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Should you choose fish oil as a supplement?

Fish oil capsules with omega 3

People have been using fish oil supplements for quite some time now. Some people don’t like fish but want the healthy benefits, others have health related issues so their doctor advised omega-3’s. This is because fish oil is firmly believed to bring many positive health benefits and there are also a lot of scientific studies conducted on fish oil that support this product.

Today, we’ll talk a little bit about what fish oil is, what it’s comprised of, what the typical usages are, where the supplement reaches its expectations, and where it fails.

When we talk about fish oil supplements, we mostly think of two specific components of omega 3 fatty acids – EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) & DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) – the two fatty acids that serve as the active ingredients in fish oil. There is some difference between them. EPA is probably more helpful for cardiovascular risk reduction, and DHA is more useful for your brain.

But, the distinction between the two isn’t really that important. What’s perhaps the most important thing to bare in mind for now is why you should consider this supplement and if so, in what way?

When searching for fish oil pills, take a good look at the label! You want the highest possible percentage of EPA and DHA. Also, some supplements come with additional vitamin A or D. Be careful not to exceed your daily limit with any of your macronutrients.

Therefore, let’s go over some of the positive health benefits first and see why and how you can enhance your health with this tiny, yellow pill.

General health application

Let’s dive in into the most important and noticable effects that consuming fish oil and supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids can have on our general health. The list is quite extensive so we’ll try to pay attention only to the most relevant topics (several studies showing evidence in favor of claims, metanalysis checking out, etc.).

Heart disease

People with heart disease generally should consider eating more fish or grabbing a fish oil supplement, whichever their doctor finds more suitable. Consuming fish or fish oil has shown to reduce multiple risk factors that people with heart disease are exposed to.

Rheumatoid arthritis

The types of omega-3’s (the ones we mentioned earlier) found in seafood and fish oil may be modestly helpful in relieving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and decreasing patients’ need for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Some people like to supplement with fish oil in order to combat the pesky and annoying pain that inflammation brings. Especially those with joint pain and/or swollen muscles.

Skin

A couple of articles vouch for omega-3’s helping out with maintenance and recovery of skin health. Even though some studies did show inconclusive results, it was the prefered method when it comes to alternate approaches to healing.

Brain function

A few studies have shown that fish oil can tend off memory loss as well as keepthe brain working properly in elderly subjects.

Lifting, hypertrophy, or maybe weight loss?

So we’ve seen that fish oil can help out with general health in certain cases. What about other possibilities, such as exercise recovery or weight loss?

When it comes to recovery from strenous exercise, both of the acids mentioned have anti-inflammatory effects. They perhaps enhance some recovery. It cannot be safely said how much and to what extent, unfortunately.

Dorado fish, oil and spices on grey background, top view
If you’re looking for some additional omega 3’s from food, then you should eat more tuna, salmon, oysters, shrimps . Oils such as flaxseed oil and canola oil have a high amount of omega’s too

Additionally, there is some evidence pointing to the possibility of fish oil helping in burning some fat mass and losing fat mass over time. But, this has been the case with the majority of similar supplements. It doesn’t mean it will reap the wanted benefits in real-life scenarios.

There is no substantial evidence that fish oil supplementation will help out with hypertrophy and building muscle. The study by VanDusseldorp conducted in 2020 (Impact of Varying Dosages of Fish Oil on Recovery and Soreness Following Eccentric Exercise – PubMed (nih.gov)) shows inconclusive results with varying dosages. The participants took a placebo, 2, 4, and 6 grams of fish oil followed by a heavy squat-based workout. No impressive or worthy results were shown. The fish oil doesn’t make a difference when it comes to these categories.

The right dose?

Any drug or supplement can be a remedy and a poison. We do recommend that you visit a doctor for some in-depth consultation as to how much of fish oil supplementation you could get the most benefits out of. However, there is some general advice for the dosage.

Anywhere between 0.3 or 0.5g of EPA and DHA on a daily basis should be fine. A higher dosage isn’t really necessary for an average person. With that being said, there exceptions to any rules. If your doctor believes that you could use a higher dosage than that will break the mold.

As always, every body is different and it takes some time until you find the right amount if you’re using fish oil as a remedy or means of treatment.

Verdict

If we had to give fish oil supplements a verdict, we would most likely have to deem them as an optional supplement. They are definetly not mandatory in your diet and you can keep your body healthy with a well-balanced diet that includes fish oils. In the majority of cases, if you eat some kind of fish or other food rich in omega-3 acids at least two times a week you’re probably not going to need this supplement. However, if you don’t eat fish for whatever reason then this supplement could be very useful for you indeed.

Sources:

https://www.strongerbyscience.com/podcast-episode-76/

https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/omega3-supplements-in-depth

https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/omega-3-fish-oil-supplements-for-high-blood-pressure

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