Fish Oil Benefits

Fish Oil BenefitsFish oil health benefits are derived from the Omega 3 fatty acids contained in the fish oil. These are considered “essential fatty acids” and they are critical for human health.

Surprisingly, given the fact that they are necessary, your body does not, and cannot, produce Omega 3s. You have to get them – and their health benefits – through the food you eat (such as cold water fatty fish like salmon, tuna, halibut and hoki) or by taking a fish oil supplement.

To decide if supplementation is right for you, you should know the benefits that you can receive.

As I’ll show you, fish oil has more benefits than a retired government double-dipper. These are some of the fish oil health benefits . . .

Heart Disease

The fish oil health benefits for your heart are well-established. That is why both the establishment medical community and alternative health practitioners recommend it for this purpose.

Clinical evidence suggests that the two Omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), help reduce high cholesterol and high blood pressure, two risk factors for heart disease. And they lower triglycerides, which are fats in the blood that are also known to contribute to heart disease.

Other studies show that fish oil helps prevent and treat atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) by slowing the development of artery-clogging plaque.

Fish oil also helps patients who have already had a heart attack. It lowers their chances of suffering another heart attack or a stroke.

This fish oil health benefit is well-established; however, there are a great many other benefits, or potential benefits, that are less well-established, either because study results have been inconsistent or because there is a need for more study. Let’s look at those.

Anti-Aging

If you follow the field of anti-aging, you know that the length of your telomeres correlates with your longevity. Longer telomeres = longer life.

Telomeres are the protective caps on the end of chromosomes which prevent the chromosomes from being damaged. However, each time the cell divides, its telomere gets shorter. When the telomere becomes too short to protect the DNA, the DNA is damaged. When the DNA is damaged, the cell can no longer divide. It dies.

A study done at the University of California San Francisco and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in January, 2010, demonstrated that heart patients with high Omega 3 contents had longer telomeres than those with lower levels of Omega 3.

In other words, there is evidence that Omega 3s, such as are contained in fish oil supplements, may lead to a longer and healthier life.

Fish Oil Benefits

Fetal Brain Development

It is irrefutable that for a fetus’ brain to develop properly, it needs a great deal of DHA and EPA fats.

That’s because, somewhat surprisingly, the brain is largely composed of fat. To develop properly, the fetus’ brain needs polyunsaturated fats, especially the long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, EPA and DHA.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Fish oil seems to help people with rheumatoid arthritis get over morning stiffness faster.

People who take fish oil can sometimes reduce their use of pain medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

However, unlike prescription medications, fish oil does not appear to slow progression of RA, only to treat the symptoms. Joint damage still occurs.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have low levels of the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA(which are contained in fish oil).

Not surprisingly then, studies have shown that taking fish oil seems to improve thinking skills and behavior in 8 to 12 year-old children with ADHD.

Osteoarthritis

According to laboratory studies, diets rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (and low in the inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids) may help people with osteoarthritis, although more study is needed.

Lupus

Although not all studies have reached this conclusion, several small studies have suggested that fish oil with EPA may help reduce symptoms of lupus, an autoimmune condition which causes fatigue and joint pain.

Osteoporosis

Taking fish oil (alone or in combination with calcium and evening primrose oil) seems to slow bone loss rate and increase bone density at the thigh bone (femur) and spine in elderly people with osteoporosis.

Depression

There is inconsistent information about the fish oil health benefits where depression is concerned.

Study results are mixed, but some research shows that taking fish oil along with an antidepressant might help improve symptoms.

Studies are also mixed on whether Omega-3 fatty acids alone have any effect on depression.

Diabetes

Taking fish oil doesn’t seem to lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. However, there are other fish oil health benefits for people with diabetes, such as lowering triglycerides.

Fish Oil Health Benefits

Bipolar Disorder

Although study results are inconsistent, taking fish oil along with the usual treatments for bipolar disorder seems to improve symptoms of depression and increase the length of time between episodes of depression.

But there are no fish oil health benefits on the manic symptoms of people with bipolar disorder.

Schizophrenia

Preliminary clinical evidence suggests that people with schizophrenia may have an improvement in symptoms when given Omega-3 fatty acids.

However, a recent well-designed study concluded that EPA supplements are no better than a placebo in improving the symptoms of this condition. More research is needed.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Results are mixed as to whether Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce symptoms of Crohn’ s disease and ulcerative colitis, the two types of IBD.

Some studies suggest that Omega-3 fatty acids may help when added to medication. Others have found no effect. More studies are needed.

Asthma

Studies examining the effect of Omega-3 fatty acids on asthma have produced mixed results.

In one small, well-designed clinical study of 29 children with asthma, those who took fish oil supplements rich in EPA and DHA for 10 months reduced their symptoms compared to children who took placebo.

However, most studies have shown no effect. So, here also, more study is needed.

Macular Degeneration

There is some evidence that people who eat fish more than once per week have a lower risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.

A fish oil supplement would be a suitable alternative to eating fish.

Menstrual Pain

Taking fish oil alone (or in combination with vitamin B12) seems to improve painful periods and reduce the need for pain medications.

Colon Cancer

Eating foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids seems to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

For example, Eskimos, who eat significant amounts of fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, have a low rate of colorectal cancer.

Animal studies and laboratory studies have found that Omega-3 fatty acids prevent worsening of colon cancer.

Preliminary studies suggest that there are fish oil health benefits that result from taking fish oil daily because it helps slow the progression of colon cancer in people with early stages of the disease.

Breast Cancer

Although not all experts agree, women who eat foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids over many years may be less likely to develop breast cancer. More research is needed.

Prostate Cancer

Population based studies of groups of men suggest that a low-fat diet including Omega-3 fatty acids from fish, or fish oil supplements, help prevent the development of prostate cancer.

Alzheimer’s

There is some preliminary evidence that fish oil may help prevent Alzheimer‘s disease. But it doesn’t seem to help prevent a decline in thinking skills for most people who already have mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

Conclusion

In my view, taking a fish oil supplement to protect against heart disease is a wise decision. That’s why I take one and intend to continue taking a fish oil supplement the rest of my life.

When you also consider all of the other possible benefits, taking a pure fish oil supplement becomes no-brainer, especially since there are normally no harmful side effects.

Of course, you should consult with your physician to make sure a fish oil supplement is right for you.

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