Fish Oil and Violent Behavior

According to The UltraMind Solution by Mark Hyman, M.D., a study published in 2002 in the British Journal of Psychiatry, prison inmates who supplemented with adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and Omega-3 fats, experienced a 35% reduction in felony-related violent crime while in prison.

So, I guess the lesson is if you know someone who is getting ready to be violent, take them to a seafood buffet!

Let Them Eat Fish

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When about 7 or 8, I discovered fried clams, and was so impressed with the delightful bland mollusk, that I even did a report on it as a 4th grader. While clams didn’t raise my Omega-3 levels significantly, I did become interested in seafood, which probably did ensure that my Omega-3 levels were higher than many kids today. However, it wasn’t until 2004 that I became a seafood freak, which is to say, if seafood is a choice on a menu today, I almost always order it. I began eating more fish in 2004 because I took the GRE that year, and I wanted a brain boost. My scores were much higher than when I took it in 2000. Whether fish oil was responsible is debatable (I also studied like crazy), but I believe I am healthier for it.

I take 2 grams of fish oil a day, which gives me 360 mg of EPA and 240 mg of DHA, both abbreviation for Omega-3 fatty acids in most seafood. I also tend to consume a decent amount of seafood products, which means I am further benefiting from the goodness of Omega-3 fats. Apparently, children in North America aren’t quite as fortunate. In a recent study, only 22 percent of children met the U.S. and Canadian minimum recommend intake of 90 mg of EPA or DHA per day.  90 mg is a pretty low amount to begin with, and most kids studied weren’t even getting this! Considering a deficiency of Omega-3 fats can lead to concentration problems (and a host of other issues), giving our kids more salmon, tuna, and even fish oil softgels might be a good idea. At all the schools I have been to (as a teacher or student), I recall rarely having non-fried fish, and only having fried fish occasionally. And we wonder why Johnny can’t read, Michael can’t concentrate, and Samantha can’t get through the day without pharmaceuticals.

How to Raise Your Teenage Son’s IQ

Finally, something to make teenage boys smarter! A recent study shows that teenage boys who consumed a lot of fish scored higher on intelligence tests than boys who ate little fish. I have often wondered if the recent rise in behavoral problems and hyperactivity is due to low consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids. I have seen the diets of many children and teenagers, and most I know consume an abundance of saturated fats and Omega-6 fats, but very few Omega-3 fats. Some of the best sources of Omega-3 fats are white (albacore) tuna and salmon. There is also the option of fish oil softgels, which are relatively inexpensive.

Fish Oil: October 2008 Nutrient of the Month

Fish Oil really isn’t a nutrient per se, but an oil that contains a high concentration of Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA. Most 1000 mg softgels are standardized to contain 18% EPA and 12% DHA. You may have heard before that fats are bad, so you avoid eating fatty fish or taking fish oil softgels. Fats, especially the wrong kind (like saturated fats and trans-fats), in excess amounts can be bad for you, but ensuring that you get the right amount of the good fats is very important to your health.

I have been taking fish oil softgels, and eating a lot of fish, since 2004, when I began studying for the GRE. I did this because I read fish oil was good for the brain, and studies have shown that it halts cognitive decline. It also seems to help treat depression. Fish Oil supplementation has been found to benefit Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD. So, before trying drugs to treat these increasingly common disorders, it makes sense to give good old fashioned fish a try.

Additionally, fish oil has been found to be beneficial against heart disease, cancer, and obesity. When I went looking for studies on fish oil, I found a great site that contains virtually every study I was familiar with, and many, many others, Oilofpisces.com. I recommend checking it out for fish oil information and news.

Humans used to eat 2 grams of Omega-6 fats (e.g. Linoleic Acid) for every 1 gram of Omega-3 fat (e.g. DHA). Today the ratio is 10-20:1. This is because we eat a lot of foods rich in Omega-6 fats, like Corn Oil, but not a lot of foods rich in Omega-3 fats. This out-of-whack ratio creates many problems in the body, which explains why supplementing with Omega-3 fats is effective in treating a variety of conditions.

You may be asking, what about mercury? Doesn’t fish contain mercury? Unfortunately, some fish do contain high concentrations of mercury. The worst offenders are bigger fish like swordfish, tuna, and king mackerel. Wild (not farmed) Pacific salmon is one of the safer bets. Higher quality fish oil softgels are generally mercury free, because supplement companies use smaller fish to make the fish oil, and any mercury present is removed during the distillation process. This page from the EPA has mercury content of common fish.

Emulsified fish oil seems to be better absorbed than regular oil. You can emulsify (mix two unblendable liquids by dispersing one within the other) regular fish oil by taking it with a little lecithin, which is a natural emulsifier. Lecithin is a cheap supplement you can easily buy in bulk. I refrigerate all opened fish oil bottles to prevent rancidity. I also suggest buying fish oil with a little vitamin E (listed as tocopherol or mixed tocopherols on the ingredient list) added to prevent oxidation.

Fish oil may seem like a smelly way to get healthy, but it is well worth the pennies it costs per softgel. Think about the last time you or family ate non-fried fish rich in Omega-3 fats, like Salmon or Albacore Tuna (particularly high in DHA). Can you remember when that was? Well, if you can’t remember it, you should look into fish oil, because it very well may help your family’s health improve significantly. Also, if you can’t remember it, fish oil may just help your memory!

Is it Okay to Break Open a Fish Oil Capsule?

Somebody searched this phrase to get to our site, so I thought I would answer the question.

From my personal experience, yes, it is okay to break open a fish oil softgel and consume the contents inside. However, remember, we are not talking about tasty olive oil here, but fish oil, so don’t be surprised if, when you break it open, it smells and tastes like FISH.

I know what fish oil tastes like from experience. I bring some vitamins to work to take with lunch. One day, when I brought my lunch to work, I kept it in the refrigerator until lunch. Brilliant me decided to keep the fish oil softgel in the bag with the almonds, which was in my lunch bag, because I refrigerate my open fish oil softgels (so they won’t go rancid quickly). By lunch, I had forgotten there was a fish oil softgel in the bag with my almonds, and when I bit down into a handful of almonds, I felt a squirt of fish oil burst in my mouth. It was not a pleasant experience. Needless to say I don’t mix softgels with almonds anymore.