What is fish oil good for? - Blog
Fish oil is extracted from the tissue of certain species of oily fish. It is known for being rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is often taken as a health supplement to support the health of your heart, joints, and more. Fish oil can be purchased in liquid form or as capsules. Many people prefer to buy fish oil in capsules as it is more convenient for storage, contains a standardised dosage, and can be more palatable than swallowing the oil directly.
Polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat. As the human body is unable to manufacture polyunsaturated fats, it is important to include them in a healthy diet. Common sources of omega-3 include fish such as salmon, anchovies, and mackerel, as well as soybeans, walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids:
- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
ALA is an essential fatty acid, meaning that the human body does not contain the enzymes required to synthesise it and therefore ALA must be consumed through plant foods included in the diet. Most DHA and EPA must also be consumed through eating oily fish, although the human body does have the capability to convert ALA into EPA and subsequently DHA, in small doses.
If you are unable to get enough omega-3 through food, consider supplementing your diet with omega-3 supplements. Because omega-3 is only found in certain foods and varies greatly between different species of plants and fish, many people struggle to consume the recommended intake of omega-3 through diet alone. There are a variety of omega-3 and fish oil supplements that can be bought from pharmacies, supermarkets, health shops, and online stores.
How to choose your fish oil tablets
The plethora of brands and options available can be overwhelming. When choosing your fish oil supplements, consider factors such as liquid versus capsules, date of expiry, and dosage. Consider the amount of EPA and DHA, rather than the quantity of oil in each dose. Most studies agree that high doses of EPA (more than 1800mg daily) are required to see any significant benefit for heart health.
If you are unsure about how to read the labels of fish oil supplements, ask your pharmacist for advice.
Although confounding variables can make it can be difficult to study the isolated effects of a supplement, research suggests that omega-3 can help with the following:
- Can improve cardiovascular health by reducing heart rate and blood pressure,
- Higher doses may support joint health by reducing inflammation and, in some cases, help with rheumatoid arthritis,
- May support overall skin health.
Potential side effects of fish oil supplements
Omega 3 fish oils are generally safe and non-toxic when taken as directed. Mild side effects can include bad breath, nausea, rash, or heartburn.
Interactions with medicines
Omega-3 can have blood thinning effects when taken in high doses. Seek medical advice before taking doses of omega-3 supplements, especially if you are taking anticoagulant medication such as warfarin.
Although the risk of allergic reactions to fish oil supplements is considered to be low in people allergic to fish due to the method of purification, it is recommended that you seek medical advice before taking fish oil supplements.
About the Author
We use a variety of authors from both naturopathic and medical backgrounds. We also have in house researchers that compile the latest information into an easily digestible format.
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