(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los…)
Americans seem to be falling for fish oil supplements -- and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A new survey suggests fish oil pills are the most popular dietary supplement in the country, even over multivitamins.
Fish oil matters because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA and EPA. If you've been paying attention (and the ConsumerLab.com survey indicates that you have), you know fish oil can help maintain a healthy heart and better brain function for starters. MedlinePlus, a key resource from the National Institutes of Health, describes what's inside the glossy pill here:
"Fish oil supplements are usually made from mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut, salmon, cod liver, whale blubber, or seal blubber. Fish oil supplements often contain small amounts of vitamin E to prevent spoilage. They might also be combined with calcium, iron, or vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, or D."
Or you could eat 3.5 ounces of mackerel, tuna, salmon, sturgeon, mullet, bluefish, anchovy, sardines, herring, trout and menhaden (a.k.a., mossbunker, bunker and pogy) to gain 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids.
But figuring out how much fish oil to take can be confusing. For example, MedlinePlus also says scientific research recommends 1 to 4 grams of fish oils a day if your triglycerides are high but 4 grams per day if high blood pressure is the problem.
So how much should you have each day? This Los Angeles Times story says: "Increasing evidence suggests that each type of omega-3 plays a different role. The benefits depend on the amount, one's life stage and specific medical conditions. Such complexity is something that guidelines, at least in the United States, don't yet reflect."
What is clear is that having more fish oil in your diet helps -- and the survey might suggest that we're getting the message. Here's an Orlando Sentinel story that highlights the rest of the survey's findings.