Many of us take supplements or eat foods to ensure better health. Getting extra omega-3’s (a type of fatty acid) in our diet has been a common problem for people. We are told to eat fish and certain foods high in omega-3’s, which actually also includes naturally raised and fed chicken and livestock products not just fish. A way people can get around that is by taking fish oil capsules. According to this study however, you may be doing more harm than good by going this route if you aren’t careful about which manufacturer you are using.
Fish oil, like most oils, is very unstable and will go rancid in a relatively short period of time. This includes the oil in those capsules that you are taking. Many times we take these supplements thinking that it’s better than doing nothing, even if it really isn’t doing much at all. However according to this study it turns out that if you are taking fish oil pills that have gone rancid then you are actually causing more problems than if you hadn’t been taking any at all.
Many people store their fish oil in the fridge or freezer to slow down how fast they break down at home, however this study was not studying fish oil that had been left around for too long. This was stuff straight off the shelves. It turns out that most of the fish oil products they tested, which came from a wide sample of sources, were rancid from before they bought the bottle. That means that unfortunately well meaning people are doing more damage to their bodies by buying these sorts of products.
I don’t take a fish oil supplement, and only did for a brief period of time, so I don’t have enough personal experience to advocate for a specific manufacturer. Perhaps I’ll do a follow-up post on that topic. In the mean time make sure your fish oil pills are of good quality and haven’t gone rancid. Some people claim that if you get that “fish flavor” burping then that is a sign that the pill has gone bad. I would instead recommend actually slicing open a pill and then smelling and tasting the material on the inside. If it tastes or smells bad then your batch has gone bad, you didn’t get a bad batch or that your manufacturer is pushing bad product.
This warning also goes on for products like nuts and healthy oils used in cooking as well. While the study didn’t cover anything besides fish oil pills, the same is true in general. You don’t want your oils oxidizing on you. Try to keep your oil products in a cool dark cupboard if it will take a while for you to use them up. At the very least avoid storage in a place like a hot garage. The same is true for nuts. You can also store nuts in the fridge or freezer to further reduce the possibility of this happening. Either way, if the flavor of any of these products has gone even slightly bad throw them out and buy new. I know it seems wasteful, but your body will thank you.