33 Incredible Health Benefits from Having Fish Oil


Increasing your omega-3 levels by supplementing with fish oil or increasing the amount of oily fish in your diet is one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve your health.

Because omega-3 is utilised in so many essential processes in your body, low levels of this critical nutrient lead to disease conditions within your body, cognitive decline, depression and anxiety, learning disorders and even cardiovascular problems which can lead to an early death.

Societies that traditionally consume large amounts of oily fish in their diet are noted for having much lower rates of all of these conditions and remarkable rates of increased longevity.

The Inuit for example are robustly healthy even though they consume few fruits and vegetables which we consider an essential part of a healthy balanced diet. Their traditional diet which is high in protein, saturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids keeps them strong and healthy.

However, on the occasions that Inuit communities have adopted diets that resemble the standard American diet, with little intake of omega-3, their health has shown marked declines.

It’s clear to see that omega-3 from fish and high quality fish oil supplements is crucial for good health and well-being.

Let’s take a look at just how beneficial fish oil can be.

 

1. Lowers High Blood Pressure

In a meta-analysis of 31 placebo-controlled trials on 1356 subjects, researchers found that

fish oil could lower blood pressure in people already suffering with hypertension.

A study published in the journal Hypertension found that of the 4680 participants, those who consumed the most fish oil tended to have the lowest blood pressure. Researchers found that consumption of fish oil helps to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

 

2. Anti-Inflammatory

The omega-3 fatty acids which are a major component of fish oil are known to be powerful anti-inflammatories. Short term acute inflammation is beneficial to the body, it’s necessary to allowing wound healing and infection fighting for example. But long term, chronic inflammation is incredibly damaging to the body and leads to disease and degenerative conditions. Chronic inflammation is one of the causes of premature aging.

 

3. Benefits Diabetes

A study published by Brain Research, showed that the anti-inflammatory properties in fish oil prevented and reversed oxidative stress which is a root cause of type 2 diabetes. Fish oil also has beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity which further improve and help to manage this condition

 

4. Supports Eye Health And Good Vision

Fish oils prevent macular degeneration and are essential to healthy eye function.

In a large European study in 2008, participants who ate oily fish – which is a rich source of DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids – at least once a week had half the risk of developing neovascular macular degeneration than those who ate fish less than once per week.

 

5. Helps Arthritis

 Helps Arthritis

Anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids are a helpful addition to arthritis treatment regimens. Omega-3 is converted in the body into resolvins, which block inflammatory cytokines and prostaglandins.

To treat arthritis and related conditions, use fish oil capsules with at least 30 percent EPA/ DHA.

 

6. Effective Against Depression

There is ample evidence now that has established that adequate intake of fish oil prevents depression and that supplementing with fish oil, or increasing the amount of fatty fish in the diet has positive effects in those suffering from depression.

In his book The Omega Zone, Dr Barry Sears documents how the Inuit have an omega-3 intake of around 7 grams per day. And that despite the lack of sunlight in the far north for much of the year, have almost no depression.

Dr Sears also highlights a link between the low levels of omega-3 in the modern diet and the rise in incidences of mental illness over the last 100 years. Depression alone now affects over 20 million people in the United States.

Psychiatric researchers have long known that depression is often due to a lack of the neurotransmitter serotonin. And drug companies have made fortunes from the sales of drugs that boost serotonin levels.

But fish oil can boost serotonin naturally and safely without any side effects. They can’t patent fish oil and sell it for $100 a pill though, so…

In Japan where high amounts are fish are a dietary norm, depression rates are a fraction of the rates in America and the other countries where low amounts of fish are eaten. New Zealanders, who consume the lowest amounts of fish in the developed world have a rate of depression that’s 50 times that of the Japanese.

In The Omega-3 Connection, Dr Andrew Stoll of Harvard Medical School, writes

“Furthermore, using an imaging test known as SPECT, researchers have found that blood flow within a normal brain is uniform, whereas blood flow in depressed patients is scattered with “holes” in which little or no blood flow is observed. Since high-dose fish oil can improve blood flow, we now have another potential clue to explain the molecular basis of depression.”

