Dr. Angela Agrios, ND
My very talented Naturopathic Doctor
She treats a wide variety of conditions
Office & phone appointments available
Los Angeles, CA (Pacific Palisades)
Naturopathic Medicine Fish Oil Improves Mood & Reduces Inflammation Interview with Dr. Angela Agrios, ND My personal naturopathic doctor. Dr. Agrios is in Los Angeles and
accepts office and phone appointments.
I want to talk about flax oil versus fish oil because this comes up a lot, and I like flax oil. It is an omega-3 - it’s ALA (alphalinolenic acid) - but it does not contain EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) or DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). You can create some EPA in the system from ALA, but you can’t get DHA, and DHA is really implicated in a lot of the cognitive benefits of fish oil. And so there is a vegetarian way to get DHA and that would be to do seaweeds. So Udo’s oil actually does make a vegetarian blend (Udo’s 3 6 9) for people who don’t want to take fish oil. I have to say I have tasted it. To me, it’s a little bit bitter, but it’s an alternative option if you want to have a vegetarian source.
So anything that comes from the sea is going to be higher in the EPA and DHA. Things that are land-located tend to higher in ALA in terms of the omega-3s, and then lots of omega-6s. As much as nuts and seeds are good for us, they’re really high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, and so we have to actually take…the more polyunsaturated fatty acids we take in, vegetable oils in other words, the more we really have to take in antioxidants just to make sure that those oils are not oxidizing. With fish oil, the major, major benefits is that they’re very anti-inflammatory, and they really help with cognitive function and mood, and there’s just so much hard evidence on this now that basically everyone takes fish oils now.
The one thing I’ll say is I really, really prefer that people will take oil versus capsule, and the reason why is that, first of all, it’s more cost-effective, but second of all, to get therapeutic dosing. So the studies were all talking about anti-inflammatory this and that, you really need upwards of three grams to start getting a really great anti-inflammatory dose. And that doesn’t mean three grams of fish oil; it means three grams of EPA and DHA, which are the active constituents in the fish oil. It’s the omega-3 part of fish oil.
So a lot of these capsules will say like, “Oh, 1,000 milligrams of fish oil,” but that’s not 1,000 milligrams of EPA and DHA. Per capsule in this one, 180 of EPA and 120 in DHA. So what’s really common is 400 to 700 milligrams per capsule of actual omega-3 fatty acid. You have to take a lot of capsules to get a really high dose. And so the other thing my patients freak out about is like, “Oh, it’s going to be fishy. I can’t do it.” And if you have a really good fish oil that’s not rancid, it’s not going to be fishy.
And so I will say that cod liver oil actually tastes heavier than fish oil, just to make that distinction because a lot of people are like, “Oh, I remember I took cod liver oil when I was a kid and it was terrible.” And a lot of the oil was oxidized anyways back in the day, so it was a little bit rancid so it made it fishier. But cod liver oil has a heavier taste. This one is by far my favorite. It’s called Finest Pure Fish Oil. It’s made by Pharmax. There’s one by Seroyal as well. Seroyal owns Pharmax. Now it’s actually one and the same, so one place has one, one has the other.
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I’m not attached. I mean, as long as you guys are getting clean oil. So we want to know that it’s molecularly distilled and that it’s not rancid. And you know, everybody freaks out around the metals with fish, and that’s definitely something to think about. Most major companies do a very good job of doing what’s called molecular distillation, so all of the mercury has been pulled out of the fish. That’s not actually my bigger concern. My concern is oxidation. If fish oil has been left in heat too long, it’s rancid, and a lot of times, capsules will have more oxidation that goes on than actual fish oil.
If you open a bottle of fish oil and don’t use it for a long, long time because oxygen will start to get in the bottle. They’re nitrogen-flushed when they are made. So if this is sitting in your fridge for a year, you can smell it. Sometimes things will get a little bit more fishy. So as long as you're using things up quickly, that doesn’t happen, but I actually encourage people, if you're going to -- if you really don’t want to do the fish oil and you want to take the capsules -- bite your capsules. And if they’re fishy, that oil is not good oil. Your oil should not taste fishy.
You can still taste them, and I’ve bit… Every time I go to a Naturopathic medical conference, I sit there and I bite the fish oil capsule, so I’ve had enough of them. Like, I know what they taste like now, and you can taste fishy oil through lemon or orange oil or whatever. This one has an orange essence in it, but it’s really nice. It’s really light. You’ll see. My patients never believe me, and so I have like, an open bottle of this in my office in my fridge so that when they come, I can be like, “No, really. Take a little.”
And so I tell them if you don’t want to taste the fish oil sensation on your tongue, you can put it in an ounce of really antioxidant-rich juice like pomegranate juice or acai or something that’s just really thick in antioxidants and good for you anyways, but most of my patients are fine with the fish oil. They really, really like it, and they feel so good on it. It really helps with depression, helps with hormonal issues, very cardiovascular-protective.
Krill oil is good. It tends to have more to do with phospholipid health, and so it’s fine. Just definitely very good. And so a lot to do with cell membrane integrity, some cognitive support around krill oil, but most of my patients are just on regular fish oil.
Most all of my patients are on a tablespoon of fish oil a day. The one thing I’ll say is fish oil does thin blood, and it’s a good thing, but if you know that you're going to have a procedure done, I would stop taking fish oils and vitamin E and anything else that’s really blood-thinning a week before because it makes it harder to stop your bleeding if you’ve got too much fish oil in your system.