Top 20 Proven Health Benefits of Fish Oil
You’ve heard about the health benefits of fish oil or omega-3 fatty acids, but I’m sure you’re wondering if they’re really true, right?
I mean, the things we hear about omega-3 fatty are great, but is it something worth spending your hard-earned money on?
The good news .. or the fantastic news is that is true, and I have personally been reaping the health benefits for several years.
As have my girlfriend, my father, my mother, my brother, and even my dog (a miniature schnauzer called Cleo).
And I am not making this up. Seriously.
Before we start … I’d like to tell you something, which I am sure you already know, but just in case…
There are a lot of bad fish oil supplements out there, and the health benefits below are significantly diminished if you do not use a purified, high-quality fish oil supplement, so keep that in mind when you’re looking for one.
With all that said, let’s check out the 20 proven benefits.
Some of them may surprise you, so prepare yourself:
#1 – Eases Depression
As far back as the early 1990s, researchers started seriously looking at fish oil as an antidepressant – or, even better, a depression prevention supplement.
While researching other benefits, scientists began to notice a repeating trend: people in countries where cold-water, fatty fish are a staple of a regular diet had lower instances of depression.
This trend was repeated so regularly that scientists had no choice but to explore these unexpected benefits of omega-3 fats and how they were connected to depression–alleviating and preventing it.
Andrew Stoll, M.D., suggests that since cell membranes are partially comprised of omega-3s, increasing the levels of omega-3 in the blood allows serotonin, an antidepressant chemical produced by the body, to more easily transport between cells, thus explaining the benefits, higher levels of omega-3s and connection to lower rates of depression.
#2 – Lowers Cholesterol
The Mayo Clinic and the American Heart Association both recommend fish oil supplements to help reduce cholesterol. Through research, the American Heart Association has seen benefits in subjects with and without coronary disease and cholesterol issues.
They recommend different levels of fish oil supplements for different conditions, but indicate that fish oil is beneficial to individuals no matter what their current heart health.
#3 – Lowers Triglyceride Levels
The Mayo Clinic as well as several other researchers have found that the benefits include lowered triglyceride levels in the blood.
This is particularly significant for those with HIV and AIDS, as antiretroviral medications have been shown to increase triglycerides thus making coronary disease and blockages much more common.
Reduced triglycerides mean reduced risk of coronary disease for those taking antiretrovirals. Fish oil supplements also benefit other systems of the body, so patients with lowered immunity and other symptoms caused by HIV or AIDS may see additional benefits as well.
#4 – Reduces Inflammation In The Body
One of the many benefits of properly purified fish oil supplements is reduced inflammation in the body. Inflammation can present itself in many ways, from lupus to thyroid inflammatory disease to psoriasis.
As little as three grams of fish oil supplements per day is enough to reduce inflammation in many forms.
#5 – Eliminates Joint Pain
While the benefits include relief from chronic inflammation, they also help those who suffer from other types of joint pain including osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis.
The Albany Medical College conducted a research study that confirms fish oil may be used in place of pharmaceuticals for pain relief from Rheumatoid arthritis.
The researchers also specifically suggested those seeking relief from Rheumatoid arthritis should seek pure, non-synthetic fish oil supplements to experience the greatest relief.
#6 – Improves Your Skin
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are two of the essential fatty acids (EFA) provided by fish oil supplements, and EPA is directly related to skin health.
The Journal of Lipid Research announced in 2005 that a few benefits of fish oil regarding skin condition are oil production regulation, increased hydration, reduced acne and fewer wrinkles.
EPA has also been proven to help protect our skin from UVA sun damage, which causes wrinkles, lines and permanent skin damage.
And there are probably many more reasons why omega-3 fatty acids help your skin look great that scientists haven’t even discovered yet.
#7 – Promotes Weight Loss
Moss Greene, editor of women’s online health website Bella Online, reports that fish oil promotes weight loss and fat burning better than diet and exercise alone.
The University of Georgia reported in the Journal of Nutrition that one of the benefits of fish oil is its ability to prevent pre-fat cells from converting to fat cells in the body by effectively causing them to die, thus reducing overall accumulation of fat.
Additionally, scientists in Australia discovered that fat loss benefits combined with diet and exercise were significantly greater than diet and exercise alone.
A recent study in Japan demonstrated that mice who experienced the benefits had faster metabolisms and gained less weight in the first place than mice who did not experience the benefits (these researchers believe the same benefits should hold true for humans, too).
#8 – May Prevent Schizophrenia
Yes, you read that correctly. Fish oil may prevent schizophrenia. Several studies have been conducted on this theory, and a recent study conducted by Dr. Patrick McGorry in Australia showed a statistically significant correlation between fish oil supplements and the prevention of schizophrenia.
The study was comprised of 81 teens and young adults who had shown early signs of schizophrenia.
Research indicates that if young people who show early indications and have a relative with schizophrenia are not treated, approximately one-third will develop the disease.
The study demonstrated that only three percent of those treated with fish oil developed schizophrenia, while 28 percent of those taking placebo developed the illness.
This is incredibly important to the medical community and those suffering with mental illness, because the benefits of fish oil are numerous and the side effects are minimal, especially when compared to traditional antipsychotic medications.
#9 – Improves Brain Function In Babies
Studies have shown that the benefits of fish oil are numerous for infants when taken by a pregnant woman.
Not only do fish oil supplements promote brain development and macular health, the specific benefits observed through research are quite astonishing.
Pregnant women who took a high-quality fish oil supplement had babies with higher IQs and fewer learning disorders, and were less likely to develop mental retardation or cognitive delays.
