Fish oil supplements are very popular and people take them to meet their omega-3 fatty acids requirements. How safe are these supplements and what are the health benefits associated with fish oil?
In this article, we shall look at fish oil, the health benefits of fish oil, the dosage, side effects, and the fish oil sources.
What is fish oil and its nutritional value?
Fish oil is the oil or fat extracted from fish tissues. The extraction of fish oil is usually done on oily fish such as herring, tuna, mackerel, and anchovies. In some cases, fish oil is also produced from the livers of fish like cod liver.
The reason fish oil is popular and beneficial to the body is the fact that it carries huge amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Around 30% of fish oil is made up of omega-3s while 70% is made up of other fats. The omega-3s found in fish oil have greater nutritional values and health benefits than omega-3s got from plant sources.
Nutritional value of fish oil
On average, per 100 grams of fish oil contain 902 calories. In fish oil are omega-3 fatty acids contribute 30% of the fish oil. The main omega-3s in fish oil are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Additionally, fish oil also contains traces of Vitamins A and D.
What are the types of fish oil?
Fish oil will come in different forms and they are;
Natural fish oil.
This is fish oil that comes from the tissue of oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, and cod liver.
From natural fish oil you will get omega-3 fatty acids and they are EPA and DHA. The fish oil also contains vitamins A and D.
Processed fish oil
Processed fish oil is purified or concentrated and it consists of ethyl esters or triglycerides.
In fact, processed fish oils dominate the market as they are cheap and usually come in capsules that are popular among consumers.
This is a type that is extracted from Antarctic krill a type of shrimp-like animal. This oil contains omega-3s in both triglyceride and phospholipid form.
This is an oil made from seal blubber.
What is the best type of fish oil to take?
Regular fish oil is probably the best choice of fish oil that you can consume. It is important to note that regular fish oil contains about 30% of omega3s and the remaining 70% is other fats that might not be as healthy as omega-3s are.
You should therefore look for fish oil that contains omega-3s as free fatty acids.
Cod liver oil vs fish oil what is better?
Cod liver oil and fish oil are different supplements that come from different fish sources. It is important to note that cod liver oil comes from the livers of codfishes such as Atlantic cod and Pacific codfish while fish oil comes from herring, tuna, anchovies, mackerel, and salmon.
Both cod liver oil and fish oil contain omega-3s as but cod liver oil has added vitamins A and D.
In case you need the extra vitamins, go for cod liver oil. but if you just need omega-3 fatty acids, just take fish oil.
What are the health benefits of fish oil?
There are a lot of health benefits associated with fish oil and they are;
Fish oil promotes heart health.
Fish oil supports heart health by reducing the risk factors that bring about heart disease. It can increase levels of good cholesterol while reducing bad cholesterol levels that might have led to poor heart health.
The ability of fish oil to reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure also makes it great at calming heart disease that’s brought about by high blood pressure.
In fish oil are properties that prevent plaques that cause hardening of the arteries. To people who have the plaque already, fish oil can suppress them.
Fish oil can also reduce fatal arrhythmia which is the abnormal heart rhythm another risk factor of heart disease.
With the reduction of these heart disease risks, fish oil can help prevent heart attacks and stroke.
Fish oil reduces inflammation.
Fish oil is packed with anti-inflammatory properties that can help treat or reduce chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is associated with many serious illnesses such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and others.
However, the use of fish oil can help treat and improve symptoms brought about by chronic inflammation.
Fish oil supplements have shown a positive effect on rheumatoid arthritis which is known for joint pain and stiffness. The use of fish oil supplements helps to reduce joint pain and stiffness.
Related: Herbs and spices for inflammation
It can improve eye health.
Fish oil contains omega-3 fats that have shown evidence of improving eye health. In fact, not getting enough omega-3 fats increases the risk of getting eye diseases.
Eye health decline also comes along with aging leading to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) most especially in older people.
Fish oil may improve brain health.
A big percentage of about 60% of the brain is made up of fat and of which most of it is omega-3 fatty acids. This makes fish oil great for brain health since it is rich in omega-3 fats that are essential for brain function.
It is these omega-3 fats that improve the brain and increase its immunity against mental disorders. In fact, studies suggest that people with lower omega-3 blood vessels usually have certain mental disorders.
In children, many behavioral disorders are brought about by a lack of enough omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming fish oil can provide the brain with omega-3s that help to prevent behavioral disorders in children.
It can therefore improve perceived hyperactivity, inattention, impulsiveness, and aggression in children when consumed in sufficient amounts.
