When it comes to the world of health and fitness, Fish Oil has taken a very prominent place. While there are tons of articles, some praising the golden supplement while some being skeptical about its usage, today we want you to take a look again with having a very neutral stance on this supplement and we’ll try to be as factful and scientific as possible.
Before starting anything, let’s see what Fish Oil is. Fish oil is a form of fatty acid that is derived from the tissues of oily fish. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in inflammation, brain function, normal growth, and development.
Its deficiency has been linked to a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, mood disorders and more. But that doesn’t equate to high doses providing better health and disease prevention. Fish oil supplements have been shown as an easy way to protect the heart, improve mental health, ease inflammation, and lengthen life. Such claims are one reason why Americans spend more than $1 billion a year on over-the-counter fish oil.
Best Fish Oil Omega 3 Supplements on the Market
What do the studies say?
But the evidence for improving heart health is mixed. A study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine found that omega-3 fatty acid supplements did nothing to reduce strokes, heart attacks or deaths from heart disease in middle-aged men without any known risk factors for heart disease. Previous research reported in the same journal in 2013 also claimed no benefit in people with risk factors for heart disease.
However, when researchers looked at subgroups of people who don’t eat any fish, the results suggested they may reduce their cardiovascular risk by taking a fish oil supplement. The effects of fish oil are greater in people with higher triglyceride levels. Also, taking larger amounts of fish oil results to reduce triglyceride levels by a greater amount.
Fish oil is safe to consume for most people when taken in low doses (3 grams or less per day) though there are some safety concerns when fish oil is taken in high doses. Taking more than 3 grams per day might keep blood from clotting and can increase the chance of bleeding.
High doses might also reduce the immune system’s activity, reducing the body’s ability to fight infection. This is a special concern for people taking medications to reduce their immune system’s activity.
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 several diseases. However, if you don’t eat 1–2 servings of fish per week, fish oil supplements can help you get enough omega-3s. The list of benefits is plentiful. The National Institute of Health lists fish oil and other omega-3 fatty acids as helping treat or prevent 37 conditions. Let us see a few:
Protects against cancer
Studies have found that fish oil can help prevent three of the most common forms of cancer: breast, colon, and prostate. The fatty acids stop the alteration of a normal healthy cell to that of a cancerous mass and cause the death of some cancer cells. Researchers are currently digging deeper to see how fish oil can play a larger role in cancer survival and prevention.
Relieves pain and fight arthritis
There have been many studies reporting improvements in morning stiffness and joint tenderness with the regular intake for up to three months. One study performed at Albany Medical College even suggests that people with rheumatoid arthritis who take fish oil may be able to lower their dose of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Improves mental health
Researchers at the University of Sheffield have found that fish oil supplements can alleviate the symptoms of depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorders. On a seemingly related note, a Chinese study of 100 suicide-attempt cases found diets low in fishy meals to be a common factor. Other studies report that depressed patients who take omega-3 fatty acids in addition to prescription antidepressants had a great improvement in symptoms than those who took antidepressants alone.
Aids Weight Loss
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 note 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.
Supports Heart Health
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 the 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 them.
- 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.
Improves Attention in Children
Several behavioral disorders in children, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), involve hyperactivity and inattention. Given that omega-3s make up a significant proportion of the brain, getting enough of them may be important for preventing behavioral disorders in early life. Fish oil supplements may improve perceived hyperactivity, inattention, impulsiveness, and aggression in children. This may benefit early life learning. Watch the video below by Dr. Barry Sears to understand how fish oil affects children with ADHD.
Improves Bone Health
During old age, bones can begin to lose their essential minerals, making them more likely to break. This can lead to conditions like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Calcium and vitamin D are very important for bone health, but some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids can also be beneficial. People with higher omega-3 intakes and blood levels may have a better bone mineral density. However, it’s unclear whether the supplements improve BMD. Several small studies suggest that fish oil supplements reduce markers of bone breakdown, which may prevent bone disease.