Raising our omega-3 levels, How do we do that? I think fish is the most common way to do that. Can we
get it through farm raised fish? If you don’t life near any oceans to get. What is the best way to increase
our omega-3 levels?
Fish is the most common way of getting omega-3, and there are certain kinds of fish that
have more omega-3 than others. The kind that are rich in omega-3:
Tuna has got quite a bit more omega-3 than just the regular chunk light tuna. Many of the popular fish in America, or seafood’s as I think about shrimp, has almost no omega-3. Cod, pollock, the white fish that they bread and fry at McDonald's, those don't have omega-3. It's not that the breading and frying destroys the omega-3's, it's that they aren't there in the first place. That kind of fish is not the kind of fish to use.
Tilapia is another great example of a fish that has almost no omega-3. It's better than a hot dog, all things considered, but it's not the way to get omega-3's.
There are new ways coming along. Of course, fish oils, that's the common way people get omega-3's.
These oils come from sardines and anchovies typically that are fished off the coast of South America,
and eventually purified and encapsulated, and there's of course, hundreds of varieties of fish oils that
one can get. That's not a bad way to go either. It's probably the easiest way to go in America where
getting fish is difficult.
Farm fish versus wild fish is an issue that often comes up. It's kind of an evolving story. The evidence
that's in published data bases is that the farmed salmon, which is where there is most of the data, has as
much omega-3 as wild salmon because the producers feed the animals omega-3 in their pens, so it's
part of their diet which is where the wild ones get it too. It's a matter of how much you feed them
because fish don't make omega-3 anymore than we do. They have to eat it, so it's a matter of what
they're fed and salmon farmers for years have always been putting fish oil in the food so they'll get the
omega-3's. It was never an issue that farm salmon didn't have omega-3's and wild did. That's not true.
The situations evolving now as the fish farmers are experimenting with other ways to feed their fish
more cheaply because it's sort of like raising pigs. We know a little bit about that from the upper
Midwest. There's a certain phase of their lifestyle ... lifespan ... lifestyle ... certain phase of their life
where the pig is fed a certain ration, and then you finish the animal with a different kind of ration. It
works with cattle as well. The same with fish. There's a certain part of their lifespan where they're given
a diet that might not have much omega-3, but the last few months when they're growing fast and
getting ready for market, that's when they switch to the omega-3 rich diet. People can say, "Oh, they're
feeding fish vegetable oils." That's true, but it's not the way they finish them.
I still think farm salmon is a good source of omega-3, and it's certainly more affordable for most people.
I'd rather have them eat that than not eat salmon at all because they can't afford it.
Now let’s talk about the supplement form. Is that an equally good way to get omega-3's?
My fundamental bias is I'm a nutrition scientist, so we always like to say eat food, get your nutrients
from food, but we've done some experiments where we compared eating salmon and albacore tuna to
taking capsules, a direct head to head experiment to see how much omega-3 levels went up in the
blood, and it turned out that they went up the same when you give them the same amount on a weekly
basis. We gave 2 meals a week of the oily fish and every day we gave capsules, such that the sum of
omega-3 over the whole week was the same. The blood levels after 4 months were the same, so I think
as a source of omega-3 you could do oily fish or capsules and get the same benefit.