Fish oil is one of the most important sources of omega-3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids. They are derived from fish, as the name suggests and have several health benefits.
Fish oil is derived from the tissue of fish that are known to be oily. The benefits of fish oil have been studied extensively and are known to prove helpful in the treatment of several diseases and also control life threatening conditions such as cancer.
Now, the Omega 3 in fish oil that is derived from certain types of fish is not really produced by them. It is accumulated in the body of the fish by consuming microalgae, which produce them, or by consuming smaller fish that have stored omega-3 fatty acids.
Similarly, human beings are incapable of producing these Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids that are classified as essential fatty acids. They cannot be produced by the body but are essential for several functions of the body. The only way to obtain them is to include them in the diet. That is why fish oil and fish oil capsules are highly recommended.
What is the Nutritional Content of Fish Oil?
All the fish oil benefits are the result of their nutritional content. Fish oil is a highly concentrated source of omega -3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFA’s. Our body can make most of these polyunsaturated fatty acids except for omega-3. That is why we rely on supplements like fish oil capsules to obtain them.
In fish oil, there are two of the most important Omega-3 PUFA’s. These are docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid or DHA and EPA respectively. These fatty acids are sometimes known as marine omega-3 acids although there are some plant sources such as flaxseed. There are certain types of fish that are particularly rich in these omega-3 acids and are highly recommended for your health.
How to use Fish Oil?
Fish oil can be incorporated into the diet through fish oil capsules. If you are a non-vegetarian, including fish in your regular diet can be easy and also quite helpful.
There are certain types of fish that are known to be the best source of omega-3 and are also very healthy. Both marine and freshwater fish differ in their content of DHA and EPA. You have several species of fish that range from lean to fatty and based on this, the oil content in their tissues also vary. The oil content may vary from 0.7% to 15.5%. They may also differ in the way these lipids affect organs after consumption.
It is observed that consuming fatty fish increases the EPA and DHA levels in blood serum. Salmon is particularly beneficial in increasing the omega 3 and omega 6 content in the body. Other fish include mackerel, tuna, cod, tilefish, swordfish, shark, and albacore tuna.
However, with predatory fish, there is also a chance of accumulation of toxic substances in the body as they are on the top of the food chain. For this reason, it is best to limit their consumption to about twice or in some cases, once a week.
Does Fish Oil Help in Weight Loss?
One of the most significant fish oil uses is the acceleration of weight loss. A study was published in the May 2007 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This study conducted by Australian researchers highlighted fish oil benefits in weight loss when combined with a good diet and exercise plan.
According to this study, fish oil capsules when combined with a good exercise plan can actually aid in fat loss and also improve metabolism and general heart health. The experimental group that consumed fish oil capsules showed lowered levels of triglycerides, improved levels of good cholesterol, and better blood flow.
Another study was conducted with the same control group where fish oil was substituted with butter and cream and other visible fats. The volunteers were also made to consume about 6 grams of fish oil every day for three weeks. It was found that fat mass in the body reduced after the fish oil was included. It was then concluded that fish oil can reduce the amount of body fat and can actually help the body consume the fatty acids to produce energy.
When omega- 3 fatty acids are included in the diet through fish oil capsules or fish consumption, you feel fuller for longer. This reduces cravings for snacks and sugary foods, helping weight loss quite significantly.
With Fish oil, weight loss is also aided with improved metabolism and an accelerated fat burning process in the body. With limited consumption of omega-6 fatty acids, water retention is increased, making you feel puffy and uncomfortable.
Although these foods are rich in fats, they contribute to the levels of essential fatty acids that can actually help you lose weight.
What are the Other Health Benefits of Fish Oil?
Fish oil and fish oil capsule benefits exceed just weight loss and can regulate several bodily functions. There are several disorders that can be corrected or managed with the consumption of fish liver oil.
Some of the fish oil uses include:
· Better cardiovascular health:
Fish oil and fish oil capsules have important anti-inflammatory properties that can prevent or reduce the symptoms of several cardiovascular diseases. Studies have also shown that those who consume omega 3
fatty acids regularly have a better survival rate in case of a heart attack. One study that included the consumption of high dose fish oil capsules showed that individuals who had recently suffered a heart attack showed better overall heart health.
