For a long time, we’ve been raving about the importance of healthy fats and Omega 3s. One product fuelling this beautiful omega fire, is Bare Biology’s Lion Heart liquid and capsules. It’s hands down incredible for many reasons, and has become a staple in our diet at Fitty HQ (so much so, you’ll find the capsules featured in June’s box).
We’ve sat down with Melanie Lawson, the founder of Bare Biology, to find out more, including what to really look for in a supplement, and what makes Lion Heart so brilliant.
A: If you visit a nutritional therapist or read any advice about which supplements to take, Omega 3 is always the first one on the list. Widely believed to be one of the main reasons we developed as a human race to become the intelligent beings that we are, anthropological research shows that populations based near the sea or rivers developed intelligence at a much faster rate because they ate lots of fish.
Our skin contains DHA and Omega 3 fatty acids are responsible for the health of the skin’s cell membrane, which acts as a barrier to harmful compounds and impacts the cell’s ability to hold water. A healthy barrier keeps our skin moisturized, soft and plump. Clinical trials have also shown the anti-inflammatory effect of Omega 3 on conditions such as psoriasis, acne and rosacea.
60% of our brain matter is fat of which about 20% is DHA, which is required for healthy synapse formation, mood regulation, babies’ brain development in the womb and during breastfeeding.
There are many other health benefits for all ages and most people in western societies have an Omega 3 deficiency, so it’s a great addition to any health regime.
A: There are several types of Omega 3, of which the most important are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), found in their highest concentrations in oily fish like sardines or mackerel. Seeds and nuts contain ALA (like flaxseed or chia), which our bodies have to convert into EPA and DHA (the fish have already done this for us) but our bodies aren’t good at this and studies show that only about 4% is converted. Most people don’t eat oily fish at all and the Omega 3 levels in farmed salmon have halved in the last few years.
The other problem is Omega 6. It’s found in vegetable oils and seeds among other sources and is way too abundant in our diets, which can cause health problems. Omega 6 is pro-inflammatory and blocks the absorption of Omega 3 as they compete for the same conversion enzymes. In other words, you could be eating lots of oily fish but if you’re eating lots of Omega 6 from vegetable oils you could be cancelling out the goodness.
A: Most businesses start in the same way – you can’t find a product or service you want, or you can’t find one that meets all your standards, so you decide to do it yourself. And my business is no different. I had been using high strength Omega 3 for my own post natal depression but struggled to find a really good brand here in the UK. Once I understood what to look for in a supplement (see below!) I realised there weren’t any available that I would be happy to give to my own children. Most lack any guarantees of purity, none are transparent about their ingredients and nearly all taste awful or repeat on you!
A: We get the most amazing emails, some of them bring tears to our eyes! People with arthritis who can move their fingers properly for the first time in years. Parents who’ve had letters home from teachers who say their child is transformed. People who’ve had horrific psoriasis on their scalp and it clears up within days of taking our Lion Heart liquid. It’s the best bit about running this business!
A: Absolutely! It partly depends on the rest of your diet, but people normally notice their skin has improved (this can happen in the space of a few days) and knees are less achey or they feel more ‘alert’. Pretty much everyone benefits from taking Omega 3 because, as I said earlier, most of us aren’t eating any!
A: There are so many! But the one that always stands out is when I was stocked in Liberty a few months after I launched the business. I am still so proud of that achievement and we’re still stocked there, which is quite unusual!
A: We source it from wild, small fish like mackerel, sardines and anchovies. We only use fisheries that are certified as sustainable. Our oil is then purified in Norway and we then bottle and encapsulate it here in the UK.
A: #1 First of all, fish or veggie?
Unless you’re a strict vegetarian, choose a fish oil rather than a vegetable or seed oil such as flax or chia. In vegetarian sources, the Omega 3 is in a form known as ALA and our bodies have to convert this into EPA and DHA (the most important types we need). Most people convert very little, in the region of 5% if we’re lucky. These oils are also very high in Omega 6, which isn’t good for us in large amounts and counteracts the benefits of Omega 3.
#2 How to read the label to understand what you’re getting for your money.
The amount of EPA and DHA is crucial. These are the two types of Omega 3 we’re after and the reason for taking a supplement. Don’t be fooled by labels like ‘1,000mg capsules’, this is just the weight of the capsule, the EPA and DHA content is generally less than 20%. A very well known high street brand that calls itself ‘high strength’ has only a few hundred milligrams per capsule. A waste of money and it won’t make any difference to your health because there’s just not enough in the capsule. Read the small print on the back of the label to see how much EPA and DHA you get per dose.
#3 Are you put off because of fishy burps or nightmare childhood memories of cod liver oil?
When you buy fresh fish, it shouldn’t smell at all. A fishy smell is a sign of oxidation, which means the fats have turned rancid. A study done in Australia found that the vast majority of fish oil supplements are rancid. Not only does this mean they repeat on you, oxidized fats are really bad for us. Freshness and careful handling of the oil is key. Look for a brand that publishes its test results for oxidation and that has independent certification.
#4 Purity is so important.
Fish oils can contain high levels of mercury and other types of pollution, like PCBs, from the sea. Pregnant women are advised to avoid certain fish or eating too much tuna due to high levels of mercury, so you need to be sure your fish oil is free from any nasties. Again, look for brands that publish test results and have independent checks done.
#5 The smaller the fish the better.
Look for supplements made from small, oily fish such as sardines or mackerel. They’re small and have short life spans which means they don’t build up large amounts of contaminants from the polluted oceans. If the supplement doesn’t
A: We do indeed! We’re the first UK brand to do this. It’s quite well known in the USA and Canada where people are clued up about making sure their fish oil is pure and safe. We have every single batch tested for purity (things like mercury, arsenic and PCBs – carcinogenic plastic residues in the sea), freshness and strength. We also publish all of our own test results on our website for every batch, nobody else does this. In fact, we test our oils three times before they reach the customer!