Thursday, September 07, 2006

Is There Anything Fishy About Taking Fish Oil?

Dr. Hotze eases your worries about taking fish oil supplements

Many of my readers have written to me thanking me for posting my menu from last week when I suddenly dropped 6.5 pounds on this new low-carb plan from low-carb blogging friend Regina Wilshire.

However, a few people have expressed concern over the safety of fish oil supplements. It seems that because there is a general fear created by the constant media accounts of harmful toxins including mercury and PCBs found in them, people are apprehensive about taking this important supplement to their diet.

But one man says the benefits far outweigh the alleged dangers.

Dr. Stephen F. Hotze, M.D. is the founder and lead doctor at the Houston, TX-based Hotze Health & Wellness Center. He's one of America's leading pioneers in alternative health treatment options and even wrote a book about some of his methodology called "Hormones, Health And Happiness."

It seems Dr. Hotze also has a blog to help educate people regarding their health. One of my faithful readers pointed me to this recent blog post entitled "Fish Oil: Helpful or Harmful? that Dr. Hotze wrote addressing the concerns about their safety.

What is his response to these concerns?

"The extreme health benefits of fish oils beat out the drastically low risk of toxins from consuming fish oil supplements," Dr. Hotze wrote at his blog, which included references to health journals backing up his assertion that fish oil is extremely healthy for people to consume.

Because of their high omega-3 essential fatty acids content, fish oil helps bring balance with the omega-6 fatty acids that are overconsumed in the United States. Dr. Hotze also noted that fish oils helps blood clotting, keeps your heartbeat from skipping and lowers triglycerides (WOO HOO!).

Regarding mercury levels in fish oil, Dr. Hotze pointed to a study that showed "negligible amounts" in the five samples and explained that most mercury is found in the fish tissue which is removed when they make fish oil. Additionally, Consumer Reports tested the top 16 brands of fish oil in the U.S. and there were "no significant amounts of PCBs, dioxins or mercury."

I have previously blogged about a study linking fish oil and exercise to weight loss and Dr. Hotze corroborates this information explaining that fish oil also helps burn excess nutrients in the body for energy which then leads to fat-burning and weight management. Also, fish oil cuts down on your cravings for food and increases seratonin levels for good brain health.

At the end of his post, Dr. Hotze assured people that taking fish oil supplements will provide more benefits to your body than harm.

"You can rest easy that your fish oil supplement is giving you wonderful health benefits without the worry of toxins, even if you are taking higher therapeutic doses of fish oil for certain health concerns," he concluded.

I think I'm gonna like reading more from Dr. Hotze. Be sure to keep an eye on the Dr. Hotze blog for more great information from a doctor who gets it!

On the subject of fish oil, Regina Wilshire also has some great tips for people wanting to know what kind to get. Here's her advice.

"I only recommend Carlson's brand for fish oils due to the rarely reported rancidity found in other brands," she said. "My first preference is liquid Fish Oil (not the cod liver oil - that's switched to later in the year as vitamin D from sunshine is limited/non-existent in most of the US); then my next option would be the concentrated fish oil capsules."

I've tried finding Carlson's fish oil in my area and just couldn't locate it anywhere. Regina said you may want to check your health food specialty stores and look for it to be refrigerated. It's a little more expensive, but is supposed to be the purest and freshest form of fish oil on the market.

Regarding the fish oil you see on pharmacy shelves, I've also previously blogged about Regina's concern that those have gone rancid and do you no good as a supplement.

"If you're using the capsules you have to be aware of signs of rancidity -- fishy burps or weird tasting burps after taking them (and it could be hours later). That's a sign that the capsules are bad."

Regina advises that if you are going to get fish oil, make sure it is kept refrigerated to "prevent spoiling" and it is definitely worth throwing them away if the expiration date has passed.

Those are some EXCELLENT words of advice from both Dr. Hotze and Regina Wilshire regarding fish oil supplements. Does anyone else have any experience or knowledge about fish oil that was not already shared? Click on the comment link below.

9-7-06 UPDATE: One of my readers e-mailed me with her experience with fish oil.

This is purely anecdotal, but I've noticed that when I use generic fish oil, my ears ring. I had never had the problem before I started doing Atkins, and it took me a while to figure out what caused it. I also noticed that when I ate canned tuna, my ears would start ringing even more noticeably a few hours afterward.

About a year ago I started using Nordic Naturals Omega supplements, which are independently tested for freshness and purity. After about half a year, the low grade ringing in my ears stopped. It will come back if I eat too much fish, but otherwise the problem is solved. Unfortunately Nordic Naturals costs much much more than fish oil capsules from Sam's.

Again, this is only anecdotal, but it does seem to indicate that people need to pay attention to what their bodies tell them when they take fish oil supplements. It's possible that not all fish oil supplements are created equal, and some of them may cause harm as well as good.

I've not had ringing in the ears yet, but that's an interesting side effect to taking conventional fish oil. Anyone else?

9-8-06 UPDATE: One of my knowledgeable readers provided information about where you can get the Carlson's fish oil that Regina Wilshire recommends.

You can order Carlson's Fish and Cod Liver oil from Vitamin Shoppe. You can call them toll-free at 800-223-1216 or visit their web site at

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Blogger Newbirth said...

Fish oil can easily go rancid. I believe Dr. Eades also recommends Nordic naturals. He also recommend not buying fish oil in plastic containers, but glass, and refridgerating them.

9/07/2006 11:17 PM  
Blogger BillyHW said...

So what's a proper dosage for fish oil?

9/08/2006 12:46 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I personally take 2 capsules a day, but I will pose your question to Regina Wilshire for a response.

9/08/2006 8:31 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Hey BillyHW,

Here's what Regina said about the dosage:

"Liquid or capsule, the target is at least 1g omega-3 (1000mg) and up to 2g (2000mg). You don't want to overdo the omega-3 anymore than you want to overdo omega-6!"

Good question, Billy! Anyone else gotta question?

9/08/2006 9:02 AM  
Blogger Kevin Dill said...

In regards to fish oil quality, its definately a case of getting what you pay for.

9/08/2006 9:21 AM  
Blogger BillyHW said...

Thanks Jimmy.

9/08/2006 11:33 AM  

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