Wondering whether you’re consuming enough fish oil – and why you need it in the first place? Read up on some key fish-oil facts.
Fish oil is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat that supports general health and wellbeing.
As the name suggests, fish oil is found in and sourced from fish, but some varieties of fish contain larger amounts of the healthy fat than others.
Fish oil provides some important health benefits. So how much should you aim to eat each day, and what are the best sources?
What are the benefits of fish oil?
EPA and DHA are omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish oil. Consuming these regularly supports heart and cardiovascular health, maintains healthy eye function, and reduces mild joint inflammation and reduces the symptoms of mild arthritis.
It also helps to maintain healthy blood fats, supports brain health, and cognitive function.
Plus, ensuring an adequate intake of omega-3 DHA during pregnancy is important for the normal development of baby’s brain, nervous system and eyesight.
The body does not produce omega-3, we get them from the foods we eat, mainly fish. If you don’t eat fish 2-3 times a week, fish oil supplements are another rich source of omega-3.
How can I source vegetarian omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3s are also found in plant-based fats and oils, such as canola and soybean oil, linseeds, chia seeds and walnuts, but they’re slightly different to the variety that fish oil contains.
These plant-sourced omega-3s are known as ALA, and while they should also be included as part of a healthy well-balanced diet, it’s the EPA and DHA that fish oil contains that provides the most health benefits.
Our bodies can convert some of the ALA, or plant-sourced omega-3s into the more beneficial form found in marine sources, but the conversion rate is low.
How much omega-3 do you need?
According to the experts as much as 80 percent of Australians aren’t eating or consuming enough fish oil – or at least, not enough to enjoy its health benefits.
The amount of omega-3s required depends on the health benefit.
As a guide, children aged between two and three years ideally need at least 40mg a day, rising to 55mg a day for four- to eight-year-olds. For teenagers, between 70 to 125mg a day is optimal, according to their age and gender.
For adults, the Heart Foundation recommends consuming between 250 and 500mg of EPA and DHA every day – or in other words, between 1750 to 3500mg per week.
You can achieve this by eating two to three serves of oily fish every week, and supplementing your intake with fish oil supplements.
However, to help maintain healthy blood fats consume about 900 mg of omega-3s and to relieve mild joint inflammation consumption of 2700 mg per day is necessary.
It is possible, although difficult, to consume too many omega-3 fatty acids, and the upper level of intake is set at 3000mg per day.
Is fresh fish the ‘best’ source?
Not necessarily. In fact, some types of canned fish contain more of the beneficial EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids per serve, than fresh fish.
That’s good news because canned fish is typically cheaper than fresh varieties, which can make eating two to three serves a week more affordable.
Which fish contains the most omega-3
When it comes to EPA and DHA content, a good rule of thumb to remember is that the oilier the fish, the better. Oily fish are those that contain at least 10 per cent fat, in the form of the healthy omega-3 oils.
The following quantities of omega-3 fatty acids are all per 150 g serve of fish:
Canned sardines: 1500 mg
Canned salmon: 500-1000 mg
Mussels: 500-1000 mg
Atlantic or Australian salmon: >500 mg
Mackerel: >500 mg
Mullet: >500 mg
Fresh sardines: >500 mg
Canned tuna: 300-500 mg
Snapper: 300-400 mg
Blue-eye trevalla: 300-400 mg
Tuna: 300-400 mg
Barramundi: 200-300 mg
Flathead: 200-300 mg
Prawns: <300 mg
Do any other foods contain EPA and DHA?
The best sources of EPA and DHA are fish and fish oil capsules, but some other foods do contain small amounts of the omega-3 fatty acids. These include beef, lamb and eggs as well as fish-oil enriched products, which can include margarine, bread and eggs.
The levels of omega-3s in these foods is significantly lower than fish and seafood, ranging from just 20mg to 125mg per serve.
Should I be worried about mercury?
According to the Heart Foundation, the health benefits of eating fish far outweigh any risks. However, while you should aim to eat two or more fish meals a week, it’s wise to avoid or limit your intake of varieties that are known to be high in mercury.
These include shark (also known as flake), catfish, swordfish, marlin and orange roughy (which is sometimes called deep sea perch). Gemfish, ling and southern blue fin tuna also tend to be higher in mercury than other varieties.
Blackmores fish oil supplements
Blackmores travels the world to ensure the fish oil used in our products is of premium quality and sourced responsibly.
We are involved in every step of the supply chain, from selection of the raw ingredients at their source through to the oil extraction and capsule production.
We source our fish oil from 100% wild caught small fish to ensure the best quality fish oil
All Blackmores fish oil products undergo at least 30 quality tests and checks before they make it to the store for sale.