For years, we have been encouraged to take fish oil. Fish oil is rich in what are known as essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs are omega-3 fatty acids that we must get in our diet, because our body cannot manufacture them. Without them, our health would suffer in profound ways.
There are three types of EFAs. These include alpha linoleic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found primarily is plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids, such as walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds, whereas fish oil is rich in EPA and DHA. While it is thought that most people get enough ALA in their diet, as many as 95% of people do not get enough EPA or DHA. And while many people enjoy consuming fish like salmon or tuna, fish oil can be a valuable addition to your supplement cabinet, because getting enough of these essential fats is important for good health.
The Health Benefits of Fish Oil
Fish oil that is rich in EPA and DHA is associated with numerous benefits, to the extent that fish oil is often recommended by doctors to their patients. Some forms of fish oil are even available as prescription. You do not need a prescription to pick up a bottle of fish oil at the local health food store, however, it is likely best to talk to your doctor before integrating fish oil into your regimen, particularly if you take other medications. Likely though, you doctor will be ok with you adding fish oil to your diet, because there are many associated benefits.
Improves Heart Health
Fish oil is perhaps best known for its cardiovascular benefits, and with good reason. Fish oil can help elevate good cholesterol levels (HDL) while lowering total triglycerides. Fish oil can help lower blood pressure in those with hypertension. It can also prevent atherosclerosis and reduce the risk of arrhythmias.
Beneficial For Mental Health
Fish oil has shown benefits for the brain, which is comprised mainly of fat. Fish oil is known to help combat depression, and it may be beneficial in children who have been diagnosed with ADHD. There is some evidence that fish oil, over the long-term, may prevent cognitive decline and may help prevent Alzheimer’s. Fish oil also offers some protection against psychotic disorders and schizophrenia.
Fish oil is highly anti-inflammatory, which is thought to be one of the primary, underlying reasons why it is so beneficial for health. More and more, researchers have discovered that inflammation might be an underlying factor in many types of diseases. The question about why we are so inflamed, however, has yet to be fully answered, although many theories have been suggested. One theory, however, might be the presence of fungi in the body, which is known to raise inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP). Fish oil is also an anti-fungal nutrient; could this be the source of its anti-inflammatory properties? Regardless, adding fish oil to your regimen will confer anti-inflammatory benefits, along with anti-fungal benefits.
Benefits for The Skin
Your skin contains significant amounts of fat, and it is thought that fish oil can assist in promoting healthy skin. Fish oil may protect against some of the damages incurred to the skin as we age, such as damage from the sun, and might have benefits against skin diseases like psoriasis and dermatitis as well.
Early Life Benefits
There is evidence that getting enough omega 3 fatty acids while you are in the womb and during early childhood development has benefits for many facets of health, including vision and hand-eye coordination. Interestingly, fish oil supplementation in mothers helped prevent asthma in children by as much as 29%, and helped reduce the risk of infant allergies, as well. Fish oil might provide reduction in the symptoms of asthma for children who have already been diagnosed.
Support Liver Health
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is becoming more common, in part due to the obesity epidemic. There is some evidence that fish oil can reduce inflammation in the liver in addition to reducing the fatty deposits indicative of NAFLD.