8

votes

Unconvinced taking fish oil supplements is a good idea

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created January 04, 2011 at 5:39 PM

Hi, I am new to doing paleo and I am trying to makes sense of all the various recommendations and best practices.

After reading a bunch of different articles imploring me to take fish oil, I started researching on this board and via google which fish oils are the best to take.

However, I came across this article by Ray Peat, which I thought was well cited and interesting.

http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/fishoil.shtml

Now, I am feeling hesitant. Honestly, it is hard to trust any articles you read as they tend to be not well researched and/or misinterpret studies and/or leave out critical conflicting information from the same studies.

Even the people here, while clearly operating with the best intentions, get all their info from citing secondary sources of secondary sources of secondary sources.

I eat grass-fed beef and well raised animals, so I think I will just try to eat small fatty fish and wild alaskan salmon and call it a day on this subject.

Thoughts?

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on March 08, 2011
at 09:51 PM

exactly the retort to the whole 'why not just eat fish?' question

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on January 05, 2011
at 06:38 PM

Thanks for the link. I was thinking about "the Healthy Skeptic" piece on fish oils. http://thehealthyskeptic.org/the-definitive-fish-oil-buyers-guide

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on January 05, 2011
at 05:42 AM

Maybe think about it this way: fish oil supplements are often the final barrier to eating a whole foods diet. You can load up on Vitamin D when it's warm out (perhaps), eat enough greens/animals/hard water to get magnesium (more difficult), and get everything else from food. No matter what trial results show, none of our ancestors regularly extracted oil from fish, nuts, grains, etc. It might make sense in the short term to supplement with omega-3 until your membrane levels are more balanced, and then proceed with the whole fish. Best of luck NastyNick. (excellent name!)

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on January 05, 2011
at 01:31 AM

http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=55 It is also in their book under supplements not to take.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on January 05, 2011
at 01:30 AM

http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=55 It is also in their book under supplements not to take.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on January 05, 2011
at 12:52 AM

If I recall the "Perfect Health" fish oil series, it was by no means anti-fish oil. It cautioned against overuse. Also recommended certain brands.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on January 05, 2011
at 12:50 AM

This is what I do too -- the key part (and it is HARD to do) is getting your omega 6 down to about 4% of calories -- for me that means getting most of my fat from dairy, wild fish, beef, macadamias or coconut (and, thus, only a small amount from olive oil, avocados, ashews, lard or poultry) and none of my fat from vegetable oils, seed oils, or nut oils. I also eat a lot of potatoes and other vegies and fruits.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 04, 2011
at 10:32 PM

Chris Masterjohn was horrified by the Robb Wolf fish oil calculator. LOL.

Efc949694a31043bfce9ec86e8235cd7

(970)

on January 04, 2011
at 10:23 PM

Great point with the "taste test", MikeD!

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on January 04, 2011
at 10:01 PM

but for those interested, take liquid fish oil by the spoonful and skip the gel caps. gel caps can go rancid. liquid has dates on it, goes in your fridge and it has a very paleo way of telling you if it is rancid. just like in the olden days if it hits your tongue and tastes like rotting fish, spit it out. otherwise its good for you.

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on January 04, 2011
at 09:57 PM

of course, but only if it is rancid

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on January 04, 2011
at 08:15 PM

they got the results from the fish itself, but would partially rancid fish oil have the same benefit?

4a1966b5bc00a9aefd3abd63b9913284

on January 04, 2011
at 06:39 PM

If you reduce the amount of n6 you consume greatly, little to no n3 supplementation should be required. It's about choices and balance.

Efc949694a31043bfce9ec86e8235cd7

(970)

on January 04, 2011
at 06:24 PM

I consume krill oil for n3. Great stuff!

30fd031cc07a0d7dee7f1cad57f48a0c

(443)

on January 04, 2011
at 06:01 PM

one article? hardly even worth entertaining the idea of NOT taking such a beneficial supplement. that being said...its a supplement, no need to take it if you are eating a low n6 high n3 diet already (wild caught fish/ grass fed beef). it is helpful to supplement if you are not controlling your diet or eating conventional proteins.

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8 Answers

6
Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on January 04, 2011
at 07:16 PM

I get my omega 3's from fish, as I'm worried about the rancidity of fish oil. I also try to keep total pufas as well as n-6 intake low.

Perfect health diet advises against fish oil too, you might want to read what they have to say.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on January 05, 2011
at 06:38 PM

Thanks for the link. I was thinking about "the Healthy Skeptic" piece on fish oils. http://thehealthyskeptic.org/the-definitive-fish-oil-buyers-guide

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on January 05, 2011
at 12:52 AM

If I recall the "Perfect Health" fish oil series, it was by no means anti-fish oil. It cautioned against overuse. Also recommended certain brands.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on January 05, 2011
at 01:30 AM

http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=55 It is also in their book under supplements not to take.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on January 05, 2011
at 01:31 AM

http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=55 It is also in their book under supplements not to take.

5
06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on January 04, 2011
at 11:21 PM

I take a teaspoon of Carlson's Fish Oil daily. For $22 on line I get 500ml 16.9oz of fish oil. One bottle lasts me about a 1.5 months. For that price, I can only get about 3 pounds of fresh non farmed salmon.

