Supplementing with Omega-3s: Truly Pastured Meat/Fats, Marine Phytoplankton or Fish/Seafood (and why we stopped recommending fish oil supplements years ago)

We stopped recommending and using fish oils many years ago. Over time, we have significantly reduced our selection of fish oil supplements so that we now only special order a few supplements (Standard Process Calamari Oil and the Eskimo-3 Oil), for those that request it.
Instead of using fish oils, we maintain an outstanding selection of frozen sustainable, low-contaminant seafood/fish, which we find much healthier and safer to use over any processed/highly refined supplement, including fish oil and krill oil. (BTW: We do not condone or support the use of krill oil due to the harmful and high risk impact to fragile marine ecosystems. If you are currently using krill oil, we urge you to please reconsider. Learn more here, here and here and here and here.)
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In 2017, we brought on Oceans Alive 2.0 Marine Phytoplankton as a omega-3 supplement and feel very good about the use of this safe, clean, sustainable, and certified organic choice for those looking for a replacement to the use of fish oils.
One of the primary reasons we do not recommend fish oil is the serious problems associated with these highly refined, processed oils coupled with having an outstanding local supply of wonderful, healthy, sustainable, low-contaminant, clean seafood through our an excellent local sustainable seafood distributor. We are so fortunate to have this supply readily available to us and available at an affordable price, as well.
Since the very inception of developing/manufacturing our own SFRAW Formulas, we were committed to never including or relying upon refined/processed, synthetic, “natural” or isolated vitamin & mineral supplementation. SFRAW Formulas incorporate only 100% whole food ingredients to supply added vitamins and minerals, as needed.
Thus, SFRAW Formulas have never included fish oils; instead, we grind in fresh/frozen whole sardines (most flavors) or oysters (in our Turkey Formula). For our “fish-free/cat-friendly” Rabbit & Pheasant Formulas, we rely on truly pastured duck fat and truly pastured fresh duck egg yolks — these whole food ingredients provide many of the same omega-3 fat benefits plus other excellent co-factors/vitamins/minerals, without the use of seafood.
AVOID ALL FISH/SEAFOOD FOR KITTIES
Some of the key reasons why we do not recommend feeding fish or seafood to felines include:
  • ADDICTION: seafood and fish is highly addictive to most cats and can alter their appetite in an unhealthy way. Getting just a taste of fish/seafood can make your cat a much more finicky eater; they may refuse meals that do not include a seafood/fish as an ingredient. Nearly all commercial cat foods include fish/seafood which can make your cat addicted to these processed foods. After quickly developing a seafood addiction, any food that does not have a fish/seafood as part of the ingredients will often be refused. It is possible to work though this issue of course, and be successful, but it is very time consuming and requires deep commitment and patience.  It is a very difficult task that can take up to a year or longer to free them from.  Not worth it!
  • LINKED TO COMMON FELINE DISEASES: seafood and fish have been linked to the following health conditions in cats:
    • FLUTD/FUS
    • Urinary crystals and urinary tract infection
    • Renal (kidney) disease
    • Hyperthyroidism
    • Allergies
    • Thiamine deficiency (may cause severe neurological symptoms including: seizures, stupor, head tilt, ataxia, coma, and left untreated can even be fatal)
    • Vitamin K deficiency (symptoms include prolonged blood-clotting time and hemorrhaging)

From our experience, it is our STRONG recommendation to avoid any and all fish or seafood with felines.  Seafood and fish are not a safe or healthy choice for our feline friends. You can learn more about this topic here.

