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Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil -- Why Is It Different?
A flood of scientific evidence about fish oil points to a startling conclusion that taking high-dose fish oils, which are very rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, helps support a healthy heart, a healthy brain, a healthy immune system, healthy joint movement, healthy kidneys and much more.
Each grade of fish oil is distinguished from the other by its purity and concentration of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Crude fish oils are the least expensive and most will likely contain some levels of contaminants including PCBs, DDT and organic mercury.
When choosing a high dose fish oil remember that knowledge is power and not all fish oils are manufactured the same. Some fish oils may even be dangerous when taken in high doses.
With many choices of fish oil available, and with so many pro and con opinions written about each, it is easy to become confused. So when it comes time for you to choose a fish oil make sure you do your homework and choose wisely - your health depends on it.
When choosing a fish oil that you will be ingesting in high doses it is crucial that you choose one that is pure and free of contaminants, toxins, and mercury. How can you, the consumer, tell the difference?
Currently there are three grades of fish oil available on the market today:
Cod Liver Oil
Cod Liver Oil is the lowest quality fish oil and like the name implies it is manufactured from the livers of Cod fish. It has the lowest concentration of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and contains the highest levels of contaminants such as organic mercury, PCB's, and DDT. Cod Liver Oil may also contain a high level of Vitamin A.
Cod Liver Oil is not recommended for high dose consumption. A typical serving of Cod Liver Oil contains 500 mg. of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
Health-food Grade Fish Oils
Most health-food grade fish oils are manufactured from fish body oils. Fish oils can be manufactured from a single fish species or from several fish species.
Fish size and their relative rank in the food chain can help us understand the level of contaminants that may be found in health-food grade fish oils. Small fish, such as sardines and anchovies, don't live long so are less prone to accumulate environmental pollutants. Larger fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are predatory species that live longer so they could contain higher levels of pollutants. If the label says it comes from a particular species of fish, such as salmon, then you can be sure that it probably is health-food grade fish oil.
A slightly more purified type of health-food grade fish oil is available which includes oils that have been subjected to a limited amount of molecular distillation to remove some of the cholesterol. These types of fish oils are usually labeled as "cholesterol-free".
"Fish Oil Concentrate" is yet another type of health-food grade fish oil. Fish oil concentrates consist of ethyl esters of the fish oil that have been subjected to fractional cooling. The solidified saturated fats are removed leaving behind a more concentrated solution of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. A typical one-gram capsule of thermally fractionated health-food grade fish oil contains up to 500 mg. of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
Typical health-food grade fish oils may contain varying amounts of contaminants. In addition, the fractional cooling method does not necessarily remove all the PCB's or the long-chain monoene fatty acids that may give rise to gastric distress. Due to the varying amounts of contaminants that could still be contained in health-food grade, it is questionable as to whether it is safe at high levels. A typical one-gram capsule of health-food grade fish oil contains approximately 300 mg. of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
Pharmaceutical-grade Fish Oil -- the newest generation of fish oil.
Pharmaceutical-grade fish oils start with thermally fractionated health-food grade fish oils. These oils are then distilled, using a highly complex refining technology, into fractions rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. According to manufacturers, it typically takes about 100 gallons of health-food grade fish oil to make one gallon of pharmaceutical-grade fish oil.
Individual fractions are then combined to provide a 2:1 ratio of Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) for the finished fish oil product. Scientific studies conducted with pharmaceutical-grade fish oils that used a 2:1 ratio of EPA and DHA reported significant clinical benefits.
Pharmaceutical-grade fish oils are exceptionally low in long-chain monoenes, PCB's and other pollutants. Pharmaceutical-grade fish oils are believed to be the safest to take in high doses. A typical one-gram capsule of pharmaceutical-grade fish oil will have a minimum of 600 mg. of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
Pharmaceutical-grade fish oils are a fairly new product and a good-quality source may be difficult to find. In addition, pharmaceutical-grade fish oils definitely cost more - sometimes twice as much. This increased cost is an outcome of the complex process used to remove impurities. Each step in the refining process adds additional production costs.
For instance, OmegaRx developed by Dr. Barry Sears and recommended in his book, The OmegaRx Zone - The Miracle of the New High Dose Fish Oil, starts with health food grade fish oil which then goes through nine additional steps to make it pharmaceutical grade quality. Pharmaceutical-grade fish oils generally taste better and the amount of long-chain monoenes, which cause gastric distress, are dramatically reduced.
About The Author
Bev Storer is a writer and researcher in the field of nutrition and nutritional supplements. To learn more about pharmaceutical-grade fish oil, visit her website or e-mail her directly at [email protected].
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