Additionally, the Associated Press reports that some nutritionists believe that omega-3s are the primary building block for human intelligence, so babies who receive omega-3s through fish oil supplements when mom is pregnant and nursing are statistically likely to be more intelligent children and adults.
#10 – Increases Your Focus
Edward Hallowell, M.D., founder of the Hallowell Center for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in Massachusetts, recommends omega-3s in the form of fish oil supplements for patients with trouble focusing.
He notes that the benefits of fish oil are most noticeable for mental focus, not as much with hyperactivity. Dr. Hallowell indicates that it may take up to six weeks for patients to notice a difference, but that the improvement may be quite substantial.
Two separate small studies revealed that children with ADHD are likely to have lower levels of omega-3 in their blood than children with no ADHD symptoms, and that omega-3s tended to break down easier in children who suffer from ADHD.
This could explain why the benefits of fish oil are so noticeable in children with ADHD, and could also stand to reason that adults with ADHD might see similar benefits.
#11 – Reduces Post-Partum Depression
The benefits of fish oil are not only for babies when a pregnant or nursing mom takes the supplements.
While noted above that fish oil eases the symptoms of depression, post-partum depression deserves a category all its own because past treatments have either been ineffective, complicated or have required moms to stop nursing their newborns.
Fish oil is in a class of its own, since it not only reduces and helps prevent post-partum depression (if taken throughout pregnancy), but it allows moms to continue nursing, which is discouraged because antidepressants are not healthy for babies to ingest (via breast milk).
The Associated Press reports that this may open a new door for physicians struggling to help mothers eliminate post-partum depression and still breastfeed and bond with their babies.
#12 – Improves Vision
Several independent studies in the US and Australia indicate that not only are there benefits when eyes are developing in babies in utero, but that adults taking fish oil are less prone to macular degeneration as they age.
#13 – Reduces Soreness From Weight Training
Bodybuilders have recently discovered that due to the benefits concerning inflammation, fish oil can dramatically reduce soreness from strength training.
Not only is this beneficial for bodybuilders, but to anyone incorporating strength training in their lives.
The reduced soreness will allow more enjoyable exercise, and more frequent exercise due to less recovery time.
#14 – Reduces Risk Of Heart Disease
As stated previously, the health benefits extend to the blood and circulatory system by reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.
This in turn helps protect your heart and you, more importantly, from heart disease and other cardiovascular problems, as stated by the American Heart Association.
Some say that taking a fish oil pill a day may even be better than taking pharmaceutical drugs, but no one can say that, because then the big companies would come after them, wouldn’t they? 😉
#15 – May Slow Breast Tumor Growth
Omega-3 essential fatty acids have been proven by research to slow cancer growth, as stated by the American Association for Cancer Research at its 2009 annual meeting.
Further studies have been conducted specifically regarding breast cancer and fish oil, and while the results have varied, there are positive indicators that the benefits include slowing of cancerous cell growth, particularly in breast cancer.
#16 – Provides Relief From Crohn’s Disease And Colitis
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two digestive diseases that cause much suffering for those they afflict.
Often, the treatments are extremely expensive and can include surgery to remove sections of the intestines and colon, which is painful and life-altering.
Benefits of fish oil when taken to treat Crohn’s disease and colitis have been found in that the fish oil actually heals the ulcers in the colon and intestines. This is a huge leap in the search for a cure for these terrible diseases.
#17 – Eases The Effects Of Alzheimer’s Disease
The brain of a person with Alzheimer’s disease benefits from fish oil supplementation in that the EFAs in fish oil help fight the plaque in the brain that causes Alzheimer’s disease in the first place.
UCLA researchers also discovered that not only do the benefits include prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, they may include helping to manage and reduce symptoms in those already afflicted with the memory disease.
#18 – Helps Treat Ulcers
The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends the benefits to individuals suffering from peptic ulcers, as the fish oil reduces inflammation and boosts immunity to prevent recurrence of the ulcers.
Fish oil may also reduce depression, anxiety and stress, which are sometimes contributing factors for peptic ulcer development.
#19 – Stabilizes Mood
The benefits regarding bipolar disorder are significant in that those with milder forms of bipolar disorder are often misdiagnosed with depression, and prescribed antidepressants, which not only have unpleasant side effects but can actually worsen the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Additionally, those with milder forms of bipolar disorder that are properly diagnosed have limited treatment options available, and many have different yet still unpleasant side effects.
Jim Phelps, M.D., a leading mental illness researcher and respected psychiatrist, observed these benefits in his bipolar patients and noted that their manic and depressive symptoms were greatly improved.
#20 – Even Helps Man’s Best Friend
Iams, a respected international dog food manufacturer, has conducted conclusive research that puppies experience benefits of fish oil when supplemented during their first months of life.
Fish oil has been shown to improve puppies’ brain function, vision and trainability, which leads to happier, more well-behaved and good-tempered dogs.
The Supplement My Family And I Have Been Taking For Years
I know there’s a lot of products out there, and a lot of people that want to sell you their stuff, so I thought I’d mention what I use, because I’ve been through a lot of bad products myself, and I’ve wasted a lot of money.
The most important factors for me are price, effectiveness, and safety. It’s hard to find all three, but a company in New Zealand does it.
They’re called Xtend-Life, and I take their omega-3 fish oil supplement every day. I also take their multivitamin, which is amazing, but let’s stay focused, shall we? 😉
I hope you enjoyed the article, and I wish you an amazing day filled with pleasant surprises!