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Health Benefits of Fish Oil: What Does It Do for You?

Updated on July 21, 2016
Studies have shown fish oil improves cardiovascular health, cognitive function and reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome. It also decreases the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Studies have shown fish oil improves cardiovascular health, cognitive function and reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome. It also decreases the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis. | Source

The American Heart Association

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times (two servings) a week.

The American Heart Association recommends that people without documented coronary heart disease (CHD) eat a variety of fish, preferably oily fish, at least twice a week.

People who have elevated triglycerides may need two to four grams of EPA and DHA per day provided as capsules under a physician’s care.

The American Heart Association

Why Should I Take Fish Oil or Eat Oily Fish?

Clinical studies support the following benefits of taking fish oil

  • Decreases the risk of coronary heart disease
  • DHA in fish oil improves neurological development in infants
  • Reduces atherosclerosis
  • Reduces triglycerides
  • Improved cholesterol levels
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Reduces the danger of stroke
  • Blocks carcinogens that may lead to cancer
  • Improves cognitive function and mood
  • Improvement in morning stiffness for those suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Proven to combat metabolic syndrome

What are oily fish?

  • salmon
  • tuna
  • mackerel
  • herring
  • trout

If you do not consume oily fish on a regular basis oil capsules are a great alternative.
If you do not consume oily fish on a regular basis oil capsules are a great alternative. | Source

Fish Oil and Omega-3

Fish oil contains Omega-3. Omega-3 contains essential fatty acids. These fatty acids are important for effective body functions but the body cannot produce these fatty acids on its own. We need to consume the essential fatty acids through our diets or supplements.

Omega-3 oils are also known as polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs).

What Are Essential Fatty Acids?

Essential means the body needs it but cannot produce it. Essential fatty acids are the omega 3, 6 and 9 oils. Flaxseed oil is Omega 3.

Cell Membrane: Fish Oil Benefits and Phospholipids

The cell membrane is a semipermeable lipid bilayer common to all living cells. It contains primarily proteins and lipids, which are involved in cellular processes.
The cell membrane is a semipermeable lipid bilayer common to all living cells. It contains primarily proteins and lipids, which are involved in cellular processes. | Source

Phospholipids: The Function of EPA, DHA and ALA

Fish oil is rich in EPA and DHA. This is true whether the source is a fish oil capsule or by eating a form of oily fish.

Phospholipid: A lipid with phosphate attached. Phospholipids are found in the cell membrane.

Omega-3, the three essential fatty acids:

EPA: eicosapentaenoic acid.

DHA: docosahexaenoic acid.

ALA: alpha-linolenic acid.

Omega-3: EPA and DHA are the long chain fatty acids found in Omega-3. EPA and DHA is found in fish and fish oil supplements. ALA is a short chain fatty acid and is found in plant sources such as flaxseed, walnuts, soybean, brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, and salad greens.

What does this mean and why is it important?

  • Phospholipids help keep the cell membrane fluid and permeable for proper function. Fluidity is determined by the fatty acid.
  • EPA and DHA help maintain healthy function of our brain, retinal and cardiac cells and tissues.
  • ALA is said to partially convert to EPA and DHA

Phospholipids can become stiff and rigid with the continued consumption of bad fats. Junk food and processed meats and cheeses are loaded with unhealthy fat. These fats accumulate and stiffen the cell membrane. If the membrane is rigid it does not provide the proper fluidity for the general functions of the brain, retina and heart. The fatty acids in Omega-3 will help the body maintain a healthy and fluid membrane.

What Are the Symptoms of Not Getting Enough Omega-3?

Deficiencies in Omega-3 fatty acids can result in a few tell-tale symptoms:

  • depression
  • mood swings
  • memory problems
  • fatigue
  • dry skin
  • poor circulation

Note: consult a doctor if you suffer from any of these symptoms as they are common with other health issues. Do not treat yourself without the diagnosis and guidance of a physician.

What Are Omega-3 Rich Foods?

Here are a few examples of Omega-3 rich foods:

  • fish oil
  • oily fish: salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and trout
  • scallops
  • walnuts
  • flaxseed oil
  • canola oil
  • olive oil
  • winter squash
  • soybeans
  • navy beans
  • kidney beans

Fish Oil Studies

Metabolic Syndrome and Atherosclerosis

Combined Therapy of Dietary Fish Oil and Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase 1 Inhibition Prevents the Metabolic Syndrome and Atherosclerosis, October 2009. ASO treatment in conjunction with dietary fish oil supplementation is an effective combination therapy to comprehensively combat the metabolic syndrome and atherosclerosis in mice.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Session 3: Fatty acids and the immune system Fish oil and rheumatoid arthritis: past, present and future, May 2010. A meta-analysis of fish oil trials that measured inflammatory joint pain, mainly with RA patients, reported a beneficial effect of fish oil on patient-reported joint pain intensity, number of painful or tender joints, duration of morning stiffness and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use.


Blood Pressure

Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Blood Pressure, October 2011. Increasing DHA consumption through diet modification rather than large dose supplementation represents a candidate strategy for future studies of hypertension prevention.

© 2012 Marisa Hammond Olivares

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    • Riverfish24 profile image

      Riverfish24 5 years ago from United States

      Great research and informative hub! Totally agree and am a big fan of fish dishes.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      I only eat chicken and fish protein. A lot of red mrat doesn't agree with me...bacon rolls excepted.

      Interesting hub

      Bob

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

      Riverfish24, thank you very much. I actually enjoyed baked salmon right after I published this. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      diogene, Hi there! Chicken and fish are a great source of protein and quite a bit healthier than red meat. I have to admit I do like a great steak though. :)

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

      Great hub! My husband's cardiologist strongly emphasizes the need for Omega 3's. He highly values its effectiveness in preventing heart disease. Voted up and useful.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Great hub with valuable information! This is truly a livesaving hub for so many people. Thanks for posting.

