Lately, fish oils are of huge interest to nutritionists and health care professionals because of two main ingredients: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) – both types of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are credited with improving overall health and body function—although these benefits have been criticized. Still, there are many medical doctors, nutritionists and supplement experts who are still on the omega-3 bandwagon. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly fish oils are, and some of the proven benefits of adding them to your diet.
What are Fish Oils?
Fish oils come from the tissue of fatty fish, such as trout, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines, and salmon, to name a few. There’s approximately 1 gram of omega-3 per 3.5 ounces of fish.
In supplement form, it is usually found in capsules combined with calcium, iron, or vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, or D. Interestingly, our bodies do not produce their own omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re considering sports nutrition courses, you may already know that omega-6 fatty acids are common in the western diet, but the body still doesn’t convert this into omega-3.
How Much EPA and DHA Does the Body Need?
According to the FDA, use of fish oils is generally considered safe. Many respected health care organizations recommend adults consume 500mg daily of omega-3 either through diet (fatty fish twice a week) or supplementation to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
In the case of purchasing supplements, it’s important to purchase fish oil from a reputable manufacturer that follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and takes the necessary steps to purify the oil, to avoid any kind of contamination. Earning a sports, nutrition and weight management diploma can help familiarize you with GMPs.
When purchasing oil in gel cap form, make sure to read up on whether or not to refrigerate after opening, as some brands may have a shorter shelf life.
The health claims attached to the use of fish oils are plentiful, and there are currently trials and studies underway to try and prove many of these claims. While this mixed data can be confusing, a certificate in nutrition can help you to differentiate proven facts from the many false claims circulating. Here are a few benefits of omega-3 that studies have proven:
Heart Health: According to the American Heart Association (AHA), clinical trials have shown that omega-3 is effective in reducing the incidence of cardiovascular diseases. Fish oils reduce triglycerides, stabilize your heartbeat and can even lower blood pressure.
Clears Cholesterol: Omega-3s boost levels of HDL (the good cholesterol) and lowers the level of bad cholesterol (LDL). It also helps clear your arteries.
Boosts Memory and promotes Mental Health: By keeping arteries clear, omega-3s help improve brain and memory function. They also alter neurotransmitters to help reduce symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, restlessness, mental fatigue and decreased libido.
Joint Health: Omega-3 provides the lubrication joints need to function at an effective level. It also decreases inflammation. Fish oil is useful in the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, Raynaud’s symptoms and similar conditions.
There is also proof that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for skin problems, enhancing fertility, eye disorders and many other ailments. Currently, studies are underway to further prove the benefits of fish oils in the treatment of ADD and ADHD and in prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Do you know any other benefits of fish oils?