Health Benefits of Fish Oil

young woman smiling with a hand holding spoonful of fish oil soft gels

Fish oils are one of the most common nutritional health supplements on the market today.

According to QYResearch, a world leader in marketing research, the global fish oil market was valued at over US$ 1.96 billion in 2018, and predicted to climb to over US$ 3.04 billion by 2025.

With this rapid growth in popularity and usage by many, you may be wondering what are the actual health benefits?

This article will discuss the various health benefits of fish oil.

What Exactly is Fish Oil?

500 ml. glass bottle of carlson lab very finest fish oil

Fish oils are a good source of EPA and DHA

Fish oil is a natural source of the omega 3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA).

What are omega 3 fatty acids? These are polyunsaturated fatty acids your body needs for the proper support and function of every cell in your brain and nervous system. Your body can’t make omega 3’s, so you need to get them from your diet.

These fatty acids are primarily derived from fatty fish, particularly mackeral, herring, salmon, sardines and tuna. You can also get them from the livers of certain fish, such as cod liver oil.

If you don’t get enough fatty fish in your diet, taking a fish oil supplement may help you get these omega 3 fatty acids.

Specific Health Benefits from Fish Oils

1. Reduces Inflammation:

Latest research indicates that the fatty acids in fish oil may help suppress inflammation. Researchers believe EPA and DHA could inhibit inflammation by enhancing cellular autophagy (self-eating) and reducing the production of inflammatory-causing molecules.

  • This anti-inflammatory action may help lower your risk for heart disease; however, the data shows that fish oil may not lower high cholesterol.
  • Fish oil’s anti-inflammatory properties may help naturally treat arthritis, and could result in fewer tender joints, less morning stiffness and increased range of motion.
  • Japanese researchers discovered fish oil may help reduce airway inflammation, improve lung function and lessen the amount of drugs needed to control asthma.
  • And scientists in Italy discovered 72% of patients with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease, who took an enteric-coated fish oil soft gel for 12 months were symptom-free; whereas patients that didn’t take fish oils experienced 2.5 times more relapses. The evidence is also encouraging in ulcerative colitis, where some patients were able to lower the amount of steroid usage by up to 56%.

2. Benefits Brain Function and Development:

EPA and DHA play an important role in the healthy brain development and function. A study published in the July 2003 Archives of Neurology Journal concluded that eating fish more than once a week can reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s Disease by up to 60%. Epidemiological studies have also found that fish oil may slow cognitive decline in certain cases of mild Alzheimer’s.

Dietary sources of fish and fish oil may also affect nerve function and mood; The American Journal of Psychiatry reported that low levels of omega 3 fatty acids may increase the risk for certain mood disorders. A 2009 Canadian study showed that taking 1 gram of EPA and DHA per day for 8 weeks resulted in less mood swings and improvement symptoms in people with mild depression.

Other studies have shown that fish oil may improve some ADHD symptoms.  A study published in the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology concluded that these fatty acids can improve symptoms and cognitive performance in children and adolescents with ADHD.

While many reports suggest a range of health benefits from fish oils, there’s conflicting evidence on the effectiveness of using fish oil for autism. Some studies showed children with autistic symptoms displayed a reduction in aggressive behavior and self-inflicted injuries, whereas other studies found omega 3 fatty acids had no significant effect.

3. Enhance Women’s Health and Pregnancy:

Taking fish oil during pregnancy has been shown to enhance fetal brain development and neurological function in newborn babies. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine at Texas Medical Center also found that increased levels of DHA in breast milk can led to improved visual acuity in breastfeeding infants.

And while fish oils may offer significant benefits to developing babies, they could also have positive effects on women’s health.  Scientists at The Aarhus University, Denmark reported that a low dietary intake of EPA and DHA is linked to more severe menstrual cramps. The addition of dietary fatty acids appeared to improve uterine and menstrual health by inhibiting the amount of prostaglandins responsible for causing painful menstrual cramps.

Additionally, multiple studies suggest that these long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids may help reduce obesity and enhance weight loss. Scientists believe that fish oil may help suppress the appetite and encourage the growth of lean tissue, in place of fat deposition. Omega 3 fatty acids have also been shown to improve glucose metabolism in diabetes and may help lower a diabetic’s risk for cardiovascular issues.

While the above research is encouraging, the majority of studies suggest that supplementing your diet with fish oil won’t help prevent cancer. There’s also evidence that fish oils could help reduce some allergy symptoms caused by inflammatory mediators.

How Fish Oils Benefit Your Skin and Hair

Your skin is one the largest organs of your body and it plays many important roles; it helps protect you against germs and the outside environment, it allows you to feel sensations and also helps to regulate body temperature through sweating.

A number of studies have shown that essential fatty acids play an important role in maintaining optimal skin health.

The American Skin Association states that having dry skin can increase your risk for peeling, itching, cracking and infections. Using fish oil for dry skin may help enhance and fortify the skin barrier, which may reduce moisture loss and improve skin elasticity.

Other dry skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema, can be especially troublesome. Researchers at the University of Oslo, Norway saw a 30% improvement in eczema symptoms in patients taking 6 grams a day of fish oil.

Can you use fish oil for treating acne? Studies have shown EPA and DHA may help shrink oil glands and reduce inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions. A study published in Lipids in Health and Disease Journal showed subjects taking an omega 3 fatty acid blend of EPA, zinc, selenium, chromium and green tea extract saw a marked reduction in inflammatory acne lesions with no adverse side effects.

Can You Use Fish Oil for Hair Loss? – Research shows that the fatty acids in fish oil may help improve scalp health which may reduce hair loss.

Pet Health

Fish oils are not only great for humans; your favorite pet can also benefit from their many benefits.

Dog Health – Fatty acids from fish can lead to a shinier coat of fur, stronger claws and less joint pain.

Cat Health – Studies show felines can benefit with better skin and fur, reduced arthritis pain and less allergies.

Buyer’s Guides, Product Reviews and Forum

Forum – Drop into our forum and learn how other people have used fish oils.  We welcome your own comments and questions here.

Guide to Buying the Best Fish Oil – Get all our insider’s tips to choosing the best kind for your health needs.

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