In this context, “fish oil” refers to the fat or oil crammed out of fish. Oily fish like herring, tuna, anchovies, and mackerel are familiar sources. However, like cod liver oil, it may also be made from the livers of other fish.
The WHO (World Health Organization) suggests two to three servings of fish per week for optimal health. This is because omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have been shown to reduce the risk of developing several different ailments.
However, fish oil supplements can help you receive adequate omega-3s if you don’t eat 1-2 servings of fish every week. While omega-3s account for around 30% of fish oil, other fats make up the remaining 70%. Moreover, fish oil often has small amounts of vitamins A and D.
Note that the omega-3s contained in fish oil are more beneficial to your health than the omega-3s found in some plant sources.
Omega-3 fatty acids are present in both plant and animal foods, with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) being the most common in fish oil and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) being the most common in plant sources (ALA).
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is indeed an important fatty acid, but omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are far superior. The Western diet has replaced many omega-3s with other fats, such as omega-6s; thus, it’s essential to consume sufficient amounts of these fatty acids. This imbalance may exacerbate many disorders in fatty acids.
Here are ten ways in which fish oil improves health
1. Potentially beneficial to cardiovascular health
Worldwide, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer. Researchers have shown that those who regularly consume fish have dramatically reduced the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Consumption of fish or fish oil appears to lower many risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Fish oil’s positive effects on cardiovascular health include:
- Reduced amounts of bad cholesterol: It has been shown to raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels and perhaps reduce LDL (harmful) cholesterol levels.
- Lower levels of triglycerides: It has been shown to reduce triglycerides by 15%-30%.
- Hypotension: Even a minimal dosage can positively affect those with high blood pressure.
- Plaque avoidance is a focus: In addition to lowering the risk of developing atherosclerotic plaques, it may also help stabilize and protect existing plaques in the arteries.
There is no solid proof that taking fish oil supplements helps avert heart attacks or strokes, even though they can facilitate numerous cardiovascular risk factors.
Some cardiovascular disease risk factors could be mitigated by using fish oil supplements. There is, however, no evidence that they can avert cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes.
2. Possible use in the treatment of some psychiatric disorders
Fat accounts for about 60% of your brain’s composition, and omega-3 fatty acids make up a significant portion of this fat. Thus, omega-3s are crucial for regular brain function. Some research has also linked reduced amounts of omega-3 in the blood to mental health issues.
Surprisingly, studies have shown that omega-3s can mitigate the symptoms of or possibly prevent the development of some mental health disorders. It can protect at-risk individuals from developing psychotic illnesses. Although there is a lack of reliable research, taking a high-dose fish oil supplement may alleviate specific symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar illness. There is a need for more research in this field.
One’s mental health may benefit from taking fish oil supplements. Increasing your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may have this impact.
3. It May help maintain healthy eyes
Omega-3 fats are essential for both the brain and the eyes. According to the available data, people who don’t consume enough omega-3s are more likely to develop eye disorders. For dry eye illness, however, this beneficial impact was not observed.
Furthermore, age is associated with a reduction in eye health, which can result in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). There is some evidence that eating fish will lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration, but the outcomes from taking fish oil supplements are not as strong.
According to an older research, those with AMD who took fish oil supplements for 19 weeks had their eyesight improve. Nonetheless, this was a little research.
Omega-3s and other nutrients were studied in conjunction with AMD in two significant trials in 2013. The results of one research were favorable, whereas the other found none. As a result, interpretations of the findings are problematic. Fish consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of eye disorders. Fish oil supplements may have the same impact, but it’s unknown if they do.
4. Potential anti-inflammatory
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or illness and is essential in healing. However, persistent inflammation is connected to issues including obesity, diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular disease. Treatment of these disorders’ symptoms often involves reducing inflammation. The anti-inflammatory qualities of fish oil suggest it might help treat chronic inflammatory disorders. Inflammation can be exacerbated by several factors, including those mentioned above.
