Many people speak highly of the benefits of fish oil supplementation. Fish oil contains a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids - the good fats that are necessary to help your body function properly.
Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency has ranked among the top ten leading causes of death in the United States. This statistic is surprising considering obesity - an excess of fat - is one of the other leading causes of disease. This shows the stark contrast to different types of fats. Fish oil’s got what you need.
Human beings evolved typically consuming a balance of omega-6 fats and omega-3 fats. The typical western diet finds this ratio extremely imbalanced. People consume up to 20 times more omega-6 fats than omega-3s, which can promote inflammation in the human body.
What Types Of Omega-3 Fats Does The Body Need?
There are several omega-3 fatty acids that are more important and prominent than others. The two most commonly cited and consumed essential fatty acids (considered essential because the body cannot synthesize them on its own) are
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is a very important in the maintenance of the cardiovascular system. It helps improve your blood’s ability to clot. EPA also reduces inflammation in the intestines and other areas of your body.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is particularly important for the development of eye tissue, brain tissue, and other neural tissue.
Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) can be synthesized in the body from EPA. It’s responsible for about a third of the long-chain fatty acids present in human blood.
Fish oil is one of the most viable sources of omega-3 fats for humans to consume. There are a lot of false claims regarding the usage of omega-3 fats. Some claim them to be miracle nutrients. This article will look only at health benefits that are backed by significant scientific evidence.
Health Benefits Of Fish Oil
Fish oil is usually taken in supplemental form, either encapsulated or taken by the spoonful. Of course, you can also reap the benefits of fish oil from simply eating fish - cold water, fatty fish are the best for this. These include mackerel, tuna, salmon, and the blubber from whale and seals which are particularly high in omega-3s. Fish oil is readily absorbed by the human body and displays a huge array of very important healing properties.
1. Fish Oil Increases Protein Synthesis
Protein synthesis is an extremely important process in the human body. Protein is the most essential building block for muscle. Typically protein is synthesized from a combination of various amino acids, which are absorbed in the human diet.
Fish oil has been shown to improve the anabolic effects of exercise. Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids when combined with anabolic stimuli, such as exercise or protein consumption, improves the metabolism of protein.
Omega-3 fatty acids enhance insulin-related mechanisms of protein metabolism. During this study, nine test subjects consumed a diet that enhanced protein synthesis in relation to an infusion of amino acids and insulin. The fish oil, when added to the diet, further enhanced the synthesis of protein and the resultant muscle development was bolstered.
Conclusion: Fish oil can have an anabolic effect. This means it can behave as a natural sort of steroid, which enhances the growth of muscles through enhanced protein synthesis.
2. Fish Oil Increases The Strength Of Muscles
The production of muscle tissue isn’t the only thing enhanced by fish oil consumption. The strength of the muscles themselves also improves.
Some studies have shown that regularly consuming fatty fish increased the grip strength tested by a device used in the experiment. There was an increase seen of almost half a kilogram for each extra serving of fatty fish consumed on a weekly basis.
Conclusion: Fish oil has a strong effect on the function of muscles. It improves the strength of muscles, physical performance, and endurance ability.
3. Fish Oil Can Help Reduce Symptoms Of ADHD
It’s been suggested that deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids can cause symptoms of ADHD and the symptoms that develop throughout adulthood as a result.
A study was done in 2012 on kids between ages 6 and 12. The study group had received treatment for ADHD with methylphenidate but had seen no significant improvement in symptoms thanks to the medical treatment.
They were then treated with omega-3 supplements, omega-6 supplements, and placebos. The omega groups found significant improvement in symptoms including restlessness, aggressiveness, focus, and general academic performance.
It has also been suggested that higher intake of omega-3s improve literacy and can regulate behavioural difficulties in kids with ADHD.
Conclusion: Fish oil supplementation can help reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Fish oil deficiency can cause decreased focus, motivation, and other imbalances that are a part of ADHD.
4. Fish Oil Can Fight The Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s
Fish oil has been reliably connected to beneficial effects in relation to Alzheimer’s disease for quite some time. The brain has a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids compared to the rest of the body. Without enough omega-3 intake, the brain begins to degenerate quicker.
