Fish oil "pills" and capsules are an extremely convenient and inexpensive way to get the nutrition of seafood without the fats you don't need. Fish oil "pills" are usually labeled as capsules, containing liquid fish oil loaded with essential fatty acids.
Why You Need Omega-3 Supplements
Two kinds of fatty acids are considered "essential." This means that they are needed for us to stay alive, and we have to get them from food. These two kinds of fatty acids are the omega-6 essential fatty acids found in most plant oils, and the omega-3 essential fatty acids found in fish and marine algae.
The two kinds of essential fatty acids are turned into hormones that perform opposite but equally important tasks.
The omega-6 essential fatty acids become the hormones that cause inflammation. The process of inflammation keeps us alert, activates the immune system to fight disease, and gets rid of dead tissue so new tissue can grow in its place.
The omega-3 essential fatty acids become the anti-inflammatory hormones that keep the pro-inflammatory hormones in check. Ideally, we need a balance of both kinds of hormones made from both kinds of essential fatty acids. In real life, almost everyone has a tremendous excess of the pro-inflammatory hormones due to consuming far too much omega-6 and far too little omega-3.
Why Fish Oil Is the Best Omega-3 Supplement
There are a number of food rich in omega-3's. Some of the same plant oils that are loaded with omega-6 essential fatty acids also provide omega-3's, especially chia seed oil, perilla seed oil, and flaxseed oil.
But since they also provide omega-6 essential fatty acids and the health need is to improve the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6, they don't provide the desired effects on diseases caused by inflammation.
You can certainly get all the omega-3's you need by eating cold-water fish, lots and lots of cold-water fish, every day. If you eat Atlantic mackerel, wild Atlantic salmon, fresh sardines, or kippered herring, a single 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving, each and every day, will provide the minimum amount of omega-3 essential fatty acids needed for health.
But you also get other kinds of fat and any kind of bacterial contamination that could be picked up from the boat to your home. And there is no way to remove ocean water pollutants or heavy metals from the fish you eat.
How to Recognize the Best Brands of Fish Oil for Omega-3 Supplementation
All brands of fish oil are not created equal.
It's an absolute must to confirm that any brand of fish oil you use for omega-3 supplementation has been distilled to remove heavy metals such as mercury and environmental pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
If you have been asking "Are fish oil pills safe? Are fish oil capsules safe?" then this will tell you that they are.
It's also an absolute must to confirm that your brand of fish oil contains at least 500 milligrams of DHA and EPA (in any combination) in each capsule. The reason you want as much DHA and EPA as possible in every capsule you take is that products that don't contain the full amount of these omega-3 essential fatty acids make up the difference with "marine products" that can upset your stomach and give you "fishy breath."
High-quality fish oil is safe, inexpensive, and effective. Taking at least 1 gram of DHA and EPA every day can improve your lab results, and 5 grams can make major, visible changes in inflammatory disease.