PEO-Pro™: or why your essential oils shouldn’t come from fish

If you’ve ever purchased and taken an essential oil supplement, chances are it was fish derived. We’ve all heard the hype and seen nutritionists purport their benefits. But what you might not know is that while these supplements are the norm, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that fish oil may in fact be relatively ineffective, if not harmful to the body.

What are essential oils?

While our bodies are remarkable organic machines, capable of producing many of the nutrients we need to survive, they are only able to do so effectively when provided with the right sorts of fuel.

Omega-6 and omega-3 are two of these critical nutrients that must be obtained through diet. Though present in many foods such as leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains, beans and oily fish, the stresses and inconveniences of modern life mean many people can miss out on these vital substances. Or if they do, due to the heavily processed, unbalanced nature of our diets, they’re in an unhealthy ratio.

Why do we need essential oils?

Unsurprisingly, given the importance of omega-6 and omega-3, the health effects of deficiencies in either are varied and potentially severe. At first you might just notice a constant hunger as your body craves nutrients, but chronic deficiencies can lead to abnormalities in the liver and kidneys, reduced growth rate, poor immune function, depression, and fragile and dry skin1.

A range of studies have found strong but inconclusive evidence for a diet high in omega-6 and omega-3 reducing incidence of fatal heart attacks and other ailments, and the prominence and support for the Mediterranean diet has much to do with its heavy inclusion of grains and oily fish2. A diet packed with essential omega-6 and omega-3 may also help to mitigate the damage of modern diets, high in oxidised fats and hydrogenated oils.

What’s wrong with fish?

While we’ve known about the importance of omega-6 and omega-3 for many years, nutritional supplements have traditionally focused on supplying these nutrients from fish sources, and generally in as much volume as possible. Only recently have we realised that we may have been going about things the entirely wrong way.

While fish are certainly rich in omega-6 and omega-3, they are also high in artery-clogging cholesterol. Given the steadily decreasing quality of our oceans, fish are also potentially packed with mercury and other harmful compounds; the same fats that are good for you are also excellent at absorbing and storing toxins3. Though these can be processed out, doing so also reduces nutritional value at much the same rate. Similarly, because fish oils are primarily extracted from cold-water fish, once harvested, they are quickly subject to oxidation and degrade in quality swiftly, further reducing their nutritional value.

Fish oil supplements also tend to lack an appropriate balance between omega-6 and omega-3. If you’ve ever seen a grizzly bear eat the head off a fish (where all the nutritious brains are) and throw away the rest, that’s why4. The brain of the fish is high in omega 6 which the bear welcomes, whilst the fish body is high in omega 3 (which effectively acts as antifreeze for the fish) and which the bear avoids.

While fish are high in both compounds, our bodies need substantially more omega-6 than omega-3, and an irresponsible dosage regime could easily lead to a potentially harmful overdose. That said, we also require a good amount of omega-3 to reduce the impact of any extra omega-6: if your balance is off in either direction, you’re in trouble.

Though not a health issue in itself, the sale of fish oil supplements also contributes to the steady decrease of fish stocks throughout the world. The harvesting of krill oil in the Antarctic is particularly devastating to the environment, with highly concentrated fishing disrupting food-chains and weakening biodiversity. Similarly, the farming of fish such as salmon can cause immense damage to local ecosystems, with close-packed schools becoming the perfect breeding ground for disease and parasites which then infect wild populations. Increasing government regulation is slowing the damage, but the fastest, and surely easiest way, to combat harmful fishing is to move away from marine-based products altogether.

Parent essential oils and their derivatives

Perhaps the greatest misunderstanding around fish-based oil supplements is that they contain “essential” compounds. While the term essential is used remarkably often in advertising material, it actually has a quite strict scientific use. Compounds are considered essential if our bodies are unable to produce them ourselves and they must instead be supplied through diet.

When people say that fish oils contain the “essential” EPA (eicosapentanaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), they are being disingenuous. While you do need to get these compounds through diet, they themselves are not technically essential: the body is more than capable of making its own EPA and DHA from their parent molecules, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and LA (linoleic acid).

If your diet includes a sufficient supply of these parent essential oils, you can wave goodbye to fish supplements forever, and with good reason. By going straight to the parent compounds rather than their derivatives, your body is able to make its own nutrients in the exact proportions it requires, rather than being flooded with stuff it doesn’t need.

A plant-based essential oil revolution?

Because of these increasingly well-known downsides to fish oil supplements, researchers and nutritionists are turning ever more frequently to the world of plants. Seeds are a rich, valuable source of parent omega-6 and omega-3, free of cholesterol, less prone to contamination and oxidation, and easily cultivated, with little environmental impact.

Although plants don’t contain EPA and DHA — the specific omega-3 fats that are found in abundance in oily fish — they do contain the parent compounds ALA and LA, which the body is more than capable of synthesising into both EPA and DHA in varying amounts. Thus, it is possible to gain all the benefits of fish oil through plants without any of the negative implications. It is important to note that this synthesis requires other nutrients, particularly iron and zinc, to be efficient — a valuable reminder that our bodies are too complex a system for any one supplement to serve all of its needs.

Why switch from fish to PEO-Pro™?

PEO-Pro™ is an organic essential oil supplement made from cold-pressed, organically grown seeds including safflower, sunflower and evening primrose. Because it’s made from plants and not juiced fish, it’s free from harmful chemicals and cholesterol so you can be confident about what you’re putting in your body, and it’s sustainable, so you don’t have to worry about damaging the environment either.

PEO-Pro™ is also packed with those all-important parent essential oils, formulated to support your body’s natural omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, and because it’s made from cold-pressed seeds and comes in capsule form, it doesn’t undergo any damaging heating or refrigeration, meaning none of the goodness gets left behind during processing or transport.

Maybe you’ve never tried an essential oil supplement, or maybe you take a marine-based product now: either way, you might be missing out. It’s time to go with the truly green option and give up fish and get onto plants.

Note

The book to read which covers all the science behind this game changing knowledge has been written by Professor Brian Peskin and entitled; The PEO solution.

References

1.Top ten things to know: Omega-6 fatty acids and CVD risk. American Heart Association. http://my.americanheart.org/idc/groups/ahamah-public/@wcm/@sop/documents/downloadable/ucm_319672.pdf. 2. Harris WS, et al. Omega-6 fatty acids and risk for cardiovascular disease: A science advisory from the American Heart Association Nutrition Subcommittee of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism; Council on Cardiovascular Nursing; and Council on Epidemiology and Prevention. Circulation. 2009;119:902. 3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2004). What you need to know about mercury in fish and shellfish: 2004 EPA and FDA advice for women who might become pregnant, women who are pregnant, nursing mothers, young children. Available online: http://www.epa.gov/fishadvisories/advice. 4. Bledsoe, T. 1987. Brown Bear Summer: Life Among Alaska's Giants. New York, New York, E P Dutton. 249 Pp.