Everything You Need to Know About Fish Oil
What is Fish Oil?
any people struggle to eat oily fish 2-3 times per week due to busy schedules, lack of accessibility, or dietary restrictions. Luckily, fish oil supplements are widely available and may help you obtain the same health benefits as eating fish!
Fish oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory health supplement that's made by extracting fat from oily fish such as tuna, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, trout, and herring. It's a concentrated source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and the fat-soluble vitamins A and D.
How Fish Oil Works
Fish oil's amazing health benefits come from omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Found concentrated in the cell membranes, brain, and eyes, EPA and DHA have many vital roles in the body.
Fish oil may be best known for improving lipid metabolism, reducing the risk of chronic illness, and slowing premature aging by regulating inflammation in the body. Research has found omega-3s limit the production of inflammatory chemicals called eicosanoids and cytokines (1).
Research has found it is beneficial for those with painful joint inflammation and also promotes optimal brain, heart, eye, and skin health.
Why Take a Fish Oil Supplement?
Omega-3s are not synthesized in the body and must be obtained from the diet and/or supplementation. Western diets are typically low in omega-3s and high in omega-6 fatty acids, creating an imbalance that may lead to chronic inflammation.
Omega-3s can be obtained from nuts, seeds, and vegetable oil. However, plants contain alpha-linolenic acid that must first go through an inefficient conversion process in the body to form active EPA and DHA. Fish oil provides the body with preformed EPA and DHA for better results.
Health Benefits of Fish Oil
Here are a few of the well-researched benefits of taking fish oil.
Promotes Cardiovascular Health
A high-quality fish oil supplement could help to reduce the incidence of one of the world's biggest killers – coronary heart disease. Decades of research have found diets high in fatty fish provide amazing heart-protective properties. This is likely due to fish oil's positive impact on oxidative stress, inflammation, blood vessel health, lipid metabolism, and blood pressure.
Promisingly, a 2019 meta-analysis found that supplementing with omega-3 fish oil significantly lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), death from a heart attack, and death from CVD (2).
Supports Brain Health and Boosts Mood
The human brain is roughly 60% fat – including the fatty acids EPA and DHA – and relies on dietary fat for optimal function. It makes sense that low consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is linked to rising rates of depression, poor concentration, attention deficit disorder, or cognitive decline.
A study on adults with age-related cognitive decline found that taking a high dose of DHA for 6 months supported cognitive performance by improving learning and memory (3). Another 2015 study confirmed supplementing with omega-3 fish oil for just 3 weeks significantly improved depression in young adults (4)..
Strengthens Eye Health
Omega-3s play a key role in the development and health of your eyes. DHA, in particular, is highly concentrated in the eye and makes up a major structural component of the retina (5).
A 2014 study found that people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – a common form of vision loss – had low levels of EPA and DHA (6). Luckily, further research has found that boosting levels of EPA and DHA may prevent or slow the progression of AMD (7).
May Support Muscle Growth and Fitness as You Age
Consuming omega-3 fish oil may improve muscle health and physical performance as you age.
A 2018 review found that supplementation with fish oil stimulates muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and improves muscle mass in people with age-related muscle loss. It may also improve muscle strength and function when engaging in resistance training (8).
Encourages Healthy Fetal Development
Researchers, doctors, and dietitians all agree women should supplement with omega-3 fish oil while pregnant and breastfeeding. These structural fats are vital for the growth and development of a baby's brain, nervous system, and eyes.
Studies have shown that measures of cognitive function, intelligence, and hand and eye coordination are better in children exposed to higher levels of omega-3 fish oil in utero (9).
Make Fish Oil Part of Your Daily Diet
Okay you knew it was coming... time for a shameless plug. Do you think the benefits of adding fish oil to your daily diet could help? Create a personalized daily vitamin pack that includes fish oil and any other vitamins, minerals or supplements you think could help. Start by adding fish oil to your Kit here!