Several months ago, Candice and I were in conversation about the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements (among other health topics) for an article she was writing for Dance Magazine. It led us to talk more specifically about fish oil. She wanted to know why this popular supplement can be beneficial and how to make sure the pills in the bottle are up to par. The following is a cheat sheet I developed with everything dancers might need to know about this popular supplement.
What’s with all the hype on fish oil?
Fish oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids, a type polyunsaturated fatty acid our bodies can’t make on their own. Because our bodies can’t produce Omega-3s, we have to obtain them solely from our diets. One of the easiest ways to do this is by eating fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, tuna, herring, anchovies, mackerel, trout, or oysters.
Fish oil is essentially the condensed version of eating fatty fish, in supplement form.
Why do we need omega-3 fatty acids?
Extensive research has shown numerous health benefits of omega-3s, including prevention of cardiovascular disease, relief from rheumatoid arthritis and improved brain function. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered anti-inflammatory and are associated with lower risk of death.
Can Omega-3s only be found in fish? What if I’m a vegetarian?
Plant-based sources of Omega-3s include walnuts, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and soybeans.
How much do I need per day?
Women (14 and up) need about 1 gram per day
Men (14 and up) need about 1.5 grams per day
What should I look for in a fish oil supplement?
Ideally, when shopping for a fish oil supplement, you’ll want to look for a brand that has been tested for contaminants and the presence of toxic, heavy metals. The International Fish Oil Standards Program (http://www.ifosprogram.com) is a great resource that tests the quality of many national brands.