Fish oil is among the most consumed dietary supplements. It contains omega-2 fatty acids that are very beneficial for a healthy lifestyle. If you are someone who doesn’t like eating oily fish, taking fish oil supplements can be the right way to get sufficient omega-3 fatty acids. In this blog we have got you some amazing fish oil benefits that will improve your health in various ways.
Incredible Fish Oil Benefits
Before moving to the main point of this piece, let us first talk a bit about what is fish oil. Fish oil is the oil or fat extracted from the fish tissue. Generally, it comes from oily fish like tuna, mackerel, herring and anchovies. Yet, sometimes it is also produced from the liver of other fishes.
The WHO (World Health Organization) suggest eating at least 1-2 portions of fish in a week, to get sufficient omega-3 fatty acids. It provides several health benefits like protection against numerous diseases. However, if you don’t like fish a lot, taking fish oil supplements can be a great substitute to get omega-3 fatty acids.
Supports heart health
Today, heart disease is one of the major causes of deaths across the world. In studies, it has been shown that people who consume a lot of fish have lower rates of cardiac issues. Several risk factors of heart problems can be reduced by consumption o fish oil or fish. The benefits of fish oil for your heart include:
- Cholesterol levels: It tends to boost the levels of HDL ‘good’ cholesterol, but it doesn’t show improvement in reduction of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol.
- Triglycerides: It shows reduction in triglycerides by almost 15-30%.
- Blood Pressure: Even when taken in small doses, fish oil helps controlling blood pressure in people having problems of high blood pressure.
- Plaque: Eating fish oil can prevent the plaques that harden your arteries, as well as make arterial plaques safer and more stable in people who already have plaque.
- Fatal arrhythmias: In people who are already at risk of fatal arrhythmias, it can reduce such events. Arrhythmias are abnormal heart beats that can lead to heart attacks in specific situations.
Even though fish oil can reduce the risks of heart problems, there is no strong evidence that it can protect against heart strokes and attacks completely.
Can help treating specific mental disorders
Our brain is composed of almost 60% of fat, much of which is omega-3 fatty acids. So, omega-3 fatty acids is an essential component to ensure normal brain functioning.
In some of the studies, it has been proven that people having certain mental conditions have lower omega-3 blood levels.
Several researches on fish oil benefits show that fish oil supplements are capable of preventing the onset of improve certain symptoms of mental illnesses. For example, people at risk of a certain mental disorders can see reduction in the chances by taking fish oil or fish oil supplements.
Moreover, if you take fish oil in high doses, it can reduce symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Aids weight loss
Obesity is a condition where an over-weight person’s BMI (Body Mass Index) crosses 30. Around 39% people are overweight and 13% are obese across the world. In high economy countries like the United States, the numbers are even higher.
Obesity can increase you risk of various diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Fish oil supplements can improve your body composition and reduce the symptoms of risk factors of heart disease, if you are obese.
In some studies, it is claimed that fish oil supplements when combined with exercise or diet, can help in losing weight. However, it was not the same results in all the studies.
An analysis of 21 different studies noted that fish oil supplements didn’t actually reduce weight in obese people but reduced the waist-to-hip ratio and waist circumference.
Supports eye health
Very similar to our brain, our eyes rely on omega-3 fats and as per evidence; people who have insufficient omega-3s are at higher risk of eye problems.
As you grow old, eye health starts declining that can lead to AMD (age-related macular degeneration). Consuming fish is related to controlled risk of AMD, but there is no strong evidence on consuming fish oil supplements.
One of the studies found that taking fish oil in high doses for around 19 weeks showed improvement in vision in all the AMD patients.
In 2 other larger studies, the combined effect of several nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids on age-related macular degeneration was examined. One study noted a positive effect, while the other saw no effect.
So, there’s a lot of work to be done to prove its 100% efficiency but there’s a greater chance of improvement of eye problems by consuming fish oil.
Can reduce inflammation
Inflammation is the way in which our immune system fights infection and treats injuries. However, chronic inflammation can lead to serious health problems like diabetes, depression, obesity and heart disease.
So, it is best to reduce inflammation to prevent such health issues.
With its anti-inflammatory properties, fish oil may help in preventing or treating the conditions leading to chronic inflammations.
Take for example, in obese and stressed individuals, fish oil can reduce the gene expression and production of inflammatory molecules, cytokines.
Not just this, taking fish oil supplements can reduce stiffness, joint pain and medication needs in individuals having rheumatoid arthritis that leads to painful joints.
However, we did not find any evidence of improvement of IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome) by fish oil consumption. It is a health issue triggered y inflammation.
Supports healthy skin
Our skin is the largest organ in the body and consists of a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Skin health can be affected at any point of your life, mainly in old age or due to too much exposure to the sun.
There are several skin disorders that can be improved by consuming fish oil supplements. Some of such skin conditions include dermatitis and psoriasis.
Supports pregnancy and early life
Omega-3 fatty acids are very essential in growth and development in the early age. So, it is advised to pregnant women and new mothers to have sufficient omega-3s .
