Heart Health: The Extraordinary Health Benefits of Essential Fatty Acids

Jon P. Frieda

By Jon P. Frieda

Several times a week, individuals come into visit Neels Pharmacy with questions about fish oil. There are several frequently asked questions. Why do we need to take fish oil? What are EPA and DHA? In what quantity and how often do I need to take a fish oil supplement? The bottom line is that due to our modern western diet of highly refined and processed foods, many Americans do not get enough essential fatty acids in their diet, and are therefore unable to benefit from several preventive health factors that may add healthy years to their lives if daily supplementation is initiated and maintained over time. 

Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that our bodies need on a daily basis. One of the best sources of the essential fatty acids EPA, eicosapentaenoic acid, and DHA, docosahexaenoic acid, is fish. Although you can get essential Omega-3 fatty acids from routinely eating fish, there is the danger of creating mercury toxicity, as well as other bio-toxins to contend with when regularly consumed over time. For example, we compound DMSA, dimercaptosuccinic acid for heavy metal chelation, and we recently dispensed a compounded DMSA for a female patient who was otherwise very active and healthy. As it turns out she has been making herself tuna fish sandwiches every day and eating them for lunch for a couple of years as part of her balanced protein diet. This routine tuna consumption was identified as a significant factor.

Another issue that arises is whether or not the fish you eat contains the EPA and DHA fatty acids in the concentrations needed to provide the therapeutic benefits of fish oil. Depending on the type of fish, it may be necessary to consume large amounts to get any clinically significant benefits. A safer, more predictable, effective and efficient way to get Omega-3 essential fatty acids is in supplement form.

There are many health conditions that can be prevented by the daily intake of Omega-3 essential fatty acids. EPA helps to promote a healthy heart and circulatory system, improves joint flexibility, lowers triglycerides, supports proper immune function, and promotes positive mood and emotional well-being. DHA is essential for healthy brain function, protects the aging mind, supports a healthy pregnancy, promotes good mood and emotional well-being, improves behavior, focus, and learning in children, supports healthy visual, brain and gut development in fetuses and infants, and reduces the harmful effects of epigenetic exposure stress.

When looking for a quality fish oil supplement, many people believe that 1000mg of fish oil per day is sufficient. Actually, it is the concentration of EPA and DHA per serving that constitutes good quality fish oil, not just taking 1000mg per day. It may take several soft gel capsules of a low EPA/DHA 1000mg/serving supplement to equal the same concentration in one soft gel of high EPA/DHA fish oil.

The best Omega-3 fish oil that we can recommend in soft gel form is Orthomega, by Ortho Molecular Products. Orthomega uses only the purest, highest potency, USP verified fish oil ingredients. Also, it is the most highly concentrated formula available in a triglyceride form. Studies comparing fish oil absorption show that re-esterified triglyceride EPA and DHA, the form used in Orthomega, has the highest absorption of all available forms of fish oil. Not only does Orthomega use the triglyceride form, but it also provides 950mg of omega-3s per serving and it is among the highest concentrations of EPA and DHA available, with 430mg of EPA and 390mg DHA per soft gel. Also, the fish oil in Orthomega is processed to prevent oxidation and the presence of fish proteins, eliminating the burping experienced with other fish oils. 

Oxidation and rancidity from extended warehouse storage is a problem for many fish oil producers, but Ortho Molecular maintains short inventory cycles, ensuring the optimal freshness of this product. Finally, this fish oil is molecularly distilled, and tested for heavy metals, pesticides, and contaminants, making it one of the best for patient compliance and getting the desired health benefits.

Most Omega-3 fish oil supplements are a large soft gel, and many people have a hard time swallowing such supplements. The Orthomega Fish oil tastes really clean and fresh with a very slight lemon flavor. All you have to do is put the soft gel in your mouth and chew it up like a gummy bear. This does not resonate with some people, however. 

Fortunately, fish oil is available in liquid form as well and dosed per teaspoonful. For a higher quality EPA/DHA liquid fish oil supplement, look at Arctic Cod Liver Oil by Nordic Naturals. This fish oil is available in several flavors, and contains 410mg of EPA and 625mg of DHA per serving. Purity is a significant concern among fish oil consumers, and similar to Ortho Molecular Products, Nordic Naturals conducts extensive testing to ensure that their products are of the highest quality.

If you are not already taking a daily Omega-3 fish oil supplement, and you would like more information about these and other exceptional health benefiting products that can be used in concert with Omega-3 fatty acids, please do yourself a favor and contact Jon P. Frieda or Patrice N. Frieda at Neels Pharmacy. 314-849-3123. Or stop by the pharmacy and store at #8 Crestwood Executive Center, Crestwood, MO 63126.