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 5 years ago from Northern California

      Salmon is one of my favorite dinner choices. It is so healthy and rich that you do not need a large serving to be satisfied and healthy from eating it.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Ms Olive.. after reading this.. I am going to use Fish Oil thank you for writing this hub

      Excellent

      Debbie

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

      Sinea Pies, what a wonderful testimony! Thank you for reading and sharing.

      teaches12345, thank you so much! I'm glad to share

      starstream, salmon is a great choice. You are right, it is very satisfying - healthy too :)

      Deborah Brooks, Hi! Good for you! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment Debbie. I appreciate it.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Lots of good information here and a true testimonial to fish oil and Omega 3. Guess I should take one when I give it to my dog every night! Voted up.

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

      Really? Omega 3 for dogs? Who knew!

      Yes, perhaps you should take some as well. I started to be more diligent about it since doing the research and writing this hub. Thanks for reading, commenting and voting.

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi missolive. What a wonderful and informative hub this is. I have read some of your other hubs and your freely given information is first class. Thank you! Voted up / awesome.

      Graham.

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

      old albion -

      Graham, thank you! I'm thrilled to know that you feel this way. You've made my day!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      My husband and I both take fish oil capsules daily just as a preventative measure. This is great information for those who may not already know the health benefits. Good that you also listed food sources. Voted up, useful and will happily SHARE.

    • Global-Chica profile image

      Anna 5 years ago from New York, NY

      This is such a well researched and informative hub! Thank you also for pointing out that other foods rich in Omega-3 are vegetarian friendly, including different oils, soybeans, and other beans. My b/f is vegetarian and refuses to take fish oil so it's reassuring :) Voted up and useful!

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      My husband has high blood pressure (well, he would if he didn't take medication) and struggles with high cholesterol so he takes fish oil pills. Funny thing is he's skinny so being thin and eating healthy doesn't always ensure you won't have high numbers.

      Great information.

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 5 years ago from New York City

      What a yummy intro image to your super informative hub here MissOlive, I loved every bit of it. I been on my very own quest to find out what foods work for me, and what don't since I've been dealing with acid reflux for many many years, and also my mom had passed away a while back due to breast cancer.

      Me and my wife eat all organic foods today, and mostly veggies, but we surely make sure to get our share of fish, especially salmon for the precious fatty acids as you've addressed so eloquently here. Omega 3 is definitely something for me to due some research up on, and thanks for all the juicy info provided here. Nicely Done voted up, getting pinned and shared everywhere possible as usual.

    • cabmgmnt profile image

      Corey 5 years ago from Northfield, MA

      Interesting hub. I try to eat wild Alaskan salmon at least once a week and I know that I need to add more omega 3 to my diet. Thanks for the tips and info.

    • profile image

      susanm23b 5 years ago

      Great hub with very useful information! I have read a lot about this subject and how beneficial this is. I take wild Alaskian salmon oil capsules everyday. Thanks for sharing this great, healthy information! Voted up and shared!

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

      PeggyW - I'm glad to hear you also take the supplements. I'm taking them as well. I appreciate you sharing this information and I'm grateful for your support.

      Global-Chica, thank you! I'm glad you have found the additional info useful. We all have different diets and habits. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I'm happy to spot you on my hub :)

      Pamela n Red, Thank you. I totally understand your comment. My grandmother was always fairly thin and ate a healthy diet but her blood pressure and cholesterol were high. It is good to know we can take supplements like fish oil to help along with our meds.

      Cloudexplorer- Hi Michael, it sounds like you are taking a fantastic approach to your diet. If your acid reflux has not been relieved you may want to check out my hub on Manuka Honey. It is always a pleasure to see you. Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate the pins and shares too. :)

      cabmgmnt, I've been trying to add more salmon to my diet as well but I still take fish oil daily. I'm glad to share what I've researched.

      susanm23b, thanks for the votes and shares, I really appreciate it. I'm happy to hear you are taking fish oil as well.

      Thanks everyone for all of your great comments. Omega-3 is certainly an important supplement that we should all consider.

    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 4 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Tremendous hub and informative. Fish oil is good for what ails ya. Thanks for sharing.

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      Fiddleman, thank you so very much...it sure seems to, doesn't it? I appreciate you stopping by to read and comment.

    • theframjak profile image

      theframjak 4 years ago from East Coast

      Great hub and very well written. I just started focusing on getting more omega-3 in my diet by eating salmon and walnuts after getting a high cholesterol report from my doctor (see my hub about it if interested) and I feel mentally sharper since doing it.

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      thefranmjak, thank you and good for you. Great testimony on feeling mentally sharper. You mentioned something that caught my eye. You said, 'sharper'. I just finished researching and writing about GABA. GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps one's mood and alertness (among other things). Anyway, walnuts help the body maintain GABA levels. Interesting connection. I'm finding that many of the foods that help prevent cardiovascular disease and mental issues are the same foods that prevent anxiety and mineral deficiencies. Diet really does make a difference. To your health...cheers!

    • theframjak profile image

      theframjak 4 years ago from East Coast

      Very interesting. I have started to eat a handful of walnuts as a morning snack and I do feel more mentally alert in the morning.

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      theframjack, thanks again.

    • Penelope Cruz profile image

      Kai Alabi 12 months ago from Washington, DC

      Very interesting and informative hub. I really like your visuals. I take DHA now as a part of my vitamin regimen and I've really noticed a difference. Thanks for sharing this knowledge.

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