Including essential fatty acids in your diet can slow the decline of your cognitive process. It also helps prevent brain atrophy in elderly patients. A study done on subjects for between 4 and 17 months showed that fish oil is very effective at reducing the onset of degenerative mental diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Conclusion: Omega-3 fatty acids can help the brain protect itself from the onset of degenerative diseases. The brain makes great use of omega-3 fatty acids since they’re present in such high concentrations in the brain.
5. Fish Oil Can Reduce The Effects Of Anxiety And Depression
A study published in 2013 showed that fish oil effectively reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression in rats. This study suggest that using fish oil during critical points of development can have a hugely positive effect on the grown adult.Giving your kids fish oil on the regular can help ensure that they develop an anxiety-free mindstate for adulthood.
Nutritional Neuroscience, a journal that focuses on using health food and supplements to improve the health of the brain. They observed the effect is that fish oil consumption had in the prefrontal cortex among teens with depressive disorders. They discovered that symptoms trackable in the prefrontal cortex decreased up to 40 percent.
There was also a significant increase in the concentration of amino acids in the brain. Imbalances of amino acids can often cause depression, anxiety, and other mental instabilities. Amino acid supplementation is another often-overlooked solution to depression and anxiety.
Conclusion: Fish oil, when consumed during the development of the brain, can help prevent the onset of symptoms of mental disorders like anxiety and depression.
6. Fish Oil Reduces Symptoms Of Arthritis
A study published in 2014 showed that fish oil was one of the more effective natural treatments in reducing the symptoms of arthritis. This is likely due to fish oil's activity as an anti-inflammatory agent. The symptoms of pain, prohibited range of motion, and inflammation were greatly reduced.
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are considered to be some of the most effective treatments for arthritis. These include arthritis, ibuprofen, and are known to be effective painkillers by reducing the effects of inflammation. Some of the omega-6 fats can actually be metabolized by the body into pro-inflammatory compounds, and NSAIDs limit this synthesis.
Fish oil supplements were shown to be just as effective as NSAIDs for reducing arthritis related pain. Additionally, they're safer, cheaper, and have a lot more health benefits for your body.
Conclusion: Fish oil can be as effective as some of the leading treatments for arthritis. It performs as effectively as NSAIDs by exerting impressive anti-inflammatory effects, and continues to work into old age.
7. Fish Oil Reduces The Symptoms Of Cancer
There have been numerous studies done about fish oil's efficacy for fighting cancer. Colon cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer were tested against. Not only is it effective at fighting cancer, but it also improves the effect of conventional methods of cancer fighting.
Omega-3 fats were reviewed in 2013 in greater detail for their effects at fighting cancer. They concluded that omega-3s prohibit the growth of cancer cells in both animals and humans. Not only do they directly affect the cell themselves, but since they boost the ability of your immune system to fight inflammation. This inhibits the growth of tumours.
Some even find that omega-3 fats work better than traditional cancer drug treatments. Subjects were studied while using either 5-Fluorouracil, which is a well-known and commonly used cancer treatments, or fish oil. Fish oil increased the chances of survival just as much as the 5-FU. Fish oil also inhibited the side effects of 5-FU. It's known to be toxic to the intestines, hepatic system, and exhibits renal toxicity.
Omega-3s have been shown effective that researchers have said omega-3s to be “a nutritional intervention in the treatment of breast cancer" in that they are so effective at reducing the required dosage and increasing the efficacy of various cancer treatment drugs. High intake of fish oil has been linked to decreased risk of cancer later in life.
Conclusion: Fish oil is proven to be an effective tool for battling cancer. Studies have shown that they inhibit the growth of cancer cells, thus decreasing the size of tumours, and also enhance your immune system’s ability to fight off cancer. Fish oil was proven to be as effective or even better than traditional cancer treatments.
8. Fish Oil Reduces Muscle Damage And Soreness Caused By Exercise
While exercise is the most common method for increasing muscle mass and improving the strength of your muscles, it shouldn't be overdone. Intense exercise can cause muscle damage. This damage causes soreness and can inhibit physical functioning, which in turn makes it harder to resume exercise.
