The first thing you need to know about fish oil is that it is one of the most frequently consumed dietary supplements, and it contains an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids, which can boost your health in many ways. All you must do is give fish oil a chance, whether it be eating some of the many types of fish that contain fish oil (such as lake trout, sardines, salmon, oysters, various types of tuna, swordfish, anchovies, and herring, among others) or adding it as a daily supplement to your diet. Then watch it go to work inside your body.
OK, But What IS Fish Oil?
Fish oil is the fat or oil that is extracted from fish tissue, per healthline.com, about 30 percent of which is made up of omega-3s, which include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), with a third omega-3 extracted from plant sources known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). New research has also identified a 3rd omega-3 in fish oil called DPA (docosapentaenoic acid). For our purposes here, though, our focus is on EPA and DHA as the most essential fatty acids for the health benefits that they provide – that’s according to the USDA National Nutrient Database, per organicfacts.net.
Fish Oil’s Health Benefits
This list can get really long, which is testament to the health-bolstering versatility of the omega-3’s. For now, let’s look at a dozen health benefits afforded by fish oil, in alphabetical order. By the time you are finished going through these brief summaries, you will find yourself scurrying out to get yourself a fishing pole, or at least taking a trip to the grocery or health food store to stock up on your future improved health. One thing to keep in mind in all this is that, in some cases, the health benefits are better sourced by eating the fish, although in many cases fish oil supplementation can prove to be up to the task as well. If questions, ask your doctor or a nutritionist:
- Asthma/allergy relief. This is especially meaningful to families with infant children, with the lung disorder asthma showing up more often in infants, per healthline.com. One study that aggregated the results of 11 other studies involving close to 100,000 people showed that a mom’s ingestion of fish or omega-3 could lower the risk of asthma in children by 24-29 percent.
- Attention/hyperactivity in children. Omega-3s comprise a significant part of the human brain. Maintaining omega-3 sufficiency in the brain can help prevent early-life (a child’s) behavioral problems, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Bone health. When it comes to bone health and warding off conditions such as osteoporosis, calcium and vitamin D usually stand front and center in the conversation. However, omega-3s also belong in the discussion, as surveys have shown that people with increased omega-3 consumption and blood levels have superior bone mineral density, per National Institutes of Health (NIH). Other studies have demonstrated that fish oil supplementation can cut down the number of markers of bone breakdown.
- Depression/anxiety relief. Studies have shown that people suffering from major depression tend to have reduced blood levels of omega-3s, with fish oil and omega-3 supplementation showing some success in alleviating depression symptoms.
- Diabetes control. Because type 2 diabetic patients are susceptible to cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis and stroke, and because of the ability of omega’3s to help tamp down cardiovascular disease issues, omega-3s can assist diabetics. Furthermore, Oxford-based research has demonstrated fish oil effective in diminishing triglyceride levels with diabetics as well, per organicfacts.net.
- Fertility. Research done on animals has indicated that, for males put on a diet that includes fish oil, the quality of the sperm is bolstered. Post-ejaculation, this gives sperm better odds in surviving the lipid peroxidative attacks in the female genital tract, thus improving the chances of conception.
- Heart health. Per organicfacts.net and the American Heart Association, omega-3s have been demonstrated able to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular diseases, to include heart diseases and heart arrhythmias. They can also lower the level of bad (LDL) cholesterol and raise the levels of good (HDL) cholesterol, while inhibiting the accumulation of triglycerides.
- Immune system. The fatty acids in omega-3s contained in fish oil strengthen the immune system by influencing the activity and number of cytokines and eicosanoids found in your body.
- Inflammation reduction. This is especially beneficial to anyone afflicted with chronic inflammatory diseases, such as ulcerative colitis, where the presence of fish oil thwarts the buildup of leukotriene in the colon.
- Pregnancy. Two things here: 1. Research in Denmark involving more than 8,000 women, per organicfacts.net, demonstrated that diets featuring lesser amounts of fish were linked to an increased chance of premature or preterm babies. 2. In the late stages of pregnancy, research has shown that some of the mom’s brain mass gets transferred to the child, which might help explain postpartum depression in mothers. Eating fish or taking fish oil supplements during the pregnancy can be beneficial to both the well-being of mom and healthy development of baby.
- Skin care. Not only can omega-3s take dry skin and make it shiny and vibrant in appearance, it has proven useful in helping to treat skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, rashes, and skin lesions. When it comes to psoriasis, per organicfacts.net, the EPA in fish oil inhibits the growth of pro-inflammatory agents by manufacturing arachidonic acid.
- Weight control. Research conducted by a University of South Australia professor has revealed that the use of fish oil has enhanced the effects exercise can have in trying to drop the pounds. Omega-3s’ fatty acids are significant in this regard by promoting weight loss through a combination of physical workouts and fish oil consumption.