If You Only Take One Thing, Make It Fish Oil

i’m often asked what supplements i think people should take. actually just yesterday patagonia hot shot ultrarunner rod bien just asked me that exact questions. so i figured i’d respond to the world… here is my response:
“the only supplement i suggest for every client i have is fish oils. most diet’s ratio of omega 3 : omega 6 is completely out of whack.

but other than that sweeping generalization, it’s impossible to say. i had my blood work looked at by my “witch dr.” or, ah homeopathic genius. i’m on vitamin I, E and sometimes Zinc. but we’re each different. it’s worth having your blood work looked at i think. also get pharmaceutical grade supplements, studies don’t favor the kind you can buy in the grocery stores unfortunately.”

that’s right, fish oils. the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 in our diets has changed drastically with the evolution of industrialized food. we’re feeding our meat more grain and corn and less of their natural green diets. the result is that the meat we eat has a lower content of omega 3. the ratio should be 1:1, and is now more often 1:30! in his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma michael pollan hypothesizes that this change in ratios caused by our industrialization of meat production might turn out to be the single biggest factor that effects our health as a population. consuming fish and more to the point fish oil supplements can help us balance that ratio. i’m partial to carlson’s and i buy them from hammer nutrition.

the following is taken from a major cardiology news site (www.theheart.org)

New review endorses CV benefits of fish oil

August 3, 2009 | Lisa Nainggolan

New Orleans, LA – A new review concludes that there is extensive evidence from three decades of research that fish oils, or more specifically the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) contained in them, are beneficial for everyone [1].

This includes healthy people as well as those with heart disease—including post-MI patients and those with heart failure, atherosclerosis, or atrial fibrillation—say Dr Carl J Lavie (Ochsner Medical Center, New Orleans, LA) and colleagues in their paper published online August 3, 2009 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“We reviewed everything that was published on omega-3 that was clinically important, and the major finding is that there are a tremendous amount of data to support the benefits of omega-3, not just as a nutritional supplement—people have known that for years—but evidence that it prevents and treats many aspects of cardiovascular disease,” Lavie told heartwire.

The omega-3 data may not be as impressive or as plentiful as [statin data] but it should be ‘promoted’ to clinicians.

Lavie said he believes physicians are not as familiar with the omega-3 studies as they should be: “Clinicians know the findings of many statin trials even if they do not know all the details—they know that there are a ton of statin data. The omega-3 data may not be as impressive or as plentiful as this, but it should be ‘promoted’ to clinicians.”

Omega-3 PUFA, says Lavie, “is a therapy that clinicians should be considering prescribing to their patients. Not just as something healthy but as something that may actually prevent the next event. In HF, it may prevent death or hospitalization and the same thing post-MI.” He and his colleagues reiterate the advice of the AHA: that those with known CHD or HF eat four or five oily-fish meals per week or take the equivalent in omega-3 supplements; healthy people should consume around two fatty-fish meals per week or the same in supplements.

Most data on EPA and DHA

In their review, Lavie and colleagues explain that most of the data on omega-3 have been obtained in trials using docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the long-chain fatty acids in this family. The most compelling evidence for cardiovascular benefits comes from four controlled trials of almost 40 000 participants randomized to receive EPA with or without DHA in studies of primary prevention, after MI, and most recently with HF, they note.

for more info see mark sisson’s blog:
The Definitive Guide to Fish Oils
Rapid Fire Q&A: Fish Oil Guide Follow-Up