In the fast paced world we live in today, very few, if any, of us can manage the time to ensure a truly balanced, natural diet. Let’s face it; do we really have the time to spend hours preparing a meal, only to consume it in less than 15 minutes? It is no wonder that our nutrient reservoirs often get depleted and require a boost every now and again.
With a wealth of supplementary products in the market, one can get a little confused by the amount of options available. Doing your research is important, as is understanding what deficiencies exist in your body that actually require the use of supplements. Most of us have nostalgic memories (in hindsight) of our parents or grand-parents chasing us down to force feed us that dreadfully tasting fish-oil supplement everyday! If you were lucky, your family bought capsules and not the syrup. But history dictates that conventional wisdom usually has some logical footing to back it up.
What is Fish Oil?
Fish oil is extracted from the tissue of fatty fish including mackerel, tuna, salmon, sturgeon, mullet, bluefish, anchovy, sardines, herring, trout, and menhaden. It contains probably one of the most talked about ingredients when it comes to nutritional intake, Omega-3 Fatty acids.
What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3 Fatty Acids, including Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are essential to the human body, which does not have the ability to synthesize them internally. Other useful fatty acids in fish oil include Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). According to an article on the Mayo Clinic Website:
“The World Health Organization recommends a daily EPA and DHA intake of 0.3-0.5 grams and a daily ALA intake of 0.8-1.1 grams.”
These nutrients are believed to be extremely beneficial to your heart and brain function, along with having a number of other positive effects.
Benefits of Taking Fish Oil Supplements
Research shows us that there are a number of ways fish oil supplements can improve your overall health. So, in what ways do you actually benefit from taking fish oil supplements? We have gone through various resources to compile the following list:
- Improved Heart Health: The Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements are known to reduce the risk of heart disease and heart arrhythmias. Along with getting rid of excess triglycerides, they also lower the level of bad cholesterol in your blood. Preliminary research suggest that fish oil prevents strokes and decreases the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
- Improved Brain Function: Evidence suggests that fish oil supplements have a number of amazing benefits for the brain. They are known to improve cognitive functioning and increase brain volume in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus, key areas responsible for thinking and memory storage. Research also shows differences in brain structure between people who consume fish oil supplements and those that do not. Furthermore, not maintain adequate Omega-3 fatty acids in your body may cause your brain to age faster.
- Bolstering your Immune System: Regular consumption of fish oil can help boost your immune system by effecting the amount of cytokines and eicosanoids in your body. This can improve your overall health while making your body more resistant to common ailments.
- Management of Inflammatory Diseases: Fish oil can act as an anti-inflammatory to relieve symptoms associated with chronic inflammatory diseases. Supplements are often consumed by people who suffer from bowel related problems like ulcerative colitis and other conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatism.
- Reducing Depression & Anxiety: The Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to reduce stress levels, depression, anxiety and other nervous disorders. Regular intake can be a healthy way of shaking off the proverbial blues.
- Healthy Pregnancies: Fish oil supplements can be very beneficial for women during their pregnancies. The DHA present in fish oil aids the development of the eyes and brain of the fetus. Fish oil can also help to avoid premature births and miscarriages.
- Preserving Muscle: Daily intake of fish oil supplements can prevent the loss of muscle. In fact in some cases gains in muscle mass have been noticed. Ensuring adequate consumption can prevent loss of muscle while dieting and can even be helpful to those who suffer from cancer while undergoing chemotherapy, which decreases muscle mass.
- Preserving Bones: The DHA in fish oils is known to aid the strengthening of bones. On top of increasing the mineral density of your bones, it is also helps with bone modelling. This can be especially beneficial for children whose bones are developing, and senior citizens who require the extra strength.
- Increased Fat Burning: Research shows a strong link between an intake of fish oil supplements and fat-loss. Supported by a healthy exercise routine, consuming fish oil supplements can help you burn fat faster than if you do not.
- Protection from Air Pollution: Fish oil is known to provide protection from air pollution by limiting the harmful effects on the skin and heart health associated with it. Ensuring a daily regimen of supplements can be really helpful if you live in an urban environment.
Cautions and Considerations
Higher than required doses of fish oil supplements can have side-effects that range from annoyingly embarrassing, to harmful. A detailed section dedicated to fish oil on WebMD lists them as follows:
- Bad breath
- Loose stools
Please be warned, fish oil can be harmful if you suffer from conditions of the liver or sea-food allergies. There are some studies referred to on the websites of the National Health Service, UK and Harvard University that discuss possible links between excess intake of fish-oils and cancer. Consuming more than 3 grams of fish oil on a daily basis is discouraged by medical professionals. Also, as a general rule, if you suffer from any serious medical ailments, you should always consult your physician before taking any supplements, including fish oil.
For their many benefits, fish oil supplements can be immensely beneficial for your health. You should consider adding them to your diet if you feel that you are not fulfilling your bodily requirements through natural sources for whatever reasons. However, you should consult your doctor before making any such changes in your life and must take care to not take doses that are higher than recommended.