Are you trying to lead a healthier, happier life? Sometimes supplements can be the answer. They provide our bodies with the nutrition we are sometimes lacking in our everyday diets.
Our bodies are after all chemical systems, and without the right elements in play, they simply cannot function optimally. That is why we are writing this informative article on fish oil benefits and supplements for you.
As one of the most prominent and widely-spread types of supplement on the market, fish oil is known for its many amazing health benefits. If, however, you are considering taking it on a regular basis then it really is worth reading up on.
In fact, whenever you are intending to place something in your body regularly we recommend you thoroughly investigate what it does and its safety for long-term consumption. Fortunately for you, we’ve amassed all the knowledge you could need to know about fish oil supplements in this one article.
Read on to find out if fish oil supplements are what you have been searching for in terms of a health boost.
Just briefly before we get started on the effects of fish oil in the human body though, we’ll outline exactly what we mean by the term “fish oil”.
What Is Fish Oil?
Put simply, it is oil extracted from fish. But there’s a little more to it than that.
Certain fish have oils stored in their tissues near their belly and gut regions. This oil is extracted in many different ways, but here’s a quick outline of one process used in an Icelandic processing plant.
How Fish Oil Is Made
The final results of this process are oil that has comes straight from fish and been concentrated into liquid form. This oil is the “fish oil” we talk about in supplements. Of course, there are other ways to produce fish oil as well, but this is a fairly popular method.
By now you’re probably wondering which fish we meant when we said certain fish have oil in their bodies. Truth is most fish have oil in their bodies, but not all to the same degree.
Which Fish Have The Most Oil?
Without much imagination, fish that have a lot of oil have been dubbed “oily fish” and fish that don’t have been dubbed “white fish”. Clearly the former type of fish is far more popular for use in fish oil supplements.
Oily fish carry oil in both their belly cavity and gut regions. Their bodies upon filleting have been found to hold up to 30% oil! These fish are usually either small storage fish or pelagic. Pelagic fish tending to live closer to the surface than white fish makes them an easier catch for fish oil companies.
White fish on the other hand dwell mostly on or near the ocean’s floor. These fish only hold oil in their livers, which means overall, they carry a lot less oil than their oily fish friends. Clearly not ideal for fish oil companies to harvest from, you’re unlikely to found supplements made from the oils of these fish.
Examples of Oily Fish:
Examples of White Fish:
The Difference Between Omega 3 And Omega 6 Fatty Acids
Now, you may be aware that omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids are important for your health. But did you know that most people are already having too much omega 6 and not enough omega 3 fatty acids? Though these two acids are both polyunsaturated fatty acids and often used to correct cholesterol levels, they are not quite the same.
Omega 6 fatty acid has been linked to lessening the risk of diabetic neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis and even some allergy symptoms. It can be found in a variety of everyday foods including French fries, vegetables, dairy, poultry and baked goods.
Because of the high concentration found in fast foods, many people are walking around with too much omega 6 in their bodies.
In contrast, omega 3 is often lacking in people’s diets as it is found in more obscure places such as fish, olive oil, garlic and some types of nuts. These are not commonly consumed in high quantities and this can lead to people not getting enough omega 3 fatty acid in their diet.
This is important to note because omega 3 fatty acid plays a key role in helping to reduce the likelihood of heart disease, asthma symptoms, osteoporosis and even some cancers. Additionally, and perhaps most relevantly to the everyday person, it reduces inflammation in the body – which is a good thing!
Omega 3 fatty acids comes in two types, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
These are both derived from fish oil and are long chain acids. Research has shown that both of these different types have their own unique benefits. DHA helps with nervous system functioning and also helps to fight inflammation. EPA and DHA together have been shown to be very useful for pregnant women.
Ins summary, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids have different positive effects on the body but because they are found in different foods, one is often over-consumed (omega 6) and one is under-consumed (omega 3).
The Perfect Omega 6/Omega 3 Ratio
You may be wondering if it matters that you have a different omega 6 to omega 3 ratio in your body. Yes. Yes, it does (if research is to be believed). Over-consumption of omega 6 has been linked to a number of things, including depression.
The idea is to get just enough omega 6 to function well, and no more than that. Ideally you want to balance them out with a lot of omega 3s.
