Sunday, April 26, 2009

Why you Should be Taking Fish Oil - Part 1

(This is the Costco Brand I recommend. It's about $25 a bottle)

I wish someone would have explained the importance of fish oil to me. I was always skeptical about taking it, in this series of posts I hope to convince you that it sometime crucial to your diet. I will keep the Star Wars theme going to help with some concepts and spice it up but it will still be a long post. Brew an Americano and dig in, this is worth your time to read. (References and further readings will be at the bottom).

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA), were once thought to be nothing more than a stored form of caloric energy. But they exercise a powerful influence on overall health because of their pivotal role in how cell membranes function. Let's think of them as Droids in Star Wars, it would be hard to imagine those guys functioning withought Droids. The exception is, people that live out in the "boonies"; ones who hunt and live off the land. Which is interesting because old hunter gatheres did not have to worry about supplement EFA because of they good balance it had.

So what do they do? Remember in my previous post when I talked about hormones? Well, EFA's are tranformed by the body into local hormones called eicosanoids. These local hormones regulate CRUCIAL process's in our body which I will go into more detail in Part 2. Think of eicosanoids as Star Wars droids that are built by other Droids. Some Droids are built for helping people and some are built for war and fighting. You want a good balance and ratio between the droids, too many "bad" droids will result in a lot of war. The same is for EFA, two crucial EFA are Omega-6 and Omega-3, you have probably heard of these before? Omega-3 or n-3 are the "good" ones and Omega-6 or n-6 are "bad" but both are required by the body, and as long as a good ratio is kept we are good. The ideal dietary ratio should is around 3:1 to 5:1 - n-6:n-3, with a minimum of 1% daily calories coming from n-3 oils (Innis, 1996). The problem is current diets have made that ratio more like 20:1 to 25:1 (Simopoulus, 1991).

WHAT? Think of it as this. Pre-clone wars, remember how they were building a droid army? That's like our current diets. We have way too many droids built for war and not enough built to help with spaceship navigation, communication and to build infrastructure.

Omega-6, Omega-3, they are both fats? What makes one so good?

Again, fat isnt bad at all, a bad balance of fats will lead to problems. Just like in my previous post I described too many bad carbs will lead to problems. To many complex carbs also affect the balance of fats in your body, I'll explain...keep reading.

The body breaks down n-6 and n-3, and in a nutshell, n-6 breaks down into a pro-inflamatory eicosanoid (AA - arachidonic acid) and n-3 an anti-inflammatory eicosanoid (EPA - eicosapentaenoic acid). You build one droid for war and one for peace. Furthermore, EPA is broken down through a process called delta-6 Desaturase, to make DHA. (This is important to note - one way to get DHA is out of EPA).

High insulin levels in the body will increase the breakdown of fatty acids, but unfortunately most will be broken down into AA (war droids), which increases the body's tendancy to inflamation. Also, people with resistance to insulin or absoulutely low levels of insulin can't make DHA - that Delta-6 process is impaired! So by letting the dark side of the force take over, more droids for war are going to be built and bad things are going to happen in your body...which will lead to war...(disease)...YES that post is coming, you have to understand this stuff first.

What the heck can I do?

Well, as recommended in my other post EAT: meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, NO SUGAR. Or, just the Paleo Diet. Unfortunately, this is still not going to give you a good ratio of n-6 and n-3, so you have to supplement. Robb Wolf recommends taking 0.5 grams of fish oil per 10lbs of body weight. This is only the EPA and DHA count in the fish oil.

(I hate math)

So, the above brand has 0.6g of EPA and DHA in it, and I weigh 180lbs. 180/10 = 18x0.5 = 9g

9g/0.6 = 15 pills. Take the pills with a meal that has fat in it. Break it up to atleast morning and evening meals.

To Conclude

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) or droids, are crucial to the functioning of your body (the galaxy). Your current diet does not have the current ratio to maintain good health. This can lead to problems.

If you want to look better, feel better, and perform better, regulate your insulin and supplement fish oil in your diet. BUT, don't take my word for it. Try it for a month and see for yourself.

Contact me is you want help in implementing anything here (FOR FREE) or you want me to suggest a bullshit detector that will blow both you, and your doctor away! email - sbruceha/

Post any Questions or Feedback to Comments.

Next up: Part 2: DISEASES (WAR)


This Reading is very scientific but outlines a lot of what I explained in the first few pages and then gets into diseases. The references used to make this paper are extensive.
This Reading brings together a whole slew of medical studies that discuss EFA.
The Paleo Diet site also talks about EFA.
I cand dig up more, if you want to geek out contact me.


  1. Sweet Frickin Post Sean! This Star Wars shit seriously rules!! Looking forward to Part 2.


  2. Sean, such an excellent post. Right down to the enzymatic breakdown of fats and the effects the products have on inflammation in the body.
    Since the Nutrition Cert, the great egg debate has been settled. I always wondered why omega-3 eggs were so much better for you than omega-6 and why you would be healthy if you ate 3 a day. Both are polyunsaturated so they should both be good for you right? WRONG! The main difference between a "normal" egg and an n-3 egg is that the omega-6 is replaced by omega-3. So you are eating more omega-3 and decreasing the ratio between n-6:n-3. The other difference is that omega-3 eggs have a fish-like taste to them and their yolks are bright yellow! But, make them into a paleo pancake and they taste delicious.

    Just a note ... eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5 n-3) is elongated and desaturated even further to produce docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6 n-3) which is a critical EFA for increasing membrane fluidity and permeability. I think you had written it the other way around? Everything else is very well put. I like the Star Wars analogy. Are you going to use another StarWars analogy for Diseases? I think diseases will be my favourite topic. Looking forward to it.

  3. Dani,

    Did you find out how the n-3 is replaced with the eggs? I know that every single chicken is grain fed in Canada so it would be interesting to find out how it is done. I guess I don't see the sense in spending twice as much on eggs if they are still grain fed but just "injected" some how or the FDA term "fortified" with omega 3 some how? It sucks because chickens naturally graze, they aren't meant to eat cheerios. Let me know if you find anything.


  4. dani, thanks...ya thats what I misread it.

    Ben thats a good point...I should look into that.

  5. I just need this in 00 agent terminology and now star wars. Good post!


  6. Ben,

    The carten for my omega 3 eggs says that the chickens are fed flax seed, which I assume is added to the rations of the laying hens. Check out this link for a more detailed analysis:

    It explains why my eggs taste liie fish are and bright yellow ... "Too much flaxseed can darken the yolks and leave a fishy taste in the yolk." Ah ha! Maybe I will try a different brand.


    Flax --> EPA --> DHA? I get it now, should have studied that better.

  7. Ya, Robb doesn't like Flax tho. There is an inefficient transfer that takes place. I should be done my notes from his cert beofre I go to Peru. Gotta read about business and politics for this exam on thurs.

  8. THANK YOU for this post, and for linking to it on my blog. Fish oil is something I've been meaning to try for a long time now - this gave me the incentive to finally order some. I purchased the liquid stuff from Carlson's... I hate taking pills, but since this is lemon flavored (and, I've been told, actually tastes good), I can drizzle it over veggies and make sure to get it in every day.

    Any recommendations as to how much oil to start with? This is the oil I purchased. At 130#, I think I should be taking 4 tsp. a day. Care to check my math?

    Thanks again,

  9. Buyers,
    Your calculations are perfect. Cod-liver oil also comes in orange flavour. Let me know how the lemon tastes. Maybe I will switch. I take capsules now.


  10. P.S. I calculated with 1600mg. You should ask Sean if you should only use 1300 (800+500) for only the EPA & DHA.

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