NSAIDs, in addition to being prescribed for arthritis as mentioned earlier, are prescribed to reduce the symptoms of muscle damage by preventing the creation of pro-inflammatory compounds from excessive arachidonic acid (the omega-6 fat mentioned previously.).
Taking fish oil supplements decrease the content of arachidonic acid, which, in turn, produces less of the inflammation causing molecules the body typically produces. This suggests that omega-3 supplementation could reduce the downtime between training sessions by effectively prohibiting muscle damage caused by exercise. Fish oil has been particularly useful for those doing aerobic exercise. A study was done on almost 80 women, post-menopause, who took supplements of only 300mg of fish oil on a daily basis. It was shown to limit inflammation after exercise, allowing for much safer, more effective training.
Fish oil has also been proven to reduce the soreness that often accompanies an intense workout. This further speeds up the healing time in between workouts. One study was done on both men and women. They supplemeneted fish oil on a daily basis and were studied while doing arm curls. The pain related to the exercise was reduced by up to 15%.
Conclusion: Fish oil is a great supplement to take for people doing strength training. It reduces the damage the muscles take from the training and limits the resulting soreness by preventing the release of excess acid.
8. Fish Oil Can Strengthen Your Bones
The more popular supplements for helping your bones grow strong and healthy are calcium, and magnesium. Omega-3 fats aren't studied as frequently or talked about as much, but they play a pretty important role in helping bones grow strong.
Long-chain polyunsaturated fats, like those found in fish oil, help with the strength of bones by working through the inflammatory pathway. They also help to increase the density of minerals in your bones, which can prevent fractures and breaks.
Furthermore, supplementing omega-3s while doing intense aerobic exercise can be even more beneficial. The omega-3s allow the body to better regulate hormones that affect calcium in the body, allowing for a better overall distribution of the mineral throughout the body for more effective use throughout.
Conclusion: Fish oil is another good thing to include in your arsenal if you’re looking to strengthen your bones. Polyunsaturated fats, like those in fish oil, increase the strength of your boones by improving mineral density.
9. Fish Oil Can Help Reduce Epilepsy Symptoms
A study that was published in 2014 suggests that patients with epilepsy can reduce the instances if seizures by regularly consuming fish oil supplements. This suggests that those who aren't responsive to typical treatments for epilepsy might want to look into supplementing with fish oil.
Fish oil is linked to reducing the excitability of brain cells. Over stimulation of brain cells can be one of the main causes of seizures, so preventing this is key to preventing them. Low-dose supplementation of fish oil reduced seizures by more than 30%, according to a study done on 24 subjects with epilepsy. These subjects stopped responding to traditional medication.
When given a low dose of fish oil for some months, their seizure threshold decreased significantly - more so than the group taking mid to high dose supplements. Two of the low-dose patients had no seizures at all!
Studies have already shown that omega-3 fats can stabilize the rhythm of the heart and prevent heart attacks. What wasn’t realized at the time was that stabilizing the heart rate can be very beneficial to patients who suffer from epilepsy, since they're more likely to have heart attacks.
Conclusion: Epileptics may find their condition hugely improved by taking fish oil. Daily low dose supplementation can even eliminate seizures in certain lucky epileptics.
10. Fish Oil Might Help Prevent Schizophrenia And Psychosis
In a new study that's attempting to cover this idea for the first time, researchers are suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids, like those included in fish oil, could reduce the instances and symptoms of psychosis.
Fish oil slows the progression of these mental diseases, particularly among high-risk patients. Nature Communications, a scientific journal, published research indicating that they could delay psychosis for up to seven years. Ten percent of the study group taking omega-3 supplements developed psychosis during the period - the patients who were not supplementing succumbed at a rate of forty percent.
Fish oil can be a great alternative to antipsychotic medication. Antipsychotics come with a load of nasty side effects that can include seizures, cardiac problems, depression - even hearing voices, which would make you feel more psychosis. Supplementing instead with fish oil would provide safer protection from psychosis along with all the other health benefits of fish oil.
