How Fish Oil can contribute to Your Overall Health
Most of the health benefits of fish oil can be attributed to the presence of omega 3 essential fatty acids like Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Other useful essential fatty acids in fish oil include Alpha-linolenic acid or ALA and Gamma-linolenic acid or GLA.
The health benefits of fish oil include its ability to aid in the treatment of various heart diseases, high cholesterol, depression, anxiety, ADHD, weakened immune system, cancer, diabetes, inflammation, arthritis, IBD, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, eye disorders, macular degeneration and ulcers. It also helps aid weight loss, healthy pregnancy, fertility and skin care (particularly for conditions such as psoriasis and acne).
Breaking Down the Benefits
Hearth Health: According to the American Heart Association (AHA) — and as covered in detail in our post on low-cholesterol dieting — clinical trials have shown that omega 3 is effective in reducing the incidence of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Fish oil is a great source of omega 3 and therefore, reduces the risk of heart diseases and heart arrhythmias. It also lowers the level of bad cholesterol (LDL), and increases the level of good cholesterol (HDL), prevents the accumulation of triglycerides and further reduces the level of excess triglycerides.
Weight Loss: Fish oil has also been popularized as an aid in losing weight. Research conducted by Professor Peter Howe at the University of South Australia has shown that fish oil improves the efficacy of exercise in attempts to reduce weight. Volunteers who were given fish oil in their diet showed greater weight loss as compared to those who did not regularly consume fish oil. Exercise combined with fish oil had a positive effect on body shape and composition of the participating patients.
Immune System Boost: It is believed that regular consumption of fish oil aids in boosting your immune system, thereby enabling you to resist the occurence of common diseases like colds, coughs and the flu. Omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil bolster the immune system by effecting the activity and amount of cytokines and eicosanoids present in our body. Fish oil is said to benefit patients suffering from lupus, and studies have also shown fish oil to help in reducing associated fever, skin rashes and fatigue.
Blood Circulation: It is widely accepted that fish oil has the ability to improve blood circulation along with reducing triglyceride and serum cholesterol levels. However, the benefit of improving blood circulation has primarily been studied on rats only.
Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Regular consumption of fish oil is effective in reducing inflammation in the blood and tissues and can help patients suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, Celiac disease, short bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) including Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. Fish oils help these patients absorb vitamins.
Skin Care: Speaking of the skin — and going beyond our natural skin care remedies, fish oil is great for improving the condition of dry skin, too. Fish oil helps treat eczema, psoriasis, itching, skin redness, skin lesions, and rashes.
ADHD or ADD: Fish oil has the ability to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as well as hyperactivity, dyslexia, dyspraxia, inability to complete tasks, emotional instability, wavering attitude, poor coordination, short attention span, short term memory weakness, low concentration, tendency to interrupt others, recklessness, hastiness, impetuosity, impulsiveness, low IQ, or learning disorders. By this same token, fish oil can also serve as a way to assist in child brain development.
Arthritis: Fish oil is useful in the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, Raynaud’s symptoms and similar conditions and reduces the need for large dosages of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). It’s important to note that the Arthritis Center in the Department of Rheumatology at John Hopkins University considers including omega 3 fatty acids and fish oil in the treatment of arthritis as controversial and cautions that arthritis patients must be wary of all the other side effects that can come from the use of fish oil.
Depression and Anxiety: The Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil can help relieve depression, sadness, anxiety, restlessness, mental fatigue, stress, decreased sexual desire, suicidal tendencies and other nervous disorders.
Eye Disorders: Fish oil has the ability to improve vision and is said to aid in avoiding age-related macular degeneration.
Alzheimer’s disease: As mentioned in our ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease post, Omega-3 fatty acids are effective in treating and preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Cancer: Fish oil is useful in reducing weight loss in patients suffering from pancreatic cancer. Fish oil supplements can also be helpful to patients suffering from cancer-related hyperlipidemia.
Diabetes: Type II diabetic patients are prone to cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, and stroke. As mentioned above, fish oil is helpful in treating various heart problems. Research conducted at the University of Oxford has shown fish oil to be useful in reducing triglyceride levels in patients with diabetes as well.
Ulcers: The presence of EPA and DHA in fish oil makes it helpful in case of ulcers caused by Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Pregnancy: Fish oil is very beneficial for pregnant women because the DHA present in fish oil helps in the development of the eyes and brain of the baby. It also helps to avoid premature births, low birth weight, and miscarriages. Research conducted in Denmark, which involved 8,729 pregnant women, concluded that a diet with low amounts of fish resulted in a higher risk of premature or preterm babies.
Hair Care: Fish oil helps maintain a good luster of the hair, because omega-3 has growth stimulating properties, since it provides nourishment to the follicles. It aids in increased development of hair and in preventing hair loss. A good supply of protein is also necessary for hair growth, and since most fish varieties are rich in protein, eating fish helps to keep hair healthy.