Is Fish Oil Worth It: Everything You Need To Know
Supplements are all the rage. From the fitness industry - with its wave of sports supplements. Then to the general public with wellness supplements and a myriad of vitamins being marketed to improve health and a variety of illnesses. However, for many of these supplements, the research supporting their benefits is not as strong as the companies behind them would lead to you believe. The majority of the time the research is weak at best and non-existent at worst. With that said, there are exceptions. What about Fish Oil?
Reports show that Australians spend over 200 million a year on Fish Oil pills of various shapes and sizes. Fish Oil supplementation boasts a range of purported benefits from improving heart health, major depression and reducing inflammation. Below we will find out what Fish Oil is, what it does, and what it doesn't. And if it is worth taking, what should you buy?
Fish Oil: What is It?
Fish Oil, as I am sure it is no surprise, is an oil derived from the tissues of fish. This oil is rich in two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Fish Oil is so rich in these two fatty acids, sometimes artificially manufactured EPA/DHA products get called ''Fish Oil''. Although they aren't from fish. Confusing, I know.
In short: Fish Oil is a supplement that is high in EPA and DHA, which most of the time comes from fish.
Fish Oils Benefits
When people supplement with Fish Oil, they do so for several reasons, as Fish Oil has many purported benefits - some of which are more debated than others.
Fish Oil And The Heart
The most common and simultaneously most controversial reason people supplement with Fish Oil is for its potential benefits for heart health. In particular, preventing Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD).
Fish Oil and its relationship with improved heart health started well with researchers in the 1970s, observing that people who ate more fish had lower instances of CVD. Further support came in the early 2000s when the American Heart Association (AHA) released a statement stating that research showed gobbling down Fish Oil capsules might be pretty good for the heart.
However, since then, it has been a pretty rocky ride. There is some research showing slight benefits, while more recent research reviews find little benefit. The jury is still out on Fish Oil will reduce CVD - but it has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce triglycerides levels, which are both excellent.
Fish, Inflammation And Joint Health
Second, to heart health, people take Fish Oil for its potential effects on reducing inflammation, improving joint health and decreasing joint pain. There is evidence to show that the active ingredients EPA and DHA can decrease joint swelling and pain and decrease inflammation. The above is good news if you lift heavy weights, as I am sure are aware, it can occasionally bang up your joints.
Fish Oil And Depression
This is a lesser-known potential benefit of Fish Oil supplementation. When it comes to major depressive disorder, Fish Oil shows some real promise. It is not clear if this extends to minor depression. However, it is still very interesting and something to consider if you are prone to the blues.
Fish Oil And The Brain
Further to the benefits listed above, Fish Oil has several (potential) positive effects on the brain when it comes to cognitive function and general brain health. These are:
If you are like me, you can probably use all the help you can get when it comes to improving memory and helping the brain along.
How Much And What Type?
Now we know what Fish Oil is and some of the reasons you might take it, it is time to take a look at how much and what kind.
As mentioned above, the active ingredients in Fish Oil are EPA and DHA, so you want to focus on how much of this you are getting from each product. Somewhere between 250mg and 500mg, a day seems to be the recommendation for general health. But for athletes and people who train, it might be better to shoot higher for around 2g of EPA and around 1.5g of DHA.
To get this much of each fatty acid, you will have to go for quality products. The EPA and DHA content of each product is listed on the label.
Fish Oil can come in two forms, Ethyl Ester (EE) and Tryglceride (TG). TG form is more bioavailable, better absorbed and naturally occurring. So look for a high-quality TG form Fish Oil with a strong EPA and DHA concentration per serve.
So, Is Fish Oil Worth It?
Well, that all depends on your budget. There are some excellent potential benefits to supplementing Fish Oil. It lowers blood pressure, triglyceride levels, and is good for reducing inflammation. It also can help with joint pain and impact the brain in several positive ways. If this sounds like you and you can justify the extra cost, then it can definitely be worth it. Especially if fish is lacking from your diet. Go with something in TG form and something that has a high EPA and DHA concentration per serve.