Fish oil is one of the most popular and consumed dietary supplements of all time. It is a rich source of essential fatty acids, especially Omega-3. It is very important for our body and is necessary for achieving optimum overall health and wellbeing.
We all know that fish oil is made from the bodies of fishes, the main reason why it is called fish oil. This oil is essential in a lot of industries because of its many uses. Fish oil is necessary for the manufacturing of various products including cooking oil, cosmetics, paints, soaps, wax etc.
Omega-3 is a composition of long-chain and polyunsaturated fatty acids which the body cannot produce on its own and can be only obtained by eating Omega-3 rich food sources or taking dietary supplements such as fish oil. It was actually dubbed as the "miracle drug" because of its many therapeutic abilities.
Omega-3 marine triglycerides contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids are the necessary building blocks for every living cell in the human body. They are very essential for the proper functioning of each cell in your body and tissue formation.
History and Origin
In the late 1970s, studies have been conducted by Danish investigators, Bang and Dyerberg about the Greenland Inuits which had reduced rates of myocardial infarction (MI) and coronary artery disease (CAD). They have studied the diet of its population which they described as the “Eskimo diet” that consists of large amounts of whale and seal blubber.
They suggested that the “Eskimo diet” was the major factor for the low incidence of CAD among the Greenland Inuits. Similar results have been found in other fish-eating populations such as Japanese, where there are also low rates of myocardial infarction. This led to further studies which claimed that if people took fish oil supplements, it may help in reducing the risk of heart-related problems.
The main sources of fish oil are mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring and anchovies. To get the extract of the fish oil, the process used is through pressing of cooked fish during the manufacturing of fish meal where the oil and water are separated by centrifuge. After that, the oil is further purified and then stored.
Fish oil supplements contain Omega-3 marine triglycerides that are composed of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are the most common long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in fish oil. These two fatty acids are integral for producing and restoration of new cells.
Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
A 20-carbon fatty acid that can be found in oily fish. This essential fatty acid is usually used for supporting the heart, preventing blood clot, reducing swelling, high blood pressure, heart diseases, age-related macular degeneration, personality disorders, dementia, diabetes and symptoms of menopause. It also promotes joint health, immunity boost and healthy blood circulation.
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
A 22-carbon molecule that is also found in oily fish and krill oil. Just like EPA, DHA also reduces the risk of chronic diseases and inflammation. While, on its own, it can support proper eye health, muscle recovery, brain and nerve function. It also increases blood flow during mental tasks that can help children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and is essential during pregnancy.
1. Supports Eye Health. Studies suggest that fish oil can be helpful in treating dry eyes, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease (retinopathy). Since fish oil contains DHA, it is also essential for eye development in babies, the reason why pregnant women should be getting enough DHA during their pregnancy. You can take Blackmores Lutein-Vision Advanced 60 Capsules for healthy eye function support.
2. Cardiovascular Health. Fish oil can reduce the risk of developing heart disease since the essential fatty acids found in fish oil improves the health of arteries and reduce arterial plaque that narrows arteries resulting in heart-related diseases. It is recommended that people with existing heart disease need fish oil supplements to add more Omega-3 in their diet.
3. Promotes Brain Health. It helps support proper brain function, as well as maintaining your mental and cognitive function. It can also boost your focus and concentration. It can also prevent you from having an early onset of dementia and can reduce your risk of having Alzheimer’s disease and other brain diseases. It also helps in the normal development of the baby's brain. Try Blackmores Omega Brain 60 Capsules for brain and cognitive function support.
4. Anti-inflammatory Effects. Studies show that fish oil can be an alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications since it can effectively relieve inflammation. It can also significantly reduce pain and symptoms of chronic inflammatory systemic diseases (CIDs) such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus.
5. Healthy Skin. It can promote healthy skin and treat skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema since it contains high antioxidant properties, anti-inflammatory effects and regulates oil production to boost skin hydration. Also, it can reduce your acne, wrinkles and smoothen your skin, delaying the early signs of ageing.
6. Lowers Blood Pressure and Bad Cholesterol. Helps in lowering your blood pressure levels and proper blood flow that could help prevent you from having stroke attacks. Also, effectively increase your high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) or good cholesterol levels in your body while decreasing your body fat that can help promote healthy heart and body.