FISH VS FISH OIL
We recommend using actual, whole, fresh/frozen FISH or other whole food sources (truly pastured egg yolks, truly pastured animal fats/ghee, marine phytoplankton) as an Omega-3/EFA supplement over fish oils for several reasons. The primary reasons are SAFETY, stability, and wholesomeness.
FISH-OIL-DNM-1
In general, there are an array of benefits (and reduction in possible risks) provided by consuming a whole foods over a refined & processed supplement.
Fish oils, in particular, is at high risk for contamination, lacks the full EFA profile found in whole fish, plus important co-factors found only in the whole food. But, the biggest risk is that if it is simply not a stable product. This means that feeding fish oils may even contribute to and promote, rather than prevent: inflammation, cancer and other diseases. Ironically (and tragically), by supplementing with fish oils, you could end up causing or creating the very problems that you are using fish oils to prevent or address!
Whole fish/seafood contain a more complete fatty acid profile than fish oil including the elements with the most research focus: EPA and DHA (found in fish oil). Not only does whole fish and seafood such as Green-Lipped Mussels, Clams and Oysters have a better fatty acid profile than fish oil supplements, but these foods supply a balanced and safe source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids along with highly digestible protein, vitamins B12, E & D, selenium, iron, copper, and zinc.  Important co-factors aid with the safe, balanced absorption of beneficial nutrients in a totally stable, whole food format.
  • Selenium, in particular, is important because it protects against mercury toxicity.
  • Zinc supports the immune system, reproduction, and improves the condition of skin/hair.
Balancing sustainability concerns and contamination risk with the benefits consuming omega-3 rich seafood options is important.  We recommend the following:
  • Sardines (1693mg omega-3/100 grams; avg mercury 0.013 ppm)
  • Anchovies (1478mg omega-3/100 grams; avg. mercury 0.016 ppm)
  • Wild Alaskan Coho salmon (2143mg omega-3/100 grams; avg. mercury 0.039 ppm)
  • Atlantic Mackerel (2670mg omega-3/100 grams; avg. mercury 0.05mg ppm)
  • Herring (2418 mg omega-3/100 grams; avg. mercury 0.078 ppm)
  • Shrimp (540 mg per 100 grams; avg. mercury 0.009 ppm)
  • Oysters (672 mg of omega-3/100 grams) are good sources of vitamin D, vitamin B12, copper, zinc, and selenium.
  • Clams (396 mg of omega-3/100 grams) are high in vitamin B12, selenium, iron, and manganese.
  • Mussels (866 mg of omega-3/100 grams) are high in vitamin B12, selenium, and manganese.
Green-lipped mussels offer an especially high proportion of omega-3 fatty acids in the forms of EPA and DHA. These omega-3s combine with a unique phosphorylated glycogen to inhibit the formation of pro-inflammatory compounds. They are rich in glycosaminoglycans (similar to chondroitin sulfate), a substance that helps the body to regenerate cartilage.
WHEN DO YOU NEED TO SUPPLEMENT WITH OMEGA-3?
Truly pasture-raised and/or fresh/living grass-fed/grass-FINISHED fat contains more omega-3s/lower omega-6s (much better ratio!), more stearic acid; and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a natural trans-fat formed in the rumens of animals like cows and lamb. CLA has anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory properties; 
So, you may not need to supplement with a source of omega-3 fat at all if you already feed a diet exclusivity of raw, non-ground, fresh or flash frozen and stored at under -20 degrees:
  1. 100% truly pasture-raised and/or fresh/living grass-fed/grass-FINISHED (never fed grains, not supplemented with dry forage) or truly wild meat/eggs/dairy/seafood and..
  2. you do not remove the skin/fat naturally present; to provide the full nutritional benefits of animals raised in this manner, be sure to include a moderate to high (to tolerance) amount of raw (naturally attached/included) or low-temperature rendered/heated fats from these animals

Under these circumstances, you may not need to supplement with ANY omega-3s at all because animal protein, raw eggs and raw dairy that is raised in this specific manner are naturally rich in omega-3s and have a nice omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.

However, unless you can get fresh or flash-freeze freshly processed truly pasture-raised, and fresh/living grass-fed/grass-FINISHED meats exclusively, and then do not grind it and also store it at -20 degrees F (or -80 degrees F for less than 6 months), changes in the fatty acid profile will occur.  It may not be a significant change, but changes do occur.  Also, a lot of “grass-finished” beef and lamb are finished on dry forage (hay/alfalfa), which is significantly better than being finished on grain, but not the same as being finished on living green grassy/diverse pasture.

Seasonality/quality of the forage available to pasture-raised/grass-finished animals, handling and processing all have an impact on the quality of the fatty acid profile (and vitamin/mineral profile) of the meat/dairy/eggs.

Even if you are able to source these meats fresh or properly frozen, we live in a toxic and stressful world, which can be damaging to our health and our animal’s health. Stress can be a trigger for inflammation, and so providing increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids (and a good omega-3 to omega-6 ratio) can be both protective against the changes stress and inflammation can have on the body.

