Fish oil is known for its health benefits, which span the gamut from treating arthritis to improving blood circulation to helping with weight loss. Most of its effectiveness is due to the omega-3 essential fatty acids in it, including DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and other fatty acids like ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and GLA (gamma-linolenic acid).
Fish is often called “brain food,” but there are only certain fish oils which are effective. The highest quality fish oil is found from the following fish:
● bluefin tuna
● lake trout
● yellowfin tuna
Health Benefits of Fish Oil
Fish oil offers a large variety of health benefits. Below is a comprehensive list of proven and potential health advantages to using fish oil supplements.
The EPA in fish oil inhibits androgen formation, which slows the creation of sebum in the hair follicles, thereby reducing acne outbreaks.
ADHD or ADD
Dr. Natalie Sinn of University of South Australia conducted research that showed how the high concentration of fatty acids in fish oil helped to treat children suffering from conditions associated with ADHD or ADD, such as hyperactivity, emotional instability, inability to complete tasks, short attention span, dyslexia, impulsiveness, or learning disorders.
Sinn reported that when given fish oil capsules that were rich in omega-3 fatty acid EPA, half of the children showed “notable improvements.”
A study by the Nutritional Sciences Program in Lexington tested the effects of fish oil on cytokine levels in mice with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The results showed that fish oil may, indeed, slow down the progression of the disease; however, more testing is required for confirmation.
Research has shown that DHA found in fish oil can protect against the cognitive decline of Alzheimer’s Disease. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends fish containing a higher content of omega-3 fatty acids to defend against dementia.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, may also benefit from the use of fish oil. A study of 995 ALS cases revealed that an increase in omega-3 fatty acids was associated with a reduced risk or delayed onset of the disease.
The University of Newcastle in Australia has performed studies showing that fish oil is useful in treating arthritis, rheumatism, and Raynaud’s symptoms. For osteoarthritis, fish oil appears to reduce the impact made by enzymes that destroy cartilage.
The Arthritis Center at John Hopkins University warns that using fish oil as a treatment for arthritis should be done so with caution. Since the dosage for each patient is uncertain and side effects are possible, fish oil is still considered controversial.
Fish oil is accepted as a treatment to improve blood circulation, although this has mostly been only testing on rats. Because of this, it is not recommended as a sole option for those suffering from hypertension. In fact, studies by the Channing Laboratory in Boston affirmed that moderate doses of fish oil do not improve the condition of high blood pressure.
It is believed that fish oil assists in reducing weight loss in pancreatic cancer patients, in addition to helping patients dealing with cancer-related hyperlipidemia.
Chronic Inflammatory Diseases
Fish oil is said to have anti-inflammatory properties to reduce swelling associated with chronic inflammatory diseases such as:
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Celiac disease
- Short bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis
Fish oil supplements reduce inflammation in the blood and tissues and are an effective choice for patients who are otherwise unable to absorb vitamins, supplements, and fats. In ulcerative colitis, fish oil is believed to prevent the accumulation of leukotriene on the colon.
Depression and Anxiety
The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil have been attributed to fighting depression, sadness, anxiety, restlessness, stress, decreased sexual desire, and suicidal tendencies. Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine published findings proving the effectiveness of fish oil in mood stabilization and treatment of bipolar disorders.
Patients with Type II Diabetes Mellitus, while at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease, can take fish oils to reduce triglyceride levels, according to research by the University of Oxford. Unfortunately, it is unknown if omega-3 fatty acids have any effect on cholesterol levels, the glycemic index, or vascular conditions.
The National Eye Institute at the National Institute of Health performed several Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS) to determine the effectiveness of omega 3 fatty acids. Prior studies showed that DHA is required for the function of the retinal cells and the omega-3 fatty acid, along with EPA, promotes retinal development and repair. However, the AREDS which included omega-3 fatty acids revealed that fish oil had no additional benefits on patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
DHA is a major fatty acid found in the sperm. Research on male boars fed a diet high in fish oils showed an increase in the quality of sperm; however, this study has not been conducted on human specimens.
Omega-3 stimulates the hair follicles to aid in both the development of hair growth and prevention of hair loss. Fish are high in protein, which is necessary for the growth of healthy, shiny hair.
The American Heart Association conducted clinical trials that showed how omega-3 effectively reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Fish oil:
- decreases the risk of heart diseases
- reduces the chance of heart arrhythmias
- decreases bad cholesterol
- increases good cholesterol
- prevents the accumulation of triglycerides
- reduces high levels of excess triglycerides
Fish oil may also prevent atherosclerosis in coronary patients, prevent strokes, and reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death.
Adding regular doses of fish oil to one’s diet can boost the immune system to reduce the chance of catching the common cold, coughs, or the flu. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil affect the amount and the activity of cytokines and eicosanoids in the body, thereby improving immunity.
Numerous studies have been conducted which prove the importance of fatty acids, EPA, and DHA in the physical, visual, and cognitive development of babies in the womb. It has also been proven to reduce the risk of premature births, low birth weight, and miscarriages through research in Aarhus, Denmark.
Fish oil is helpful in treating numerous skin conditions, including:
- dry skin
Regular use of fish oil supplements results in the decrease of moisture loss, which may in turn help with sunburn. The EPA in fish oil restricts the growth of pro-inflammatory agents, so psoriasis sufferers can apply the oil directly to their skin for potential relief.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may cause ulcers. The EPA and DHA in fish oil is believed to reduce the effects of such ulcers.
Research completed at the University of South Australia shows that fish oil can help with weight loss efforts. Volunteers who consumed fish oil prior to exercise experienced a greater weight loss than those who did not.
Fish Oil Dosage
Fish oil clearly has numerous widespread benefits as well as some potential effects which may help the body. However, it is important to follow the dosage on the supplement bottle to prevent adverse allergies and side effects. Fish oil can also be consumed through directly eating the fish in different forms, including baked, roasted, fried, grilled, broiled, and smoked. So be certain to consider all forms of fish oil as to not exceed the recommended dosage. Additionally, fish oil can interact with certain medicines and conditions, so always speak to your doctor before adding a new supplement, such as fish oil.