Fish oil Omega 3 fatty acids are one of the highest consumed supplements. And the reasons are obvious. Omega-3 deficiency is one of the top 10 causes of preventable deaths. Fish oil benefits in preventing some of those casualties by providing Omega-3 fatty acids.
From reducing the risks of heart diseases,improving fertility to weight loss fish oil benefits are many. It prevents certain cancers and helps in cognitive activities in children as well as older people with risks of Alzheimer's.
Most fish oil benefits come from its natural Omega-3 contents of EPA and DHA components which are not available in plant based sources of Omega-3.
Table of Contents
- What is Fish Oil?
- Types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Fish Oil
- Top 7 Fish Oil Benefits
- Omega-3 Deficiency Side Effects
- Precautions and Tips
Omega-3 fish oil is extracted from fatty fishes such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and anchovies.
Fish oil is also extracted from the liver of certain fishes such as cod fish. Cod liver oil is also Omega-3 fatty acid rich oil.
Almost 30% of fish oil is Omega-3 fatty acids and the balance 70% are other fats.
People who eat 1-2 portions of fish every week get sufficient Omega -3 fatty acid to fight with various diseases to keep them healthy.
Those who don't consume fish can get benefits from fish oil supplements.
Fish oils are rich in more powerful Omega-3 fatty acids than plant based sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Our bodies generally produce most types of fats that are required by us. But it doesn't produce Omega-3 fats. Omega-3 are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). We get these fatty acids from our diet or supplements.
There are 3 different types of omega-3 fatty acids and all three of them offer different health benefits. Some offer more advantages than the other.
1. Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA)
2. Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
3. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
ALA is generally found in plant based foods and should be converted to EPA and DHA before the body can use it.
Our body is inefficient in ALA conversion therefore most if the ALA is used as energy as other fats.
It is the EPA and even more so DHA that provide most of the health benefits of Omega-3. Fish oil is rich in EPA and DHA.
The fatty acids in fish oil are vital for brain functioning. They not only arrest the cognitive decline but can also prevent brain atrophy in older people.
A study done on normal old adults who neither had any cognitive impairment nor had any genetic history indicated that the people who took fish oil were significantly better off. They shown less brain shrinkage and less cognitive decline than those who didn't take fish oil.
Scientific study in 2013 indicated that Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids inhibit prostate cancer growth.
Various other studies have indicated similar positive impact on breast and endometrial cancer.
In another interesting study, scientists found that too much of Omega-3 can reduce immunity particularly when the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio goes higher from 2:1 in favour of Omega-3. This increases risks of prostate cancer. Most non fish eating people have very low Omega- 3 in their body. So in most cases it will help reduce the risk of cancer.
Fish oil is a very good remedy for many cardiovascular problems. Various studies have shown that fish eaters have better heart conditions than non fish eaters.
Heart diseases are one of the leading causes of death worldwide and fish oil can reduce the risks of some of the following risk factors.
- Reduce high blood pressure
- Lower triglycerides
- Increase good cholesterol HDL and reduce bad cholesterol LDL
- Prevent arteries from hardening by preventing plaque formation
- Improves heart rhythm in people with arrhythmia which can cause heart attack
Fish oil is very helpful in reversing age related eye disorders. Those who take fish oil or Omega-3 fatty acids with DHA and EOA have less risks of cortical Cataract.
People who do not consume enough Omega-3 fatty acids have higher risks of eye disorders.
Scientific studies have shown that people improved vision in AMD patients by long term consumption of Omega-3 fish oils.
Fish oil and antioxidant astaxanthin together is a superb combination to put immunity on pedestal.
Certain fishes such as salmon naturally have both Omega -3 fatty acids as well as astaxanthin. Even when you buy fish oil make sure that it has got astaxanthin. In fact astaxanthin also increases shelf life of fish oil and prevents it from getting rancid.
DHA in Omega-3 fish oil is a potent catalyst to improve fertility of both men and women. It is very important in health and mobility if sperm in men.
In women DHA reduces Inflammations and balances hormones to regulate regular monthly cycles. Thus improving fertility. Fish oil also improves polycystic ovarian syndrome(PCOS) and endometriosis which are risk factors for fertility.
Even pregnant women get benefits through pregnancy till breastfeeding period for both her own child's health. It helps in a child's cognitive development.
Excess weight or being obese can significantly increase risks of other disease such as heart diseases, diabetes type 2 and cancer.
Various studies have shown that a combination of exercise and fish oil supplementation can help reduce weight.
Since fish oil benefits your heart and exercise helps reduce weight a combination of fish oil supplements and exercise creates healthy weight loss. Some studies have also shown fish oil improving Body Mass Index (BMI) which is a better health predictor than the weight alone. Fish oil in that sense uses body fat to produce energy
Our body needs a balance if 2:1 of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Our current lifestyle and food habits can easily disturb this balance to omega-3 deficiency to the extent of 20:1 ratio.
If you are not a fish eater, then there are high chances that you are Omega-3 deficient.
Following are possible side effects of Omega-3 deficiency.
- Autoimmune diseases
- Heart Disease
- Skin Diseases
So, adding fish oil supplements to your routine is a good idea. Consult your doctor and decide the required doses.
Don't take mega doses as it may disturb the balance in other directions. A study found that too much of Omega-3 can cause prostate cancer in men.
2-3 grams of fish oil is generally a safe dose but always consult your doctor before starting fish oil supplementation.
Consuming fish oil empty stomach can cause one or more of the following side effects
- Bad Breath
- Loose motions
These side effects can be reduced or even eliminated if you take Omega-3 rich fish oils with meals or take high quality fish oil supplements.
Another precaution you should take is to consult your doctor if you have a history of bleeding or taking blood thinners as medication. Fish oils have a tendency to cause bleeding so doctors monitoring is necessary.
If you are diabetic then you should know that fish oil increases fasting blood sugar.
While buying fish oil supplements take the following precautions.
- Buy it from reputed brands as most fish oils from ordinary suppliers may contain mercury and other harmful chemicals.
- Always look at the contents and ensure that the fish oil is enriched with antioxidant astaxanthin which protects fish oil to get rancid.
Various scientific studies have continued to back up use of Omega-3 as they offer multiple health benefits. So get the omega-3 from your diet or fish oil supplements but do not ignore it.