Fish oil can help against these types of psychoses by restoring the balance of essential fatty acids in the brain. A deficiency of EFAs in the brain causes a weakness in the membrane of brain cells, which is likely to play a role in the onset of psychosis or schizophrenia.
Whether or not this is entirely the case, schizophrenics who take fish oil supplements show marked improvement in the quality of their lives. It does this in the same way it provides certain other cognitive benefits - the structure of omega-3 fats provide a very prime condition for your cell membranes to function. Your brain is made of membrane-rich grey matter, so making sure these membranes are well protected is vital.
Conclusion: Fish oil is a surprisingly powerful method of fighting psychosis and schizophrenia. It does this by helping the brain ensure that its cell membranes can develop to be strong and well-protected. It provides them with an adequate environment to flourish, and can even be a better alternative than traditional anti-psychotic meds.
11. Fish Oil Helps The Development Of The Fetus
Studies show that consuming fish oil during pregnancy has significant positive effects on the mental development of an unborn baby. Since the body can’t produce its own omega-3s, the mother must consume them in her diet for the baby to receive them. Additionally, the American diet is already lacking in omegas, making it all too common for babies to be born deficient.
The study, done in 2008, shows that mothers who regularly consume omega-3 supplements like fish oil give birth to babies with much better cognitive function.
Women need to take extra omegas during pregnancy because the fetus uses omega-3s for the growth of its nervous system. This can deplete the women of her omega-3 supply and thus prevent the baby from getting the omega-3s it needs to build healthy tissues. Since omega-3 deficiency causes depression, this could explain why mothers are often depressed during pregnancy.
Omega-3 fats are shown to lower the chance of premature labour, preeclampsia, and may increase birth weight in underweight babies.
While not quite beneficial to the fetus, omega-3s are used after birth in the making of breast milk. Supplementing with these fats after birth still showed an improvement in mental and visual processes of breast-fed babies.
Conclusion: Omega-3 fats are an absolute necessity for any pregnant mother. The baby uses these fats in the development of its nervous system and brain, and can deplete the mother quite quickly. It’s highly recommended to supplement additional omega-3s during pregnancy.
12. Fish Oil Helps Fight Cardiovascular Disease
There are tons of studies that show how fish oil is beneficial for a number of cardiovascular diseases. One study done by the very Cardiovascular Research Institute in Maastricht (Netherlands), an institute specializing in cardio health, holds a lot of weight in this regard.
The institution's study begins by suggesting that replacing fat with carbs can actually be a lot more unhealthy than just consuming carbohydrates – even in the typical, high-in-trans-fat western diet. It goes to say that many polyunsaturated fats, like the omega-3s, are actually beneficial for the human cardiovascular system. Consuming fish oil can even help to completely eliminate early onset cardiovascular diseases.
Not only can omega-3s help to fight cardiovascular disease, but it can improve the survival chances of thosee who have gone through certain cardio problems. Heart attack victims have been studied and show an improved rate of survival when they consume omega-3 fats on a regular basis.
Those who took fish oil, in high doses, on a daily basis for six months showed an improved heart function, and showed a decrease in inflammation throughout their whole system.
Conclusion: Fish oil has been shown to be an effective fighter of various cardiovascular diseases. It also seems to help the health of those who have already fallen victim to cardiac disease, making it an invaluable tool for keeping your cardiovascular system healthy.
13. Fish Oil Can Fight The Effects Of Diabetes
Brain Research, a publication that focuses on publishing studies related to neuroscience and health, has undergone research on the effects of fish oil supplementation and diabetes. Some diabetics develop significant cognitive decline because the disease tends to destroy cells in the hippocampus.
Fish oil prevents the hippocampus cells from being destroyed. It also functions as an antioxidant, preventing oxidative damage in the veins and arteries. Oxidative stress can play a huge role in the development of diabetes.
Diabetic retinopathy is another complication that can result from diabetes, A study done shows that regular consumption of fish oil can help to fight this particular issue. 3,600 diabetics between ages 55 and 80 were studied over a course of almost 5 years. Those whose diet contained a daily 500 milligram dose of omega-3 fats were nearly 50 percent less likely to develop the condition.
