By Aaron Lowe

Arguably, few other nutrients in the human diet are as well researched and accepted as being critical for good health—though so rarely consumed—as omega-3 fatty acids. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are as important to our health as they are difficult to pronounce. Without them, our cardiovascular health; fetal and newborn development; and lifelong brain and cognitive health may suffer. In fact, a deficiency in these special fats may lead to higher body fat levels! Most adults, however, don't consume enough of these critical nutrients on a regular basis. So don't let the term "fatty" scare you—some fats are essential to overall health.

Omega-3 for weight loss?

A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (December 2007) suggests how the addition of just a moderate amount of omega-3s can make a tremendous impact on health.

Researchers gave volunteers with type 2 diabetes (adult onset) either fish oil supplements or a placebo for 2 months. At the end of the study, significant reductions in total fat mass and the diameter of fat cells beneath the surface of the skin in the omega-3 group (though not the placebo group) were reported by the researchers. The subjects lost fat weight and the remaining fat cells actually shrank in size!

Moreover—and in my opinion more importantly—risk factors for plaque formation in the arteries, such as the ratio of LDL ("bad") to HDL ("good") cholesterol, were significantly lower as a result of omega-3 supplementation. These results indicated considerable cardiovascular benefits for the subjects.

In another study published in the International Journal of Obesity (Volume 31, 2007), 324 men and women were assigned to four groups:
  1. control (sunflower oil capsules, no seafood)
  2. lean fish (3 x 150-gram portions of cod/week)
  3. fatty fish (3 x 150-gram portions of salmon/week
  4. fish oil (DHA/EPA capsules, no seafood)
What the researchers learned at the end of the study was that the inclusion of either lean or fatty fish or fish oil as part of the same energy-restricted diet resulted in 1 kilogram more weight loss after 4 weeks than did a similar diet without seafood or fish oil supplements. The addition of seafood or the fish oil was considered the contributing factor in boosting weight loss over the sunflower or lean fish groups.

Fatty acid sources

Many people consume foods or supplements that claim to be rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, yet they really aren't getting the benefits that they think they are. Plants, especially nuts and flaxseed, are great sources of one omega-3 fatty acid—alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), but plants, and almost all animal-based foods, are very poor sources of EPA and DHA. The body can slowly convert ALA to EPA and DHA, but regardless of how much ALA people consume, they cannot make enough of the other two to offer health benefits. What all of this really means is that the only effective way to get EPA and DHA in your body in sufficient quantities is to eat food sources that contain them: mainly fatty fish.

The problem with eating fish

Health experts recommend that all adults eat at least two servings of fatty fish every week, and fatty fish like mackerel, sardines, and, everyone's favorite, salmon are the richest sources of EPA and DHA available. As I stated earlier, most of us do not meet that minimum amount, and according to USDA statistics, a great number of adults rarely consume fatty fish at all. To make matters worse, the fatty acid content in fish varies greatly from region to region and only those fish found in cold water, like the Northern Atlantic, have the highest concentrations. If that's not bad enough, the worry of contaminated fish is a genuine concern. For pregnant women, it's a double-edged sword because they are told to eat plenty of fatty fish for the EPA and DHA benefits but are also told not to eat too much fish for fear of heavy metal contamination being transferred to the growing and vulnerable fetus.

Fish oil supplementation is an easy choice

Fish oil supplements are the easiest choice for ensuring that you receive an adequate omega-3 intake every day. Properly formulated and manufactured fish oil supplements will provide the same amount of health-promoting EPA and DHA as a serving of fatty fish. They will also be tested and guaranteed to be pure and free of any harmful contaminants. If they are really state of the art, they'll be produced in a way that minimizes the unpleasant aftertaste.

Beachbody Nutritionals has your solution

Recently introduced from Beachbody Nutritionals is Core Omega-3. As part of our Core Nutrition supplement line, it provides all the benefits of eating fatty fish in a convenient supplement so you can ensure you get the nutrition you need without the worry.

Core Omega-3 contains 600 milligrams of EPA and 400 milligrams of DHA—that's a total of 1,000 milligrams of joint, brain, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. This is the same amount as found in an average serving of salmon. It's sourced from wild, coldwater fish found in the Atlantic, considered the planet's purest source of fish rich in omega-3 oils. For those who have problems "repeating" after taking other fish oil supplements, we utilize a special enteric coating to prevent an unpleasant aftertaste. Finally, Core Omega-3 is guaranteed to be free of harmful polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and heavy metal contaminants. Use it to meet your daily omega-3 needs without the worry or hassle of preparing fresh fish. Use it every day for a lifetime of good health!