A normal American diet has a ratio of between 12:1 and 25:1 omega6:omega 3. If you want to increase your health then you may want to change that to the recommended 4:1 ratio. And if you’re trying to reap the benefits of anti-aging properties then expert say you may need to go even further, getting to a 1:1 ratio or even high (with omega 3’s being the dominant fatty acid).
Health Benefits Of Fish Oil
So, how do you change your omega 6 to omega 3 ratio? One answer is by taking fish oil supplements. Let’s take a look at the many health benefits you could attain from taking these supplements.
Many people value their brains the most in their body, and omega 3 fatty acids can help you take care of yours long term. Research has shown that people who eat larger quantities of fish don’t decline slower mentally with age and fish oil supplements have been found to have positive effects on the memory recall of the elderly.
Children’s Attention Spans
Getting children to focus can be a mission, and sometimes this can be related to the type of diet that they are consuming.
It has been put forward that since omega 3’s make up a significant percentage of the human brain, consuming enough of them in early years of life may help to prevent mental/behavioral issues in later life. By helping to improve hyperactivity and the ability to concentrate, omega 3 fatty acids might just help your child to learn better during their early stages of life.
Depression And Anxiety Help
Many people around the globe suffer from depression and anxiety. Fortunately, there are many ways to get help over time. Fish oil supplements may be one of them.
It has been found that humans with high levels of depression generally have less omega 3 in their blood and that taking fish oil supplements can help with the symptoms of depression. As the oil in fish is EPA it is especially helpful as it’s been shown to be more effective in helping with depression than its partner omega 3 oil type DHA.
Beautiful Skin, Naturally
It may sound like a commercial, but it’s true. The human skin has a lot of omega-3 fatty acids in its makeup and skin has been known to get damaged from sun exposure, or simply old age. Fish oil supplements may help to maintain the number of omega-3 fatty acids in your skin and have been shown to help psoriasis and dermatitis among other skin problems.
Chronic Inflammation No More
Sometimes our bodies can experience low levels of inflammation for a long time. This is not ideal and has been termed chronic inflammation. It often manifests itself to our notice in such things as added weight gain, diabetes, depression and even heart disease.
Fortunately, fish oil has many anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to reduce the creation of inflammatory particles called cytokins in human bodies.
Fish oil supplements have been used for years (and to effect with research to back it up) for the treatment of joint pain. Whether it’s just stiffness or something more serious like rheumatoid arthritis, fish oil supplementation can help to reduce the amount of discomfort you live with.
In addition to reducing joint stiffness, people who get more fish have also been measured to have higher bone densities on average than people who don’t. Bone density is a great thing as it means you have strong bones!
Did you know that your eye is made up partly of omega-3 fatty acids? This makes it incredibly important that people get a decent amount of omega-3 fatty acids in their diets. By taking fish oil supplements, you can help to increase your intake of this important nutrient which has been linked to reducing age-related macular degeneration and reducing the risk of eye diseases.
In countries like the United States, obesity is becoming a massive problem. Not only for the overloaded medical systems, but for individual people who feel like they are missing out on happier, healthier lives doing what they want to do.
It has been proven that fish oil supplementation (when combined with diet and exercise) can help dieters to lose weight – especially in terms of their waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio. For those who remain overweight, fish oil supplementation at least has also been proven to help the bodies composition and thus help with risk factors for heart disease
For those who have children with ADHD any reprieve from the symptoms is welcome. Fish oil can help to lessen the symptoms of ADHD, as it reduces anxiety and stress. This reduction in aggressive brain behavior can help children to concentrate more and thus improve their overall learning experience and memory recall.
Don’t use fish oil as your only treatment, but certainly do consult with your child’s doctor as to whether this could be a useful step for your family to take in reducing ADHD symptoms.
Pregnant mothers are always keen to ensure the health of their babies. Fortunately, a lot of research has been done into exactly how they can do this.
The omega 3 DHA fatty acid has been shown to be very useful in ensuring great visual and neurological development in babies. Oftentimes mothers will take the fish oil supplements in the hope that the benefits will be passed on to their babies via breastfeeding.
It is important to consult with your primary healthcare provider before taking any supplements while pregnant or breastfeeding. The positive effects of fish oil during these times has been well documented though so chances are your doctor will encourage your consumption of them.
Recommended Dose Of Fish Oil
By now you are probably rearing to go and get some fish oil supplements after reading about all the many health benefits they can offer. It is important that you first determine the best amount for someone of your age to be taking.