More research, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, looked at the suicide rates among military veterans, and found that men with the lowest levels of DHA in their blood were an astonishing 62% more likely to have taken their own lives than those with the highest levels.

And finally, a study on prisoners who were given diets containing seafood, high in omega-3 found a drastic decrease in the frequency of violence and homicides in the prison population.

 

7. Aids Weight Loss

Fish oil helps you to lose fat and build muscle. In one study, participants lost over 2 pound of body fat and gained 1 pound of muscle over a 6 weeks period. The participants didn’t change their diets, or exercise, they just supplemented with fish oil daily.

Fish oil improves insulin sensitivity which enables energy to be utilized in your cells for energy, rather than being tucked away into fat cells.

Unlike many synthetic or caffeine based weight loss supplements, fish oil doesn’t have any undesirable or dangerous side effects. It will help you lose weight and support your general health and well being at the same time.

 

8. Improves ADHD

Fish oil is more effective at combatting ADHD than Ritalin, and it doesn’t make kids depressed, suicidal, or cause them to suffer heart attacks, strokes, or sudden death, which have all been attributed to standard ADHD medication.

Researchers in Australia tested 130 children diagnosed with ADHD, aged between 7 and 12.  

Within 3 months of taking fish oil capsules each day the children’s behavior had shown a large improvement. At 15 weeks 30-40% of the fish oil supplementing group had shown behavioral improvements. That increased to 40-50% of the children by week 30 when the study ended. Follow up research found that the improvement continued over the long term. And when the children in the research study who had been placed in the placebo group were switched over to fish oil supplements, their behavioral patterns showed the same improvements.

When the researchers compared the results of their study to the trials involving Ritalin and other drugs, they found that fish oils were more effective.

I think that this highlights how vital it is to ensure that good levels of fish oil are present in children’s diets or provided via supplements in order to ensure the best chance of healthy development.

According to Healthline, 6.1% of all American children are taking ADHD drugs and the average age of diagnosis is just 7 years old.

 

9. Supports Strong Immune System

In 2013 research carried out by Dr Jenifer Fenton of Michigan State University, found that in addition to supporting the immune system by reducing disease causing inflammation, consumption of DHA and EPA-rich fish oil could enhance the function of the immune system’s white blood cells and increase antibody production.

 

10. Reduces Acne

On acne.org members have given fish oil an effectiveness rating of 3.75 out of 5 and 75% said that they would recommend it to a friend.

Acne is rare in societies that consume appropriate ratios of omega-3 relative to omega-6. In most of the western world however, we have our ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 backwards and acne is an enormous problem blighting the lives of many millions of people.

Unsurprising studies have shown that consumption of fish oil with its high levels of omega-3 brings significant improvement in the severity of acne.

People do experience varying results when they use fish oil to treat their acne, however outside of the controlled environment of clinical trials, we have no way to know how high the levels of the ‘bad’ omega-6 fats are in the diets of the people who don’t report much success.

Fish oil alone can’t combat the dangerously high levels of omega-6 in the standard American diet. If you have acne and want to see an improvement by using fish oil, you will achieve better results if you curb your intake of omega-6 containing foods.

Anthropological research finds that our distant ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of roughly 1:1. Today estimates range from 10:1 to 20:1 with some individuals having a 25:1 ratio of the harmful omega-6 compared to the healthful omega-3.

 

11. Reduces Triglycerides

Supplementation with fish oil has been found to be more effective at reducing triglyceride levels than statins. Fish oil and krill oil have both shown the ability to reduce the enzyme activity which induces the liver to metabolize fat, thereby reducing liver triglycerides.

 

12. Helps To Prevent Cognitive Decline

Research has found that in elderly people, cognitive decline, and the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is slowed down in patients that take fish oil supplements every day.

 

13. Essential For Vibrant Skin

 Essential For Vibrant Skin

The essential fatty acids in fish oil help to promote collagen production which keeps your skin firm and elastic. Regular intake of fish oil prevents dull, sallow skin and delays the signs of aging, especially UV-induced premature aging.

