Should I Take Fish Oil? 13 Important Benefits & Safety of Fish Oil

Should I Take Fish Oil? 13 Important Benefits & Safety of Fish Oil

Fish oil is the fat or oil that’s extracted from many types of fatty fish, such as
anchovy, mackerel, herring, tuna, and salmon.

What is fish oil?

Fish oil is the fat or oil that’s extracted from many types of fatty fish, such as anchovy, mackerel, herring, tuna, and salmon.

Around 30% of fish oil is made up of Omega-3 fatty acids, while the remaining 70% is composed of other fats. As compared with plant-based Omega-3 products, fish oil is more easily converted and utilized by the human body (e.g., only about 5-15% of the ALA in linseed oil can be converted into DHA+EPA in the human body).

Although fish is a source of omega-3, the fish themselves do not produce them. They are concentrated in the body of the fish through the bioconcentration effect of the plankton in the algae and their diet.


What are the nutritional components of fish oil?

The two important Omega-3s in fish oil are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which also provide many health benefits.


What is the best time of consuming ?

It is better absorbed when consumed with fatty foods. Therefore, fish oil is recommended to be consumed with or after meals. Food will help increase the absorption of fish oil in the human body [0]. If you are taking medicine, it is recommended to consult your doctor and pharmacist before taking it to avoid interaction between fish oil and medicine, which may affect their absorption.


What are the benefits of fish oil?

  1. Maintain Heart Health

    Fish oil supplements can reduce some of the risks associated with heart disease. Studies have shown that people who eat a lot of fish have a much lower risk of heart disease than those who eat less fish[1][2]. Many risk factors such as heart disease can be reduced by eating fish or fish oil, including:

    1. Cholesterol and triglyceride levels: It can increase the level of “good cholesterol”, HDL, and reduce triglycerides by about 15-30%[3].
    2. Blood pressure: Even at low doses, it can help lower blood pressure in people with hypertension[4].
    3. Plaque: It can prevent plaques that cause arteriosclerosis, and make those existing arterial plaques more stable and safer[5].
    4. Fatal arrhythmia: In people with high risks, it may reduce fatal arrhythmia events[6].


  2. Reduce Symptoms of Mental Disorders

    Fish oil supplements may reduce certain symptoms of mental disorders, and this may be attributed to increased intake of Omega-3 fatty acids. Our brain consists of almost 60% fat and a sizable proportion of this fat is Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are therefore essential for normal brain function.

    💡Some studies indicated that people with certain mental disorders have lower blood levels of Omega-3 fatty acids[7][8][9].

    💡Interestingly, some studies also indicated that fish oil supplements may prevent the onset of some mental disorders or alleviate their symptoms[10][11], and reduce the risk of mental disorders for those at risk of the illness. In addition, high-dose fish oil supplements can reduce some symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder[12][13][14][15].


  3. Aid Weight Loss

    Fish oil supplements may help reduce unwanted weight, as well as aid weight loss when combined with diet or exercise. It can improve the body composition and reduce risk factors of cardiovascular diseases[16][17].

    💡Some studies indicate that combining fish oil supplements with a diet and regular exercise can help with weight loss[18][19].


  4. Support Eye Health

    Some studies showed that taking Omega-3 fatty acids supplements are beneficial to reducing the symptoms of dry eye. Sustained supplement taking can alleviate the symptoms of dry eyes. It can also reduce the damage of the ocular surface via increasing tear film break-up time and reducing tears osmolarity[20]. Studies also indicated that taking Omega-3 fatty acids supplements with other nutrients can have a positive impact on age‐related macular degeneration[21].


  5. Reduce Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Fish oil has an anti-inflammatory effect and can help reduce the symptoms of inflammatory diseases, especially rheumatoid arthritis. Due to the anti-inflammatory property, fish oil can help to treat chronic inflammation[22]. For obese patients or patients with chronic stress, fish oil can reduce the gene expression and production of inflammatory factors such as cytokines[23][24]. In addition, fish oil can significantly reduce joint pain, stiffness and medication use in patients with rheumatoid arthritis[25][26].


  6. Maintain Skin Heath

    Skin can be damaged by aging or sunlight, and fish oil supplements may help maintain skin health. There are several skin diseases that may be reduced due to fish oil supplements, including psoriasis and dermatitis[27][28][29].


  7. Improve Infant’s Hand-eye Coordination

    Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for a baby’s early growth and development. The mothers or babies taking fish oil supplements can improve hand-eye coordination of babies. Fish oil intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding can also improve infant vision development and help reduce the risk of future allergies[30][31].


  8. Lessen Liver Fat

    Liver disease is common in obese people, and fish oil supplements may help reduce liver fat and symptoms of a non-alcoholic fatty liver. Fish oil supplements can improve liver function and reduce inflammation, helping to reduce the symptoms of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and the amount of fat in the liver[32][33][34][35].


  9. Reduce Symptoms of Depression

    People with severe depression have lower levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in their blood[36][37][38].

    💡Studies show that fish oil and Omega-3 supplements can improve symptoms of depression[39][40][41]. In addition, some research indicate that oils rich in EPA are more helpful than DHA in alleviating depression symptoms[42][43].


  10. Improve Children’s Attention and Hyperactivity

    Behavioral disorders in children can interfere with learning and development, and fish oil supplements have been proven to reduce hyperactivity, inattention, and other related  behaviors. Given that Omega-3 fatty acids account for a large proportion of the brain, getting enough of it is important for preventing behavioral disorders in childhood. Fish oil supplements can reduce hyperactivity, inattention, impulsiveness, and aggression in children. This will be beneficial to life and learning in childhood[44][45][46][47][48].


  11. Improve Memory in Elderly People

    People who eat more fish tend to have a slower decline in brain function when they get old[49][50][51].

    💡Some studies indicated that fish oil can reduce memory loss in elderly people[52][53].


  12. Reduce Asthma Symptoms and Reduce Allergic Disease Risk

    Multiple studies have shown that fish oil can reduce symptoms of asthma[54][55][56][57]. In a systematic review and meta-analysis which included nearly 100,000 people, the results showed that Omega-3 fatty acids consumed by mothers can reduce risk of asthma in children by 24-29%[58].

    💡In addition, fish oil supplementation in pregnancy can reduce the risk of allergic disease in infants[59].


  13. Improve Bone Health

    Calcium and vitamin D are very important for bone health, however, some studies also showed that omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial. Taking omega-3 fatty acids may result in better bone mineral density (BMD)[60][61][62].

    💡Lots studies showed that taking fish oil supplements can reduce markers of bone breakdown and prevent bone diseases[63].


Are there any side effects when taking fish oil?

Fish oil is safe for most people in doses of 3 grams or less daily. Taking more than 3 grams daily might raise some safety concerns:

  1. Taking more than 3 grams daily might slow blood clotting time.
  2. People taking immunosuppressants (e.g., organ transplant patients) can take high-dose fish oil only under medical supervision.
  3. The side effects of high-dose fish oil include burping, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, loose stools, skin rashes and nosebleeds. Taking fish oil supplements with meals can reduce these side effects.
  4. Since fish oil also has a hypoglycemic effect, when a diabetic patient is on hypoglycemic medication and wants to use high-dose fish oil at the same time, he or she should consult a physician about its use. Otherwise, it may cause hypoglycemia.
  5. Fish oil has a blood pressure lowering effect, for patients with hypertension and are currently taking blood pressure lowering medications, consult doctors before taking the supplement, otherwise it may cause hypotension.
  6. Although fish oil has been refined and does not contain protein, people who have been allergic to fish or seafood should still take it with caution.

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