The human body doesn't produce its own omega-3 fatty acids. Because of the omega-3 fatty acids content, fish oil consumption has a wide-variety of associated benefits, such as an improved cardiovascular system from healthier blood vessels, a lower lipid count, and reduced plaque buildup. There's evidence to suggest fish oil lowers high triglycerides. In addition, fish oil may decrease a person's chance of getting certain forms of cancer.
One of the most well-known and scientifically acknowledged benefits of fish oil is its ability to reduce pain and swelling (similar to the benefits of kratom) due to inflammation in the body. This trait is likely why it's effective for certain conditions that are related to inflammation.
Fish oils, specifically omega-3 fatty acids, have earned a reputation as being healthy for the brain, with anecdotal reports claiming fish oil can be used to prevent the decline in brain function that's caused by normal aging as well as progressive brain diseases such as Alzheimer's. Some have even gone as far as to call fish oil supplements a "nootropic," though much more research would be needed to support this claim.
While fish oil has been studied extensively and there is wide-spread speculation over the benefits for many conditions — including depression and anxiety, heart disease, strokes, eye problems (dry eyes, glaucoma, macular degeneration, etc.), osteoporosis, and cancer (such as breast cancer) — not enough evidence exists to verify these benefits. More research is needed.
Other Possible Conditions Benefited By Fish Oil
The following is a list of conditions on which fish oil may have a positive effect:
While these possible benefits are promising to the medical community and general public, more research is needed in order to verify the claims.
The best fish oil supplement we've come across on the market is Omega 3 Fish Oil Pills by Dr. Tobias. They're high-priced, but are extremely high quality.
There are some interactions with certain medications and supplements. As always, consult with a doctor before starting or stopping any drug or supplement, and when combining drugs and supplements.
To be safe, particularly if you take any of the above medications or supplements, consult with a doctor before taking fish oil pills.
Fish oil is seen as generally safe for most people at low to moderate doses. Large doses of fish oil have been known to thin the blood significantly, preventing it from clotting and increasing the chance of bleeding. In addition, high doses have the potential to reduce immune system function, which can be problematic for the elderly and those with already-weakened immune systems.
Consuming large amounts of fatty fish or even some low-quality fish oil supplements can increase a person's risk of consuming contaminates. Any fat-soluble toxin can be stored in the tissues of fish. Certain fish, particularly fatty fish that are predatory and those that "bottom-feed," may have accumulated higher concentrations of toxic substances, such as mercury.
Unfortunately, fish oil supplements can contain the same contaminants as the fish. However, this is highly dependent on the quality of the product, the fish source and methods of processing. As stated above, difference kinds of fish will have varying levels of toxins, with non-predatory and surface fish the safest to use.
Potential Side Effects
Taking fish oil supplements can cause certain side effects, including:
However, these potential side effects can largely be averted with proper dosing and taking only high quality fish oil supplements.
It's important to note that fish oil supplements can vary in quality depending on the brand. Lower quality products will increase a person's risk of consuming contaminants and may have fishy aftertastes with unpleasant belching. To avoid side effects like this, choose your fish oil product carefully.
A good general rule of thumb: Often a higher price indicates a higher quality product. However, this is not always the case. When in doubt, search for nutritional info and costumer reviews on any product you are thinking about buying and, as always, consult a doctor before taking any new supplements.
The term fish oil commonly refers to oils that contain the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) usually found in the tissues of fish, particularly cold-water oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, halibut, tuna, trout, sardines, and anchovies. EPA and DHA are also found elsewhere, including in other animals and phytoplankton, but fish have the highest levels of these omega-3 fatty acids and are the cheapest and most common source.
While omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, the fish themselves do not produce the oils — rather, they acquire the oils from having a diet consisting largely of algae, plankton, or prey fish.
While the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are mainly found in fish, the other omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), can be found in certain oils (like vegetable), nuts, flax seeds, and leafy vegetables.
Because of the abundance of ALA in more types of foods, it is much more common in Western diets. ALA can be converted into EPA and DHA by the human body, but it doesn't happen in a large enough quantities to really make a difference, which is why people usually need to consume fatty fish or take fish oil supplements to get the full benefits of EPA and DHA.
Fish oil softgels, the most popular form of fish oil supplement.
Fish oil pills are one of the most common and heavily-researched health supplements on the market. They are sold over the counter and can be found in virtually every health and supplement store in the world.
In addition to eating fatty fish, fish oil can be added to a person's diet by taking supplements. Extracted from the tissues of fish and then packaged in liquid or pill form, often as softgels, fish oil is sold over the counter and is becoming one of the most popular health supplements available today.
How Much Fish Oil Should I Take?
How much fish oil a person should take varies. A standard dose as a general health supplement is around 1-2 grams (1,000-2,000 mg), with EPA at around 400-800 mg and DHA around 400-600 mg.