Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Omega-3s - which source for you? Is it sustainable?

Remember that ghastly cod-liver oil that your mother made you swallow? Of course only those of a particular vintage will ... and there’s no need to ’fess up, the value of marine-oil based products is actually very old! But now that everybody’s in on the benefits, how sustainable are those fish stocks?

Communities, whether coastal dwellers or not, have always valued what came from the sea. The Incas made treks from the mountains to the coast to harvest fish, which they dried and took back to their Andean villages. Dr. Weston-Price wrote about traditional societies who went to great length to obtain fish roe for the young men and women of child-bearing age. Today, fish-oil based products offer support for immune, inflammatory, circulatory, neurological and other conditions, making the omega market top of the pops in the natural medicine arena. The science is undisputed, the doctors have embraced it, the public is fully aware, so now the issue is the best sources of omegas and their wise husbandry.

Currently, the major source of omega-3s is the massive anchovy schools that feed on unicellular organisms in the cold upwelling of the Humboldt Current off the Peruvian Coast. Supposedly sustainably managed by the government, the anchovy numbers are also defined by the El Niño and La Niña events and on a longer cycle, by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. These events are well-known for making management a less than exact science, with experts deeming this source currently close to its limits.

There are other “boutique” sources of fish-sourced omegas, and as extraction techniques improve, as currently discarded viscera are utilised and as our understanding of the “other” omegas improve (e.g. omega-9, omega-11 from Alaskan salmon), supplies look reasonably secure. Also from the sea, Antarctic krill, managed uncharacteristically well by an International body, nowhere near its maximum limit ... just yet. Finally, the quickly evolving, but still largely untapped source of premium-priced omegas - algae! 

With benefits undisputed for all ages and life stages, especially during pregnancy and foetal development, it’s a question of do your homework and pick your omega product! 
Take it regularly!

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