Fish oil is a must for everyone who strives to be optimally healthy. No other nutrient provides the range of health benefits as fish oil. Growing up many of us learned from our parents that fish or fish oil was food for the brain. And, it is. But, it’s much more than that. Fish oil is not only good for the brain, but also our heart, our joints, our eyes. Fish oil possesses “anti-aging” properties, improves hormone-hormone receptor sensitivity, and is a terrific anti-inflammatory.
The benefits of fish oil come from the omega-3 fatty acids in it – EPA and DHA. The concentration of EPA and DHA in a capsule of teaspoon is one of the main factors to consider when buying fish oil. So when I speak of fish oil I am speaking of EPA and DHA.
Omega-3s and the Brain
Fish oil reduces the toxic plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease. It also improves cell to cell communication of our neurons in our brains. Fish oil supports healthy levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Abnormal levels of dopamine and serotonin are linked to depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Women who consume adequate amounts of fish or fish oil while pregnant appear to have children with fewer behavioral problems, better sleeping patterns, better eyesight, and perhaps increased intelligence.
Fish Oil and the Heart
Fish oil has many heart benefits. It lowers trigylcerides sometimes up to 40%. It can increase the “good” cholesterol or HDL cholesterol. It thins the blood slightly making blood clots less likely. Fish oil prevents abnormal cardiac arrhythmias which can lead to sudden death. Fish oil slows down hardening of the arteries and can lower blood pressure. Find one pharmaceutical that does all that besides Lovaza, which is fish oil.
Fish Oil and Inflammation
At the root of many chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders, obesity, and Alzheimer’s is inflammation. Fish oil reduces inflammation, and therefore pro-inflammatory markers associated with these diseases.
Fish Oil and Our Joints
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties fish oil reduces discomfort associated with arthritis including morning stiffness. But, fish oil needs to be taken on a regular basis for these benefits to be realized.
Many of our articles have discussed the importance of telomere health. Telomeres are caps of repeating DNA segments that protect the ends of our chromosomes. With aging telomeres become shorter and shorter like a wick burning in a candle. When telomeres get too short they can no longer protect the chromosomes and when that happens the cell dies or becomes non-functional. Fish oil slows the rate at which telomeres shorten leading to healthier cells for a longer period of time.
What’s the Right Dose of Fish Oil?
The amount of fish oil needed depends on your goal. For general heart protection 1 gram of EPA/DHA is recommended. To lower triglycerides and reduce joint inflammation and stiffness 2 to 4 grams of EPA/DHA are recommended. To help alleviate symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis 3 grams of EPA/DHA are recommended. If you have existing heart disease and/or diabetes 5 grams of EPA/DHA are recommended.
What’ the Best Source of Omega-3s?
Fatty cold-water fish are the best sources of omega-3s. Be prepared to spend some money on a quality fish oil supplement. A high quality product will not smell or taste rancid. Fish oil can be contaminated with environmental toxins so you will want to purchase an ultra pure supplement which adds to the cost. To compare purity of fish oil products visit the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) where you can search specific manufacturers and name brands.
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“Fish: Food for the Brain”