For centuries, fish oil has been used to cure a variety of ailments all over the world. It contains Omega 3 fatty acids, which help prevent cancer, cardiovascular diseases and various neurological disorders. It is also used to treat a plethora of health conditions, from skin diseases to depression.
Present day fish oil is mainly manufactured from those fish which have a high Omega 3 fatty acid content like sardines, anchovies, herrings, swordfish, salmon, mackerel, tuna and cod. Moreover, fish oil is extracted in two different ways; from the liver of the fish and from the whole body tissue.
In recent times, the use of fish oil as a dietary supplement has gained tremendous popularity. While the various fish oil benefits to your health cannot be denied, one should be very cautious in selecting the type of fish oil that is consumed.
Due to the ever-increasing levels of pollution in the seas, heavy metals like mercury and arsenic have been detected in various brands of fish oil worldwide. These heavy metals are known neurotoxins which can cause significant brain damage, if consumed regularly. Similarly, cancer causing PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) have also been detected in various brands of fish oil worldwide.
In cognizance of the above mentioned problems, the following should be kept in mind while selecting a brand of fish oil for daily supplementation.
1. Cod-liver (or shark-liver) oil must be avoided on a daily basis as it solely consists of oil extracted from the liver of the fish. Since the liver is responsible for excreting out all impurities, it is only logical that fish-liver oil will have more heavy metals and PCBs compared to other types of fish oil, which are derived from the whole body of the fish. Hence for daily long term consumption fish-liver oils should be avoided.
2. Fish oil extracted from farmed fish should be avoided as farmed fish are fed commercial fish food which greatly increases chances of contamination with heavy metals and other pollutants. On the other hand fish oil extracted from deep sea fish is relatively safer as the deep oceans are less polluted.
3. Compared to the normal health food variety fish oil brands, pharmaceutical grade brands make for the best fish oil supplements because they are much better since they undergo distillation to remove pollutants and their pollutant free status is verified by independent laboratories.
4. The IFOS(International Fish Oil Standards) certification mark is given to those fish oil brands which meet the stringent purity criteria set by the WHO and other international health organizations. Therefore fish oil brands which are IFOS certified are deemed safe for daily consumption.
In conclusion, consumers can use the above mentioned facts to select the right type of fish oil and thereby enjoy all its amazing health benefits in a safe and non-toxic way.