The benefits of Omega 3 seem to be thrown at us from all corners – the media, health websites and the medical professionals. Whether you want to reduce the signs of ageing, improve your concentration or lose some excess weight, fish oil seems to be a good supplement to a healthy lifestyle.
Yes, Omega 3 comes with great benefits, but what’s really inside that little capsule that you think is doing you a world of good?
The process of making fish oil capsules isn’t as healthy as you might think. For a start, the fish oil goes through so much pressing, processing and polishing from the minute it comes out of the water that it’s a miracle there’s any real fish oil left. Although the impurities are meant to be removed by using hot water after the oil has been extracted from the fish, it is very difficult to truly remove them all since the water which the fish has come from is so polluted and toxic.
Fish oil producers have gotten themselves into trouble in the past for not warning the consumers about the toxins which are in the capsules, with over half of manufacturers failing to comply with the strict standards; however, people still remain unaware. The oceans and waters of the world are in many ways incredibly polluted. From plastics and other rubbish to the smoke and smog of city areas, the true state of the water is anything but pleasant. Due to the very high toxic density in plastic and the fact that fish often mistakenly consume it while swimming in the sea, the toxins end up in the fish oil capsule that you’re about to take with your next meal.
Other toxins which wind up in your fish oil capsule through the contamination of the water include mercury, the levels of which have risen 30% in the last 20 years. This isn’t a surprise to a lot of people; however, more shocking toxins which are ending up in your body via fish oil include lead, cadmium and even arsenic, something which not many of us would dare to touch. In fact, the world’s water is so polluted and toxic that experts have even suggested there may be hardly any fish left by 2048!
The world’s oceans
The world’s oceans make up a staggering 71% of the Earth’s surface, which means that they cover much more than half of our globe. This, in itself, is one of the many reasons why people continue to dump their trash into the waters. Unwanted plastic, toxic waste and oil spills pollute our oceans on a regular basis, since many people find it difficult to believe that a ‘little bit of trash’ could seriously affect the water. However, the level of waste thrown into the ocean has drastically increased over the last few years, and although individuals might not be tossing vast amounts of waste into the ocean, the small amounts have built up to such an extent that the problem now seems out of control.
These problems are some of the main reasons why so many people choose algae oil as an alternative to fish oil. Consumed in the same way as fish oil, algae oil is suitable for vegetarians and vegans and doesn’t come with the harmful toxins either. Mercury content isn’t a problem with algae oil capsules, since this supplement doesn’t come directly from fish.
Algae oil comes with all the benefits that you want from fish oil, and you can still expect to see improved memory and concentration, healthier bones and joints and reduced signs of aging as you grow older. However, you don’t need to worry about allowing harmful contaminants into your body as a sacrifice for the health benefits of Omega 3.
One of the substances which makes its way into the ocean is mercury, and this is caused mainly by the burning of fossils fuels. The mercury is released into the air, and a combination of wind and rain washes it into the oceans.
The important thing to note about mercury is that the element itself is not very harmful to humans and other living beings. However, methylmercury is very dangerous and is toxic to fish. In turn, it is then dangerous to the humans who decide to consume the fish. Scientists have been studying mercury and methylmercury for years, and it is believed that bacteria is the main reason why mercury changes into a more harmful substance in the ocean.
Mercury poisoning has become rather a large problem over the years, and now it is considered one of the top toxic threats to humans, along with lead and pesticides. Across the world, around 11 million people are at risk from mercury poisoning just because they are within the region of a site which is contaminated by mercury. Others can contract mercury poisoning as a result of eating fish which have come into contact with the substance.
The effects of mercury poisoning
Mercury poisoning certainly isn’t a problem which is taken lightly, and there are many reasons why it is taken so seriously.
Unborn babies and young children can suffer serious damage to their health if they are exposed to mercury. The development of babies and children can be greatly affected in one or more areas. Pregnant women are often advised against eating fish, due to the fact that methylmercury may be in the food.
Inhaling mercury vapor could cause problems for the internal organs, including the kidneys, and in certain cases, could prove to be fatal. The digestive system, lungs and nervous system may also be affected by mercury poisoning.
Fish – to avoid or not to avoid?
One of the main reasons people eat fish is because they are a source of Omega 3. However, it is debatable whether the potential damage caused by mercury outweighs the goodness which can be found in the fish. Many health specialists and dieticians advise eating no more than four portions of oily fish per week. Women and girls who could become pregnant in future should keep their fish portions down to two per week.
Certain types of fish, such as canned tuna, contain higher levels of mercury than other types of fish. However, in order to obliterate the chances of getting mercury poisoning from eating fish, you should look for sources of Omega 3 elsewhere. Flaxseed, nuts and basil are just a few of the foods which contain the fatty acids your body needs.
Since children can suffer from developmental problems as a result of mercury poisoning, many parents avoid feeding their children fish. Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding should also avoid eating fish in order to prevent mercury being passed down to their children.
What can you do?
Stopping mercury poisoning is a huge task, and while we might not be able to end it altogether, there are things that we can do to minimize the problem and prevent it affecting us individually. Many people support charities such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Ocean Conservancy. These organizations work to create cleaner oceans and seas around the world, thus reducing the chances of fish consuming harmful toxins and passing them on to us.
Another way of avoiding mercury poisoning is by cutting fish and fish oils from your diet. There are several ways to replace the goodness of Omega 3, including algae oil or foods such as flaxseed. By taking the necessary precautions and being aware of mercury and its dangers, you can help to prevent yourself from ever suffering health problems as a result of this substance.