Omegas- The Fishy Truth

Scott Braver
7 min readJul 31, 2021
Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash

Heart health is at the forefront of many providers worldwide due to the global issues surrounding heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, and irregular heartbeats.

Cardiac disease is easily one of the most preventable disease processes out there, but little goes into the preventative side, more so, we focus on the reactionary side.

I want to bring attention to the preventative aspects because that is the least sexy- albeit the most important intervention we can consider.

Tick Tock

Photo by Ocean Ng on Unsplash

The heart is a magnificent feature of engineering that acts as a pump, a reservoir, and an electrical conductor.

Beyond that, it is the lifeline that allows us to function properly. When our hearts stop beating, we cease to live.

Oftentimes, we take our heart for granted because we don’t often feel its effects on a daily basis. It beats faster during exercise to compensate for the required blood volume demand, it slows as we sleep so we can continue the several different metabolic processes throughout our body and it adjusts accordingly to demand and needs.

It is the true workhorse of the body and doesn’t ask for much in return.

Unfortunately, we berate it with stimulants like caffeine, or drugs, bad foods, smoke, or lack of activity.

We expect so much from this organ, but we give it so much less in return. Recognizing the importance is half the battle because, eventually, it will wave its white flag and we might not be able to fix the issue.

High blood pressure is one of the biggest culprits to the heart’s demise. Keep in mind the heart is a muscle. If the heart is having to work harder to bring the blood from the toes all the way back to the lungs to reoxygenate it, the left ventricle (bottom part of the heart) will get bigger.

When that part of the heart gets bigger, bad things happen as it reduces the amount of squeeze the heart can make. This is because of the resistance from our blood pressure being so high.

Normally we want our muscles to grow in size, however, the heart is one muscle we don’t want any bigger as it greatly impedes the functionality and leads to something called congestive heart failure.

Blood pressure can be from numerous internal and external factors that are highly influential in affecting our vascular network.

Keep in mind, there is an infinite amount of insults to a finite amount of responses. That means there are insults all around us and our body can only handle so much until it can’t anymore.

Enter chronic diseases.

How do we significantly impact our heart health? Food is the obvious choice. Followed by sleep, activity, and lastly supplements.

All those foundational interventions have been discussed previously in great detail, but for the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on supplementation that is relevant.

One Fish, Two Fish, Green Fish, Blue Fish

Photo by Jeremy Stewart on Unsplash

Let me set the precedence by stating that there is no substitute for food. Food is the best quality “supplement” out there because it is in its truest form.

Granted, there are poor quality foods there, so please be aware that the food we consume consists of no nutritional labels, as close to nature as possible, minimal to no processing, and free of additives or preservatives.

Sometimes there are issues where we can’t absorb certain enzymes in the food, we don’t eat enough, or have genetic predispositions that lead us to have high-risk factors.

Remember, you always get what you pay for when it comes to supplementation. It takes much skill, time, and effort to have high-quality forms of supplements that have to go through rigorous development and manufacturing.

Look out for supplements that are “too good to be true” because they almost always are. You want to avoid supplements that have several fillers, additives, gluten, soy, or corn because they can be quite disruptive to our bowel health.

In general, fish oils- or omega 3s, are ones that have been scientifically shown to have positive impacts on our heart health.

Some common implications from fish oils are that it has been shown to impact cholesterol levels (particularly triglycerides), reduce inflammation in the vessels, lower blood pressure and reduce the blood clotting capability.

Reducing blood clotting to the point where you won't bleed out if wounded, but will reduce the chances of developing a clot in the heart vessels that leads to a heart attack.

There are two main components of any fish oil that is a necessity for any fruitful benefits. Those two components boil down to EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

Those two components are found in fatty fishes like salmon, mackerel, trout, shellfish, mussels, oysters, and crabs.

All the current data shows that we need between 2–4 grams of both of those components to have a positive impact on our heart health.

That means that we would have to consume quite a lot of fish in a serving to acquire the recommended dosages.

It shouldn’t take away from you consuming more fish products in your diet, because once again, food is the best way to absorb any and all nutrients.

For someone with significant risk factors, eating fish and taking a good fish oil supplement will go a very long way!

Go Fish!

Photo by Malachi Brooks on Unsplash

Okay- enough of the poorly themed fish puns.

Getting into the nitty-gritty here. There are three GOOD QUALITY fish oil brands out there that I recommend to my patients and I personally take.

The first, most financially conscious, and one that doesn’t need a prescription is called Omegagenic 2400.

It is a liquid fish oil primarily from mackerel and if you take double the recommended serving size of 1 teaspoon, you will get 2 grams of EPA and DHA in 1 tablespoon.

It has a lemony taste that is quite pleasing compared to other fish oils out there that give you fish breath and fish burps.

One bottle generally lasts about 3 weeks if taken daily, which is recommended.

I have looked high and low all over the internet and supplement stores for a good quality fish oil, and this one takes the cake. The factors I look for are affordability, quality, taste, fillers, and if they are going to deliver on the necessary dosages for cardiac health.

Metagenics hits all 5 of my requirements and is the first go-to I always recommend. Other fish oils would need you to take 6–12 capsules to get the necessary 2 grams of EPA and DHA.

That process renders it not cost-effective, gross from the fish burps, and a wasted effort in general.

There is a class of medications known as nutriceuticals that are pharmacy-grade nutrients. A medication that has been around for quite some time is called Lovaza.

That medication packs a punch with EPA and DHA at a very high level (between 2–4grams depending on dosage).

This is exactly what is needed, unfortunately, because big pharma makes it, it is exquisitely cost-prohibitive.

You have to jump through hoops to have your insurance cover it and it makes it almost not worth it.

This is important though because it has the two key ingredients for heart health and brain health (EPA and DHA).

Another nutriceutical medication that has been getting some hype lately is called Vascepa. This medication is geared more towards cardiovascular health as it primarily has a large quantity of EPA and NO DHA.

A differentiation I want to point out is that EPA is geared towards heart health and DHA is more geared towards brain health and neurovascular benefits.

In my opinion, we need both. Our brain is heavily intricate with numerous vessels, as well as our heart. Not to mention that DHA is imperative for Alzheimer’s prevention.

A good high-quality fish oil is going to cost you money. Vascepa is even more expensive than Lovaza.

Both are good products and if money is no option, my bet would be on Lovaza due to both ingredients as opposed to just one.

If we are on a budget, Metagenics is the way to go. I personally prefer this method because it comes in the triglyceride form, which is very high quality and the taste is well tolerated. The pills would require about 4–6 on average per day.

Once again, supplementation is just that, it is NOT a replacement for food. Eat good quality, wild-caught, fish that is not farm-raised and you will be in a very good spot cardiovascularly and neurovascularly.

Be strong. Be brave.

--

--