Fish oil is one of the most popular supplements because of its many health benefits.
It is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which provides many health benefits.
If you eat plenty of oily fish regularly, then you don’t need the supplement. Unfortunately, most people only eat seafood once in a while and are, therefore, not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids from their food.
One of the top universities in the United States conducted a study and found that one of the top ten killers in the country is the deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids.
No one should have to die because of omega-3 efficiency. Whether you get it from oily fish or supplements, fish oil contains enough omega-3 fatty acids to prevent or reverse this deficiency.
There are many health benefits of taking fish oil supplements. Some of these benefits include:
- Lowering blood pressure levels
- Lowering the levels of triglycerides
- Helps fight the clogging of arteries by hindering the development of plaque
- Lowers the risk of an abnormal heart rhythm
- Reduces the risk of suddenly dying from heart disease
- Lowers the risk of stroke and heart attack
This article examines 12 fish oil benefits that are backed by science. But before we get to the benefits, let’s take a closer look at what fish oil is and some good food sources of fish oil.
What is Fish Oil and Why Is It Good For You?
Fish oil is simply what the name suggests. It is an oil derived from the tissue of some fatty fish.
The best source of fish oil is from oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, tuna, herrings, lake trout, and mackerel. These fishes are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating about 2 portions of fatty fish every week to help meet our required intake of Omega-3s.
People who don’t like fish can get their supply from fish oil pills or supplements.
Let’s get a bit technical about fish oils. The main constituent of fish oil is omega-3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fats. We will use the term “poly fats” to refer to polyunsaturated fats throughout this article.
The constituents of fish oil are about 30% Omega-3 fatty acids and 70% other fats. There’s also vitamins A and D in raw fish oil.
Types of Omega-3 fatty acids
There are different types of omega-3 fatty acids. There’s ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid), which occurs mostly in plants. The human body does not produce ALA omega-3 fatty acids, so we have to consume it from foods.
But we are not going to focus on ALA because they are not found in fish oil.
Fish oil contains EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The body can produce its own EPA and DHA under the right circumstances. It does this by converting ALA into EPA and DHA before using it.
You can get EPA and DHA omega-3s almost exclusively from animal sources. The only plant source is some sea plants or some fermented plant foods (which have been fermented with specific DHA-producing fungi).
You can also get EPA and DHA from pastured meat, dairy products, and eggs. The grazing animals convert the ALA they get from the plants they eat into DHA and EPA.
Is Fish Oil Good For You?
The simple answer to this question is yes. The benefits of fish oil are many, playing a critical role in maintaining optimal health.
Fish oil is good for you because studies show that the EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids can significantly lower your risk of heart disease.
There is a lot to talk about the different type of omega-3 fatty acids, how they work and where to get them from, but that will be covered in a different article.
For now, let’s move on and take a closer look at the various fish oil benefits.
The Best 12 Benefits of Fish Oil
1. Helps Lower The Risk of Heart Disease
According to health organizations, heart disease kills more people around the world than any other disease (a).
Several risk factors can lead to heart disease, and studies show that the intake of fish oil has a positive effect on several of these heart disease risk factors.
Here is how fish oil benefits the heart:
- Improves blood cholesterol: Research reveals that fish oil can boost the levels of HDL (the “good”) cholesterol in the blood. But studies also suggest it does not seem to affect the levels of LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol in the blood (e, f, g, h, i, j).
- Lowers blood pressure: It also benefits blood pressure levels, with studies showing that people with high blood pressure (hypertension) can experience a significant fall in blood pressure levels when they take fish oil supplements. This may be due to the fact that it can hinder the formation of plaque in the arteries (k, l, m).
- Lower triglycerides – Studies show that it can cause the levels of blood triglycerides to fall by as much as 15 to 30% (n, o, p).
- Plagues in arteries – Studies show that it can hinder the formation of plaque in the arteries (q, r, s).
- Lowers the risk developing abnormal heart rhythm – this condition can cause sudden death in people with heart conditions (t).
Scientists have conducted several studies that prove that fish oil can help improve several of the risk factors for heart disease, but they can’t conclusively say that taking these supplements can prevent strokes or heart disease (u)
Conclusion: Studies show that fish oil supplements can improve some of the risk factors for heart disease and stroke, but there is no conclusive evidence that it can prevent those diseases.
2. It May be Beneficial For Some Mental Disorders
Approximately 60% of our brains comprise of fats, including plenty of omega-3 fatty acids.
Conclusion: Fish oil can provide benefits for people suffering from some mental disorders.
3. Fish oil benefits may include better eye health and protection against old age vision loss
In addition, we usually see experience a deterioration in eyesight as we age. This can cause age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
In a 14-week study of people with AMD, researchers discovered that the regular intake of fish oil, over the duration of the study, led to better vision in the participants (m1).
Conclusion: The benefits of fish oil may include improvements to eyesight and the prevention of AMD.
4. Fish Oil Pills May Cause Weight Loss and Improve Body Composition
When your body mass index (BMI) is 30 and over, you are said to be obese. More than half the world’s population are either overweight or obese. It is an even bigger number in some advanced countries like the United States (p1).
In a large review study, researchers concluded that fish oil pills did not cause significant weight loss in people with obesity. However, they noticed an improvement in their waist sizes (a2).
Conclusion: The intake of fish oil pills may have a positive effect on the weight of obese people and reduce their waist size.
5. It May Improve Symptoms of ADHD
Some experts believe that the symptoms of ADHD and its related developmental issues may be a result of insufficient omega-3 fatty acids in the body. They don’t think it is the primary cause, but they believe it is a strong contributing factor (b2).
