Fish oil can have many benefits. The information below can help you understand them. You may also want to review some tips for choosing a quality fish oil here. (coming soon)
Fish oil is well known for its ability to help reduce the risk of heart disease, but those are not the only benefits of fish oil. Recent research has focused on the Omega-3 oils EPA and DHA, and has come to some interesting conclusions.
- Brain: The relationship between adequate Omega-3 intake and brain health has been the subject of much recent Omega-3 research. The brain is made up of almost 60 percent fat and much of the nervous system is composed of fats¹ as well. The cerebral cortex (which is responsible for memory and attention) is estimated to contain around 20 percent DHA. Essential fatty acids are also involved in neurotransmission.EPA and DHA have been studied for their effects on mood, 2cognition, memory and learning, and attention. ³
- Joint Health: EPA and DHA have been studied for many different joint conditions and it may help promote joint mobility and flexibility and may also help to reduce stiffness, swelling, and pain. 4,5, Much of the research on fish oil and joint health has focused on its association with supporting the body’s natural inflammatory response. EPA and DHA work to help modulate natural inflammatory mediators (called eicosanoids and cytokines) in the body. 6
- Pregnancy: The importance of EPA and DHA for the normal development of a baby cannot be overstated. The essential fatty acids help with normal brain, eye, and nervous system development. 7 A high concentration DHA is found in eyes and brain. Dietary or supplemental DHA is needed for the optimum functional and maturation of the retina and the visual cortex and is especially important for the growth and development of a child.
- Skin: Essential fatty acids are helpful for skin health and may help for a variety of conditions including inflammatory conditions of the skin. 8
- Immune system: While the impact of Omega-3 oils on the immune system are just now beginning to be investigated, it appears that EPA and DHA may increase B-cell functioning9, and may help to enhance other areas of the immune system.10
When thinking about fish oils, think beyond the cardiovascular benefits. Make sure you are eating fish 2-3 times a week or supplement with a good quality fish oil.
|1||Chang CY, Ke DS, Chen JY. Essential fatty acids and human brain. Acta Neurol Taiwan. 2009 Dec;18(4):231-41. PMID: 20329590.|
|2||Giles GE, Mahoney CR, Kanarek RB. Omega-3 fatty acids influence mood in healthy and depressed individuals. Nutr Rev. 2013 Nov;71(11):727-41. PMID: 24447198.|
|3||Uauy R, Dangour AD. Nutrition in brain development and aging: role of essential fatty acids. Nutr Rev. 2006 May;64(5 Pt 2):S24-33; discussion S72-91. PMID: 16770950.|
|4||Lopez HL. Nutritional interventions to prevent and treat osteoarthritis. Part I: focus on fatty acids and macronutrients. PM R. 2012 May;4(5 Suppl):S145-54. PMID: 22632694.|
|5||Miles EA, Calder PC. Influence of marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on immune function and a systematic review of their effects on clinical outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis. Br J Nutr. 2012 Jun;107 Suppl 2:S171-84. PMID: 22591891.|
|6||James M, Proudman S, Cleland L. Fish oil and rheumatoid arthritis: past, present and future. Proc Nutr Soc. 2010 Aug;69(3):316-23. PMID: 20509981.|
|7||Rogers LK, Valentine CJ, Keim SA. DHA supplementation: current implications in pregnancy and childhood. Pharmacol Res. 2013 Apr;70(1):13-9. PubMed PMID: 23266567.|
|8||Nicolaou A. Eicosanoids in skin inflammation. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2013 Jan;88(1):131-8. PMID: 22521864.|
|9||Gurzell EA, Teague H, Harris M, Clinthorne J, Shaikh SR, Fenton JI. DHA-enriched fish oil targets B cell lipid microdomains and enhances ex vivo and in vivo B cell function. J Leukoc Biol. 2013 Apr;93(4):463-70. PMID: 23180828.|
|10||Calder PC. n-3 fatty acids, inflammation and immunity: new mechanisms to explain old actions. Proc Nutr Soc. 2013 Aug;72(3):326-36. PMID: 23668691.|
I am not a doctor. The information provided on this website is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical or mental health condition. Please consult your healthcare provider. I share personal uses and information I find useful that has helped me and my family.