I was having a discussion with a friend the other day about supplementation versus eating wild caught Alaskan salmon. As you can imagine, this type of conversation usually get pretty testy as opinions overrule. Yes, it would be great if everyone could get everything they need from what they eat, but at some point, reality has to set in. I could make the arguments that today’s food is not as nutritious as it was years ago but you could read Michael Pollen’s books and get a far better explanation. One of my favorite quotes is “The alarming fact is that food – fruits and vegetables and grains – now being raised on millions of acres of land that no longer contains enough of certain needed nutrients, are starving us no matter how much we eat of them.” U S Senate Document 264, 1936.
I could ask the question, how many times a week do kids and adults really eat good salmon? One of the thoughts that went through my mind was from last year before I retired from the Army. The Army’s head dietician said last year the Army is making changes to make Omega 3 more available by offering fish three times per week in the dining facilities. Would that be Alaskan salmon or wild caught tuna? Probably tilapia or another farm-raised fish that is essentially void of omega-3s. And how many 18-years do you know would choose a battered fish over the cheeseburger line? I love the optimism of Dietitians. Just eat right and life will be grand. Is it optimism or naivety?
It’s not just dieticians. Here’s a quote from a doctor who founded and runs a preventive medicine clinic: “It has become abundantly clear that taking multivitamins as an insurance policy is an old wives’ tail that may be associated with increased morbidity and mortality. We have eliminated such products from our offering… We also believe that fish oil is a viable supplement but not nearly as healthy as eating Wild Alaskan Salmon.”
That is absolutely true! If it were just reality. Then it dawned on me that one thing to consider is economics. A 6 oz portion of wild Alaskan salmon contains approximately 2,000 mg of EPA and DHA, or 3 to 7 times more than standard fish oil capsules, depending on the concentration. Yesterday, I bought a beautiful piece of wild caught Alaskan sockeye salmon, 2.2 pounds! Regularly $19.99/pound, it was on sale for only $10.99/pound. So I spent $23.30 (retail $42.38) for one meal for my family of four in which we ate about 2,500 mg of omega-3s (and who knows how much mercury!). That is for just one meal. Purchasing a good concentrated supplement, I can “feed” my of four the same amount of omega-3s with supplements every single day for a week for the same price (on sale) without the worry of contaminants, PCBs, and mercury; almost two weeks at the retail cost.
I wish we could get everything we need from our food supply and eating right. But when we don’t (and we don’t all do so, do we?), then it’s good to know my family is starting every morning with a healthy amount of omega-3s before heading off to school and life. Having salmon and tuna for two meals a week is a bonus on top.