Fish oil comes from many different kinds of fish. Fish oil has two major types of omega-3 fatty acids—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), in abundance.
The omega-3 fatty acids present in supplements like fish oil are the source of its various benefits. Fish oils are predominantly high in fish like mackerel, herring, tuna, and salmon.
The FDA has approved some fish oil products to be prescribed as drugs to lower triglyceride levels. Fish oil supplements are also provided.
Fish oil supplements cannot replace prescription medicines since they do not contain the same quantity of fish oil.
What is fish oil?
Fish oil is a supplement extracted from the tissues of fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel or herring. Fish oil is rich in two significant omega-3 fatty acids—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
The fatty acids EPA and DHA are important in controlling several biological functions, including the inflammatory response, metabolic signalling pathways, and brain function. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), though at moderate levels for many humans, can be used by the body to synthesise them.
Fish oil supplements
Fish oil supplements are available in the form of liquid and pills. Either type of supplement has an aftertaste; many supplements now come in lemon or mint flavours to help with that.
Dividing doses can also help to reduce the taste. Some people find it challenging to swallow fish oil in liquid form, with or without the addition of flavours.
The Global Organisation for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED) has set EPA + DHA daily intake recommendations. The recommended dosage of EPA + DHA is 500 mg per day for normal individuals to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Pregnant and lactating women are recommended to take at least 700 mg/day of EPA + DHA, with at least 300 mg of the recommendation coming from DHA.
Some people may require more than 1 g per day, such as those with high triglycerides or other medical disorders. Always consult a doctor before adding any new supplements to the diet.
How does fish oil work?
Fish oil lowers fasting triglycerides by reducing VLDL (Very low-density lipoprotein) production by the liver. It also lowers post-meal triglycerides by accelerating the removal of chylomicrons that are high in triglycerides.
Fish oil helps reduce blood pressure by boosting nitric oxide availability and relaxing smooth muscles.
The oil has anti-inflammatory effects due to its ability to influence the shifting balance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory signalling, which changes cell membranes.
Fish oil Nutrition
A teaspoon of oil from sardines contains the following nutrients, as given by the US Department of Agriculture.
Fish oil provides 2% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin D. Fish oil is often sold as a dietary supplement, not a food. The type of fish, the quantity of oil, and capsule ingredients also vary from product to product.
Benefits of fish oil
Fatty fish include the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which can partially inhibit several elements of inflammation. As a result, boosting EPA and DHA intake through fish oil or other sources is one dietary modification that may help lower chronic inflammation in the body.
Improves brain function
The brain controls all other functions. Studies have shown that decreased blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids are linked to reduced levels of anxiety and depression.
When used in combination with recognised treatment, fish oil supplements are effective in treating depression.
An adequate dose of omega-3 also promotes normal cerebral blood flow. According to studies on brain imaging, increased blood flow to specific brain regions has been associated with improved performance on specific cognitive tasks. Healthy blood flow also improves cognition and reduces dementia risk.
Helps heart health
The use of omega-3 fatty acids has been shown in studies to reduce the risk of fatal heart attacks by approximately 9%.
This might be a result of reduced inflammation to lower triglycerides, which can affect plaque buildup, a major risk factor for heart attacks.
High-dose fish oil has been shown to effectively lower triglyceride levels by 30% or more.
Slows muscle loss
The ageing-related decrease in muscle mass and function raises the risk of falls, prolongs the time it takes to recover from hospitalisation, and increases the mortality rate. Taking a fish oil supplement helps men and women between 60 and 85 years maintain their muscle mass and function.
Increases bone density
According to studies, taking DHA and EPA omega-3 supplements helped older individuals increase their bone mineral density.
Consuming fish oil supplements is also linked to a reduced risk of bone fractures, especially in people with a higher familial risk for this type of injury.
Omega-3 fatty acids can prevent vascular calcification and microcalcification in cancer tissues. These fatty acids increase mineralisation and decrease bone deterioration, which improves bone quality.
Improves cognitive function
Taking supplements of omega-3 fatty acids may benefit cognitive function. Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, are prevalent in the brain and are, therefore, important in brain and cognitive function.
