Scientists were first alerted to the many benefits of fish oils in the early 1970s when Danish physicians observed that Greenland Eskimos had an exceptionally low incidence of heart disease and arthritis despite the fact that they consumed a high-fat diet. Intensive research soon discovered that two of the fats (oils) they consumed in large quantities, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), were actually highly beneficial. More recent research has established that fish oils (EPA and DHA) play a crucial role in the prevention of atherosclerosis, heart attack, depression, and cancer. Clinical trials have shown that fish oil supplementation is effective in the treatment of many disorders including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, ulcerative colitis, and Raynaud's disease.
An enormous amount of medical literature testifies to the fact that fish oils prevent and may help to ameliorate or reverse atherosclerosis, angina, heart attack, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Fish oils help maintain the elasticity of artery walls, prevent blood clotting, reduce blood pressure, stabilize heart rhythm and help combat inflammation. There is also considerable evidence that fish oil consumption can reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer and help slow down their progression. Daily supplementation with fish oils has been found effective in preventing the development of colon cancer and has also been found to help combat depression.
It is abundantly clear that consuming a diet rich in oily fish or alternatively, supplementing with fish oils is one of the most important steps one can take to ensure vibrant and lasting health. HOWEVER, pollution of fresh water lakes and even the oceans is now so extensive that a growing number of species should not be consumed regularly as they contain large amounts of mercury and other industrial pollutants. Fresh, wild pacific salmon is still an excellent source of safe fish oil, but if that is not available then a high quality fish oil is the answer to ensuring that daily needs for EPA and DHA are met.
Only fresh, highly purified fish oils (molecular distilled, pharmaceutical grade) stabilized with vitamin E should be consumed. Low quality oils are unstable and may contain significant amounts of mercury, pesticides, and undesirable oxidation products. If in doubt about the freshness of a product cut open a capsule and smell the contents. If you detect a rancid smell don't use the product.
Recognizing the unique benefits of EPA and DHA and the widespread deficiency in the general population the US National Institutes of Health recently recommended a daily intake of at least 650 mg of EPA+DHA. Supplementing with fish oils has been found to be entirely safe even for periods as long as 7 years and no significant adverse effects have been reported in hundreds of clinical trials using as much as 18 grams/day. Fish oil supplementation may, however, lower blood concentrations of vitamin E so it is a good idea to ensure an adequate intake of this vital vitamin when adding fish oils to your diet.
Here then are my favourite fish oil products.