Yes, fish contains that magical ingredient – Omega 3. We’ve all heard of this fatty acid Omega 3 before, it’s now even being added to foods such breads, mayonnaise, pizza, eggs and infant milk. But why? What’s all the fuss about?
Research indicates that Omega 3 is associated with a huge range of benefits such as:
prevents crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer reduces ADHD type symptoms lowers risk of chronic disease reduces the risk of strokes sharpens memory improves ability to learn and concentrate enhances mood and emotional well-being
Omega 3 and Learning Enhancement
Researchers conducted an interesting study on a group of more than 100 below average students. For 6 months half of these students had to take omega 3 capsules with their meals whilst the other half received a placebo.
Interestingly, what the researchers found is that 40% of the students who took the omega 3 capsules showed significant improvements in school performance in relation to reading, spelling and behaviour than the students who received the placebo.
In fact one mother even reported dramatic changes in her son who went from having little interest in reading to developing a passion for spending time in the library after school and soaring through books. In addition, he also developed an interest in classical music. Other parents reported similar changes in their children.
Omega 3 and Mood Enhancement
Omega 3 is also now being used to lift peoples moods and enhance their emotional well-being.
Andrew Stoll, M.D. (Harvard) ran an experiment with 30 participants who had bipolar disorder (this disorder involves periods of feeling depressed and manically high). Half the participants were fed 9.6 grams of fish oil capsules a day and the other half were administered olive oil as a placebo.
What the researchers found was that the participants who took the fish oil capsules experienced lower depression levels than those who took the placebo. On the downside, some of them also reported experiencing nausea and a fishy aftertaste.
Omega 3 – what will you find it in?
Will you get your daily Omega 3 dietary intake by ordering fish and chips from your local shop? No, most likely you won’t.
Omega 3 is commonly found in cold water oily fish such as sardines, mackarel, anchovies, herring, salmon and to a lesser extent tuna.
Some individuals have expressed concerns about heavy metals and toxins being present in these fish as they may accumulate in the food chain. However in the 2006 Journal of American Medical Association it was stated that the benefits of eating these fish far outweigh the potential risks. In addition, Choice magazine investigated the benefits and risks associated with eating fish and concluded –
“There are plenty of fish species, both fresh and processed, that are good for you and are harvested sustainably.”
How much should you have?
You can meet your dietary targets of Omega 3 by eating 2 oily fish meals per week.
If that doesn’t sound appealing then you’ll have to take a fish oil supplement – either some syrup or capsules.
Should you go the syrup or the capsules?
Speaking from my own personal experience, the fish oil syrups can smell and taste a little funny/disgusting.
Smell and taste aside, it has been suggested that fish oil syrups may be more effective as they are absorbed by the body more quickly than capsules.
Forget the oily fish and syrup, give me the capsules!
There are a lot of different fish oil supplements out there, so knowing which one to purchase can be difficult.
Conveniently Choice magazine conducted a study comparing 20 different supplements and found that 4 of the 20 supplements actually contained less than the suggested dietary targets for Omega 3 in the maximum daily dose. Click here to see the results (you’ll notice that the price can vary dramatically – from 10c to $1 a day, so choose your capsules carefully!).