Our brains need a steady supply of omega-3 fatty acids to grow and function well.
In addition to an omega-3-rich diet, nutritional supplements of this fatty acid can help children (and adults) get the omega-3s they need. Selecting an omega-3 supplement that’s well sourced, using the highest quality fish oil, makes all the difference in giving your kids the most nutritious, beneficial supplemental omega-3. I’m going to walk you through the process I use and recommend for finding high quality omega 3 supplements.
As parents, we want to give our children the healthiest possible start in life, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Nutrition is a powerful tool to achieve that. Because of their benefits for mental and physical health, omega-3s are an essential dietary source and a popular supplement choice for families.
Picking a supplement can sometimes feel tricky and overwhelming as there are so many options and a lot of loud marketing claims. It can feel tough to cut through the clutter and the noise to identify the best products available for your family.
Here’s what you need to know
Omega-3s are one of the most essential nutritional sources for children and adults. Omega-3 fatty acids, and DHA in particular play a critical role in fueling the growth and development of the brain in early childhood.
During childhood and throughout our lives, omega-3 fatty acids help our brains work properly, fostering the growth and protection of brain cells, and enabling brain cells to communicate effectively. Healthy brain function guides our ability to learn, to think and be creative, to plan and make decisions. Because of their influence over brain function, omega-3 fatty acids can also have an effect on how we regulate and process our emotions and our behavior.
I wrote recently about the importance of DHA for infant brain development and how omega-3s can boost brain health and behavior in children.
Crucial for children
In children, a lack of omega-3s can interfere with healthy brain development, and cause problems with eye development and vision. Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency in kids may contribute to difficulties with learning, as well as to emotional and behavioral issues, including hyperactivity, aggression, lack of focus, anxiety, and depression. Research links low levels of omega-3 fatty acid DHA to neurodevelopmental disorders including autism and ADHD. Research also shows that elevated DHA levels can improve the learning, emotional, and behavioral symptoms of these disorders.
What a fishy tasting Omega 3 means
For parents who are interested in omega-3 supplements for their children, it’s important to make sure you’re selecting the highest quality product—and that starts with high-quality fish oil. Omega-3 supplements made from low-quality fish oil may contain toxins, including mercury, that can be harmful for children’s health. Omega-3s made from low-quality fish oil also tend to taste “fishy,” and often use artificial sweeteners, dyes, and other chemical additives to improve their taste and texture. Supplements made from high-quality fish oil don’t have the same fishy taste, and the best providers will use natural flavors, not artificial ones, to make their products kid-friendly.
When it comes to selecting a supplement, you want a company that is transparent: open and eager to share information about sourcing and producing their omega-3 products. (Of course, the same applies for all your supplements, not only omega-3s!) At every step of the process, from the original fish source to manufacturing and packaging, it’s important to select a company that is fully open about the steps they take to create their products. That’s how you’ll know you’re giving your family the highest-quality supplement.
Supplement companies need to earn our trust. After all, these are products we’re giving to the most important people in our lives: our children. Companies earn our trust not only by adhering to the highest standards but also by being open and transparent about every aspect of how their products are made.
Here’s how to spot a well-sourced omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids travel a long way from the ocean to the supplement aisle. Companies that earn our trust demonstrate transparency at every step in that journey. We can break the process down into three main steps:
Sustainable, “friendly” fishing. Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are natural fatty acids that come from fish oil. Healthy sourcing of omega-3s starts with choosing companies that get their fish from fisheries that are run sustainably. Sustainable fisheries rely on healthy fish stocks and treat the environment with care. That means they can deliver fish oil that’s highest in quality—and that’s what we, as parents, want from omega-3 supplements we give to our families.
Sustainable fisheries are ones that:
• Don’t engage in overfishing, which depletes healthy fish populations
• Don’t employ practices that harm the ocean environment
• Manage their fishing to allow fish populations and the surrounding ocean ecosystem to thrive
• Use energy efficient practices to minimize pollution
• Use environmentally friendly waste management practices
When nutrition and supplement companies rely on sustainable fisheries for their omega-3 fish oil sources, the result is a higher-quality supplement for us as consumers and a better, healthier outcome for our environment.
