- The different types of fish which can be a good source of fish oil are mackerel, rainbow trout, lake trout, halibut, herring, sea bass, sardines, swordfish, oysters, albacore tuna, blue fin tuna, yellow fin tuna, turbot, pilchards, anchovies and salmon.
- The most common ones among these for obtaining oil are albacore tuna, herring, mackerel, sardines, lake trout and salmon.
- The quality of fish oil greatly depends on the type of fish from which you retrieve the oil.
- Heart Health: According to the American Heart Association (AHA), clinical trials have shown that omega 3 is effective in reducing the incidence of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Fish oil is a great source of omega 3 and therefore, reduces the risk of heart diseases and heart arrhythmias. It also lowers the level of bad cholesterol (LDL), and increases the level of good cholesterol (HDL). Fish oil prevents the accumulation of triglycerides and further reduces the level of excess triglycerides. Preliminary research has also shown that fish oil can be used to prevent atherosclerosis in coronary patients. Thus, fish oil is effective in preventing strokes and regular usage of fish oil can help avoid sudden cardiac death. As per the American Heart Association, these preliminary findings still need to be confirmed by further detailed research.
- Weight Loss: Fish oil has also been popularized as an aid in losing weight. Research conducted by Professor Peter Howe at the University of South Australia has shown that fish oil improves the efficacy of exercise in attempts to reduce weight. Volunteers who were given fish oil in their diet showed greater weight loss as compared to those who did not regularly consume fish oil. Exercise combined with fish oil had a positive effect on body shape and composition of the participating patients.
- Improved Immunity: It is believed that regular consumption of fish oil aids in boosting your immune system, thereby enabling you to resist the occurence of common diseases like colds, coughs and the flu. Omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil bolster the immune system by effecting the activity and amount of cytokines and eicosanoids present in our body. Researchers have also studied the effect of fish meal and fish oil on the immune system of pigs and found that fish oil aided in the growth of the animals. Similar research conducted on mice at Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taiwan, also gave positive results.
- AIDS: Research conducted by the Nutritional Sciences Program in Lexington has argued for fish oil as a treatment for AIDS.However, a great deal of research still needs to be conducted on this.
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Fish oil is effective in reducing inflammation in the blood and tissues. Regular consumption of fish oil supplements, tablets, pills and capsules is helpful to those who suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases. Fish oil is effective in treating gastrointestinal disorders, Celiac disease, short bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) including Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis, which are both typical disorders of the intestine. Patients suffering from Crohn’s disease often find it difficult to absorb vitamins, fats and essential supplements. Fish oil supplements are an effective diet for such patients.
- Arthritis: Fish oil is useful in the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, Raynaud’s symptoms and similar conditions. Using fish oil can help in reducing the need for large dosages of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). The Royal Adelaide Hospital and the University of Newcastle, both of which are located in Australia, have reported that large quantities of fish oil have shown positive effects on the treatment of arthritis. In cases of osteoarthritis, fish oil can be helpful in reducing the impact of enzymes that destroy cartilage.
- Depression and Anxiety: Due to the presence of Omega 3 fatty acids, fish oil has been promoted for relieving depression, sadness, anxiety, restlessness, mental fatigue, stress, decreased sexual desire, suicidal tendencies and other nervous disorders. Researchers at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, in their research publication titled “Fish Oils and Bipolar Disorder: A Promising but Untested Treatment”, state that fish oil can be useful in mood stabilization and the treatment of bipolar disorders. It is unsurprising, therefore, that it has been found that countries where fish is frequently eaten have a low incidence of depression. Similarly, research conducted on prisoners has shown that when prisoners were given sea food containing higher amount of omega-3 fatty acids, there was a significant drop in the homicide rate and the frequency of violence. Intake of fish is also a good remedy for depression. Findings of a research study suggests that fish consumption may be beneficial for women’s mental health and reduce risk of developing depression in women.
- Eye Disorders: It is well known that fish oil has the ability to improve vision. It also helps in avoiding age-related macular degeneration. The National Eye Institute at the National Institute of Health in the United States, plans to conduct a nationwide study to evaluate the effect of fish oil in treating macular degeneration. This study will provide strong scientific evidence regarding the benefits of fish oil for eye care, thereby allowing government agencies and physicians to strongly recommend fish oil for macular degeneration.