From a study by PubMed on elderly men, The objective of the study was to examine the associations between fish consumption, the intake of the n-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from fish and other foods, and subsequent 5-y cognitive decline.
It was then discovered that people who consumed fish had fewer chances of cognitive decline than those that didn’t eat fish.
Fish oil can help lose weight.
Fish oil also has a lot of weight loss potential and can aid weight loss in a number of ways. The weight loss benefits are linked to omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish oil can help people lose weight in the following ways
It may reduce hunger and appetite: consumption of fish oil supplements can help suppress appetite and increase the feeling of fullness.
Fish oil can increase metabolism: taking fish oil supplements can increase the rate at which your body burns calories. The higher the metabolic rate, the more calories burned and thus weight loss.
May boost the effects of exercises: consuming fish oil increases the calories and amount of fat burned during exercises.
Promotes healthy skin.
The skin contains omega-3 fatty acids and its deficiency can cause a decline in overall skin health leading to skin disorders such as psoriasis and dermatitis.
Therefore, having enough fish oil can provide the skin with omega-3 fatty acids requirements. Fish oil can also help reverse skin aging and damage caused by too much sun exposure.
Here is an article on proven herbs and spices for skin health.
Fish oil can reduce liver fat.
Fatty liver is popular and affects about 25% of people globally and is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance. Omega-3 supplements have shown to improve liver function.
Most especially non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) involves the accumulation of fat in the liver. Fish oil can improve liver health and reduce inflammation thus reducing the symptoms of NAFLD and fat in the liver.
From a study by PubMed, it was discovered that ‘’fish oil supplements could lower serum lipid and Glucose in Correlation with a reduction in plasma fibroblast growth factor 21 and prostaglandin E2 in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease associated with hyperlipidemia.’’
In another study, 58 randomized children were put through a study. The group of children that took DHA had a 53% reduction in liver fat compared to the 22% who didn’t.
The group that took DHA also saw a reduction in belly fat and fat around the heart.
Fish oil may improve symptoms of depression.
From research by NCBI, people with major depression were found to have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish oil and omega-3 supplements have shown signs of improving the symptoms of major depression. From a study by Science Direct, out of the 28 patients with major depressive disorder, those that were given omega-3 PUFA had a significantly decreased score and it was found out that omega-3 PUFAS led to an improvement of the short-term course of illness.
Therefore, consuming fish oil in sufficient amounts will help you overcome depression and its symptoms.
We have a related article on herbs to cure depression. You can get it here
How should I take Fish Oil?
Fish oil supplements usually come in capsules with labels directing you how to use it. In other cases, the doctor prescribes how many capsules of fish oil you could take.
The capsules are to be swallowed without breaking puncturing or opening them. The reason for not breaking the capsule is that the ingredients inside the capsule may not taste great and may lead to vomiting, nausea, or failure of the person to continue using the supplements.
Fish oil should be used as a supplement and not a substitute for a proper diet.
When fish oil is taken in form of medicine the dosage should always be prescribed by the doctor.
How much fish oil should we eat a day?
There are no conclusive recommendations of how much fish oil to consume. However, WHO recommends a daily intake of 0.2–0.5 grams (200–500 mg) of combined EPA and DHA per day.
The prescription by the doctor is the best to follow on how much fish oil you should take in a day.
You should note that eating whole foods probably oily fish is always a better way of getting omega-3s than through supplements. Two portions of oily fish in a week can provide you with enough omega-3s.
Taking fish is as effective as taking fish oil in providing health benefits and preventing illnesses.
What are the side effects of fish oil?
Fish oi is generally safe when taken in moderate amounts. However, overdosing or taking a lot of it can leave you with side effects such as;
- Taking more than 3 grams may lead to bleeding complications and prevent blood from clotting thus increasing the chances of bleeding.
- Belching and a bad fishy breath.
- It may also cause heartburn.
- Nausea is also a common side effect associated with fish oil.
- When taken in large amounts, fish oil may cause vomiting and diarrhea or loose stools.
- Fish oil may increase bipolar disorder.
- People with liver disease may also experience increased symptoms and exposure to a risk of bleeding.
- It may also lower the blood pressure too low in people taking blood pressure medications.
- Fish oil may also be allergic to people who have seafood or fish allergies.
The bottom line.
The information in this article is accurate but fish oil should be used as a substitute for your medication. If you are willing to do so, get advice from your doctor and follow his prescriptions and advice.
It is also important to note that eating fish will be healthier than relying on fish oil for benefits. Try to eat two portions of oily fish in a week in order to get the omega-3s that the body requires.
Learn how to choose the healthiest cooking oil from our article here.
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