So, do you have to become an expert in fisheries management to pick a supplement? No—and thank goodness, because I’m not one! Companies that rely on sustainable fisheries for their omega-3 fish oil will be very clear and upfront about telling you so. They know how much it matters. And certification programs allow companies to demonstrate sustainability, by meeting specific, objective criteria. When you’re choosing an omega-3 supplement for your family, look for producers who are transparent about their sourcing and are certified in sustainability.
A rigorous, open manufacturing process. Starting with the highest quality fish oil from sustainable fisheries, the next step is to select supplements made by a company you know uses a manufacturing process with strict standards. Before omega-3s make it from ocean life to the supplement bottle in your kitchen cupboard, they need to go through a manufacturing process that filters and purifies fish oil to make the purest, nutritious supplement possible. That requires a commitment to best manufacturing practices, including rigorous testing, and exacting standards of cleanliness, safety, and quality control.
Transparency matters here, too. Select a supplement company that is open about not just how they source their omega-3s, but how they manufacture their supplements. Manufacturers are also able to be licensed and certified as a demonstration of how rigorous their standards are. Make sure your omega-3 supplement company collaborates with a well-certified manufacturer.
Safety first, last and always. Look for a company that is open and upfront about every step in their manufacturing process, including the stages of packaging a supplement for distribution and sale. As parents, we deserve—and should expect—the highest assurances that the supplements we’re giving our families are safe. That assurance comes from companies who practice transparency and maintain certifications for safety.
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written by Francesca Buongiorno
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in high concentrations in cold water ocean fish such as sardines, anchovies, herring, salmon and mackerel. Research indicates that Omega-3 fish oil promotes an anti-inflammatory response in the body, preventing and improving symptoms of common diseases and ailments. Studies have shown that people who suffer from chronic inflammatory acne may benefit from taking therapeutic doses (1000-1700 mg) of purified omega-3 oils daily. With recent scares regarding the purity of ocean fish, and thereby the safety and efficacy of supplements derived from them, it is a good time to revisit how to go about choosing a high quality fish oil supplement. Use the checklist below to help you select a superior and effective fish oil supplement.
The label is important, so read it. The vital ingredients in fish oil supplements are omega-3 fatty acids, or EPA and DHA. These two fatty acids are the only ones that matter in reducing inflammation and chronic breakouts. The amount of each should be shown separately and should total between 1,000-1,700 mg per serving. There should be a higher ratio of EPA to DHA, about 2:1 or thereabouts. Many labels simply mention the total count of omega-3 fatty acids. This information is not helpful because you don’t know the actual amount of EPA and DHA. Similarly, if the EPA and DHA is stated on the bottle, but in lower amounts, be sure you will be able to take all the capsules necessary to get your daily dosage of 1,000-1,700 mg. Some popular drugstore and health food brands have such a low amount of EPA and DHA that one would have to take 12 capsules just to get the adequate daily amount!
Look for molecularly distilled or pharmaceutical grade fish oil. This should be mentioned on the label. This is the highest grade fish oil because it is molecularly distilled, avoiding oxidation of the fish oil. This is also the only process that successfully removes impurities and contaminants (mercury, dioxins, PCBs, etc.). Lastly, it produces a more concentrated form of fish oil with higher potencies of EPA and DHA, so less capsules to swallow!
Find out some information about the manufacturer. Check out some other products they produce. Do some research to see how long they have been in business and if they have a good reputation. Here is a great website for comparing brands:
Look for capsules that have enteric coating. This coating ensures that the capsules will break down lower in your digestive tract, not in the stomach, minimizing those unpleasant fishy burps that many people experience after taking fish oil supplements.
Look for Vitamin E. Vitamin E helps to prevent oxidation during storage, keeping the oils from turning rancid. Vitamin E will usually be listed under “Other Ingredients” as tocopherols or mixed tocopherols.
