If You Only Take One Dietary Supplement...

...Make it Fish Oil.

Cruising the aisles of your neighborhood nutrition store can be mystifying. Online, the options for dietary supplements are endless. The sheer number of vitamins, minerals, herbs, combinations, and vaguely packaged "proprietary blends" may leave you wondering what it is you really need.

At True Fitness and Nutrition, we've built a strong argument for fish oil - a superb source of Omega-3 fatty acids - as your #1 supplement. If you only invest in one nutritional aid, make it fish oil.

A Brief Nutritional Run-Down:

To understand why fish oil is so valuable for your diet, let's look first at the nutritional basics.

Micronutrients: vitamins, minerals, water. They perform important functions in the body, but they do NOT provide energy. As such, they have no calories.

Macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, fat. They also perform important functions in the body, and they DO provide energy. They each have calories associated per gram:

  1. Protein - 4 kilocalories per gram
  2. Carbohydrate - 4 kilocalories per gram
  3. Fat - 9 kilocalories per gram

All of our foods have a combination of both macro and micronutrients. Your carrot is resplendent with Vitamin A, carbohydrates, and water. While some Americans do experience vitamin and mineral deficiencies, the general quality - and especially quantity - of food eaten by most in our country covers the basic amounts of micronutrients. But a profitable industry has blossomed selling supraphysiological mega-doses of micronutrient supplements, and it can be a confusing one to navigate. It's always smart to pump up the array of veggies in your diet, and it's often a good idea to bolster intake of some micronutrients at special times of life (pregnancy, recovering from illness or injury). But we believe that there is one outstanding supplement everyone should take every day, above and beyond food and water.

That supplement is fish oil.

Here's why:

Fish oil is rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, a macronutrient form of dietary fat essential to your metabolic processes (meaning everything that the body does). Omega-3's must be brought into your body through diet, the body can't generate them alone. And guess what? Unlike with the vitamin and mineral micronutrients, hardly anyone gets enough Omega-3's just through food. Even highly conscientious eaters need a helping hand to consume the amount of Omega-3's necessary for a thriving body.

A simple solution? Supplement daily with a high-quality fish oil.

La Beauté D'un Poisson:

Omega-3's are loaded with both physical and mental health benefits:

They lower our risk of cancer, heart disease, and hypertension

They make our skin healthier

They promote healthy joints and bones

They naturally reduce depression

They help torch body fat

Wait a minute - torching body fat? How can a FAT help the body burn FAT? Read on...

The Skinny On Fat:

A vital distinction here - dietary fat is NOT the same thing as subcutaneous fat (body fat). The former is an important macronutrient that the body MUST intake to function. The latter is the body's storage form of energy that hasn't been used. The fat in your salmon filet is NOT the same as the jiggle in your wiggle. In fact, the extra jiggle is more likely a product of too many carbohydrates in your diet. But more on that another time.

For about 2 decades, popular culture villified dietary fat. "Low-fat" (or the adorable "Lo-fat!") diets were all the rage. Because dietary fat is more calorically dense than the other macronutrients, too much dietary fat can quickly equate to too many calories. Low-fat diets tend to be low in calories by default. By and large, less calories consumed means less extra energy for the body to store as jiggle. BUT - and this is a big but - protein and fat have a lot of other functions in the body in addition to providing energy, while carbohydrates are pretty much purely for energy. Plus, more muscle on the body means that it uses more energy. To add muscle and other healthy tissue, you need plenty of protein in your diet AND healthy fats. Moreover, healthy fats (like Omega-3's) help your body use many of the vitamins in your food, and they keep your metabolism moving like a freight train. In short, fat does not make you fat. If consumed intelligently, it can make you leaner than ever.

Chew This Fat: Fish oil dosage

Fortunately, fish oil supplements are swallowed (not chewed). Liquid fish oil is the optimal way to get your daily dosage, since it is much denser in Omega-3's than pill form AND the high quality liquids tend not to produce fishy burp reflux. With a liquid form, you can kick-start your dosage for the first 6 weeks by taking 4 teaspoons (20 grams) per day. That's teaspoons, mind you, not tablespoons. After 6 weeks, 1 to 2 teaspoons is your maintenance dose. We recommend the Carlson brand as a high-quality and great tasting oil. It comes in lemon and orange flavors that are pleasant to take straight by the spoonful, or even tossed into a smoothie or drizzled over roasted veggies or a salad.

If you follow a vegetarian diet, algae supplementation is a fine alternative. The dosage for algae oil is much less than that of the recommended amount of fish oil. If you're taking algae oil, take 2 grams per day for the next 2 weeks. After that, cut the dosage down to 1 gram per day. We recommend Omega-3 DHA+EPA by DEVA.

Helpful suggestions:

* Take it with a meal

* Divide the dose 

* Take it at the same time each day. Program a pop-up phone reminder or use a sticky note to remind yourself.

Recommended brands:

* Fish oil: Carlsson's lemon or orange flavored liquid fish oil

* Algae oil: Omega-3 DHA+EPA by DEVA

Fish oil is safe for almost everyone. Please contact us at True Fitness and Nutrition if you're about to undergo an operation, are currently taking blood thinners, or suffer from hemophilia, and we can help guide you on Omega-3 supplementation.

If you have any questions about fish oil, Omega-3's, or anything else nutrition or fitness related, our team is just an email or phone call away! One of our co-founders, Kim Limon, holds a top nutrition certification from Precision Nutrition and can help you with detailed nutrition guidance for any of your goals.

Thanks for reading - and Take your fish oil!

Jenn Stofferahn, Certified Personal Trainer, True Fitness and Nutrition

jenn@truefn.com, 703-402-1144