- Alzheimer’s disease: Research conducted at the Louisiana State University has shown that fatty acids are effective in treating Alzheimer’s disease. Since fish oil is one of the best sources of essential fatty acids, including EPA and DHA, it helps in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. More research conducted at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) validates the usefulness of fish oil as a possible remedy for the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends fish containing higher content of omega-3 fatty acids to patients since it acts as a defense against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
- ADHD or ADD: Fish oil has the ability to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) due to its high concentration of fatty acids. If your child suffers from hyperactivity, dyslexia, dyspraxia, inability to complete tasks, emotional instability, wavering attitude, poor coordination, short attention span, short term memory weakness, low concentration, tendency to interrupt others, recklessness, hastiness, impetuosity, impulsiveness, low IQ, or learning disorders, fish oil is a proven remedy. Research conducted at the University of South Australia and CSIRO has shown that when children suffering from ADHD were given doses of fish oil and evening primrose capsules for 15 weeks, they showed significant improvements in their behavior. Since brain matter consists of about 60% fats, especially essential fatty acids such as omega 3 and omega 6, fish oil helps to improve the functions of the brain.
- Brain Development: It is believed that fish oil is useful in the normal development of the brain, along with helping your child concentrate on their studies. It has also been found that when pregnant women are given regular doses of fish oil, their toddlers display enhanced hand eye coordination.
- Skin Care: Fish oil is great for improving the condition of dry skin by making it shiny and vibrant. It is useful in treating various skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, itching, skin redness, skin lesions, and rashes. In terms of psoriasis, the EPA present in fish oil restricts the growth of pro-inflammatory agents by producing arachidonic acid. Therefore, fish oil can also be applied topically to get relief from psoriasis.
- Acne: Fish oil is an effective treatment for acne. EPA is known to inhibit androgen formation, which can affect the formation of sebum in hair follicle, leading to acne.
- Cancer: Fish oil is useful in reducing weight loss in patients suffering from pancreatic cancer. Fish oil supplements can also be helpful to patients suffering from cancer-related hyperlipidemia.
- Diabetes: Type II diabetic patients are prone to cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, and stroke. As mentioned above, fish oil is helpful in treating various heart problems. Research conducted at the University of Oxford has shown fish oil to be useful in reducing triglyceride levels in patients with diabetes as well.
- Ulcers: The presence of EPA and DHA in fish oil makes it helpful in case of ulcers caused by Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Pregnancy: Fish oil is very beneficial for pregnant women because the DHA present in fish oil helps in the development of the eyes and brain of the baby. It also helps to avoid premature births, low birth weight, and miscarriages. Research conducted in Denmark, which involved 8,729 pregnant women, concluded that a diet with low amounts of fish resulted in a higher risk of premature or preterm babies. It is also believed that women who do not have a sufficient intake of EPA and DHA in their diet suffer from depression after birth, as there is a transfer of some amount of brain mass from the mother to the child in the last stages of pregnancy. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, when pregnant women are given fish oil supplements, their children show enhanced hand eye coordination. Thus, it is very beneficial to consume fish oil either by eating fish or taking fish oil supplements, tablets, capsules, or pills during pregnancy for the overall development of the child and the well being of the mother. However, it should be noted that fish oil obtained from the liver of the fish, example – cod liver oil, should not be consumed during pregnancy as cod liver oil is rich in retinol and vitamin A.
- Fertility: Preliminary research conducted on boars has shown that when male boars are fed with a diet containing fish oil, the quality of the sperm is enhanced. After ejaculation, the sperm have increased survival against lipid peroxidative attacks in the female genital tract, thereby increasing the chances of conception. On the other hand, similar animal studies have shown inhibition in the synthesis of prostaglandin E and prostaglandin F, which are produced in large quantities by human seminal vesicles. The research, however, found no impact in the count and mobility of sperm.
- Hair Care: Fish oil helps maintain a good luster of the hair, because omega-3 has growth stimulating properties, since it provides nourishment to the follicles. It aids in increased development of hair and in preventing hair loss. A good supply of protein is also necessary for hair growth, and since most fish varieties are rich in protein, eating fish helps to keep hair healthy.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: ‘Fish oil is rich in various nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids. Recent research suggests that intake of diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce or delay onset of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
- Blood Circulation: It is widely accepted that fish oil has the ability to improve blood circulation along with reducing triglyceride and serum cholesterol levels.
- One must pay attention to the quality of fish oil when purchasing it. Fish oil is obtained from almost all fish – freshwater, farm, ocean, deep sea and shallow sea fish. All these fish can be contaminated with toxic compounds such as mercury, arsenic, lead, forms of calcium, furans, dioxins, PCBs, and methyl mercury, and can negatively affect the human body. Therefore, the fish oil used must be pure. Many companies sell ultra refined fish oil or distilled fish oil, but you should always check if the standards have been followed and do your research on a company or a product before adding it to your diet.