Fish oil is one of the most commonly consumed dietary supplements.
It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are very important for your health.
If you don’t eat a lot of oily fish, taking a fish oil supplement could help you get enough omega-3 fatty acids.
Here are 5 health benefits of fish oil.
Fish oil is the fat or oil that’s extracted from fish tissue.
It usually comes from oily fish, such as herring, tuna, anchovies, and mackerel. Yet it’s sometimes produced from the livers of other fish, as is the case with cod liver oil.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eating 1–2 portions of fish per week. This is because the omega-3 fatty acids in fish provide many health benefits, including protection against a number of diseases.
However, if you don’t eat 1–2 servings of fish per week, omega 3 fish oil supplements can help you get enough omega-3s.
Around 30% of fish oil is made up of omega-3s, while the remaining 70% is made up of other fats. What’s more, fish oil usually contains some vitamin A and D.
It’s important to note that the types of omega-3s found in fish oil have greater health benefits than the omega-3s found in some plant sources.
The main omega-3s in fish oil are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), while the omega-3 in plant sources is mainly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Although ALA is an essential fatty acid, EPA and DHA have many more health benefits.
It’s also important to get enough omega-3s because the Western diet has replaced a lot of omega-3s with other fats like omega-6s. This distorted ratio of fatty acids may contribute to numerous diseases.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.
Studies show that people who eat a lot of fish have much lower rates of heart disease.
Multiple risk factors for heart disease appear to be reduced by consumption of fish or fish oil. The benefits of fish oil for heart health include:
- Cholesterol levels: It can increase levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. However, it does not appear to
reduce levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.
- Triglycerides: It can lower triglycerides by about 15–30%.
- Blood pressure: Even in small doses, it helps reduce blood pressure in people with elevated levels.
- Plaque: It may prevent the plaques that cause your arteries to harden, as well as make arterial plaques more stable and safer in those who already have.
- Fatal arrhythmias: In people who are at risk, it may reduce fatal arrhythmia events. Arrhythmias are abnormal heart rhythms that can cause heart attacks in certain cases.
Although fish oil supplements can improve many of the risk factors for heart disease, there is no clear evidence that it can prevent heart attacks or strokes.
Fish oil supplements may reduce some of the
risks associated with heart disease. However, there is no clear evidence that
it can prevent heart attacks or strokes.
Your brain is made up of nearly 60% fat, and much of this fat is omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, omega-3s are essential for normal brain function.
In fact, some studies suggest that people with certain mental disorders have lower omega-3 blood levels.
Interestingly, research suggests that fish oil supplements can prevent the onset or improve the symptoms of some mental disorders. For example, it can reduce the chances of psychotic disorders in those who are at risk.
In addition, supplementing with fish oil in high doses may reduce some symptoms of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Fish oil supplements may improve the symptoms
of certain psychiatric disorders. This effect may be a result of increasing
omega-3 fatty acid intake.
Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30. Globally, about 39% of adults are overweight, while 13% are obese. The numbers are even higher in high-income countries like the US.
Obesity can significantly increase your risk of other diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
Fish oil supplements may improve body composition and risk factors for heart disease in obese people.
Furthermore, some studies indicate that fish oil supplements, in combination with diet or exercise, can help you lose weight.
However, not all studies found the same effect.
One analysis of 21 studies notes that fish oil supplements didn’t significantly reduce weight in obese individuals but did reduce waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio.
Fish oil supplements may help reduce waist
circumference, as well as aid weight loss when combined with diet or exercise.
Like your brain, your eyes rely on omega-3 fats. Evidence shows that people who don’t get enough omega-3s have a greater risk of eye diseases.
Furthermore, eye health begins to decline in old age, which can lead to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Eating fish is linked to a reduced risk of AMD, but the results on fish oil supplements are less convincing.
One study found that consuming a high dose of fish oil for 19 weeks improved vision in all AMD patients. However, this was a very small study.
Two larger studies examined the combined effect of omega-3s and other nutrients on AMD. One study showed a positive effect, while the other exhibited no effect. Therefore, the results are unclear.
Eating fish may help prevent eye diseases.
However, it’s unclear whether fish oil supplements have this same effect.
Inflammation is your immune system’s way of fighting infection and treating injuries.
However, chronic inflammation is associated with serious illnesses, such as obesity, diabetes, depression, and heart disease.
Reducing inflammation can help treat symptoms of these diseases.
Because fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties, it may help treat conditions involving chronic inflammation.
For example, in stressed and obese individuals, fish oil can reduce the production and gene expression of inflammatory molecules called cytokines.
Moreover, omega 3 fish oil supplements can significantly reduce joint pain, stiffness, and medication needs in people with rheumatoid arthritis, which causes painful joints.
While inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is also triggered by inflammation, there is no clear evidence to suggest whether fish oil improves its symptoms.
Fish oil has strong anti-inflammatory effects
and can help reduce symptoms of inflammatory diseases, especially rheumatoid