Fish oil decreased the generation and gene expression of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines in two earlier investigations, one in adults with obesity and one in those undergoing stress. Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful condition that affects the joints, and taking fish oil supplements has been shown to significantly reduce joint pain, stiffness, and the need for medication. Although inflammation has a role in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), there is no solid proof that taking fish oil will alleviate IBD symptoms.
Fish oil’s potent anti-inflammatory properties make it helpful in treating rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
5. It might help promote skin health
The skin is the body’s biggest organ and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. When you become older or spend too much time in the sun, your skin’s health might suffer. Yet, there is some evidence that fish oil supplements can help with various skin conditions, including psoriasis and dermatitis.
Aging and excessive sun exposure are both contributors to skin deterioration. Taking fish oil supplements may be beneficial for skin health.
6. Supports during pregnancy
Omega-3 fatty acids have a crucial role in a child’s early development. Therefore, adequate intake of omega-3s is crucial for both mother and baby. It has been suggested that supplementing with fish oil during these intervals would benefit embryonic brain development. It’s less specific, though, that these enhancements will also help learning and intelligence.
There is some evidence that consuming fish oil during pregnancy and nursing can aid with the development of an infant’s eyesight and decrease the likelihood of their developing allergies later in life.
For a baby to grow and develop normally, omega-3 fatty acids are essential. Fish oil supplements during pregnancy or infancy may increase hand-eye coordination, but their impact on learning and intelligence is uncertain.
7. Possible fat loss in the liver
The accumulation of excess fat may be related to the liver’s fat processing. Fatty liver disease, also known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), is rising. Fish oil supplements have been shown to enhance liver function and inflammation, which may help reduce NAFLD symptoms and liver fat.
Obesity is associated with liver disease. Evidence shows that fish oil supplements might help reduce liver fat and NAFLD symptoms.
8. It’s possible that it might reduce depressive symptoms
By 2030, depression is projected to overtake asthma as the leading cause of death worldwide. Interestingly, previous research suggests that severe depressive disorder is associated with reduced omega-3 levels in the blood. However, there has been a lack of consistency in the outcomes.
Furthermore, EPA-rich oils have been demonstrated to alleviate depression symptoms more than DHA-rich oils. Once again, additional study is required. It’s no surprise that fish oil is a popular nutritional supplement. It has a high concentration of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Supplementing with fish oil may help obtain adequate omega-3 fatty acids if you don’t consume a lot of oily seafood.
The EPA in fish oil supplements may be beneficial in treating depressive symptoms.
9. Potential to help kids with focus and hyperactivity issues
Hyperactivity and inattention are symptoms of a range of neurodevelopmental disorders in children, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Since the brain is mainly composed of omega-3s, ensuring that you consume enough during childhood might be crucial for preventing certain diseases.
Many parents have reported that their children’s hyperactivity, inattention, impulsiveness, and violence have decreased since starting fish oil supplements. Potentially, this would help kids out in the classroom right from the off. Disorders of neurodevelopment in children might hurt their cognitive growth. Evidence shows that taking fish oil supplements can help mitigate hyperactivity, impulsivity, and poor focus. There’s some evidence that it can help stave off the early stages of cognitive deterioration.
10. Brain function declines with age, and so does the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease
Those who consume more fish as they age have a reduced rate of cognitive deterioration. But research on fish oil supplements in the elderly hasn’t shown conclusive proof that they help prevent mental decline. Some modest studies suggest, however, that fish oil may enhance memory in healthy older persons.
Those who consume more fish seem to experience less mental impairment with age. However, it is unknown whether taking fish oil supplements will help slow or stop cognitive loss in the elderly.
Wrapping It Up
When consumed regularly, omega-3 fatty acids aid in the maturation of the brain and the visual system. They are effective anti-inflammatory that may protect against cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline.
Those at risk for certain diseases may benefit from ingesting fish oil due to its high concentration of omega-3s. Two servings of fatty fish per week can give adequate omega-3s, but eating whole foods is nearly always preferable to taking pills. Regarding illness prevention, fish is just as beneficial as fish oil.