Potential Benefits of Fish Oil

August 9, 2020

If you were to guess the most commonly used natural product in the country, you’d probably say melatonin, or probiotics. But as it turns out, the answer is fish oil. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, nearly 8 percent of adults take it. Whether you’re one of them, or you’re contemplating buying a supplement, you may be curious about the exact benefits of fish oil and whether or not there are any drawbacks to popping pills. So, we’ve put together this primary you should know about, to start with its impressive range of possible health benefits.

Fish Oil Can Fight Chronic Inflammation
Oils derived from fatty fish such as sardines, anchovies and mackerel provide two types of omega-3 fatty acids – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – that are known to help reduce inflammation and generally improve the body’s inflammatory condition. Since chronic low-grade inflammation is associated with premature aging and a number of diseases, fish-derived omega-3s may offer broad health protection.

It is believed to protect the heart.
Fish oil has been shown to help increase “good” HDL cholesterol, lower triglycerides (or blood fats), lower blood pressure, prevent the formation of plaque in the arteries, and prevent hardening of the arteries. For all of these reasons, experts believe that fish oil may support your heart health. In fact, a meta-analysis published in the September 2019 issue of JAHA concluded that ocean-derived omega-3s may reduce the risk of heart attack and heart disease death.

Fish oil may help improve bone density
In the typical American diet, it’s common to consume more omega-6 fatty acids – found in vegetable oils like corn and sunflower oil – than omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA. this imbalance has been implicated as the culprit for low bone density in both men and women. But the good news is that older adults with higher omega-3 intakes have been shown to maintain greater bone density, making fish oil a potential vector for age-related bone loss.

Supporting eye health
While the results are mixed, some studies suggest that fish oil may help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. This condition becomes more common with age and leads to loss or distortion of the central vision.

Fish oil may reduce asthma risk in children
Research suggests that fish oil consumption during pregnancy may help reduce the risk of asthma in children. And a small study found that consuming fish oil during pregnancy can reduce allergies in infants. However, it’s important to note that if you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t eat fish oil on its own. Be sure to talk to your doctor about whether it’s right for you, and if so, choose the right dose and form.

It can even keep your brain sharp.

In one study, fish oil improved cognitive performance in just five weeks in healthy adults aged 51 to 72 compared to the effect of a placebo. The study also linked higher blood levels of omega-3s to a lower risk of depression and anxiety disorders. What’s more, when used as an adjunct to standard antidepressant therapy, fish oil supplementation is beneficial when compared to a placebo in the treatment of depression.

And help you stay healthy.
Several studies have linked omega-3s to fat loss. And fish oil supplementation has also been shown to slow the normal decline in muscle mass and function in men and women between the ages of 60 and 85. Good fat if fish oil also helps stimulate the growth of muscle proteins and improve muscle mass, even in sedentary older adults, and supports the increase in muscle strength caused by resistance training. Other studies suggest that fish oil may also have an indirect effect on weight management, by stimulating areas of the brain that control food intake.

But don’t overindulge in fish oil.
Given this long list of potential fish oil benefits, you’re probably ready to start gorging on food. But you can get too much of a good thing.

Fish oil has a blood-thinning effect, so too much can increase the risk of bleeding, especially if it’s combined with other blood thinners like aspirin, or vitamin E supplements, garlic, ginger, ginseng, ginkgo biloba, and turmeric. Fish oil can also interact with some prescription medications, so it’s important to discuss this with your doctor before you start taking pills.

If you eat fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, or sardines) a few times a week, you may not even need to supplement. Ask your doctor or registered dietitian if fish oil is suitable for you.

Seek professional advice when choosing products
Some experts recommend opting for a supplement that provides a combination of 1,000 mg of DHA and EPA per day. (If you are vegan or allergic to fish, there are plant-based options made from algae oil, marine algae fish eaten to produce DHA and EPA). But I recommend working with your doctor or registered dietitian to determine the right product, and the ideal dosage for your body’s needs. The only way to benefit from any form of supplement is to use it correctly and with the guidance of a knowledgeable health professional.