Why Fish Oil?
Fish oil is a common dietary supplement. It is a favorite because it is a convenient way of keeping up with our daily requirements of omega-3 fatty acids, which are very important to our health. This is particularly important in people who don’t eat a good amount of fish regularly. Here are some of the health benefits of fish oil, and why your body should be getting adequate amounts.
What is Fish Oil?
This is the oil or fat that is extracted from the tissue of fish. It is usually extracted from mackerel, tuna, anchovies, and herring, but you can also have it extracted from the livers of other fish. You may know of cod liver oil, which is the most popular fish oil supplement extracted from a fish’s liver.
The World Health Organization recommends adults eat one to two portions of fish on a weekly basis. This is because of the many benefits of consuming omega-3 fatty acids. If you cannot eat this amount of fish in your diet, you can always get what you need with fish oil supplements.
Of the fish oil supplements on the market, around 30% are made up of omega-3, while the other 70% is made up of other fats. Fish oil is also rich in Vitamins A and D. While some plants do contain omega 3 fats, they are not as beneficial as the omega-3 fats found in fish oil.
Fish oil primarily contains EPA - Eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA- Docosahexaenoic acid. In plants, you will find primarily ALA - Alpha-linolenic acid. ALA is an essential fatty acid, but EPA and DHA offer much more health benefits.
It is important to supplement so you can get enough omega-3’. This is because the western diet has replaced this fat with omega-6 fats in a lot of items. This destroys healthy fatty acids ratios and can increase your risk for a number of diseases.
Fish Oil and Cardiovascular Health
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Various studies show that people consuming a diet high in fish have a lower rate of heart disease. The heart health benefits of consuming fish oil include:
- Improving cholesterol levels - fish oil helps to increase the good cholesterol (HDL) and lower the bad cholesterol (LDL).
- Lowering triglycerides - fish oil supplements can help to lower triglycerides as much as 30%.
- Reduces blood pressure - fish oil will help to lower blood pressure even in small doses.
- Prevents the buildup of plaque - Plaques cause arteries to harden, but supplementing with fish oil will help prevent this. Persons who already have arterial plaque can benefit from supplementing with fish oil as well. Fish oil has the ability to reduce arterial plaque for those who already have them.
Fish oil supplements will help to improve many of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, however, they will not prevent stroke or heart attacks. The supplement works by reducing the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, and can be beneficial for those who are at high risk for these types of diseases.
Fish Oil And Mental Health
Fish oil supplementation may help in treating certain mental health conditions. Our brains are made up of almost 60% fat, of that fun much of it is omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 acids are well known for their ability to affect brain function. There are studies that show that persons suffering from particular mental health conditions tend to have a lower blood level of omega-3 fatty acids.
Some research even suggests that Omega 3 supplementation can help to prevent the onset of mental health conditions and helps improve their symptoms. In one study, omega-3 supplementation was found to reduce the chances of psychotic disorders for persons who were at risk for them.
Supplementing with fish oil at high doses has shown to reduce the symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The data available for this area is limited and inconsistent, and so more study is needed.
Depression is currently very common, and is expected to become the second-largest cause of all types of illness by the year 2030. Older studies indicate that people suffering from major depression have lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids. New studies show that farms that are rich in EPA are good for reducing the symptoms of depression more than ours that are rich in DHA. Still, more research is needed in this area before we are able to make any confirmatory statements.
If you have a family history of mental health disorders, you could benefit from supplementing with fish oil daily. Instead of waiting for symptoms to manifest, you can start supplementing right away.
Fish Oil and Eye Health
Eye health relies on omega-3 fat, just like your brain. There is evidence to show that people who do not get enough omega-3 fat are at a higher risk for eye diseases. The only exception being for dry eye disease, where there were no positive effects from omega-3 fat supplementation.
It is a well-known fact that eye Health declines as we age. This can lead to what is known as age related macular degeneration(AMD). Studies show a link between reducing the risk of AMD and consuming a diet containing fish. Studies on the effects of fish oil on AMD proved to be less effective than eating fish. If you have a family history of AMD, you could benefit from including fish in your diet rather than a supplement.
One study showed that persons with AMD consuming high doses of fish oil over 19 weeks improved their vision. This was however a very small study. Two larger studies in 2013 examined the effect of combining Omega 3’s and other nutrients for AMD treatment. The results of both studies were contradictory, as one study showed a positive effect while the other study showed no effect at all.
While studies may still be unclear of the effect of fish oil supplements on AMD, it is widely accepted that eating fish can help to improve eye health and prevent and reduce eye disease.
Fish Oil and Inflammation
When your immune system is fighting an infection or treating an injury, it responds with inflammation. Chronic inflammation, which is inflammation over a long period of time, is known to cause a plethora of health conditions, including diabetes, depression, heart disease and obesity. By simply reducing inflammation, you can reduce some of the symptoms of the above mentioned diseases.
Fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties, and as such it has been used to treat any condition that involves chronic inflammation. Increasing stress or increasing weight often contributes to higher levels of inflammation.
