Fish oil is known for its vast health benefits, attributed to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids such as Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), these essential fatty acids aid in weight loss and reduce the risk of high cholesterol, inflammation, heart disease, mental health disorders and more.
The American Heart Association (AHA) conducted clinical trials that proved food containing omega-3 are effective in reducing cardiovascular diseases. Fish oil is the most consumed source of omega-3 which can lower elevated levels of LDL cholesterol and increases the level of HDL cholesterol.
The quality of fish oil largely depends on the type of fish procured. Good sources of oil include salmon, yellowfin tuna, albacore tuna, oysters, herring, anchovies, bluefin tuna, swordfish, turbot, mackerel, sardines, lake trout, cod liver, whale blubber and seal blubber. Some fish oils also contain vitamin A and vitamin D, essential for good immunity and bone health.
Who Should Exercise Caution Before Consuming Fish Oil?
If you are allergic to soybeans or fish, do not consume fish oil. Similarly, if you suffer from liver disease, pancreas disorder, diabetes, underactive thyroid or consume more than 2 alcoholic beverages a day, refrain from ingesting fish oil supplements.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Pregnancy Section C, the chances of omega-3 fatty acids passing into breast milk is unknown when breastfeeding. If you are pregnant, consult your doctor about consuming fish oil supplements and if it will have any negative effects.
For most adults, consumption of fish oil supplements should be 3 grams or less. Excessive consumption of more than 3 grams of fish oil daily may lead to side effects such as dizziness, nosebleeds, insomnia, skin irritation, joint pain and bleeding gums.
This occurs as fish oil supplements contain miniscule amounts of mercury and Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) which may negatively affect fetal development. If you are on medication, ask your doctor to prescribe a smaller dose, especially if you use the following.
- Estrogens (birth control hormone replacement pills).
- Blood thinner such as Warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven).
- Beta-blockers such as Sotalol (Betapace), Atenolol (Tenormin), Propranolol (Inderal) Metoprolol (Lopressor), Nadolol (Corgard), Carvedilol (Coreg), Labetalol (Trandate), etc.
- Diuretic (water pill) such as Chlorothiazide (Diuril), Indapamide (Lozol), Metolazone (Zaroxolyn), etc.
When it comes to fish oil supplements, there is no one-size-for-all. If you are already consuming fish oil from your diet, then supplements may not have any further benefit.
How Does Your Body React to Fish Oil?
Improved Eyesight and Eye Health
Studies have shown that people with lower omega-3 content are at a higher risk of eye diseases. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) improves visual function and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) reduces inflammation. Eating fish regularly has also been linked to a reduced risk of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
Strengthening of Bones
Conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis are common among people with a calcium deficiency. Omega-3 boosts the amount of calcium in your bones, improving your bone health. It is also used to treat arthritis patients.
Reduced Risk of Alzheimers and Dementia
DHA is a major component of cellular membrane. Studies have proved that high doses of DHA can preserve brain volume. Consumption of fish on a regular basis can lead to slower mental health decline during old age.
Improved Skin Health
Consumption of fish oil and fish oil supplements will aid in your skin becoming less wrinkle-free, and healthy due to the content of DHA present. The EPA maintains the hydration and oil production of your skin, reducing the risk of acne and other skin related problems such as eczema, dry skin, psoriasis, etc.
Boosts Health of the Heart
Consumption of fish oil leads to an increase in cholesterol (HDL) levels and reduces the level of LDL. These can help in preventing plaque buildup that can harden your arteries over time.
Many health blogs and websites rank fish oil-based products by the source of the fish oils, the content of DHA and EPA, the presence of additional ingredients and the manufacturer’s reputation. HealthTrends’s list of fish oil goes a step further and lists which oil is meant for whom and the adequate consumption for each type.
The Difference Between Fish Oil and Cod Liver Oil
Firstly, cod liver oil and fish oil are obtained from different fish sources. Cod liver oil is procured from the livers of codfish. The most commonly used ones are the pacific cod and atlantic cod.
Fish oil is extracted from the flesh of fish such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, anchovies, hering, etc.
Secondly, these fish get omega-3 acids by consuming phytoplankton. Now, phytoplankton consumes microalgae which is the original source of omega-3 fatty acids. The human body does not produce omega-3, hence why it should be part of your diet.
Thirdly, omega-3 fatty acids can also be plant sourced such as vegetable oil, seeds and nuts. Called Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), they are not as beneficial as fatty acids from fish oils. If you consume less than 2 servings of fish every week, it is advisable to take cod liver oil supplements.
As cod liver oil has high levels of DHA, EPA, Vitamin D and Vitamin A, it is believed to have effective anti-inflammatory properties. A few of the benefits of cod liver oil are listed as follows.
- Can reduce the pain associated with arthritis.
- Can boost and support a healthy immune system.
- Can effectively lower blood pressure.
- Can maintain bone density.
- Can lower the risk of Type 1 diabetes.
- Can reduce depression and anxiety.
- Can promote eyesight and brain function.
- Can prevent the risk of upper respiratory illness.
- Can reduce inflammation over the body.
- Can prevent buildup of plaque in the arteries.
Keep in mind, omega-3 oils are high in polyunsaturated fats which are damaged when exposed to heat. Do not use them for cooking and refrain from purchasing them in bulk as they can get spoilt. Consuming fish oil supplements daily is an effective way to improve your physical and mental health.
The Top 5 Sought After Fish Oil Supplements
MAV Nutrition Premium Fish Oil Omega-3
- Serving size: 3 capsules.
- Dose: 3600 milligrams.
- Calories per serving: 36.
- Source: Pelagic.
- Other ingredients: Gelatin, glycerin, natural lemon flavor, etc.
MAV Nutrition Premium Fish Oil Omega-3 contains a large dose of omega-3 and has fewer additives than most brands. It comes with a 60 day money back guarantee and is GMP certified, made in the United States and is 100% natural.
Solimo Fish Oil
- Serving size: 2 gummies.
- Dose: 303 milligrams.
- Calories per serving: 35.
- Source: Tuna.
- Other ingredients: Glucose syrup, sucrose, gelatin, pectin, citric acid, natural flavors, coconut oil and carnauba wax.
Solimo Fish Oil is a gummy version of oil supplements without the smelly aftertaste and offers a full refund with no return necessary.
Life Extension Super Omega-3
- Serving size: 4 capsules.
- Dose: 2000 milligrams.
- Calories per serving: 25.
- Source: Alaska Pollock.
- Other ingredients: Gelatin, glycerin, silica, natural flavor, sunflower lecithin, caramel color mixed tocopherols and rosemary extract.
Life Extension Super Omega-3 comes in 4 bottle sizes (60, 120, 240 and 500 capsules). They are a trusted brand who have been in the industry for over 35 years and also known for their 24/7 customer service. Life Extension Super Omega-3 is IFOS and GMP certified.