Fish oil supplements have gained popularity in recent years due to their potential health benefits. From improving heart health to reducing inflammation, fish oil has been linked to a variety of positive effects on the body. In this article, we'll explore the benefits of fish oil and how it may improve your overall health.
What is fish oil and how does it work?
Fish oil is a dietary supplement that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for maintaining good health. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain function, reducing inflammation, and improving heart health. Fish oil works by providing the body with these essential fatty acids, which can help to improve overall health and well-being.
Omega-3 fatty acids cannot be manufactured in the body and must be obtained through food1.
Fish oil contains two types of omega-3 fatty acids called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)1.
These fatty acids have been studied for decades and have proven benefits for heart health2.
They can lower your risk of heart disease by decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol2.
Fish oil supplements come in different forms such as softgels, pills, gummies, and liquids3.
They typically include omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and vitamin D3.
Fish oil and heart health
One of the most well-known benefits of fish oil supplements is their ability to improve heart health. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and decrease the risk of heart disease.
Fish oil has been studied for decades and has proven benefits for heart health4.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can lower your risk of heart disease by decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol4.
They can also slow the development of plaque in the arteries4.
Although fish oil supplements haven’t been proven to directly help protect against heart disease, fish oil is considered to be beneficial in lowering certain risk factors for heart disease5. These benefits include lowering triglycerides5.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that are important in preventing and managing heart disease4.
Fish oil and reducing inflammation
In addition to improving heart health, fish oil supplements have also been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation can contribute to a variety of health problems, including arthritis, diabetes, and even cancer.
Fish oil supplements can reduce inflammation by increasing the concentration of special molecule “mediators” that regulate the work of certain components in the blood6.
A study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation Research found that fish oil supplements containing a specific formula of omega-3 fatty acids reduced inflammation by increasing the concentration of these mediators6.
Recent research has revealed a mechanism through which fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, might reduce inflammation7.
A study that tested an enriched fish oil supplement found that it increased blood levels of certain anti-inflammatory molecules7.
Fish oil and brain function
Another surprising benefit of fish oil supplements is their ability to boost brain function. Omega-3 fatty acids are important components of brain cell membranes and have been shown to improve cognitive function and memory.
Fish oil can benefit brain function in several ways.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil play important roles in brain function and development8.
Studies have suggested that taking fish oil supplements may improve brain function in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or age-related cognitive decline8.
There are also claims that fish oil can improve brain function in people with memory problems, such as those with Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive impairments8.
A new study found that DHA and EPA, given in a combined supplement at prescription levels, improved cognitive function in older adults with coronary artery disease8.
Fish oil and joint pain relief
Fish oil supplements have been shown to help reduce inflammation in joints, which often leads to minimized joint pain.
In a 2011 study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, researchers discovered that consuming omega-3 fatty acids can decrease inflammation in the joints9.
Fish oil is effective at easing pain in the muscles around the knees9.
Studies have shown that fish oil reduces inflammation in the body, decreases morning stiffness, and helps individuals who have psoriasis, lupus, and different types of arthritis10.
Consuming one to three grams of fish oil per day can help reduce the intensity of joint symptoms like morning stiffness, tenderness, swelling, and discomfort11.
Fish oil and mental health
Fish oil supplements have been shown to have many health benefits, including reducing inflammation in joints and helping alleviate symptoms of depression and premenstrual syndrome.
Fish oil supplements have been shown to be useful in treating depression12.
Studies suggest that either a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids or an imbalance in the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in the brain may be linked to increased rates of depression13.
Fish oil increases the volume of areas of the brain that control depression and mood14.
Fish oil also increases levels of two neurotransmitters linked to depression — serotonin and dopamine14.
A recent review of clinical studies concluded that taking fish oil supplements improved depressive symptoms in people with depression, with effects comparable to those of antidepressant medications15.
However, the greatest improvements in depressive symptoms seemed to occur in people who were also taking antidepressants15.
Premenstrual syndrome may have both physical and mental symptoms, such as changes in mood. Consuming fish oil supplements may help alleviate these symptoms12.
Although more research is needed to determine its effectiveness, fish oil has also been studied in the treatment of some other mental health conditions12.
Choosing the right fish oil supplement
When choosing a fish oil supplement, there are several factors to consider.
First, look for a supplement that contains both EPA and DHA types of omega-3s in a sufficient amount and perfect balance16.
Additionally, you should learn which type of molecular structure the omega-3s have (opt for FFA or TG rather than EE)16.
Finally, make sure that the supplement has been third-party tested to ensure that it is pure and safe and that it contains what it says on the bottle since fish oil can be contaminated with heavy metals17.
Krill Oil v.s. Fish Oil - Is one better?
Krill oil is thought to have more antioxidants and be more absorbable by the body than fish oil1819. Krill oil is also inherently more stable than fish oil and lacks a fishy smell and taste20. However, more studies are needed to determine whether this translates into any further health benefits20.
Both fish oil and krill oil supplements have their own benefits and drawbacks.
It’s important to consult with your doctor before taking any supplements to determine which one is best for you.
Does fish oil have any side effects?
Fish oil supplements are generally considered safe when taken as recommended21. However, they can cause mild side effects such as a fishy aftertaste, bad breath, heartburn, nausea or diarrhea, and rash222123.
In some people, fish oil supplements may also cause an unpleasant smell and gastrointestinal symptoms22.
It is also important to note that fish oil supplements may interact with certain medications such as blood thinners22.
It is essential to talk to your doctor before taking fish oil supplements if you are taking any medications22.
Fish oil supplements are generally considered safe when taken as recommended.
They can provide several health benefits such as reducing inflammation, improving heart health, and supporting brain health.
However, they can cause mild side effects such as a fishy aftertaste, bad breath, heartburn, nausea or diarrhea, and rash. In some people, fish oil supplements may also cause an unpleasant smell and gastrointestinal symptoms.
Krill oil is another source of omega-3 fatty acids that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Krill oil is thought to be better absorbed by the body than fish oil.
Although fish oil has a higher concentration of DHA and EPA than krill oil, the DHA and EPA in krill oil is thought to have more antioxidants and be more absorbable by the body. However, more studies are needed to determine whether this translates into any further health benefits.
It is important to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements including fish oil or krill oil supplements.