Bottom line: it’s a good idea to supplement the diet with omega-3 rich foods! 
USING FISH & SEAFOOD
Our suggestion is to incorporate high omega-3, low-contaminant, sustainable, properly handled & stored flash-frozen/stored at proper temperatures fish/seafood from trusted sources in the regular diet.  We recommend the amount you feed hover around 10% of the total menu/meals being fed.
Here are some ways you can safely use fish/seafood in your dog’s diet:
  1. When fed daily or at every meal: try not to exceed 2 oz. fish/seafood per lb of other foods being served
  2. Add fish/seafood to meals 2-4/days week; incorporate as often as is practical for you and what makes sense for your dog
  3. Feed an exclusive meal of 100% fish/seafood at the following rate: one (1), 100% fish/seafood meal for every seven-ten (7-10) seafood/fish-free meals.

Canned seafood is an alternative choice for times when you can’t source/transport fresh or frozen (travel, boarding, camping, etc.) Canned seafood is great to keep in your pantry to use as a quick and easy meal for times when you forget to defrost something, or an on-the-go snack!  We like the following brands: Wild Planet, Vital Choice, Bar Harbor and Bela Olhão.

GRASS-FINISHED/TRULY PASTURE-RAISED EGGS & DAIRY FOR OMEGA-3S

Fresh raw dairy and eggs, when raised properly and naturally, are outstanding seasonal additions to any fresh foods diet and a nice source of omega-3 fatty acids.  Dogs and cats can both enjoy these foods; egg yolks, in particular are a very good source of bio-available nutrition for felines. These foods provide a wonderful source of nutrients, including omega-3s, when sourced from producers raising their animals entirely on fresh pasture, and raised outdoors. They can be added to the daily diet freely during the seasons when they are available – start with a small amount to see how your animal tolerates dairy and eggs first, then you can add any reasonable/moderate amounts to their menu/meals, just as long as they tolerate it and do not gain weight.

Milk, kefir, yogurt, butter, and cheeses should be made using raw milk — sheep, goat and camel milk are best for dogs/cats, but raw truly pastured/grass-finished cow milk is also very good.  Sheep milk has a unique benefit of calming dogs and helping with itchy pets: the high magnesium and B12 content has a relaxing, mood elevating and calming effect. In fact, sheep milk cheese is being used as part of Behavior Modification programs for dogs with Separation Anxiety and noise phobias.  The higher the fat content of the dairy you feed, the more omega-3 you will be feeding, so be sure to select the higher-fat options if seeking the omega-3 benefits.

Ghee made in the traditional vedic manner, from truly pasture-raised/grass-finished dairy (look for A2 milk/cows) and stored in glass jars, is a way to incorporate the omega-3 benefits of dairy year around and we highly recommend using ghee as part of our animal’s diet. Our two favorite brands are Fourth & Heart and Ancient Organics.

Eggs from truly outdoor/pasture-raised chickens and ducks will provide an excellent source of many important and beneficial nutrients, as well as a great source of omega-3s. Duck eggs provide significantly more nutritional benefits when compared to chicken eggs, so if you can source fresh, local pasture-raised duck eggs, and your animals enjoy and tolerate them, this is your best choice nutritionally.  If you feed eggs a few times a week, you can offer them raw with the shell.

Eggs to the rescue! Eggs are one of those wonderful fresh foods with a long-shelf life that you can rely on for a quick and easy meal for those times when you forget to defrost something.  They are easy to prepare scrambled or boiled; or simply feed whole/raw; you can also soft-boil and store in the fridge for an easy “on-the-go” snack, full meal or supplemental food.

Feed Your Yolks Raw, but Cook Those Whites: To get the full nutritional benefits provided by eggs, the egg yolks should be fed raw. However, if you feed eggs daily or frequently for months/years, we recommend cooking/heating the egg whites to alter a protein that may inhibit biotin availability over time.

Egg whites contain high levels of avidin, a protein that binds to biotin strongly. When cooked, avidin is partially denatured and binding to biotin is reduced. Biotin is an important b-vitamin for dogs/cats that is very important for nails/skin/hair health. Soft-boiling your eggs or preparing the whites and yolks separately are two popular ways to achieve this.

There are a number of safer, cleaner, and more nutritious whole food options to rely upon for your omega-3 supplementation besides using fish oil.  It’s fun tor try new foods as they become available and to incorporate the best of each season for seasonal foods. If you focus on sourcing whole foods from producers that raise their animals outdoors on pasture, these foods will provide a naturally occurring omega-3s, but also an abundance of many other important bioavailable vitamins and minerals that are often missing from conventionally grown meats/dairy/eggs and fish oil/omega supplement products.  In our opinion, it is safer and more nutritionally beneficial to feed foods in their whole, unadultered format to provide the best nutrition possible rather than specific nutritional elements extracted/isolated or derived from the whole.

In Good Health!

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