Let me start off by saying I am not a big supplement person. I am a firm believer that we can get most of what our body need from the quality food/fuel we put into our bodies. However, prior to the 1970’s meat and dairy in the US was still grass fed so we received a good amount of EPA and DHA (the main components of fish oil) as part of our normal diet. Today, most cattle are fed grain and there’s heavy use of seed and vegetable oil for preparation of food leaving our diet heavy in the Omega-6 (linoleic acid) fatty acids and very light in the Omega-3 essential fatty acids we would expect to see from an ancestral diet. Omega- 6 fatty acids are considered “pro-inflammatory” while the Omega-3 are “anti-inflammatory.” Research shows that excessive Omega-6 promotes pathology including cancer, autoimmunity and glucose dysfunction. So, I supplement with a good quality fish oil.
Fish oil is a significant source of the Omega-3 fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). These fatty acids have a number of health benefits to include improving cholesterol balance, reducing inflammation, improving blood flow, stronger immune system, improved brain function and mood and even preventive against some forms of cancer. For athletes, improved blood flow and reduced inflammation are of most interest because we can train harder as well as improve our recovery time.
I encourage all people, even non-athletes, to supplement with fish oil because even they can benefit from it. Studies show that fish oil can also aid in weight loss and overall body composition even with a very poor diet. That doesn’t mean I advocate a poor diet by any means. However, if one chooses to not change their diet, taking a fish oil supplement can help counteract the crap they are putting into their bodies.
How much should you take? The amount of fish oil you take isn’t as important as the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in that fish oil. Quality also plays a role here. Always check the EPA and DHA content listed on the back label. Just add the milligrams of EPA and DHA to get a single amount of Omega-3. Anything around 400mg – 600mg per capsule or serving is a better quality fish oil. Avoid anything with less than 200mg total per capsule.
Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution and CrossFit advocate, recommends a dosage of fish based on your level of activity and body weight. His recommendation is 1g of EPA/DHA per 10lbs of body weight for pathological individuals. For lean, muscular and active people (like yourselves) he recommends .25 – .5 g of EPA/DHA per 10lbs of body weight. If this is all very new to you, start by taking a couple capsules or spoonful daily before you start nerding out on how much your body should have. Having some is better than none at all.
Lastly, please consult with you doctor if you have any illnesses or are unsure about taking a fish oil.