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Benefits of Omega-3

Omega-3 Supplements (Fish Oil)

Omega-3s are a type of fatty acids that are considered “essential”.  This means that they have to be consumed in food or supplements, because our bodies cannot produce them.

Most scientists and health professionals agree that omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil) provide an array of health benefits, such as:

However, like any nutritional product on the market today there are good and bad ones. Fish oil is no exception. With a bad one you may be unwittingly introducing substances into your body that you do not want, for example: mercury, PCBs or even increasing your load of free radicals. You may also only be getting minimal anti-inflammatory benefits - or even none at all.

Types of fish oil

When assessing how 'natural' fish oil is, it is important to know about the different forms currently available on the market:

Natural fish oil comes in a triglyceride form. This is the oil that you get when you 'squeeze' the fish and extract the natural oil from it. The drawback from this particular form of fish oil is that it usually has low overall omega-3 content because it's not concentrated and generally has high levels of contaminants such as heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins, etc.

Ethyl ester oil occurs when you take natural triglyceride oil and concentrate it whilst molecularly distilling the oil to eliminate impurities. The concentration process cannot take place until the natural triglycerides are converted to an ester form. The ester form is still in a semi-natural state because it is the result of a process that naturally occurs in the body to allow for bio-availability. It's not uncommon to double or even triple the omega-3 content of fish oil using this concentration process.

Synthetic triglyceride oil is another form of fish oil that is very common and marketed as 'natural' when in fact it isn't. It is a triglyceride, but not a natural one. It is produced after concentration. As mentioned above, the natural triglycerides are converted to ethyl esters for concentration. This is perfectly fine however; but some manufacturers then re-convert the esters back into triglycerides - a synthetic form which occurs as a result of this re-conversion process. Why do they do it? Because they can state that it is a triglyceride form and infers to the customer that it is natural - when in actual fact, it's not.

Purity is measured by the amount of heavy metals, PCBs and dioxins present. One simply has to look at the locations where most fish oils come from to get a clear idea of why so many omega-3 fish oil products are tainted with toxins. They are often in the middle of major shipping routes and surrounded by large, heavily populated land masses, where pollution and waste is the inevitable outcome. Other fish oil areas are shared by deep sea oil rigs, hardly the sort of purity perceptions you would want as a customer.

The Southern Ocean is known for its rugged beauty, geographic isolation and unspoiled waters. Located in the 'roaring 40s' and 'raging 50s', this body of water off the coast of New Zealand is one of the most remote and purest oceans on earth with nothing but open water separating it from South America (over 9 000kms to the east) and Africa (10 000kms to the west) - ensuring that it experiences minimal 'ship traffic'. The entire population of New Zealand is also only a fraction of one major US city - have a look on your atlas to fully appreciate how remote New Zealand really is to the rest of the world.

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