Lifestyle & Culture

The Promise of Fish Oil

November 10, 2019



LIKE MANY people my age, I’m falling apart. Fortunately there are savvy businessmen out there who understand this trend among baby boomers and cater to it, offering pills, potions and tonics to slow our inevitable deterioration. One of the more popular of these is fish oil. Fish oil is a hit! Every person on the planet who remembers the moment they heard Ricky Nelson died—or even that he lived—probably takes it by now.

A daily dose of fish oil is advised by my doctor as an aid to flexibility and a weapon against that dreaded enemy, inflammation. And my own husband, still young from where I sit, is a confirmed user since his exercise cult pushes it on all their recruits, so the bottle is already on hand, taunting me each time I open the fridge. I’ve been reluctant, mostly because I already ingest so much medicine every day just to tread water, including but not limited to pills for high blood pressure, aspirin for a healthy heart and a handful of ibuprofen whenever the mood strikes me. Besides costing almost fifty bucks for a month’s supply, the stuff, I worry, must taste as bad as it sounds. And how do they get it, anyway? Oil from where? Are the fish harmed in the process? It’s just not for me.

But Maine winters are cold and arthritis hurts. Alone in the kitchen, I inspected the bottle. Stuck on top of the cheery yellow cap is a special yellow, lemon-shaped label proclaiming the product’s “Great Lemon Taste!” On the front, another label shaped like a county fair Blue Ribbon announces that the International Taste and Quality Institute in Brussels awarded it the Superior Taste Award in 2010.  Lower down, on the bottle’s main label, it reiterates Great LEMON Taste! (Notice the word lemon is in all caps this time.) In the small print, it mentions the “refreshing natural lemon taste” and suggests adding it to salads. And of course, natural lemon flavor is one of the listed ingredients.

Bottom line: I took it, it’s gross. Not lemony at all, not great, not refreshing, in fact disgusting. Why can’t they just say “Tastes Like Lemon Pledge” and leave it at that? What are we, children? I am reminded of when I was a toddler and my mother chased me around the house with a spoonful of that scary-pink Pepto-Bismol, much of it spilling so by the time she cornered me under the dining room table there was barely enough left to do me any good. Well, compared with fish oil, Pepto-Bismol is a walk in the park. (Oh yeah, add P-B to my list of meds.)

John Lennon imagined a world with no religion, no countries, nothing to live or die for. Sounds good, but I would add truth in advertising. Imagine. Anyway, I’ve taken fish oil every day now, and I must say that after two weeks it still tastes bad, but I am becoming a bit more flexible.

—Andrea Rouda

Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid

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