Health Benefits of Fish Oil

Are you deficient in omega-3 fatty acids? Most likely, you are. In fact, omega-3 deficiency is becoming a health epidemic. But how could I be deficient in a fatty acid? I eat fat, after all.

Well, not all fats are considered equal. And when it comes to fatty acids, most of us are eating a lot of omega-6 fatty acids. In fact, most of us eat 20 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, when an ideal ration would be 2:1 omega-6 to omega-3. So yeah, you are probably deficient in omega-3 fatty acids.

When you don’t have enough omega-3 fatty acids in your cells, you are much more prone to inflammation and a variety of health conditions including:

  • Asthma
  •  Autoimmune disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Type II diabetes
  • Weight problems

An imbalance in the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio occurs when you eat a lot of fried foods, packaged foods, and foods containing vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and canola oil.

There are three different omega-3 fatty acids: alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docasahexaenoic acid (DHA). Nuts and flaxseeds are great sources of ALA. But the fatty acids we need to focus on replenishing are EPA and DHA. Our body can convert ALA into EPA and DHA but this process is not very efficient and does not provide adequate amounts of EPA and DHA. The best source of EPA and DHA is fish oil.

Health Benefits of Fish Oil

EPA and DHA found in fish oil are precursors to eicosanoids that function in inflammation, blood clotting, blood vessel activity, and cardiovascular, digestive, and kidney function. So fish oil can impact a lot of organs and treat a lot of different diseases.

Heart Disease

Fish oil can help reduce total cholesterol even more for those taking a statin medication. It also increases HDL, the good cholesterol. And if your triglycerides are up, fish oil will lower that as well. Fish oil is also protective against heart attacks and stroke for those with high cholesterol. It also can also lower your blood pressure.

ADHD

Fish oil is a standard supplement in the treatment of ADHD since EPA and DHA are neuroprotective. Research shows that supplementing with fatty acids improved quality of life, ability to concentrate, sleep quality, emotional reactivity and behavior in children with ADHD.

Depression

Did you know that fish oil works just as well as fluoxetine for depression? And another study found a 40% reduction in symptoms when taking fish oil.

Inflammatory conditions

If you suffer from ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, fish oil may be right for you. One study found that fish oil dramatically reduced relapse rates.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Fish oil can be extremely beneficial if you have RA. One study found that people were able to reduce their NSAID medication by 30% because they didn’t experience as much pain when taking fish oil.

Cancer

Fish oil can be beneficial in a number of ways when it comes to cancer. First of all, it may help reduce the risk of cancer. One study found that it reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Fish oil can also be helpful as an adjunctive cancer therapy. It helps people with cancer maintain a healthy weight and it also stimulates the immune system to help kill cancer cells. Fish oil can also help with side effects of pharmaceutical cancer therapies.

Dosing

A general maintenance dose to correct imbalances in fatty acids is 1000 mg of combined DHA and EPA. To treat disease, you will need a much higher dose and you should consult with your doctor before starting treatment.

If you have bleeding disorders or are currently taking medications that affect blood clotting, then talk to your doctor about taking fish oil. 

Also, quality is really important when it comes to supplementing with fish oil. So talk to your doctor about which product is best for you.

References

  • Effect of an enteric-coated fish-oil preparation on relapses in Crohn's disease. N Engl J Med. 1996 Jun 13;334(24):1557-60.
  •  A systematic review on the role of fish oil for the treatment of cachexia in advanced cancer: an EPCRC cachexia guidelines project. Palliat Med. 2012 Jun;26(4):294-304
  • Fish oil supplementation improves neutrophil function during cancer chemotherapy. Lipids. 2012 Apr;47(4):383-9.
  •  Omega-3 fatty acids are protective against paclitaxel-induced peripheral neuropathy: a randomized double-blind placebo controlled trial. BMC Cancer. 2012 Aug 15;12:355.
  •  Effects of adding prescription omega-3 acid ethyl esters to simvastatin (20 mg/day) on lipids and lipoprotein particles in men and women with mixed dyslipidemia. Am J Cardiol. 2008 Aug 15;102(4):429-33.
  • Effects of EPA on coronary artery disease in hypercholesterolemic patients with multiple risk factors: sub-analysis of primary prevention cases from the Japan EPA Lipid Intervention Study (JELIS). Atherosclerosis. 2008 Sep;200(1):135-40.
  •  A systematic review of fish-oil supplements for the prevention and treatment of hypertension. Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2013;20;(1)107-20. 
  • Effectof docosahexaenoic acid-containing food administration on symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder - a placebo-controlled double-blind study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 Mar;58(3):467-73. 
  •  Effect of supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids and micronutrients on learning and behavior problems associated with child ADHD. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2007 Apr;28(2):82-91.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids in major depressive disorder. A preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2003 Aug;13(4):267-71.
  • Fish oils are beneficial to patients with established rheumatoid arthritis.J Rheumatol. 2001 Nov;28(11):2563-5. 

Hi!

I'm Dr. Carly and my mission is to create a health revolution. I believe that another prescription is not the answer. I believe in using natural therapies that go beyond the symptoms. And I believe that doctors should spend way more than 7 minutes with a patient. 

Explore the Blog