Conclusion: Diabetics should consider supplementing with fish oil. It is shown to have a number of positive effects for diabetics, particularly in combating the cognitive deficits that some diabetics face.
14. Fish Oil Can Help Keep Your Eyes Healthy
Diabetic retinopathy isn't the only eye-related disease that fish oil consumption helps to prevent. Omega-3s are shown to effectively prevent and even reverse eye-related illnesses.
A study done in 2014 with almost 300 subjects who had macular degeneration (an eye-related condition that often occurs with age and results in dwindling vision.) Subjects who had infrequent intake of fish oil – supplementary or from eating fish – were much more likely to have macular degeneration. The percentage of subjects with the disease who were known to consume fish oil more often was much lower.
It has also been suggested that regular intake of fish oil can reduce the risk of cataracts, another eye-related condition that can occur with age.
Conclusion: Fish oil has been implicated for its ability to help the human eye maintain its health by fighting certain types of age-related degeneration. Fish oil also helps to fight cataracts.
15. Fish Oil Is Great For Your Immune System
Many studies have been done on fish oil's effect on the immune system. One particular study, done on animals, noted that the immune boosting ability of fish oil is strengthened significantly when taken with astaxanthin, another antioxidant. They suspect these benefits also apply to human health.
Long-chain omega-3 fats help to boost the function of immune cells in humans. It was originally speculated that omega-3s were unhealthy for the human immune system. DHA, specifically, was indicated to prevent the immune system from functioning by being too potent of an anti-inflammatory (the inflammatory response is one of the immune system's methods of helping to prevent pathogens from surviving.)
Instead, consuming omega-3s makes immune cells function better. They do this in a few different ways.
DHA-rich fish oil or other products containing DHA improves the function of white blood cells. The study used two groups of mice. One was fed a control diet, the other fed a high-DHA diet. The blood cells were harvested after the study period and stimulated in vitro.
It was shown that the DHA from fish oil was absorbed through the cell membrane and actually helped them function more efficiently. It also helped the body produce more antibodies, which are used to fight off pathogens. Both of these indicators help the immune system do its job more effectively by taking strain off of its many functions.
Conclusion: Fish oil helps the immune system function better by improving the efficacy of some of its cells. The fats in fish oil also help the body produce more disease-fighting pathogens and improves the function of white blood cells. Both of these activities reduce strain on the immune system.
16. Fish Oil Strengthens Cardio-Respiratory Function
For those who are interested in exercising, they might want to check out fish oil supplementation. It’s been shown to boost the ability to exercise, particularly in people with heart disease. Included in these boosts are the ability to exercise longer, the recovery of your heart rate, the ability to exert more energy and variance in heart rate. Since it helps people with heart disease, it can be a life-saver for those who are struggling to get back on their feet.
Exercise generally helps improve cardiac function by increasing the heart’s ability to pump blood. This helps deliver oxygen more efficiently throughout the body and helps to more efficiently build muscle. One study showed that athletes who consumed almost two grams of EPA and DHA daily had less blood pressure and had a lower overall heart rate during exercise.
Since exercise helps to strengthen the lungs as well - by allowing the pulmonary systems to deliver more oxygen, thereby increasing the total amount that the lungs can handle - this is an important part of building cardiovascular strength as well.
Fish oil is shown to improve the function of the lungs during exercise. A study done on 40 wrestlers showed that daily dosing of omega-3 fats improved the function of their lungs. They were tested on numerous parameters, many of which showed an increase when the fish oil supplements were taken.
Fish oil supplements further improve symptoms of wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. This allows people who struggle with exercise to have a better chance at being able to do cardiovascular exercise.
Conclusion: Not only does fish oil reduce the instance of cardiovascular disease like we mentioned earlier, but it improves the function of the cardiac system as a whole. Fish oil helps the body transport oxygen more efficiently by strengthening the lungs and improving the blood cell count. It also improves the symptoms of pulmonary issues like coughing or shortness of breath.
17. Fish Oil Improves Cognitive Function
Consuming regular amounts of omega-3 fats helps to ensure your brain has a healthy structure. The human brain has a ridiculous number of cells - over a hundred billion - and these all should be functioning well to deliver maximum brain function.