A recent study looked at the effects of omega-3 and omega-6 supplements on children with ADHD. Parents of these children reported that standard treatments with methylphenidate and behavior therapy did not produce any academic or behavioral improvements in these kids.
Scientists then gave the children either omega-3 and omega-6 pills or a placebo. The researchers reported statistically significant improvements in the kids that took the supplements. These improvements occurred in areas like academics, aggressiveness, and restlessness (c2).
In a different study, researchers found that an increase in DHA omega-3s caused behavioral and literacy improvements in kids with ADHD (d2).
Conclusion: The omega-3s in fish oil supplements can help improve the symptoms of kids with ADHD.
6. Fish Oil Supplements can Produce an anti-inflammatory effect
When the body perceives an external threat (like infections and injury), it uses inflammation to fight off that threat.
But in some cases, inflammation can attack perfectly healthy tissues in our body.
One way to treat or improve the symptoms of these illnesses is to reduce inflammation.
Studies show that fish oil supplements can act as an anti-inflammatory, and help improve the symptoms of chronic inflammation (h2).
Conclusion: Fish oil benefits include its anti-inflammatory effects, which can improve the symptoms of diseases caused by chronic inflammation.
7. Fish Oil Supplements May Improve Your Skin and hair
Fish oil may benefit your skin and hair. The body’s largest organ is the skin, which plays a critical role in regulating our body temperate. Our skin skins contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids (m2).
The increased intake of fish oil can nourish your skin, providing it with vitamins and fats that helps it maintain an elastic and smooth texture.
As we age, our skins deteriorate, becoming wrinkly. Some evidence suggests that fish oil may help fight against wrinkles and slow than the aging effect on our skins.
Aging also affects our hair. The hair gets thinner as we get older. Studies suggest fish oil may help slow down this process, making it beneficial for our hair.
Check out our article on best vitamins for hair growth.
Some researchers concluded that fish oil might help with some skin disorders like eczema (n2).
A few studies looked at the effects of fish oil supplements on people with psoriasis. Some results show it has a positive effect while others show it has no effect.
Although inconclusive, there is some evidence that people with psoriasis may benefit from the intake of fish oil supplements.
The anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil can help provide relief from the symptoms of sunburn. This effect is even greater when you eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (o2).
Conclusion: As we age, our skin deteriorates. However, fish oil may help relieve the symptoms of some age-related skin conditions and also improve the appearance of your skin.
8. Fish Oil May Be Beneficial During Pregnancy and Infancy
Your unborn and infant child needs omega-3 fatty acids for proper growth and development (s2).
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should, therefore, make sure they meet the recommended intake of fish oil.
Several studies show that when women consume a lot of omega-3s during these stages of a child’s development, it tends to improve their child’s hand and eye coordination. But studies about the effects on IQ and learning ability are inconclusive (t2, u2, v2, w2, x2).
Other studies show that the intake of fish oil supplements by pregnant and breastfeeding moms can cause an improvement in your child’s visual development while reducing the risks of allergies (y2, z2).
Conclusion: Studies show that the unborn and infants need omega-3 fatty acids for their early development. They get it from their mothers at this stage so it is important for pregnant women and breastfeeding moms to take fish oil supplements.
9. It May be Beneficial For Fatty Liver Disease
The liver is a very important organ in the body. It handles the processing of most of the fats we consume and can be a big factor in weight gain.
Fat can sometimes accumulate in the liver, causing a condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) (a3).
Conclusion: An increase in obesity has led to an increase in liver disease. Studies suggest that the benefits of fish oil may include its ability to help reduce the amount of fat accumulated in the liver
10. Fish oil benefits for Alzheimer’s Disease
Our mental function deteriorates as we get older, which raises the risk of mental diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Conclusion: Studies show that the regular consumption of fish may help slow down age-related mental deterioration. However, scientists are not sure if supplements can replicate this effect.
11. It May Benefit People With Anxiety and Depression
Studies suggest that depression is well on the way to becoming one of the biggest illnesses in the world (m3).
Conclusion: Several studies show that the intake of fish oil supplements may help improve the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Recommended dosage of fish oil supplements
For those that consume plenty of fatty fish, you don’t have to worry about dosage. However, if you take fish oil supplements, make sure you stick with the recommended dosage that comes with your supplement.
Authorities consider 3 grams of fish supplements a day to be safe. Talk to you doctor if you want to take more than this amount per day.
Are there any Side Effects With Omega-3 Fish oil?
Taking fish oil supplements may cause a few side effects. These include:
- Fishy breath
- Loose stools
- Fishy taste in the mouth
- Upset stomach
You may experience bleeding if you go over 3 grams of the supplements per day. Therefore, people with bleeding disorders or people taking blood-thinning drugs should be careful not to exceed the recommended dosage.
You should also talk to your doctor before taking fish oil if you are currently taking any prescription medication. The same goes for people who are allergic to shellfish or fish.
People with type 2 diabetes should also consult with their doctor before taking fish oil supplements. It can cause a spike in fasting blood sugar levels.
Finally, it is important to buy high-quality fish oil supplements. Some brands of fish oil may be tainted with mercury, residues of pesticides and trans fats.
Read the ingredients label carefully and look for astaxanthin, which is an antioxidant. It helps prevent the oil from becoming rancid. High-quality fish oil will contain this substance.
Fish oil is good for optimal health. They are essential for early development and help fight against many diseases.
Many of the fish oil benefits come from its omega-3 fatty acids content. You can get the recommended intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil supplements.
However, the best source of omega-3s is fatty fish. It is recommended that you eat fatty fish at least twice a week to get the benefits.