Like anything, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. According to our sources, the best amount of omega-3 to ingest daily is 250-500 mg if you are already healthy. For some health conditions, an increased dose may be necessary (in this case you should speak with your doctor or health care provider).
An easy way to determine high quality fish oil from lower quality is to check the amount of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids present. If a 1,000mg serving has 500mg or more of these combined oils in it then you’re looking at a fantastic concentration that is likely to have health benefits for you.
Taking a tablet with this concentration each day may help with joint stiffness and brain health among other thing.
Fish Oil Supplements vs. Eating Fish
Of course, eating real fish oil to the same quantity as absorbing it in tablet form will always be better for your body. This is however simply not an option for many people who don’t like the idea of eating fish every single day.
Taking fish oil tablets is a quick and convenient way to ensure you get the right amount of omega 3 fatty acids every day without the hassle of eating bucket loads of fish.
Moreover, by taking your omega 3’s in tablet form, you are allowing more room in your diet to eat other foods rich in other vitamins and minerals that your body also needs.
We’d certainly recommend that you still eat fish every now and then to get the other health benefits it can provide, but the key ones are found in its oils and these can be accessed far more easily and regularly via supplementation.
Fish oil supplements have been shown to have many of the same benefits as eating real fish. From helping with weight loss, to reducing the risk of heart disease to helping with depression and anxiety disorders.
And because of its readily available ingestion form, fish oil supplements may be more likely to give you long term benefits because it’s easier to stick to taking a dose a day than eating some fish every day. Like all health choices, you need to think sustainable lifestyle choice, and fish oil supplements definitely are one.
Another key reason why consuming fish oil supplements instead of eating fish may be beneficial is the reduced risk of mercury poisoning. Some species of fish can be high in mercury and cause problems in the human body if consumed too often.
Fish oil supplement manufacturers are usually very careful to ensure their supplements give you he right fatty acids while also maintaining a very low and safe level of mercury. Most brands will have “low mercury” or “safe mercury” printed somewhere on their packaging for your peace of mind.
If you are going to be eating fish to get your fatty acids, it’s best to stick to wild forms of small fish that are low in the predatory cycle. These are usually cleaner and have less mercury in their systems (often these will be the fish that commercial fish oil supplements extract their oil from as well).
Types Of Fish Oil Supplements
Because of its many health benefits, you’ll find there are a plethora of options available on the market for fish oil supplements. The two major types you’ll come across are capsules and liquids. As both of these contain fish oil, they both give the same “health” benefits. But their different delivery methods may mean that you personally prefer one type over another.
Fish Oil Supplement Capsules
Encapsulated fish oils are usually small hard jelly like capsules with fish oil in their center. The capsules are usually made from gelatin and water and are normally free of allergen causing particles.
These capsules provide a very convenient way to ingest fish oil as they can be kept in boxes in your day-bag and jut swallowed down with a mouthful of water. Clean and fast.
The downside of course if that you must be able to swallow tablets with water without chewing them in order to take these capsules, and fish oil capsules are usually rather large (so appropriate for the more experienced swallowers – not children).
In addition, because of the added “packaging” on the outside of the fish oil, these capsules usually cost more volume of fish oil for volume of fish oil than liquid fish oil. Regardless, they are a great choice for anyone who values convenience in their lifestyle.
Liquid Fish Oil Supplements
Liquid fish oil supplementation usually just comes in a bottle with some teaspoon or tablespoon dosage instructions. Some of them even have flavoring added to help with the taste! And occasionally, you’ll come across bottles that recommend throwing your daily dose over some food instead of swallowing the concoction straight.
It’s usually not too bad to take straight provided that you swallow immediately and down a glass of water immediately afterwards. Liquid form fish oil is a lot easier to administer to children who may have problem swallowing capsules, and is also slightly cheaper (generally) than fish oil supplement capsules.
Your health is crucial to how you experience life. That’s why it’s worth paying attention to whether fish oil supplements are right for you. For most people, the answer is yes as they need to get more omega 3 fatty acids in their diet.
Which fish oil supplements you choose is important because after picking a supplement pack you are likely to use it for a long time (most supplement packs can last for up to 6 months or even a year).
We want to ensure that you choose the best supplement pack for your individual needs and don’t accidentally buy lower quality stuff at a higher price. That’s why we’ve written a buyer’s guide on buying fish oil supplements for you. Check it out!