Patrick Hanlon: What are fish oils and why do fish possess such health benefits for humans?

Emma Buckley: Oily fish (such as sardines, mackerel, trout and salmon) possess high levels of oil which contain the Omega 3 group of essential fatty acids. People with a diet rich in these oily fish, like the native Inuits of Greenland, seemed to have a low incidence of heart disease. After scientists discovered this link, a huge amount of research ensued, looking at the effects of these Omega 3 fatty acids on other markers of health.

One very exciting area of research is how these fatty acids affect cognition and behaviour. It is known that the fatty acid DHA is essential for brain and eye development in babies up to the age of 2 and after 2, EPA is the fatty acid that is important.

PH: How important are fish oils in the modern diet?

EB: Well, they’re incredibly important because they have a positive effect on many different areas of health, from cardiovascular wellness and brain and eye development to healthy skin and hair. They’ve even been linked to achieving a healthy body weight.

As a nation, we are not eating enough oily fish, especially our children, so supplementation is a way to ensure we get these important fatty acids every day.

PH: How do these important oils work in the human body?

EB: If you have a diet that includes a portion of oily fish twice a week, you may have sufficient levels of Omega 3 in your system. If you don’t, then you’ll need to up your levels over a number of weeks to achieve results.

With a natural form supplement like Eye Q, we recommend taking 6 capsules for 12 weeks. This period, called “loading phase”, corresponds to the average time-period needed to build up the body's stores of long chain fatty acids. This regimen was used in clinical studies performed specifically with eye q demonstrating its effectiveness in different skills. Biochemical changes in the brain can occur as rapidly as within 1 month. However, this period varies from one person to another.

Likewise, when ceasing supplementation the high levels of Omega 3 achieved following the loading phase will decline very rapidly to far lower concentrations in a matter of days. By the end of this twelve week period you can start to reduce your daily intake to the maintenance level of two capsules daily.

PH: Do fish oils provide humans with benefits that other multi-vitamins don’t?

EB: Fish oils are not a multi-vitamin supplement. They’re entirely different with different nutrients and different effects. Eye Q is a totally natural form of fish oil from sardines and anchovies and has a perfect ratio of the fatty acids (DHA:EPA:GLA - GLA is the Omega 6 oil from Evening Primrose Oil).

PH: What makes EyeQ different to its competitor supplements?

EB: There is a great variation in the quality and specifications of oils available to consumers. Eye Q is a unique combination of fatty acids, carefully formulated for the specific needs of the brain function. In contrast to most of the other omega-3 and -6 supplements, Eye Q has been researched and tested in several observational and clinical studies (RCT’s) and have proved their efficacy for specific needs.

The oils in our products are of high quality. The fish are harvested at special times of the year when they seasonally consume large amounts of plankton, boosting the amount of EPA they contain. In addition the Eye Q fish oil supplier has been certified to be following the “Friend of the Sea” criteria for Products from Sustainable Fisheries.

They are manufactured under high standards in GMP-certified facilities, using the same standards as drug products. They are completely clean from chemicals, pollutants or pesticides.

Eye Q oils undergo no processes of industrial concentration and thus are in their most bio-available form, readily available for use by the body.

PH: How frequently should the average person be taking supplements?

EB: You should follow the manufacturer’s instructions and do not take more than is recommended. Normally, nutritional supplements are designed to be taken daily.

PH: Should fish oils replace anything in the diet? Should a diet change when incorporating fish oils and other supplements?

EB: Supplements are in addition to a healthy diet, many people require supplementation as they are not receiving enough of the essential nutrients from food alone. A lot of people find that their diets improve as they are simply more aware of their diet and health.

PH: What are examples of some of the best fish to eat for health benefits?

EB: Most fish is great - it’s the ultimate fast food. There are some types of predatory fish like shark and marlin that are advised against as they can have a lot of contaminants in their flesh, but these aren’t the most readily available species in Ireland, so I think we’re safe!

The oily fish are anchovies, sardines, trout, mackerel, salmon and tuna. White fish such as haddock and cod don’t contain a lot of Omega 3 but they’re a wonderful source of protein. Shell fish are great too. I’m a huge fan of fish in general and think it’s one of the best additions you can make to your diet to make it healthier.

Equazen’s Eye Q, have now launched a handy study pack (€25) to help boost memory, concentration and general well-being, which would fit nicely on to a list of exam essentials.