Fish oil is the fat or oil that’s extracted from fish tissue. It usually comes from oily fish, such as herring, tuna, anchovies, and mackerel. Yet it’s sometimes produced from the livers of other fishes, as is the case with cod liver oil.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eating 1–2 portions of fish per week. This is because the omega-3 fatty acids in fish provide many health benefits, including protection against a number of diseases. What’s more, fish oil usually contains vitamins A and D. Omega 3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids. They’re what’s known as essential fats. Your body can’t produce them; your supply of omega-3s must come from dietary and supplement sources.
It’s important to note that the types of omega-3s found in fish oil have greater health benefits than the omega-3s found in some plant sources. The main omega-3s in fish oil are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), while the omega-3 in plant sources is mainly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Although ALA is an essential fatty acid, EPA and DHA have many more health benefits.
It’s also important to get enough omega-3s because the Asian diet has replaced a lot of omega-3s with other fats like omega-6s. This distorted ratio of fatty acids may contribute to numerous diseases caused by inflammation.
Omega 3s play an important role in cell function, so their benefits to health are widespread. One of the most powerful benefits of omega 3s to the body is their ability to reduce inflammation, which is linked to a range of diseases, from cardiovascular disease to cancer. Science shows the protections and benefits of omega 3s include:
- Heart health. Omega 3s reduce blood pressure and heart rate, guard against arrhythmias, lower triglycerides, reduce inflammation, raise levels of the “good” cholesterol HDL, and keep arteries free from developing plaque leading to arteriosclerosis.
- Cancer protection. Studies have shown a lower risk for some cancers—including colon, breast, and prostate—in people who consume greater amounts of omega 3s.
- Autoimmune conditions. Higher consumption of omega-3s may reduce the risks of developing autoimmune diseases later in life. These fatty acids have been shown effective in treating autoimmune conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, lupus, and others.
- Healthy, youthful skin. The omega-3 fatty acids help skin stay hydrated, prevent acne, and guard against premature aging. They also may be an effective treatment for acne, psoriasis, and other skin conditions.
- Stronger bones and less painful joints. Studies show omega 3s can boost calcium levels in bones and may lower risks for osteoporosis. Omega 3s can also reduce joint pain in people with arthritis.
- Cognitive protection. Research shows consuming more omega-3s is linked to reduced risks for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
- ADHD. Omega 3s can reduce the symptoms of ADHD, including hyperactivity, aggressiveness, impulsivity, and difficulty maintaining attention and completing tasks.
- Sleep Quality. Lack of sleep may lead to serious health conditions. Having a good sleeping routine and quality can be based on a healthy diet. A diet rich in Omega-3 can increase levels of Melatonin – a hormone-like substance that puts your body at resting mode – and DHA. DHA reduces the risks and symptoms of sleep apnea.