The Benefits of Fish Oil
Fish oil has only been widely studied for its health benefits in the U.S. since the 1970s. Because differing studies have shown results on both sides of the argument, fish oil is still being widely observed for its possible benefits.
The interest in fish oil’s benefits on human health is said to have originally begun by observing Greenland Eskimos. Despite their diet of high-fat and cholesterol rich food, they appeared healthier, with little signs of heart disease or heart complications. The consumption of fish and fish oil has also been observed in other regions with fish-rich diets whose inhabitants reported lower levels of depression.
Since its initial study, fish oil has been praised by some for its health benefits, while other medical professionals remain skeptical as to its tangible benefits. Fish oil is largely sought out for the health benefits linked to omega-3 fatty acids. Numerous studies link omega-3 fatty acids, found abundantly in fish oil supplements, to health benefits that by and large, reduce inflammation in the body. For this reason, fish oil has been studied and linked to many applications from thinning blood to preventing heart attacks and even treating clinical depression and bipolar disorder. While fish oil has been adopted by holistic medicine, it deserves further exploration.
The Science Behind the Fish Oil
Several studies indicate that fish oil has a variety of practical applications. From cancer to mental health to even fat-loss, below are a few of their findings:
- Fights Cancer: Several studies link omega-3 fatty acids to the slowed and even reduced growth of cancer in patients with breast, colon and prostate cancer.
- Controls Cholesterol Levels: Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to regulate cholesterol.
- Protects People With Heart Problems: According to one study, fish oil supplements can help prevent sudden death from heart-rhythm problems. According to the same study, those that used a fish oil and suffered from life-threatening heart complications were less likely to die as a result, than those who did not.
- Reduces Risk of Heart Attack: Fish oil supplements have a similar effect on thinning blood as a daily low-dose aspirin tablet - prevents heart attack risk. Doctors recommend avoiding the fish oil supplement for those already taking a blood thinning drug such as coumadin or warfarin to avoid over-thinning. Fish oil has also been shown to reduce heart attacks by preventing blood clots from blocking arteries leading to the heart.
- Stabilizes Mood: An English study of prison inmates found lower levels of omega-3s in those convicted of violent crimes. Omega-3s have since been linked to mood-stabilizing effects as they assist in the growth of frontal cortex neurons, which are responsible for behavior.
- Promote Weight Loss: The anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil are linked to increased circulation during exercise, aiding muscles and increasing fat loss.
Should You Take Fish Oil?
If you decide to take a fish oil supplement, do so under the recommendations of your doctor. Many physicians agree that those who wish to add omega-3s to the their diet should consume them from fish oil, rather than from fish themselves.
Many fish, including tuna, shark and swordfish, contain high levels of toxic containments like mercury, chlordane, dioxin and PCBs. You should also be aware of what you are consuming and where it comes from. In March of 2010, a lawsuit in California was filed against 8 major fish oil brands (most of which included cod and shark liver) for excessive levels of PCBs.
The omega-3 benefits of fish oil are best obtained from either an all-natural supplement, or in moderation from low-toxin fish. Be wary of supplements that derive their oil from the liver of fish, as these have been linked to high toxicity levels (both natural and from pesticides).
If you are looking to take advantage of the benefits of omega-3s you can also find them in kidney beans, navy beans, tofu, squash, raspberries, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, romaine lettuce, collard greens, wheat germ and free-range beef and poultry.
The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book: The Definitive Guide to Designing Your Personal Supplement Program By Shari Lieberman, Nancy Pauling Bruning
Avery Trade; 4 edition (May 3, 2007) The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals By Alan H. Pressman, Sheila Buff
Alpha; 3 edition (March 6, 2007) Fish Oil: The Natural Anti-inflammatory By Joseph C. Maroon, Jeffrey Bost
Basic Health Publications; 1st edition (October 23, 2006) Omega Rx Zone: The Miracle of the New High-Dose Fish Oil Avon (December 28, 2004) Beneficial Effects of Fish Oil on Human Brain By Akhlaq Farooqui Springer; 1 edition (July 28, 2009)