Each cell in our brain has an outer, protective membrane made of fat. The brain’s about sixty percent fat, so making sure we get enough dietary fat is important to make sure it works well.
Some of the good kind of fats are, of course, those included in fish oils. Polyunsaturated fats - also known as PUFAs - help the brain become more fluid. They also help the brain transport different proteins which are responsible for performing different actions. DHAs also help the brain build synapses, which are crucial for the transportation of neurotransmitters (the chemicals in your brain which transmit messages)
Some studies have even shown that brain damage or degenerative conditions can be potentially reversed by consuming omega-3 fats. Since the brain is a membrane-rich organ, maintaining these membranes is important for it to function well. Omega-3 fats provide the necessary environment for these membranes to grow strong.
Additionally, as you age, the unsaturated fatty acid component of your brain increases. This shows that the older you get, the more EFAs you need to consume - which many folk don’t know. Understanding this can help prevent the onset of these diseases.
Conclusion: Fish oil functions, surprisingly, as a nootropic! Since your brain’s got such a high fat content, consuming healthy fats like fish oil help make sure it’s in top shape and can effectively transport neurotransmitters. It is also indicated to help reduce the effects of cognitive decline already present in aging people.
18. Fish Oil Helps Prevent Aging
Nobody wants to look old, right? Many studies have been done about the efficiency of omega-3 fats in fighting various age-related defects.
A study done on over a thousand woman, post-menopause, showed that omega-3s helped the hippocampus grow. The hippocampus is a part of the brain responsible for a huge number of functions - particularly, memory. Having a large, healthy hippocampus is crucial for maintaing memory, which can begin to degenerate as a person ages.
The brain metabolizes DHA into some of the anti-inflammatory compounds that fish oil is known for. This helps to slow cell death in the brain, which is a byproduct of aging and can lead to memory loss.
Omega-3 fats also help keep the skin look young and fresh by keeping the fat reserves stocked with essential, healthy fats.
Conclusion: Fish oil can be an effective agent at preventing some of the damage done to the body as it ages. It keeps the brain healthy and the skin healthy.
This stuff has 2,000mg of fish oil containing 1,400mg of omega-3s (600mg DHA, 800mg EPA) in each serving of two capsules.
They use an advanced delivery system that improves bioavailability and helps avoid the fishy flavour that some people find unpleasant. The pills use an enteric coating which helps the pills get swallowed easily and dissolved quick.
Their oil is purified with a distillation process that works on the molecular level.
All their products are tested by a third party laboratory for non-biased results.
If ever there was a fish oil product for the thrifty, it’s this one. The price is less than a third of the price for some other popular products.
They use oil extracted from fish in the sea, not farmed fish or other commercialized fish.
Each serving of two softgels provides 500 mg of EPA and 500mg of DHA.
This product contains no starches or yeast.
The pills are purified to eliminate any chance of mercury being present.
This is a high-dose product containing 2,250mg of fish oil per dose
This provides a higher dose of EPA and DHA than other brands
This brand is also purified with molecular distillation. They use as low temperatures as possible to prevent damaging the nutrients while removing traces of mercury or other toxins
They only use fish caught naturally in the ocean.
The pills are flavoured, which allows customers not to have to deal with the fishy flavour.
This is another cost-effective brand, coming in at only fifteen bucks.
The bottle has a hundred softgels, each containing 300mg of both DPH and EPA
This bottle is for daily supplementation and won’t deliver high impact effects like previous contenders
The pills are made of easy-to-swallow soft gels
This supplement has been specifically studied for its ability to reduce heart disease. Wholemegas are known to retain healthy triglycerides and improve the function of omega-3s in the body.
This product uses only natural Alaska salmon from Certified Responsible fisheries in Alaska’s ocean.
They avoid the use of GMO or farmed fish.
This product delivers 17 different nutrients that synergize to benefit the omega-3s.
They do not use high heat processing in this product.
Customers do not report the familiar fishy taste that some products have.
There are no added flavours or colours in this product.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.