What does fish oil do for you and why you should take it?
Are there any fish oil benefits associated with supplementation?
Fish oil is one of those supplements that receive much love these days from everyone, ranging from the average Joe to big pharmaceutical companies, marketers and basically anyone involved in the health and fitness niche.
The first mentions and interest in this supplement called fish oil came when scientists observed cultures such as the Alaskan inuits which are known for they low heart disease rate even if they have high fat diets.
The question was: “why are these tribes so healthy and longevive even if they consume such high amount of fats ?
The simple answer was rapidly found: high intakes of fish oils
It is said to be the next “god’s mana” that does wonders for your blood and weight loss.
Fish Oil Benefits Include:
- Decrease fat storage
- Increased fat burning
- Decreased depression
- Decreased inflammation
- Decreased risk of blood clots
- Decreased risk of heart disease
And a myriad of more benefits are being found on a daily basis.
Let’s Dive A Little Bit Into History
Many people remember the fat free 80’s where the dietary fat was the ultimate foe that needed to be annihilated in order to get your flabs off your body.
The supermarkets thrived with products that as long as they had the FAT FREE etiquette, they would be promoted like crazy and people would buy them, never looking at their nutritional values because of all the hype that Television and marketers created for the mass to get into their trap.
Even if the total calories from fat decreased 11% from 1976-1991, the overweight prevalance increased by 31% and all of this is because of the “fat free” products which promised that our ultimate foe, namely the fat, would be annihilated.
One of the latest reports from BRFSS showed that the fat intake decreased to 33% but the obesity increase went from 11% -> 22% which is a staggering 90% increase in the obesity from 90’s -> 2002, just in US !
This happened because saturated fats received the title of being the evil culprit conjuring images of arterial plague and also heart failure when compared to the godly unsaturated fats.
Why this isn’t the case we will see in the next few lines
They are not created equal and have variable physiological effects on the body, from being detrimental to also having some positive effects.
It all depends on what type of saturated fat you are speaking about because if it were to speak about the saturated fatty acid named stearic acid which is abundant in meat and milk, it has been observed to reduce blood platelet aggregation (which is a good thing, doesn’t it?).
Transaturated fats that are found in fried and processed foods are the ones that negatively impact blood lipid levels by increasing the LDL cholesterol and lowering the HDL.
Diet experiments show us that monounsaturated fats were the least oxidized while the most oxidized ones were transaturated fats but the tighter the control group got, the unsaturated fats started to lose ground for saturated fats when speaking of effects on body composition.
Also, when you are decreasing saturated fatty acids in your diet too much in favor of unsaturated fatty acids, you are also reducing your testosterone levels.
What the takeaway from this should be is that saturated fats have varying effects for your health depending on the individual response, population and that the simple comparison between unsaturated fatty acids and saturated acids as good vs evil, is not enough.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids Aka Fish Oil In-Depth Explanation
The omega 3 fatty acids are necessary for normal development of the body and they have a huge influence on physiological processes. ALA (aka alpha linoleic acid) which is one of the two EFA (essential fatty acids) that your body can’t produce and it is required from the diet, is also an omega 3.
These essential fatty acids are known as precursors of other important compounds known as eicosanoids which include: thromboxanes, prostaglandins and leukotrienes.
EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) and DHA (docosahexanoic acid) aka as omega 3-s, can be collected mainly from supplementation with fish oils.
Because of their hard availability from food, fish oil supplementation is always a good thing and you can find them in pill form with varying amounts of active DHA/EPA and also liquid forms.
There isn’t any advantage of one over the other but for those who don’t like the smell of fish oil, taking them in pill form would be a better choice.
You’ve probably heard about flaxseeds and also flaxseed oil to be a good alternative to fish oil because they also have omega 3-s and also because of the fact that they have the parent fatty acid.
It should be noted that they are NOT a good source because the conversion into DHA/EPA is quite inefficient in most people with the exception of vegetarians (they have low levels of omega 3-s because of their diet and they should look for supplementation anyway).
What this means is that trying to get your omega 3 levels up by eating flaxseeds is not a good choice as you really don’t get any considerable improvements because of low body conversion so it’s very unlikely to get any fish oil benefits.
Also, the conversion from ALA to EPA is low and from EPA to DHA is almost inexistent.
So if you want to make an impact on body levels of EPA/DHA, taking them in a pill form is a necessity these days.
The omega 6 fatty acids include LA (linoleic acid) which is a fatty acid that is found in different oils like vegetable oil and AA (arichnidonic acids) which are created from the existing LA in your body.
As a side note, some questions arose over omega w-3 and omega w-6 intake because w-6 are thought to cause some problems such as inflammation and also because in our century, the w-6 to w-3 ratio of fatty acids intake is approximately 20:1, when a healthy ratio is considered to be 4:1 or 1:1.
You shouldn’t stress on getting omega 6 fatty acids in your diet because if you consume a moderate fat diet, w-6 acids are already covered.
The only worry for you should be to get sufficient levels of DHA/EPA daily and avoid transaturated fats as much as you can.
Fish Oil Vs Fatty Fish - Which Offer The Most Benefits?
Even if many scientists are working for ways to increase the w-3 content of other foods like eggs that are enhanced with w-3, fatty fish still remains the primary source of this miraculous compound.
The biggest concern when we are talking about fatty fish vs fish oil capsules is the mercury content that accumulates in the tissue of the fish.
The mercury exposure can offset all the benefits that these fatty fish give us but that’s not always the case.
Pregnant women and/or women who want to become pregnant should minimize the mercury intake from fish in order to avoid possible birth defects that can come with high mercury exposure.
Top 15 Mercury Containing Fish
- Orange roughy – 0.54
- Marlin – 0.49
- Tuna(fresh) – 0.38
- Tuna(canned albacore) – 0.35
- Bluefish – 0.31
- Saltwater Bass – 0.27
- Halibut – 0.26
- Sable – 0.22
- Snapper – 0.19
- Monkfish – 0.18
- Mackerel – 0.18
- Perch – 0.14
- Canned tuna (light) – 0.12
- Cod – 0.11
- Pacific Mackerel – 0.09
Recommendations for a daily intake is 0.19 or less for for males and 0.14 or less for female.
Many bodybuilders consume way too much orange roughy, exceeding the acceptable levels of mercury.
Conclusion To Fish Oil Benefits
Now you should know what does fish oil do for you and the final answer to the battle between fish and fish oils is to pick whatever you want as both of them are good sources of omega 3-s but in the case of regular fish consumption, watch out for mercury intake and if you want to take the pills, try to get 1-8 to 3 grams of EPA/DHA per day which would mean 6-10 capsules per day (most of the fish oil capsules come with 120mg EPA and 180 mg DHA).
It should be noted that you can also find higher concentrations of combined EPA/DHA but they are not so searched because of their premium price so you can simply stick to regular fish oil capsules and take 6-10 per day.
You just found out what does fish oil do for you and premium or regular, I advise everyone to take fish oil because of their multiple benefits associated with supplementation.
Question: When should I take my fish oil ?
Answer: Anytime is good but I would take it with a meal.
Question: Any references about menstruation problems in women caused by fish oil?
Answer: None seen but there is no reason for that (hard dieting causes some problems with menstruation).
What are your thoughts regarding fish oil supplementation?
PS: Here are some of my preferred fish oil supplements.
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