Benefits of Fish Oil

It seems like from one month to the next the health and supplement industry can only talk about fish oil or there is radio silence on the topic. The health industry’s roller coaster love for fish oil should not cause the consumer to be hesitant about continuing or implementing this supplement into their health regimen. There are major benefits to taking fish oil. So many benefits, in fact, that to write on them all would be exhaustive and exhausting to read. The top three, however, are great at encompassing many of the major benefits of consuming fish oil either by supplement or food form.

Fish oil is known as an essential fatty acid (EFA). When referring to a nutrient as essential this means that it is needed but cannot be made in the body therefore has to be taken in through food or supplement. There are two forms of EFA’s; Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s. Omega-3 fatty acids are what is known as “fish oil” and include two forms; eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This is way more information than is needed, but these terms can be used interchangeably and cause unnecessary confusion.

1. Heart

The benefits of fish oil are so great for the heart that the American Heart Association actually recommends consuming fish twice a week. But, this isn’t always possible and not everyone enjoys eating fish. While taking in any nutrient is better when done through food form the benefits of fish oil are still present when taking a supplement.

Fish oil supplements are beneficial for heart health primarily for those who are at risk for heart disease or have had a heart attack. The American Heart Association states that adding a fish oil supplement will help reduce future episodes of heart attack. This is due to fish oil’s ability to relax the blood vessels, reduce clotting in arteries, reduce inflammation and stabilize the heart’s rhythm.

2. Joints

Joint pain has a lot various causes many of which fish oil can help combat. Stiffness, swelling, and tenderness can be the result of a decrease in blood flow. Omega-3’s can help with this pain by increasing the blood flow to the painful areas.

Damage and irritation to joint tissue can lead to pain and inflammation. The fats in fish oil have natural chemicals that can work to restore these damaged tissues. This is also a lubrication process that helps limit the amount of painful rubbing that leads to joint pain.

3. Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can lead to a variety of negative health outcomes including heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. The American Journal of Hypertension states that taking a fish oil supplement and eating fish can be just as effective of reducing blood pressure as other more well-known methods. One study looked at participants who took Omega-3’s compared to a control group receiving a placebo both of which had hypertension. Those who received Omega-3’s had a 4.51mm Hg decrease in systolic blood pressure and a 3.05 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure.

Whether you are seeking relief of joint pain, reducing blood pressure, preventing heart disease, or some other health benefit adding a fish oil supplement could be a great additive to your health regimen.

Trista K. Best MPH, RD, LDN