You’ve probably seen Fish Oil capsules in your local store, but as with many other items laying around the isles, you were not very interested in its purpose in regards to what it can do for you. Well, let’s crack this supplement open and dig in. The benefits are plenty, but are they really necessary?
Fish Oil comes from the tissue of oily fish (hard to believe judging by the name, right?), but what’s so important about it is that it contains a specific, Omega-3 deposit. Omega-3 fatty acids (there’s 2 crucial ones) are the golden components of Fish Oil that bring us the much talked about benefits. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Decosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are essential fatty acids, in other words, they cannot be created by our bodies. Therefore, we must rely on external sources for their benefits. You may have heard that an individual is recommended to have at least 2 servings of fish per week, since eating fish supplies you with these Omega-3s, you should now understand the correlation between having to get them from external sources and this recommendation.
Alright, so they are deemed essential, and you’re recommended (American Heart Association) to eat fish a couple times a week to get Omega-3s, but why is all of this the case? The reason is simple, once you examine the amount of benefits they bestow upon you for consuming them, you’ll quickly realize why the word “essential” isn’t there to make the name sound cooler.
1) Anti-inflammatory – ever feel a sharp pain when you’ve stepped on the ground wrong that won’t go away for a while? That’s inflammation inside your body. Ever have a mosquito bite that is larger than usual? That’s inflammation outside on your body. There are very vast amounts of inflammation that can occur to you, however, getting foods riddled with anti-inflammatory properties make sure that inflammation stays small, if occurs at all. Sounds good right? Omega-3s are highly anti-inflammatory.
2) Skin and Hair – the benefits of Omega-3s on skin are well noted, particularly on inflammatory conditions such as acne, eczema, itching, etc. It allows the skin to stay hydrated by preventing loss of moisture to the cells. Omega-3 properties also help prevent hair loss, and have been linked in terms of helping speed the development of hair.
3) Heart and Brain health – Omega-3s help bring out the “good” cholesterol, while lowering the bad. It can also help lower blood pressure and keep the heart rhythm at a steady pace preventing sudden unnecessary spikes. The brain is composed of 60% fat, a good portion (around half even) is specifically Omega-3 DHA fat. I think that speaks for itself.
4) Weight Loss – that’s right, you read that correctly. Studies have shown that ingesting good amounts of Fish Oil in accordance with regular exercise can help that exercising shed those pounds. Can’t hate on that one!
5) Improvement of Mental Health – whether being used to help treat ADHD, or as something that can help your mood if you are anxious or feeling a little down, Omega-3s work their magic. Older people who may be at risk, or already have, Alzheimer’s disease should be glad to know that Fish Oil is regularly prescribed to help combat the disease.
These are just some of the major benefits of Omega-3s, there are plenty more…but we’d wind up writing a thesis paper, now is that really essential? Others include anti-aging, protection against cancers, wonderful benefits for pregnant mothers not only as the host but also for the developing fetus, improvement to blood circulation, and even fertility (survival of sperm enhanced). Now that we’ve gone over the importance of making sure you take in a solid amount of Fish Oil, what exactly is that solid amount?
Although you can get enough from eating fish such as salmon on a regular basis per week, Fish Oil capsules provide a wonderful quick alternative to meeting the necessary quota you should be feeding your body per day. Keep in mind, however, that there are more than 1 type of oil in “fish” oil and therefore, what it says on the bottle is not what we’re exactly counting into our dose. For example, a standard bottle may have 1 (300mg) to 1.2 (360mg) grams of Fish Oil per pill, however we need to focus on the parenthetical amount because that is the amount of Omega-3s (remember, the essential ones with the great benefits) that the capsule has. Always look on the back at the nutritional label, and note how much Omega-3s are there per capsule (or sometimes per 2, note up top how many servings the bottle describes). Usually if it’s 1 capsule, it’ll either be 300 or 360mg of Omega-3s (EPA + DHA). Also, make sure the EPA amount is higher (it should be standard, but doesn’t hurt to check). For Example, if it is 300mg, it should be 180mg EPA and 120mg DHA. I have not yet encountered one with a higher DHA than EPA, but I heard they’re out there so just check before you buy.
Now, onto the amount. Keep in mind that these amounts are for a healthy individual who is not considering taking Fish Oil for a specific medical condition, if that is the case you need to consult your doctor on the amount. However, if you’re just taking it to reap the benefits discussed, a good amount to start with would be 1g of Omega-3s per day. If that’s 360mg per pill, take 3 a day to reach that amount. If you’re looking to fight acne or other specific conditions that aren’t harmful to you in general, more is advised for noticeable effects. You don’t want to overdo it, however, so don’t rush out and start popping these pills like candy. Anything good can have its downsides if overdosed. Also, make sure the bottle says mercury free, and as a suggestion the common fish used for extracting Fish Oil are salmon, herring, lake trout and sardines. Check the label for the types of fish used. Most likely some of those will be on there, but again, won’t hurt to check. Good Luck!