There is evidence from previous studies that fish oil supplementation does help to reduce the production of cytokines, which is produced during an inflammatory response. Fish oil supplements also help to reduce pain and stiffness, and are useful for a person suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
Fish Oil and Healthy Skin
The skin is the largest human organ and contains a lot of omega-3 fatty acids. As we get older, skin health declines, and the same is true if we are experiencing too much sun exposure. Persons with skin disorders, such as dermatitis or psoriasis, can benefit from fish oil supplementation.
Fish Oil In Pregnancy And Early Life
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for early growth and development. As such, it is essential to supplement during pregnancy. It is also important to get adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids while breastfeeding. This will help to improve the development of the fetus, but it is still unclear whether IQ or learning can be improved through the supplementation.
Studies show that taking fish oil supplements while pregnant sore breastfeeding may improve an infant's visual development and also help reduce their allergies. It is important to supplement with a good quality fish oil purified to exclude heavy metals especially mercury to promote healthy development of the fetus.
Fish Oil And Liver Fat
The liver is responsible for processing most of the fat in our bodies, and as such it plays a role in weight gain. Nonalcoholic fatty liver is getting more and more common. This disease is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver. This and other types of liver disease are most commonly found in people that are also suffering from obesity. Fish oil supplements can help with these conditions, as they improve liver function and reduce inflammation.
Fish Oil in Attention And Hyperactivity In Children
Children are susceptible to a number of disorders that are characterized by inattention and hyperactivity. This appears to have increased in prevalence over more recent years. One of the more common childhood disorders is a developmental condition termed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.
Omega 3 fatty acids are important and make up a good amount of the brain, so it is important to have enough of these fatty acids to combat these conditions from early on in life. It is believed that supplementation with fish oil can produce improvements in aggression, impulsiveness, inattention, and hyperactivity in children.
Fish Oil and Mental Decline
As we get older, our brain function slows down and we become at increased risk for Alzheimer's disease. It is believed that people who eat more fish experience a slower decline in their brain function as they age. The available studies on fish oil supplementation in older adults are not clear on how the fatty acid helps to slow down the decline of brain function. There are still some smaller studies that show that fish oil may improve memory in older adults once they are healthy, but it is not clear how the supplement does this.
Fish Oil, Asthma, And Allergies
We are seeing an increase in the occurrence of asthma in infants. Asthma causes swelling in the lungs and shortness of breath. There are a number of studies that show that fish oil might reduce the symptoms of asthma, especially early on in life. A review of another study shows that A Mother's Fish or omega-3 fat consumption can help to reduce the risk of asthma in their children by up to 29%.
Fish Oil and Bone Health
As we age, our bones begin to lose their minerals, which causes them to become weak, and so they are more likely to break. This can lead to conditions known as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Both calcium and vitamin D are very important for our bone health, but there are studies that show that omega-3 fatty acids can also be beneficial. Persons who have higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids and higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids have more bone mineral density (BMD). While we see the correlation, it is not clear how fish oil supplements improve bone mineral density.
One study showed how omega 3 supplementation increased the bone mineral density of women who were having no bone pain and no symptoms of osteoporosis. Older studies suggest that fish oil supplementation helps to prevent bone disease by reducing the markers of bone breakdown.
Choosing A Fish Oil Supplement
If you are unable to eat the recommended one to two portions of oily fish each week, you want to consider a fish oil supplement. When taking this and any other supplement, there are a couple considerations to bear in mind. These include:
- The dosage - dosage of EPA and DHA are age specific. You want to ensure you are consuming the right dosage for your age or age group. The WHO recommends adults have an intake of 1.1 to 1.6 grams of omega 3 fatty acids. Persons who may require an increased dosage include those at risk for heart disease, as well as pregnant and nursing mothers.
- The form - you can find fish oil supplements in a number of different forms. You can find them as phospholipids, free fatty acids, reformed triglycerides, triglycerides and ethyl esters. Ethyl ester forms are the hardest for your body to absorb, so you may want to choose another form listed previously.
- The concentration - You will find a lot of supplements with 1000mg of fish oil per serving, but when you look more closely, just 300 mg of DHA and EPA. When choosing a supplement, read the label and choose one that has at least 500 mg of EPA and DHA per 1000mg of fish oil.
- The Purity - you want to choose a product that has been third party tested. This helps you to reduce the chances of taking a supplement that doesn’t contain the ingredients listed on the bottle. You can also look out for supplements that have the seal of purity affixed. The seal of purity is from the Global Organization for EPA and DHA (GOED).
- Antioxidants - Omega 3 fatty acids can easily go rancid due to oxidation. Choosing a product that has an antioxidant like vitamin E can help reduce the chances that it will go rancid. You may also want to keep it in the refrigerator or just generally out of light.
Crafted Nutrients Premium Omega-3 Fish oil ticks all the boxes and is pleasantly flavored to boot!
So Why fish oil? ………Because it’s good for you and your entire body in so many ways!