It may not boost your heart health, but the supplement does yield benefits for your brain, lungs, skin, and muscles.
Fish oil is a form of fatty acid that is derived from the tissues of oily fish. Fish oil is one of the most commonly consumed dietary supplements. It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are very important for your health. If you don’t eat a lot of oily fish, taking a fish oil supplement could help you get enough omega-3 fatty acids.
What Is Fish Oil and Why Should You Care?
It usually comes from oily fish such as herring, tuna, anchovies and mackerel. Yet sometimes it’s produced from the livers of other fish, as is the case with cod liver oil.
Improve Fat Metabolism
Researchers from Kyoto University in Japan recently discovered fish oil transforms fat-storage cells into fat-burning cells in mice. In their study, fish oil supplements stimulated receptors in the digestive tract, activated the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for fight or flight responses), and prompted storage cells to metabolize fat in mice; the ones who ate food with fish oil gained 5-10 percent less weight and 15-25 percent less fat than the control mice. The researchers believe in humans, fish oil supplements might help reduce weight gain later on in life.
Eighteen- to 25-year-olds who consumed fish oil pills every day for six months boosted their working memory by 23 percent, according to research published in the journal PLoS ONE.
Improve Moderate to Severe Acne
A 2012 study from California State Polytechnic University Pomona found evidence that fish oil can improve the severity of acne. Participants supplemented their normal acne-fighting regimen and typical diets with 3 grams of fish oil per day. After 12 weeks, the acne symptoms had greatly improved for 60 percent of the volunteers.
Boost Eye Health
A 2009 study from the National Eye Institute found that participants who reported the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet were 30 percent less likely than their peers to develop macular degeneration during a 12-year period.
Reduce Disease-Causing Inflammation
A study from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found the omega-3 fatty acid DHA in fish oil enhances B cell activity (a white blood cell), believed to prevent disease by reducing inflammation.
Reduce Impact of Air Pollution
A 2012 study suggests fish oil can help protect your heart against air pollution—good news for city dwellers, and great news for city dwellers who run on highly-polluted streets. Researchers gave 29 middle-aged adults three grams of fish oil or olive oil every day for four weeks. Then they exposed them to two consecutive hours of unclean air, after which their cardiac responses were measured. The participants who were given fish oil didn’t experience as negative an effect to their white blood cell activity. The fish oil protected the participants against the harmful cardiac effects associated with air pollution exposure.
Take Home Message
Omega-3s contribute to normal brain and eye development. They fight inflammation and may help prevent heart disease and a decline in brain function. Given that fish oil contains a lot of omega-3s, those at risk of these disorders can benefit from taking it.
When you buy a fish oil supplement, be sure to read the label to check for purity, concentration, form and sustainability. However, eating whole foods is almost always better than taking supplements, and eating two portions of oily fish per week can provide you with enough omega-3s. That being said, if you don’t eat enough oily fish, you may benefit from taking a fish oil supplement in order to get enough omega-3s.