Fish oil supplements in breastfeeding and pregnant women can improve the hand-eye coordination in the infants. However, results on improved learning and IQ are still not confirmed.
Consuming fish oil supplements during breastfeeding and pregnancy can even improve your infant’s visual development and keeps it away from allergy risks.
Reduces liver fat
Our liver processes most of the body fat and plays a significant role in weight gain. Today, liver disease is very common, specifically NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty acid disease), accumulation of fat in the liver.
Consumption of fish oil or fish oil supplements can boost the functioning of your liver and reduce inflammation, which can help controlling the symptoms of NAFLD and keep the amount of liver far in check.
Reduces symptoms of depression
It cannot get scarier knowing that by 2030, depression can become the second-largest cause of health issues. People with major depression issues have lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Several studies showed that taking fish oil supplements can improve the conditions of depression, as it reduced the major symptoms.
There were some more studies that concluded EPA rich oils help manage the symptoms of depression more than DHA rich oils.
Can improve hyperactivity and attention in children
There are several behavioral disorders in children like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) that involves inattention and hyperactivity.
Considering the significant proportion of mega-3 fatty acids required in the brain, having enough of them in very crucial in protecting your child from behavioral disorders.
Giving your child fish oil supplement can improve inattention, aggression, perceived hyperactivity and impulsiveness. It can also benefit in early life learning.
Prevents symptoms of mental decline
With our growing age, the brain starts function slower, increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. If you eat more fish, you are not likely to get affected by mental decline in old age.
However, larger studies conducted on benefits of fish oil supplements in old people didn’t show any clear results on its role in slowing down the decline of brain functions. But, some small studies have got notable results that say fish oils can improve memory of healthy older adults.
Can improve asthma symptoms and other allergy risks
Asthma is a respiratory disease that causes shortness of breath and swelling in the lungs. It is becoming more common in infants these days.
Various studies suggested that fish oil can help reducing the symptoms of asthma, particularly in early life.
In a review by 100,000 people, omega-3 or fish intake by a mother can reduce the risk of asthma in new-born by 24-29%.
Moreover, fish oil supplements taken by pregnant or breastfeeding mothers can reduce several allergy risks in infants.
Can improve bone health
As you grow old, the bone starts losing the main minerals, which make them more breakable. This can result in conditions like osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
For maintained bone health, Vitamin D and Calcium are two important components, but some researches show that omega-3s can also prove as beneficial.
Generally, people having higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids have good BMD (Bone Mineral Density).
Some of the small-scale studies indicated that taking fish oil supplements can show reduction in the markers of bone breakdown, preventing bone disease.
However, there is no strong evidence to prove the role of omega-3 fatty acids in improving bone health.
How to take fish oil supplement?
People who do not eat 1-2 servings of oily fish every week should consider taking fish oil supplements. There are a few things you need to consider while taking fish oil supplements
The EPA and DHA recommendations vary based on your health and age.
World Health Organization suggests taking 200mg to 500mg of combined DHA and EPA every day. I case you are pregnant, breastfeeding or at the risk of cardiac disease, you might need increasing the dosage.
W suggest you to select a fish oil supplement that offers around 300mg of both EPA and DHA in each serving
Fish oil supplements are available in various forms, such as ethyl esters (EE), reformed triglycerides (rTG), triglycerides (TG), phospholipids (PL) and free fatty acids (FFA).
Our body doesn’t absorb ethyl esters or other forms listed above. SO, try selecting a form of fish oil supplement that is available in other forms. You can talk to your doctor or a health and fitness specialist about the various other forms of fish oil supplements and which one suits your body best.
There are many fish oil supplements available in the market that contains almost 1000mg of fish oil in each serving, but only 300mg of DHA and EPA.
So, while choosing a supplement, read the label for the exact proportion of fish oil and pick one which has at least 500mg of DHA and EPA per 1000mg.
You will come across the number of fish oil supplements that don’t actually contain the ingredients that they show in the label. You should select a supplement that has a purity seal from the GOED (Global Organization for EPA and DH Omega-3s).
Omega-3 fatty acids are usually prone to oxidation that makes it go rancid soon. If you want to avoid this, pick supplement that consists of an antioxidant, like Vitamin E. Try keeping it away from light, mostly preferred to store in the refrigerator.
Do not purchase fish oil supplement that is out of date or has a rancid smell.
Select a fish oil supplement that gives a sustainability certification, from the Environmental Defense Fund or MSC (Marine Stewardship Council).
To help you choose better, the production of fish oil from fishes like anchovies is more sustainable than that coming from larger fishes.
Experts suggest taking fish oil supplement with a meal containing fat.
Omega-3s are beneficial for eye development and normal brain functioning. They can fight inflammation, prevent cardiac problems and reduce the symptoms of mental decline in older adults.
As fish oil has large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, people suffering from any such health issues or at risk of such health problems, should include fish oil in their daily diet.
However, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking any form of fish oil or fish oil supplements. It comes in different forms suiting different body types.