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on March 08, 2011
at 09:51 PM

exactly the retort to the whole 'why not just eat fish?' question

3
0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

on January 04, 2011
at 07:11 PM

Simply lowering 6 intake by eliminating grains/seed oils, eating natural foods (paleo foods, widely interpreted but understood in the broadest sense) and meats will have the ratio licked. I get my omega 3 from wild/game meats, organs, eggs, and a can of sardines (or the like) now and then. No fish oil supplements needed.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on January 05, 2011
at 12:50 AM

This is what I do too -- the key part (and it is HARD to do) is getting your omega 6 down to about 4% of calories -- for me that means getting most of my fat from dairy, wild fish, beef, macadamias or coconut (and, thus, only a small amount from olive oil, avocados, ashews, lard or poultry) and none of my fat from vegetable oils, seed oils, or nut oils. I also eat a lot of potatoes and other vegies and fruits.

2
0adda19045a3641edac0008364b91110

(1146)

on January 05, 2011
at 04:59 AM

I personally stopped taking it, because it is to high in PUFA's. I find if my diet is generally clean; grass-fed meat, minimal eggs, fish, butter, tallow, I have no need to supplement. There is the occasional day when I find supplementation necessary, such as when I am forced to consume conventional meat, but otherwise, I think it is wiser to keep Omega-6 content lower than trying to compensate with a high Omega-3 intake.

2
691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on January 04, 2011
at 07:55 PM

I believe your doctor can give you a blood test to determine you O3 and O6 levels. If you are hitting optimal levels with your current diet fish oil supplementation is probably unnecessary. Life Extension Magazine has something on the Omega3 index - not sure if that's it or not tho. Link

One benefit I've seen in a peer reviewed study is that a diet super high in fish can drop Lipoprotein(a) in people with the genetic variants that push it way up. The study was of Bantu fisherman whose diet was primarily fish vs. their farmer cousins with similar genetics. LP(a) is called the "widow maker" by some heart doctors as its one of the variants of cholesterol that does result in heart attacks. My dad has been doing all sorts of stuff to drop his naturally elevated LP(a) including a large amount of fish oil and the treatments have dropped it down to residual amounts. Study Link I am not sure a diet that is not completely high omega 3 fish can reach the levels the Bantu fisherman were getting.

Abstract???Plasma lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] levels are largely genetically determined by sequences linked to the gene encoding apolipoprotein(a) [apo(a)], the distinct protein component of Lp(a). Apo(a) is highly polymorphic in length due to variation in the numbers of a sequence encoding the apo(a) kringle 4 domain, and plasma levels of Lp(a) are inversely correlated with apo(a) size. In 2 racially homogeneous Bantu populations from Tanzania differing in their dietary habits, we found that median plasma levels of Lp(a) were 48% lower in those living on a fish diet than in those living on a vegetarian diet. Considering the relationship between apo(a) size and Lp(a) plasma concentration, we have extensively evaluated apo(a) isoform distribution in the 2 populations to determine the impact of apo(a) size in the determination of Lp(a) values. The majority of individuals (82% of the fishermen and 80% of the vegetarians) had 2 expressed apo(a) alleles. Additionally, the fishermen had a high frequency of large apo(a) isoforms, whereas a higher frequency of small isoforms was found in the vegetarians. When subjects from the 2 groups were matched for apo(a) phenotype, the median Lp(a) value was 40% lower in Bantus on the fish diet than in those on the vegetarian diet.

A significant inverse relationship was also found between plasma n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and Lp(a) levels (r=-0.24, P=0.01). The results of this study are consistent with the concept that a diet rich in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and not genetic differences, is responsible for the lower plasma levels of Lp(a) in the fish-eating Bantus and strongly suggest that a sustained fish-based diet is able to lower plasma levels of Lp(a).

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on January 04, 2011
at 09:57 PM

of course, but only if it is rancid

Efc949694a31043bfce9ec86e8235cd7

(970)

on January 04, 2011
at 10:23 PM

Great point with the "taste test", MikeD!

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on January 04, 2011
at 10:01 PM

but for those interested, take liquid fish oil by the spoonful and skip the gel caps. gel caps can go rancid. liquid has dates on it, goes in your fridge and it has a very paleo way of telling you if it is rancid. just like in the olden days if it hits your tongue and tastes like rotting fish, spit it out. otherwise its good for you.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on January 04, 2011
at 08:15 PM

they got the results from the fish itself, but would partially rancid fish oil have the same benefit?

1
8d638cf714d4356c0a20f9af0ed6bfc4

(55)

on February 03, 2012
at 07:21 PM

Fish oil is a wonderful way of getting access to a food that you otherwise can't afford or can't find time to prepare. If people are that terrified of rancid oils, keep the pills in the fridge but honestly, I've had bottles of cheap veggie oil sit for years without going rancid. There's too much to stress about as it is.

Now wild caught salmon is great and all, but I'm not convinced that the benefits of these oils is worth the potential harm of consuming large amounts of even wild protein.

1
Fe9564da32d84d7213ef2a203f97de48

(279)

on January 04, 2011
at 09:01 PM

It sounds like your diet is balanced, and in that case I think there is no need for fish oil. I take it because I know that I lack in omega3 from dietary sources on most days.

0
Medium avatar

on February 03, 2012
at 10:57 PM

Watch the practice of making fundamental lifestyle decisions based on one article. Read up on any topic, get a sense of the full debate, then make your decision.

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