7. Aids Digestion. Can heal stomach problems like indigestion, gut ulcers, inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) and pancreatitis. Since omega-3 contains anti-inflammatory properties, it helps reduce the inflammation in your digestive tract and colon. It also aids in weight loss while improving your heart and metabolic health.
8. Boosts Immunity. Studies suggest that fish oil can boost your immunity by promoting the proper functioning of your immune cells which can help prevent you from having autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and lupus. A recent study also suggests that fish oil may actually enhance your immune B cell which is a type of white blood cell that secretes antibodies.
9. Strengthens Bones and Joints. It can relieve symptoms of mild arthritis and eases arthritis pain if you are experiencing musculoskeletal disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis since it reduces swelling and inflammation. It can also strengthen your bones and joints which could help prevent you from having early signs of age-related bone and joint diseases. Try Blackmores Glucosamine + Fish Oil 90 Capsules for arthritis relief.
10. Elevates Mood and Reduces Anxiety. Researchers suggest that fish oil supplements can actually elevate your mood and reduce your anxiety levels, they also say that supplements that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids like fish oils can actually be an alternative for anxiety medications, but make sure to consult first your healthcare practitioner. You can try Thompson's Mood Manager 60 Capsules that support balanced mood and behaviour.
Dosage and Duration
Be advised that if you are in doubt or taking prescription medications, please consult your healthcare professional. Remember that it is very important to always read the label of any products before using them.
Children: Fish oil can be used for certain childhood conditions that include attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), malnutrition and cystic fibrosis. You can try Swisse Kids Fish Oil 50 Chewable Capsules for your kids to support their overall health.
Children 2 to 12 years old: As an omega-3 supplement, it is advised that children can take 1 capsule a day by piercing and squeezing the fish oil into milk, juice or cereal, or as professionally prescribed by your healthcare practitioner. Fish oil supplements for children also comes in fun forms, like Nature's Way Kids Smart Vita Gummies Omega 3 Fish Oil 60 gummies which your kids will surely enjoy.
Adult: As a dietary supplement, it is advised that adults take 2 capsules a day with meals or as prescribed by your healthcare professional.
For pregnant women: According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO), the advised dosage is 2.6 of omega 3 fatty acids, incorporating 100 to 300 mg of DHA daily to look after the needs of the fetus. You can take Blackmores Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Gold Capsules for a healthy pregnancy.
For rheumatoid arthritis: 30 to 40 mg per kilogram body weight of EPA and DHA daily.
For moderate hypertension: 4 grams per day of fish oil.
Precautions and Interactions
Fish oil is generally safe, however, it is still best to consult your healthcare provider about taking fish oil supplements since there are a few mild side effects which include bad breath, stomach discomfort, loose stools, nausea and fishy odour of the skin and urine.
Children. Keep out of children's reach. Though fish oil supplement can be used for certain childhood conditions, it is still best to consult your healthcare provider for the right dosage since excessive intake of fish oil by children can lead to certain side effects such as allergic reactions and may weaken their immune system.
Antihypertensive Drugs. Taking fish oils along with antihypertensive drugs or medications used for high blood pressure might actually reduce your blood pressure to very low levels. Antihypertensive drugs include captopril, enalapril, losartan, furosemide etc.
NSAIDs. It is also not advised for you to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as over-the-counter aspirin and ibuprofen along with fish oil supplements as this may increase the risk of bleeding and other side effects such as dizziness and severe headache.
Contraceptive Drugs. Birth control pills can decrease the effectiveness of fish oils be reducing the fat levels in the blood. Birth control pills include levonorgestrel, norethindrone, ethinyl estradiol etc.
Orlistat. This type of drug can prevent dietary fats from being absorbed from the gut. Therefore, orlistat can decrease the effectivity and absorption of fish oil when taken together. It is recommended that orlistat and fish oil should be taken at least 2 hours apart in order not to have possible interaction.
Anticoagulants. Fish oil should not be taken together with anticoagulants or blood-thinning medications that include aspirin, diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen, warfarin etc. since excessive amounts of omega-3 fatty acids may lead to bleeding and bruising.