Omega 3 Fish Oil Buyers Guide for ADHD and Depression
Omega 3 Fish Oil Buyers Guide
Omega 3 oils and particularly fish oil are often found to be beneficial for a number of mental disorders including ADHD and depression.
What to look for in a Fish Oil
The first consideration is purity. Unfortunately the world's oceans are heavily polluted and many fish are contaminated with toxic waste products particularly heavy metals such as mercury.
Good quality fish oils will be guaranteed free of all environmental pollutants and heavy metals.
There are many many very inexpensive fish oils available from discount stores and supermarkets. Unfortunately these are low quality fish oils and are not guaranteed free of these toxins. We would love for someone to sell 180 x 1000mg capsules of quality Omega 3 fish oil for £3 and if anyone can find any please email us or write a review for us!
2. Purity again!
Another factor in purity is how much of the fish oil is actually Omega 3 fish oil. A low proportion of Omega 3 Oils generally means a poor quality oil.
A good quality oil generally can be expected to contain at least 50-70% omega 3 oils. So for a 1000mg capsule of fish oil you should expect at least 500-700mg or omega 3 oils.
Another small factor is amount of saturated fat content. Saturated fat can be bad for the heart and circulation. Good quality fish oils will have zero or close to zero saturated fats.
Additives can be seen as bad or good depending on your point of view. In general it is probably better to take supplements with no additives such as artificial preservatives, colourings, flavourings and sweeteners.
Artificial additives could be counterproductive and have possible links to behavioral problems such as hyperactivity themselves.
However some people may find flavoured oils and capsules more pleasant to take and children particularly may favor them. Try to find one with natural additives such as flavourings if this is the case.
Some capsules may rarely contain wheat, dairy, starch or yeast so be aware if you are allergic to any of these things.
Additives are often a sign of poor quality fish oil though. Good quality oil has practically no fishy taste anyway.
4. Amount of DHA and EPA
The relative proportions of DHA and EPA omega 3 fatty acids.
Of the 50-70% of the fish oil that is omega 3 oil almost all of it should be either EPA or DHA.
The most common type of oil used to treat disorders such as ADHD and depression is omega 3 oil that contains more EPA than DHA. However the research is very inconclusive and many people claim that oil which is higher or almost completely DHA is very effective too.
It is probably best to start with an oil that has EPA and DHA in a proportion of between 3:2 and 3:1 EPA to DHA ratio. A ratio of 2:1 is also pretty common and a good choice.
An example breakdown of a 2:1 ratio capsule would be:
Total fish oil: 1000mg
Total omega 3 oil: 620mg
Total EPA: 400mg
Total DHA: 200mg
Many companies are now offering fish oils containing omega 3 oils that are almost entirely EPA with very little DHA. There is very little evidence that these are better although they may help some people more than others. DHA is certainly vitally important for growing infants and children. 8% of the human brain is actually made out of DHA!
An important thing to note is that the nutritional information given above and found on the labeling of different Omega 3 products probably doesn't tell the whole story. One brand of fish oil may 'work for you' while another may not even if the nutritional information given with the two products is identical or almost identical - I know this from personal experience.
It seems likely that there are things about fish oil which we don't understand. The most important thing is to experiment and find an Omega 3 supplement which works for you. If you are thinking of using fish oil to treat disorders such as depression or ADHD, it is a good idea to try a range of products separately over a number of weeks. The positive effects of fish oil on these disorders can often be seen within the first few days of use so a week or two is an adequate trial period for a fish oil. Sometimes people feel very pronounced positive effects within hours if high doses (e.g. 4-8 grams) are taken.
Don't start taking a very high dose to begin with though because it could make you feel sick. Also avoid taking high doses if you are going into hospital for an operation because fish oils can thin the blood.
5. Blended/Mixed Oils
Some companies sell blends of fish oils along with plant oils such as Evening Primrose and Starflower Oil. These provide a type of fatty acid called GLA. There is some evidence that this can help with disorders such as ADHD and depression.
Omega oils blended in this way are often sold as 'Omega 3,6,9'. Some have proprietary names such as the heavily advertised (and prohibitively expensive) 'Eye-Q' product produced by Equazen.
6. Liquid or Capsules
You can buy Omega 3 fish oil in liquid form or capsules. The same goes for flax seed oil, evening primrose and starflower oil. The capsules can be hard to swallow especially the larger 1000mg ones. Some manufacturers make smaller capsules which can be chewed before you swallow them but these tend to contain artificial sweeteners and flavours.
Buying omega oils as a liquid is a good idea for many people if they have problems with the capsules. It can be easier to persuade children to take the liquid form on a spoon or it can be mixed with drinks or food. Bottles of liquid fish oil require refrigeration after opening.
What is Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil?
'Pharmaceutical Grade' doesn't really mean anything specific. Currently, it generally refers to high quality, high strength, high purity fish oils. Do not buy something on the strength of it claiming to be 'Pharmaceutical Grade' though as the term could easily start being misused.
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