3 Reasons Fish Oil is Bad For You

There’s a lot of talk about Fish Oil these days and a few people have recently asked my thoughts on taking it. I’ve looked for solid, scientifically backed information from people not selling fish or fish oil to help me understand more about the benefits and/or drawbacks. What I’ve found is some great information that you won’t hear from the Fish Oil salesmen and could take you a while to find sifting through the “fish oil miracle” stuff online.

1. Fish Oil is known to contain concentrations of chemicals like PCBs.

2. Oils are 100% fat and fat is unhealthy. Whether it’s from a fish, a cow, or an olive – fat is fat is fat.

3. Although Fish Oil is popular for Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Omega-3’s are available from sources other than fish.

You might be thinking right now that Olive Oil is healthy because it’s from a plant, and you’ve heard how healthy Fish are because of the Omega-3’s. This way of thinking is a combination of reductionist science and marketing. Let me explain: Modern science is obsessed with reducing things down to individual parts in an attempt to find the magic bullet or the cure all, but it doesn’t exist. A grape was not created for the Resveratrol, a carrot doesn’t simply provide beta carotene, and an orange doesn’t exist solely for it’s Vitamin C.

Let’s look at oranges a little closer. An orange has less Vitamin C than bell Peppers or broccoli, yet we associate Vitamin C with oranges. This is because an industry saw how important Vitamin C is to our health, realized that their product, oranges, has Vitamin C, and marketed the heck out of that fact. It doesn’t matter how much Vitamin C an Orange has, it just matters that an Orange has Vitamin C. If Broccoli growers had built a marketing campaign around Vitamin C before the Orange growers, we’d be seeing green when talking about Vitamin C instead of orange.

Fish and Fish Oil appear to be a similar case to the Orange, except an Orange is still good for you. An Orange provides more than just Vitamin C, it provides water, fiber, carbohydrates and antioxidants (which help fight free radicals – something oils promote). Fish, on the other hand, are made up of flesh and fat and contain no fiber, which makes it difficult for our bodies to digest. Fish are also known for their mercury content, a toxic metal that our bodies certainly can’t handle but are exposed to when we consume fish and fish products.

Mercury is not the only toxin found in fish and fish oil. Polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, are commonly found, in high levels, in fish Oil supplements. PCBs are considered carcinogens, or cancer causing, and are also known to cause headaches, cough, fatigue, skin sores and more. There is currently a lawsuit against fish oil companies because they are not disclosing the levels of PCBs and other chemicals present in their products. This is certainly something I’d like to be aware of before considering their products.

To address the fat issue, oils are fat. While there is fat even in the plants that we eat, when whole, they are in the natural form with the fiber, water, and other components our bodies use to digest them properly. They are also in an appropriate ratio of 5-10% of calories from fat. While nuts, seeds, and avocados are an exception and are actually high in fat, most plants are in the lower range. These whole plant foods provide an optimal source and amount of fats helping to keep our bodies slim and healthy.

While a healthy looking body is constantly sought after, a healthy body is most important. Oils work against us in both categories. The fat in oils certainly contribute to today’s common weight problem while oils hurt the health of our bodies by encouraging the production of free radicals. Free radicals damage our cells and contribute to aging. In fact, a study at the Agricultural Research Human Nutrition Center on Aging at Tufts University “…have determined that fish oil reduces the production of T-cells and other lymphocytes by at least 63 percent.” T-cells and lymphocytes are a part of our immune system and help us fight off infections. A 63 percent reduction in the production of T-cells is clearly not the desired effect of a pill taken to improve health. Here again we see a contradiction to benefits claimed by the fish and fish oil industries, industries that depend on people spending their money on the products their pushing.

Now that you’ve seen many of the effects of fish and fish oil you’re probably wondering about those Omega-3’s that are so beneficial and where to get them without fish. Fortunately, like Vitamin C, Omega-3’s have more than one source. In fact, some of the same sources of Vitamin C, such as broccoli, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables are also good sources of Omega-3’s. Cauliflower, winter squash, papaya and those nuts, seeds and avocados we mentioned earlier are good sources as well. Because the nuts, seeds and avocados are high in fat content, it’s recommended to eat small amounts. I’ve seen it suggested that a half an avocado every other day (on average) is a healthy amount to keep your overall fat intake down but still experience benefits.

Fish and fish oil are not requirements for us to live a healthy life. In fact, the opposite appears to be true once we get past the clever marketing. The reductionist science that companies have been using to fuel that marketing leaves the public confused and misled. Although it’s easy for people to forget, humans come from nature, not a lab, and our bodies are designed to consume things from nature that make us healthy and leave us feeling good. Chemically burdened food that’s difficult for our bodies to digest and pills designed in a lab are not healthy, do not promote health, and generally make us sick. I hope this article is helpful in answering your questions about the “benefits” of fish and fish oil.