When you think of ways to improve our health and well-being, fish oil may not necessarily be the first thing you think of. Yet fish oil is packed with nutrients that are essential to your body’s healthy functioning. Our bodies can’t produce omega-3 fatty acids, but they can be derived from fatty fish such as trout, salmon, and mackerel. Even some shellfish, nuts, and seeds contain omega-3.
Your body prefers to absorb its omega-3 from eating actual fish rather than taking supplements. But unless you’re eating a lot of fish, odds are that you aren’t getting enough omega-3 in your diet. Supplements can offset this. Your body is still able to use the omega-3 fatty acids just as if you’d just dined on the catch of the day.
Just how do you benefit from all that fish oil? The differences are noticeable all throughout your body. Here are eight surprising fish oil benefits for your health.
Table of Contents
1.The Heart of the Matter
You’ve probably heard of “good” and “bad” cholesterol. In the case of fish oil, it helps boost HDL cholesterol, which is the beneficial kind. It also helps reduce blood pressure and blood fats and slows hardening of the arteries by preventing plaques. Fish oil can be an important part of lowering the risk of heart disease.
While omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important for the development of a baby’s brain, they can be helpful all life long. For those diagnosed with depression, fish oil can show a dramatic improvement when combined with antidepressants. Those with bipolar and borderline personality disorders may also benefit. Improvements have also been noted for older adults beginning to experience age-related cognitive decline.
3.The Eyes Have It
Studies have hinted that older adults at risk of age-related macular degeneration may benefit from fish oil. Your eyes rely on omega-3 fatty acids, and the evidence has suggested that a deficiency can increase the risk of eye disorders. There is a lot of potential to be revealed in future studies.
4.Going Up in Flames
Inflammation doesn’t often get the credit it deserves for serious negative health impacts. While inflammation is your body’s way of protecting injuries and fighting off infections, chronic inflammation isn’t so friendly. Even at a low grade, chronic inflammation is linked to premature aging, heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Omega-3 fatty acids are understood to help improve inflammatory conditions throughout the body.
5.Getting an Early Start
Your body’s need for omega-3 fatty acids starts before you’re even born. They’re essential for the developing brain and retinas of a growing fetus. Length of gestation may be affected by fish oil intake, and perinatal depression can be improved or prevented altogether. Eating actual fish can be risky during pregnancy because of mercury contamination, so fish oil supplements can stand in just fine.
When it comes to detoxing your body, your very own liver is second-to-none. It filters the junk out of our blood and screens those toxins right out. Fish oil supplements can help with the beatings we put our livers through. For those with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, fish oil helped reduce dangerous liver fat content. It also helps with liver inflammation and can affect weight gain.
It’s no secret that bone density decreases as you get older. Bones start to lose the minerals they need, leading to conditions such as osteoporosis. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve bone mineralization and prevent bone decay, decreasing the risk of fracture. Additionally, fish oil supplements can help with rheumatoid arthritis, decreasing pain in swollen joints and reducing morning stiffness.
Fish oil supplements can reduce the amount of damage to muscle fibers after working out. Omega-3 fatty acids also improve muscle development, and can even improve the immune system post-workout. It’s normal for older adults to experience a decline in muscle mass and function after about age 60. Fish oil supplements can make a difference even in those older adults who aren’t physically active.
Nothing Fishy about Supplements
Fish oil supplements can be a great way to get those all-important omega-3 fatty acids into your body. While they undoubtedly can make system-wide improvements for many people, it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor when making dietary changes.
Depending on the dosage, fish oil can have some undesirable side effects. Fishy aftertaste and breath, heartburn, nausea, diarrhea, and nosebleeds can occur. Freezing your fish oil supplements or taking them with food can help with these problems should they occur.
Over-the-counter fish oil supplements aren’t as potent as ones you can get by prescription. Be sure to discuss potential interactions with other medications you’re taking with your doctor. Your doctor can advise you on dosage, and the best solution for boosting your omega-3 fatty acids. Play it safe!