There are several things that can potentially slow down the absorption of fish oil, making it less effective. These include:
- Stomach acidity
- Food absorption
- Fat content of the meal
- Temperature of the food
- Type of food consumed
- Type of fish oil taken
- How much fish oil is needed
In general, fish oil is well tolerated when consumed and has a favorable effect on the majority of patients. However, in some individuals, it may cause digestive problems (mostly gastrointestinal irritation and heartburn). It is advisable to consult your personal physician before taking fish oil supplements, especially if you are taking other medications or if you have a history of gastrointestinal problems.
Acidity And Gallstones
As mentioned above, fish oil is partially fat-soluble. The body’s largest fat-soluble organ is its stomach. Hydrochloric acid is produced in the stomach as a result of the presence of food. Sometimes, this acidity can linger even after the meal is consumed. This is called gastric acidity or hyperacidity. In some cases, and especially in patients who are prone to gallstones or a history of them, this condition can cause problems. In the long term, it may lead to the formation of gallstones. In addition, there is evidence suggesting that excess stomach acid may reduce the body’s absorption of calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E.
While it is not known exactly how much stomach acid is needed to disrupt the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, it is known that if the stomach acidity is under control (usually with lifestyle changes and medication), then this problem can be avoided. The best way to control your stomach acidity is by eating more vegetables and avoiding foods that are high in fat. In some cases, a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) or H2 blocker (e.g. cimetidine) may be needed to control stomach acidity. In addition, the fatty acids in fish oil may contribute to the formation of cholesterol crystals within the gallbladder. This may contribute to the development of gallstones. For this reason, it is advisable to avoid taking high-fat meals or foods, especially when eating out or at someone else’s home. Fish oil does not cause gallstones in everyone, but it’s still something to consider if you’re prone to this condition.
If you are taking a fish oil supplement, then it is important to remember that some of it will be deposited in your gastrointestinal tract. This means that some of it will be unavailable for absorption. You need to try to consume it all, or at least the majority of it, in order to achieve the full benefits of the supplement. In some cases, this can be difficult and may require certain lifestyle changes. Especially in the elderly, reduced food absorption may lead to deficiencies in nutrients. This can make it more difficult to sustain a healthy mood, resulting in a poorer quality of life.
Temperature Of The Food
Fish oil is most effective when consumed at room temperature. As it cools down, the effectiveness of the substance decreases. In general, it is better to eat some food as soon as possible after buying it. You do not need to reheat it before consuming it. In some cases, this may not be possible (e.g. when eating out), so it is better to eat something at room temperature if at all possible. In addition, food that is stored at room temperature for a prolonged period of time may lose some of its nutrients. This is especially important for seafood, which deteriorates quickly when stored at room temperature. Make sure to eat it as quickly as possible after buying it, otherwise, you may end up wasting a lot of time and effort while trying to consume it at room temperature. In the case of shellfish, it is better to cook it before eating it, as the raw form contains some toxins (usually harmless toxins, though), which may be harmful if consumed in large quantities.
Type Of Food
Some foods are more effective when eaten with others. For instance, eggs and butter work better when combined with bread than when eaten alone. This is because the bread helps lubricate the food and facilitates digestion. In the same way, some vegetables and fruits work better as a part of a healthy meal than when eaten individually. This is because some of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables are more easily absorbed if the food is combined with other nutritious foods.
Type Of Fish Oil
Not all fish oils are the same. The type of fish oil that is more effective in improving cholesterol levels depends on the content of its marine fatty acids. These acids, when combined with cholesterol, form cholesterol crystals that are more easily removed from the body. In general, fish oil sourced from oily fish, such as salmon and herring, is more effective than that from less oily fish, such as tilapia and carp. In addition, fish oil extracted using chemical solvents (e.g. hexane) is less effective than that extracted using natural vegetable solvents, like coconut or palm oils.
How Much Fish Oil Should You Take?
Although it is usually recommended to take two to four grams of fish oil daily, it depends on the individual needs of the patient. The amount of fish oil that is needed by each person varies, as the body’s ability to absorb nutrients varies from person to person. In general, and as discussed above, food absorption and gastrointestinal acidity determine how much fish oil an individual needs. This can be calculated using the following formula:
(Body weight x 2) + (Body weight x 0.5)
For example, if you’re a man weighing 75 kg (about 170 lbs) and need 4 grams of fish oil daily, then you should take either 16 grams or 32 grams of fish oil, according to the body weight above. If you’re a woman weighing 60 kg (about 132 lbs), then you should take either 12 grams or 24 grams of fish oil, depending on the body weight.
Keep in mind that some people may experience gastrointestinal discomfort or irritation at high doses of fish oil. If you’re not sure whether or not your body can absorb certain amounts of nutrients, then consult your personal physician. Some people may also require a lower dose of fish oil than that recommended by experts, so try out different amounts and see how your body reacts before making a decision.