 

14. Prevent Atherosclerosis

The omega-3’s in fish oil help to keep your arteries smooth and supple by preventing the buildup of arterial plaque.

 

15. Reduces Appetite

Fish oil helps to decrease your appetite. Consumption of fish oil has been shown to lead to greater feelings of satiety and to reduce food cravings between meals. This is thought to be due to fish oil’s effect on serotonin levels which have a part to play in regulating hunger.

 

16. Anti-Cancer

Omega-3 has been found to influence two genes that have the ability to suppress breast tumors. The genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 help to repair DNA damage, which prevents tumor development.

Taiwanese researchers have discovered that the EPA and DHA in fish oil reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.

According to Czech research which investigated fish oils effect on colon cancer, the DHA in fish oil kills colon cancer cells and also enhances the effectiveness of drug therapies. Scientists in India have added to this knowledge finding that DHA is an effective way to chemo-sensitize tumor cells to anti-cancer drugs.

 

17. Improves Memory And Learning

The essential fatty acids in fish oil improve memory according to a study carried out on a group of 18 to 25 year olds who took fish oil supplements every day for six months. Researchers found that their working memory was boosted by 23% compared to those taking the placebo.

 

18. Supports A Healthy Heart

A study of 11,324 heart attack survivors found that patients that increased their omega-3 levels via supplementation reduced their risk of suffering another heart attack or stroke.

Other studies have shown that people who consumed fish at least once a week had a 50% lower risk of a sudden cardiac event and death, than those who ate fish less than once a month.

 

19. Can Help Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

A 2011 study appeared to show that omega-3 could stop the progression of non-alcoholic liver disease. However if you have liver disease due to alcohol consumption than fish oil could actually make your symptoms worse.

 

20. Thins Blood To Improve Circulation

Omega-3 is an effective blood thinner and people are advised to consult with their doctor before supplementing with fish oil if they are taking blood thinners. For healthy people however, supplementing with fish oil is a safe way to ensure a healthy cardiovascular system and prevent issues like deep vein thrombosis.

 

21. Prevents Osteoporosis

Research shows that 4g per day of fish oil helps to preserve bone mass and perhaps even increase it. Omega-3 essential fatty acids increase the amount of calcium that your body is able to absorb and reduce the amount of calcium lost in urine. This results in improved bone strength and enhanced bone growth.

 

22. Fights Gum Disease

Moderate to severe periodontal disease affects around 11% of the general population aged 50-64. That figure rises to 20% for the over 70’s. Much larger numbers experience bleeding gums when brushing which is an early sign of gum disease.

Gum disease is unpleasant and painful and not only leads to infected gum pockets and tooth loss, but the bacteria present can migrate to your bloodstream where they damage the lining of your arteries.

As Dr Weston Price discovered years ago, tooth and gum health are closely linked to a good diet. And if crucial nutrients are missing from your diet, then you can scrub and floss your teeth all day long and still develop cavities and periodontal disease. The essential fatty acids in fish oil are vital to good oral health.

Researchers divided almost 9,200 participants into three groups based on their levels of omega-3 consumption. Their research discovered that the participants with higher levels of omega-3 intake (those in the middle and upper third of the sample) were 23 percent to 30 percent less likely to have gum disease.

For those with established periodontal disease fish oil has been found to offer significant improvements in dental health following scaling and root planing, compared to scaling and root planing unsupported by fish oil.

In this study, thirty patients received an omega-3 supplement containing fish oils (180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA per day) and thirty patients received a placebo, both in conjunction with scaling and root planing. The group receiving EPA and DHA experienced greater reductions in gingival index, sulcus bleeding index, pocket depth and clinical attachment loss compared to the placebo group at 12 weeks”.

 

23. Shortens The Duration Of Colds And Flu

If fish oil is taken as cod liver oil, the combination of omega-3 and vitamin D dramatically speeds up recovery from these viruses. The omega-3 relieves the inflammation that restricts air passages, making it easier for you to breathe while it helps your immune system respond to the virus.

