Fish oil – i.e. the oil extracted from the tissues of fish – is one of the the most consumed nutritional supplements in the United States. The oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have many beneficial effects on human health. Unfortunately, the human body can’t produce omega-3 fatty acids, so you’ll have to rely on foods like fatty fish — like mackerel, tuna, and herring — to get them. But if you don’t eat a lot of fatty fish, taking a fish oil supplement every day can help you meet your daily omega-3 fatty acid needs. That said, omega-3 fatty acids can also be obtained from plant sources – such as nuts and soy – but to research showed that omega-3s from fish oil are more beneficial to human health. So how exactly do omega-3 fatty acids help you? To answer that, eat this, not that! Health spoke with Megan Wong, Registered Dietitian at SeaweedCal, which explains what happens to your body when you take fish oils. Read on to find out the different ways fish oil pills can benefit your health.
According to Wong, “not only do omega-3 fatty acids reduce the production of substances that trigger inflammation, but new to research has been shown to also increase levels of molecules that actively fight inflammation. These are called Specialized Pro-Resolution Mediators (or SPMs).”
Fish oils can also do a lot of good for your bones. “Chronic inflammation is one of the underlying causes of osteoporosis,” says Wong. She added that “taking omega-3 fatty acids can help keep inflammation at bay, which in turn strengthens your bones. But it’s often an overlooked way to keep bones strong and healthy.”
According to Wong, “one of the last systematic reviews on omega-3 fatty acids and heart health concluded that omega-3 fatty acids reduce cardiovascular mortality and improve cardiovascular outcomes. She noted that “this is not surprising since we know that omega 3s are involved in regulating vasodilation, platelet aggregation, inflammation, and oxidation. Keeping them under control helps ensure that you have healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and circulation.”
Wong explains that “omega 3 fatty acids are needed to build brain and nerve cells and are essential for the proper development and functioning of the brain. They improve communication between the brain and nerve cells and protect against inflammation. If your focus is on brain health, look for an omega-3 supplement with more docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), as DHA plays a bigger role in brain health compared to eicosapentaenoic acid EPA, even though they are both omega-3 fatty acids.”
“Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids can help improve dry eyes and provide protection against macular degeneration and glaucoma,” Wong says. “These benefits likely stem from its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to improve oil production in the eye glands, keeping the eyes lubricated,” she added.
Richard Adefioye is a freelance writer passionate about all things health, fitness and wellness. Learn more about Richard