By carefully choosing the right fish oil supplement, you optimize the potential benefits that Omega-3 fatty acids can impart to you. Many health practitioners agree there are many benefits to taking a quality fish oil supplement, especially for the immune system, heart, brain and joints. Of special interest to acne sufferers, they may help regulate hormones, minimizing the intensity and duration of inflammatory breakouts. *Please note: Although there is no known toxicity associated with using fish oils over long term, you should check with your physician particularly if you have a chronic underlying illness or are pregnant. According to the FDA, you should not take more than 2,500 mg of Omega-3s daily unless under the recommendation of a physician. Face Reality Acne Clinic carries high quality fish oil supplements; but supplements alone will not get rid of your acne. For more information about how to have clear skin, please visit Face Reality Acne Clinic. © Face Reality Acne Clinic 2019
IWhat Source of Omega 3 Fish Oil Capsule is Best
Not all omega 3 fish oil is created equal. Learn what is important in making your selection.
As eye doctors, we often recommend our patients with dry eyes increase their dietary intake of omega 3 fish oil. Our typical dosage is 2000mg to 3000mg in a combination of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This translates into approximately 4 oz of wild, Atlantic salmon per day. Regardless of how much we like salmon we probably don’t want it every day no matter how many different ways there are to fix it; therefore, omega 3 fish oil capsules are a necessary dietary supplement. Mercury consumption can also be a consideration, especially in the case of farmed salmon. The manufacturing process removes mercury contaminants.
Generally, oily fish such as salmon, anchovy, mackerel, and herring are high in omega 3 fatty acids. It is easy to recommend that we increase the omega 3 fatty acids in our diet due to their many well-documented health benefits in conditions such as dry eye syndrome, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, lowering triglyceride, and cholesterol levels to name a few.
Characteristics of a High-Quality Omega 3 Fish Oil Capsule
high in the omega 3 essential fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) be of a concentrated form (which also removes heavy metals such as mercury) the omega 3 fatty acids should be in the triglyceride form and not the ester form should not taste like fish
Always read the label and look for the amount of EPA and DHA. There may also be some other omega 3 fatty acids in the capsule; however, EPA and DHA will make up the bulk of the omega 3s. At least 50% of the capsule’s weight should be made up of the omega 3 fatty acids.
Concentrated Omega 3 Fatty Acids
If the omega 3 fatty acid content of the capsule is less than 50% then this is not a concentrated omega 3 fish oil capsule and you should find another one. It is important to purchase a concentrated form of omega 3 fatty acids. This concentration process removes the mercury. Also, if the capsule doesn’t contain concentrated omega 3 fatty acids then it is very unlikely you will experience indigestion and “fish burp.” In order to consume a therapeutic level of omega 3 fatty acids, you will have to consume 8 or more capsule, virtually ensuring digestive problems. Furthermore, you should avoid omega 3 capsules with an enteric coating. This is typically a sign that that particular omega 3 fish oil capsule is of low quality. A high-quality omega 3 fish oil capsule should not need a “special coating” in order to make it easier to tolerate.
Triglyceride Form vs Ester Form
This is a very important consideration. The triglyceride form of the omega 3 fatty acids is the same form of omega 3 fatty acids found in fish. An omega 3 fish oil capsule manufacturer may elect to leave their fish oil in the ester form because it is cheaper. During the concentration process the fish oil is converted into the ester form where the fish oil is concentrated, purified and the fish taste is removed. The omega 3 fish oil must then be converted back into the triglyceride form. The triglyceride form is more bio-efficient, after all, it is the same natural form contained in fish. Because of this, our bodies can more readily utilize the triglyceride form of the fatty acids.
The dosage is 2 capsules twice a day which will provide approximately 2200mg of omega 3 fatty acids. For patients with severe dry eye symptoms, they take two capsules three times a day, preferably with meals.
About Total Eye Care
The comprehensive services available from the staff and doctors at Total Eye Care allow us to take care of patients of all ages. We also have an onsite ophthalmic lab to make your glasses quickly and accurately. Our optical keeps almost 1000 frames in stock to fit any face large or small with frames starting at $69. Especially helpful when buying glasses for children is our “bring us the pieces” eyeglass warranty. We are also on all of the major insurance plans.