And researchers found that people who took 800 IU of vitamin D a day reported feeling under the weather with colds or flu, for just 3 days in the winter, compared to the 25 days reported by people who took no supplemental vitamin D. People who took 2000 IU of vitamin D a day didn’t experience colds or flu at all during the winter months. These levels of vitamin D are easy to obtain from cod liver oil capsules.

 

24. Reduces Symptoms Of Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is caused by the overproduction of the skin’s natural sebum. Yeasts that live on skin feed on the sebum and as they digest it, release irritant by-products.

The nutritional deficiencies that contribute to the overproduction of sebum are low levels of vitamin B complex and imbalances between omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids.

By supplementing with B vitamins your immune system can combat the yeast more effectively, and by taking omega-3 you correct the imbalance which is causing your body to produce irritants that make the condition much worse.

 

25. Supports Optimum Hair Growth

The essential fatty acids in fish oil provide nourishment to hair follicles and prevents the  inflammation that constricts the hair follicles and causes oil and skin cell build up. By ensuring good levels of EPA and DHA via supplements or including oily fish in your diet, you will create a healthy scalp, and that’s where healthy hair begins.

 

26. Lowers The Risk Of Stroke

By controlling high blood pressure and preventing hardening of the arteries and plaque build up, fish oil contributes to smooth blood flow through your circulatory system. As it also makes blood less sticky and less likely to form dangerous clots, fish oil reduces the risk of strokes.

 

27. Contributes To A Healthy pregnancy

 Contributes To A Healthy pregnancy

Studies have found that pregnant women that consume a normal diet are seriously deficient in omega-3, and omega-3 is crucial for a healthy pregnancy. The developing fetus must obtain all of the DHA that it needs from the mother’s dietary intake. DHA is vital to support healthy brain and eye development among many other requirements.

Breast-fed babies also rely entirely on their mothers levels of omega-3, so it’s very important to ensure an adequate intake of omega-3’s during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The best source of omega-3 during this time is oily fish, which is free from mercury or lead contamination. But fish oil supplements are a good back up.

 

28. Prevents Constipation And Acts As A stool Softener

Omega-3 fish oil, with its anti-inflammatory properties helps to reduce inflammation in the intestines and colon, while the fish oil itself functions as a great lubricant which promotes smooth and gentle elimination.

 

29. Relieves Pain

When pain is caused by chronic inflammation, fish oil can provide relief by reducing the inflammation. Fish oil also combats pain by increasing serotonin production, and serotonin in addition to improving mood and combating depression reduces pain.

Many people suffering from chronic pain are actually prescribed antidepressant medication for the serotonin increase that these drugs cause, which in turn helps to alleviate their pain symptoms.

As we’ve seen earlier in this article, fish oil is more effective than drugs at raising serotonin levels, which makes it a safe alternative to long term use of antidepressants for chronic pain conditions.

 

30. Improves Recovery Times After Strenuous Exercise

Research has shown that fish oil supplementation leads to quicker recovery times after exercise.

Working out can cause acute inflammation in muscles and joints, which fish oil is able to relive. Omega-3 supplements have also been shown to increase the rate at which delayed onset muscle soreness improves.

 

31. Supports Proper Thyroid Levels

By reducing inflammation of the thyroid gland the omega-3 in fish oil helps to ensure that the thyroid gland releases healthy levels of thyroid hormones.

 

32. Improves Fertility

By regulating hormones and increasing blood flow to the uterus, fish oil can help to increase your chances of conception. One of the hormones affected by Omega-3 is prolactin, which can suppress ovulation. Omega-3 reduces sensitivity to this hormone.

 

33. Boosts Muscle Growth

Fish oil can give you bigger muscles. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found that omega-3 fatty acids stimulate creation of muscle tissue. Omega-3 achieves this by regulating the mTOR pathway, which is a crucial regulatory pathway for cell growth and proliferation. The study showed that protein concentration in the muscle cells and the muscle cell size were both greater during omega-3 supplementation when compared with the placebo.


Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.