Fish oil: To take or not to take?
What’s so special about fish oil?
As one of the most popular supplements out there, people incorporate fish oils into their diet due to its high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids.
As our bodies can’t produce them, we need to source these nutrients from our food.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for your health and boast a plethora of additional powerful benefits.
Keep reading to learn more about fish oils and omega-3 fatty acids, what they’re good for, and whether you should consider adding this to your next health haul.
What is fish oil?
Fish oil is extracted from the fat of fish that are rich in omega-3. Think oily fish; salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and tuna are some excellent options!
Widely known for its positive health benefits, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eating 1-2 portions of fish per week. However, not all of us may eat fish or match this intake weekly, so fish oil supplements can help you meet this goal.
As mentioned, fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids - a nutrient that the body cannot make for itself.
While you can source this nutrient from other foods such as:
· nuts and seeds (walnuts, chia seeds, and flax seeds);
· plant oils (soybean oil, flaxseed oil);
· and fortified foods (certain brands of dairy produce),
The two main omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are found mainly in fish and fish oil. EPA and DHA are said to have many more health benefits than the omega-3s found in the food sources listed above, called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Omega-3 fatty acids and other components found in fish oil enhance human health, including heart and eye heath, skin and hair conditions, and inflammation and bone density.
Let’s look at each in more detail:
1. Heart and eye health
Research shows that people who eat a lot of fish have much lower rates of heart disease, one of the leading causes of death worldwide. How? It can reduce blood pressure, increase “good” HDL cholesterol, lower triglycerides (the bad fats carried in the blood), and may prevent the hardening of plaques in arteries.
Fish oil supplements may reduce the associated risks of heart disease. However, there is no concrete evidence that it can prevent heart attacks or strokes.
Good eye health relies on omega-3 fatty acids. The nutrient is also suggested to help eye health which naturally declines with old age.
2. Skin and hair conditions
Studies have shown that omega-3s may protect the skin against ultraviolet (UV) rays and reduce the skin’s sensitivity when exposed to sunlight. It can also help to hydrate the skin, fighting dry, itchy, or red skin, as the nutrients improve the skin barrier function. Research by The University of Manchester found that taking omega-3 fish oils could even protect against skin cancer.
According to a report by the Dermatologic Clinics, fish oil can deliver strength and shine for weakened hair. Hair that is deprived of omega-3 fats is more prone to hair color change or loss.
3. Inflammation and bone density
Fish oil may also help reduce general inflammation in the body. Acne is a prime example of areas of the skin that can be inflamed and painful. While some studies have shown the benefits, there is no real evidence that this nutrient can help everyone.
Our bones are likely to lose their essential minerals as we get older, making them easier to break. While vitamin D and calcium are best associated with improving bone health, some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids can also be beneficial.
Deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids are linked to various health problems. However, this doesn’t mean taking high doses will prevent such issues. Research highlights that incorporating fish oils could be beneficial. Still, you need to remember that supplements do not substitute for the all-around nutrients you get from a well-balanced diet. For a healthy, happy heart, make sure you eat well, move often, and practice other positive lifestyle changes.
Author: Courtney Black
Image source: freepik.com