. Meanwhile omega-7s are present in palm kernel oil and coconut oil, and omega-9s occur naturally in avocado oil and olive oil.

The omega-3s are comprised by alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) abundant in nuts, flaxseed, and vegetable oils is converted in the body into two other omega-3s derived from marine sources (fish oils): docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Omega-3s and omega-6s must be consumed in a certain ratio for optimal health. An excess of omega-6s promotes the pathogenesis of cardiovascular, cancerous, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Because the average American diet provides a greater amount of the omega-6s we need to supplement our intake of the omega-3s. Because of the heart protective benefits of omega-3s DHA and EPA the American Heart Association currently recommends that people with coronary heart disease consider 1,000 mg of combined EPA and DHA daily.

When you compare VitalRemedyMD’s VitalOils with others ask the following:

  • Does it contain 1,000 mg combined EPA and DHA; not just 1,000 mg “fish oils”?
  • Do I need to take more than 1 soft gel to achieve that goal?
  • How does the cost compare based on the amount of EPA and DHA?
  • What is the source of oils? (small ocean fish are optimal)
  • Do they talk about enhanced purification using supercritical fluid technology?
  • Are soft gels enteric coated to enhance absorption and eliminate indigestion?
  • Is the product independently assayed for content accuracy and purity?

The JOINT Formulas

Did you know that each knee can bear up to four times your body weight? As strong as it is, injuries occur commonly, both from overuse and from under use. Be proactive and prevent injury by maintaining appropriate body weight and exercising 3-4 times a week. Begin with at least 10 minutes of cardiovascular activity like a stationary bike with the seat positioned so that your leg is almost fully extended on the down pedal, or the elliptical machine which allows for a challenging aerobic workout at a variety of levels while minimizing direct impact to the knee joint. Appropriate stretching should follow along with a few exercises that target the quadriceps and hamstrings and surrounding muscles that stabilize the knee. Seek out a personal trainer for advice on a regimen that suits your needs and capability.

Formulations that include glucosamine and chondroitin flood the market. If you pay careful attention to a few key points when choosing a product, you will find out how beneficial they can be. Studies have shown benefit, including both reduced symptoms and decreased joint space narrowing on x-ray exam with the sulfate forms of these supplements (not HCL). In our experience our formulation has been most effective for arthritis involving knees and hands, usually within 1-3 months; it must be taken at the correct dosage as directed.
Look for:

  • Sulfate form of glucosamine (NOT HCL); daily dose of 1500 mg
  • Chondroitin sulfate 1200mg daily
  • Addition of omega-3s DHA and EPA for their anti-inflammatory effect
  • Additional vitamins and minerals that are essential for maintenance of healthy cartilage and joints, including: B6, E, C, B5, zinc, and copper
  • Enteric coating for increased absorption

The EYE Formulas

Are you looking for a nutritional supplement created to support eye health? Go to any supermarket or health food store, or do an on-line search and you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed by choices. Some popular companies even have six or seven of their own products for you to consider. Which one should you chose? As Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the western world, most ocular formulations focus on this disorder. We at VitalRemedyMD have spent two years analyzing the medical literature in order to produce the safest and most scientifically validated formulation for preserving eye health: RetinGuard®.

Many small studies that have evaluated nutrition and supplementation for maintaining eye health, but one that has caught the eyes of many people is AREDS (Age Related Eye Disease Study). This trial was published in 2001, and found that individuals with advanced macular degeneration had a 25% reduction in the progression of disease when taking a high dose antioxidant and mineral formulation. As there were a number of worrisome “issues” with the consumption of such high dose supplementation, AREDS II, an ongoing re-examination of this matter, has altered the doses of key ingredients in an attempt to establish optimal effective dosage ranges. Thus, in formulating RetinGuard™ both AREDS and AREDS II had to be duly thought-out. Another major trial to be considered was LAST (Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial). In this study, lutein (10 mg daily) was found to significantly halt the progression of AMD in study participants.

  • Beta-carotene is not necessary since beta-carotene is found only minimally in the retina and because of the association with lung cancer in smokers at higher doses.
  • Lutein 10 mg and zeaxanthin/ mesozeaxanthin (4 mg/6 mg) in a 1:1 ratio as they are found naturally in the retina; these carotenoids function to protect our eyes from damaging sunlight.
  • NAC a precursor for glutathione, which itself is poorly absorbed, protects against free radicals.
  • Vitamin C 500 mg
  • Natural vitamin E 100 IU
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2) 3.4 mg for maintaining eye health
  • Zinc/Copper 25 mg/ 2 mg in proper ratio; important for maintaining eye health, but at lower doses than AREDS I because of untoward side-effects at higher doses
  • Pure USP Pharmaceutical Grade Quality Independently assayed by FDA registered laboratories for safety and purity

Visit vitalremedymd.com for more preventive healthcare solutions.

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