· Diabetes: Of the several benefits of fish oil, diabetes management is a significant one. Research shows that the risk of diabetes and the possibility of cognitive deterioration eventually can be prevented as the hippocampus can be protected with consumption of fish oil. Oxidative stress which is known to cause complications in diabetes patients is also reduced with the consumption of fish oil.
· Reduced symptoms of ADHD:
A study conducted in the year 2012 on children with ADHD
revealed that adding omega-3 and 6 to their diet improved academic and behavioural issues. Reduced levels of essential fatty acids are related to developmental issues that can deteriorate mental health over time.
· Reduced symptom of Alzheimer’s Disease: Fish oil benefits mental health as essential fatty acids are vital for the proper functioning of the brain. With regular consumption, the benefits of fish oil capsules include slowing down of cognitive decline. It can also reduce the chances of brain atrophy with age. Studies show that fish oil may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and several other mental health issues.
· Anxiety: According to a study published in 2013 by the European Journal of Neuroscience, one of the benefits of fish oil is the reversal of anxiety like and depression like behavior in rats. This study is important as the supplement was provided during the years of brain development. So, it is recommended that kids consume fish oil capsules or supplements from a younger age. This can prevent the development of anxiety or similar disorders when they are older.
· Arthritis: An 18-month long study that was published in the year 2014 showed the benefits of fish oil in treating rheumatoid arthritis. The disease activity was significantly lowered in groups that consumed fish oil.
· Better skin and hair health:
The uses of fish oil include skin nourishment, due to the presence of good fats
. This helps the skin absorb fat soluble vitamins and maintain its elastic structure and stay younger for longer. Evidence also suggests that fish oil tablets benefit the skin by reducing the ageing process. With low levels of DHA and EPA, common problems include thinning hair, dandruff, eczema, sun spots and other skin and hair related issues.
The benefits of fish oil capsules in improving the internal health are many. This subsequently improves the health of the hair and skin.
· Eye disorders:
Age related eye disorders can be reversed by including fish oil in your diet. Since the EPA
and DHA levels in the body increases significantly, consuming fish oil capsules benefits those who are at risk due to macular degeneration. Reduced chances of cataract is also one of the important fish oil uses.
· Better immunity: The uses of fish oil include immune boosting. Salmon, which contains fish oil along with an antioxidant known as astaxanthin can be used to improve the function of the immune system quite significantly.
Who should not take fish oil?
While fish oil can have several health benefits, there are also some fish oil side effects that can make it unsafe for certain people. So, the following individuals should not consume fish oil without consulting a doctor:
Those with blood disorders: When the dosage of fish oil exceeds the recommended limit, the risk of bleeding increases. Therefore those who bruise easily, are consuming any blood thinners like aspirin or have any pre-existing bleeding disorders.
Pregnant women: While omega 3 is essential for pregnant women, it is necessary to consult a doctor first. It is always recommended that pregnant women consume fish oil capsules instead of fish. This is because the fish that are rich in omega-3 are the predatory fish that usually have an accumulation of toxic substances like mercury. This affects the health of the fetus. This is also why fish is not the recommended source of fish oil for women who are breastfeeding as well.
Those with diabetes: Fish oil, when consumed with diabetes medication, can have reverse effects on the body. It can lead to a sudden drop of blood sugar levels especially when you are consuming medication like glyburide, Glucophage or glipizide.
Those who have allergies: Fish oil side effects include an aggravation of allergy symptoms like rashes. So, if you have any allergies, food allergies, in particular, you must never consume fish oil without consulting a doctor.
It is true that the younger you start including omega-3 in your food
, the better. But, for individuals younger than 18 years of age, you must never take any supplements such as fish oil capsules without the supervision of a doctor. Children should also not be given fatty fish like swordfish or shark as they may have a high mercury content.
What are the common fish oil side effects?
Fish oil may have certain side effects that make it important for you to be cautious while consuming it. Some of the common side effects include:
- Loose stools
- Reduced ability of the body to clot blood
- Reduced immune response
These side effects are only caused when the dosage is higher than the recommended amount.
How much fish oil to consume?
To reap the maximum benefits of fish oil, you need to make sure that it is only consumed in the recommended dosage. If you are taking fish oil capsules, make sure that the dosage is less than 3 grams per day. For those who are consuming fatty fish, limit it to one meal twice a week.
Where to get fish oil from?
You can buy Fish oil capsules online
quite easily. You can also find them in pharmacies or the supermarket in the health food section. Make sure you consult your doctor before buying these supplements off the rack.