Numerous cognitive problems, including dementia and ADHD, are associated with dietary deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids.
Pregnant women are advised to consume up to three servings of lower-mercury seafood per week because fish oil can help the baby’s brain and eye development.
Talk to a doctor about whether a fish oil supplement is a suitable replacement for dietary omega-3 intake. Also, fish oil is not shown to benefit pregnancy outcomes.
Reduce blood pressure
The ideal daily intake of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids for decreasing blood pressure is between two and three grammes, according to the latest review and analysis published in 2022.
Daily EPA and DHA doses as low as 0.7 grammes in persons with systolic blood pressure showed reduced blood pressure, which may decrease the risk of heart disease.
Boosts skin health
Fish oil helps support and maintain the skin’s normal structure and barrier. Fish oil helps provide internal support against the harmful sun rays because sun damage causes inflammation.
Since sun damage is associated with skin ageing, fish oil usage helps maintain youthful skin. Evidence supports taking omega-3s from food than supplements for effective results.
Fish oil can help protect us from the harmful effects of UV rays. It can be used to reduce the harmful effects of prolonged sun exposure, including tanning and sunburn.
Benefits for hair
Several studies have proven that omega-3 fatty acids nourish hair, promote its growth, and also reduce inflammation, which is linked to hair loss.
After taking omega-3 fatty acids regularly, the skin may look younger and more moisturised, and the hair may look more lustrous and healthy.
The enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which is suppressed by omega-3 fatty acids, produces the hormone that results in hair loss.
Protects eye health
Fish oil is linked to keeping the retina healthy. Some studies have suggested that fish oil may help treat dry eye conditions.
Fish oil supplements are not proven to be helpful for age-related macular degeneration, the main cause of adult blindness. More research is required in this area.
Fish oil dosage
The dosage recommendation of fish oil depends on the purpose of the supplementation. The recommended daily amount of combined EPA and DHA for general health is 500 mg, which can be achieved by eating fish. The American Heart Association (AHA) advises consuming 1g each day.
These figures represent a combined total because fish oil combines two different fatty acids. Consumption of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) should be sourced from both whole foods and supplements.
With more EPA and DHA intake from food, the need for supplementation is less. Fish oil can be taken at any time of the day. Fish oil should be consumed with meals to reduce the “fish burp” taste.
Fish oil side effects
Fish oil taken orally in dosages of 3 grammes or less per day is safe for most people. Bleeding is likely to occur when more than 3 g of fish oil is taken per day.
The side effects of fish oil include nosebleeds, loose stools and heartburn. These problems can be reduced by freezing them or taking fish oil supplements with meals.
Consuming large amounts of fish oil from dietary sources may be unsafe. Mercury and other pollutants are found in some fish. These substances are frequently absent from fish oil supplements.
When used topically – There isn’t enough data to determine whether fish oil is safe or what potential adverse effects there may be.
Fish oil provides several health benefits. It is also a dietary supplement with potential side effects and interactions. Consult a doctor before taking fish oil to discuss the advantages and disadvantages depending on the personal medical history.
Discuss with the doctor about other omega-3 sources and whether fish oil can be an option for individuals who are unable to eat fish or need to increase their dietary intake.
If the healthcare professional advises taking fish oil, listen to their instructions on the recommended dosage and use.
Is it good to take fish oil every day?
Fish oil is safe for consumption in most people when taken orally in dosages of 3 grammes or less per day.
Does fish oil increase testosterone?
When people took fish oil supplements, the ratio of free testosterone to luteinising hormone increased, and the levels of other hormones, including FSH and LH, decreased.
What is the main benefit of fish oil?
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The normal development of the eyes, brain, and reproductive cells depends on omega-3 fatty acids. They are essential for immunological and endocrine system health and for the heart and lungs.
Who should not take fish oil?
People who use anticoagulants should refrain from taking fish oil as it can prevent blood from clotting properly. It’s important to avoid taking excessive amounts of fish liver oil because it contains more vitamin A than the recommended amount. Too much vitamin A consumption might cause liver issues and hair loss.
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