If you’ve ever wondered whether you should take omega 3 supplements, you’ve come to the right place. Omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to many health benefits. In fact, few nutrients have been studied as thoroughly. In this article, Human Performance Hub outlines the many benefits of taking fish oil supplements.
So, what are the benefits of fish oil and omega 3? Fish oil and omega 3 offer a range of health benefits. These include:
- Anti-Inflammatory effect
- Insulin sensitivity & cellular health
- Heart, eye and skin health
- Mental health
- Pregnancy and early life
- Reduces liver fat
Read on to learn more about each benefit in more detail and how to take omega 3 supplements correctly.
Main Benefits of Fish Oil and Omega 3
Fish oil is one of the most researched substances on the planet and is known for its benefits to our health.The World Health Organisation recommends eating 1-2 portions of fish per week. This is because fish oil is rich in essential fats that the body is unable to produce independently. The most crucial essential fat found in fish oil is omega 3. It comes in two forms:
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is great for countering inflammation and is found in big warm-water fish.
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is great for brain health and found in small cold-water fish.
Fun fact – The benefits of good quality fish oil to health have been known for centuries and was actually one of the reasons why civilisation flourished so well in coastal regions.
Although you could argue that fish oil is beneficial for almost any ailment, we primarily recommend this supplement for the following benefits:
Fish oil works with both acute and chronic inflammation. As we keep hearing, inflammation is at the forefront of disease, illness, delayed recovery and obesity, so being able to counter this process should be of interest to everyone. Here’s everything you need to know:
Acute joint pain – Alongside curcumin, fish oil is a great ‘go-to’ supplement for anyone with acute joint pain. This is because it is very effective at lowering pain and discomfort.
Reduce inflammation – Fish oil helps reduce inflammation by healing the gut on a systematic level. In fact, it’s been shown that 66% of neurotransmitters are made in the gut lining, which is why people say they have a ‘gut feeling’ before important events. Omega 3 helps balance out gut bacteria by turning on lipolytic genes that decrease harmful gut bacteria, whilst promoting beneficial bacteria growth.
Lowers triglycerides – Fish oil helps lower triglycerides in the blood, which helps keep your arteries healthy and lower blood pressure.
Fish oil also helps offset the inflammatory effects of processed vegetables and seed oils such as soy or corn oil, both of which are very popular in Western culture.
Insulin Sensitivity and Cellular Health
The body uses omega 3 oil to build the outside lipid layer that protects cells. All fats can be used for this purpose, including trans fats. However, if the body uses omega 3 to manufacture cells, they function much better, and signalling is greatly enhanced.
At Human Performance Hub, we have noticed something insightful when taking skinfold measurements. If a client has an incredibly unhealthy processed diet before getting tested, their skin folds are usually very ‘clumpy’ because their cells contain trans fats. However, once their diet improves and inflammation is lowered, we’ve noticed a marked improvement in cell health, especially with the addition of quality fish oil, which allows for much better skin separation and in turn, body fat measurements.
As cell health improves, so does insulin sensitivity. Cell receptors can bind more easily with insulin which allows nutrients to move in and out of the cell more efficiently.
Studies show that people who eat a lot of fish have much lower rates of heart disease. Multiple risk factors for heart disease appear to be reduced by the consumption of fish oil. The benefits of fish oil for heart health include:
- Improves cholesterol levels – Fish oil can increase levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol and may also lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
- Decreased triglycerides – Fish oil can lower triglycerides by 15-30%.
- Reduced blood pressure – Even in small doses, fish oil helps reduce blood pressure in people with elevated levels.
- Plaque prevention – Fish oil can prevent the plaques that can cause arteries to harden as well as making arterial plaques more stable and safer in those who already have them.
Mental Health Conditions
Omega 3s are essential for typical brain function because our brains are made up of nearly 60% fat. Some studies even suggest that people with certain mental health conditions have lower omega 3 blood levels.
Much like your brain, your eyes rely on omega 3 fats. Evidence shows that people who do not get enough omega 3s have a greater risk of eye diseases.
Fish oil supplements can be beneficial in a number of skin disorders, including psoriasis and dermatitis. Getting your omega 3s through fish oil supplements can also improve the fatty acid composition in your skin and balance its inflammatory response. Essentially, skin stays softer and less inflamed. Keeping your fatty acid levels up also helps to minimise the effect of sun damage and improve sensitive skin conditions.
Pregnancy and Early Life
Omega 3s are essential for early growth and development. Therefore, it is important to get enough omega 3s during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Taking fish oil supplements during these times may improve foetal brain development.
Reduces Liver Fat
Fish oil supplements can improve liver function and inflammation, which may help reduce symptoms of NAFLD and the amount of fat in your liver.
How Do You Take Fish Oil?
If you struggle to eat 1-2 portions of oily fish per week, you may want to consider taking a fish oil supplement. Below, we have outlined a list of things to consider when taking a fish oil supplement:
EPA and DHA dosage recommendations vary according to your age and health. At Human Performance Hub, we recommend that you aim to get 1 to 3 grams of EPA and DHA daily from a combination of oily fish and supplementation.
Fish oil supplements come in a variety of forms, including ethyl esters, triglycerides, reformed triglycerides, free fatty acids and phospholipids.
Bear in mind that your body does not absorb ethyl esters as well as other forms, so try to choose a fish oil supplement that comes in one of the other listed forms.
Many supplements contain up to 1,000 mg of fish oil per serving but only 300 mg of EPA and DHA.
Read the label and choose a supplement that contains at least 500 mg of EPA and DHA per 1,000 mg of fish oil.
Quality is paramount when it comes to fish oil. Not all fish oil is created equally, how the oil is processed, stabilised and stored all have a significant effect on the quality. Many commercially available brands have very poor bioavailability and are often rancid even before purchase. Fish oils should be in a high-quality triglyceride form rather than ethyl ester, allowing improved bioavailability.
Take a look at our quality fish oil, Omega 3 Ultra.
To avoid products that do not contain ingredients they say they do, choose a supplement that is third-party tested or has a seal of purity from the Global Organization for EPA and DHA omega 3s (GOED).
Omega 3 fatty acids are prone to oxidation, which makes them go rancid. To avoid this, you can choose a supplement that contains an antioxidant, such as vitamin E. Remember to keep your supplements away from light, ideally in the refrigerator.
Choose a fish oil supplement that has a sustainability certification, such as from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or the Environmental Defense Fund.
Top tip – the production of fish oil from anchovies and similar small fish is more sustainable than that from large fish.
Because other dietary fats can improve your absorption of omega 3 fatty acids, it’s best to take your fish oil supplement with a meal that contains fat.
Our Fish Oil Recommendations
Here are some of our top recommendations when it comes to supplementing with omega 3:
- To combat high inflammation, try a high-EPA concentration of fish oil.
- To promote cognition and brain health, choose a high-DHA concentration fish oil.
- For body composition, get a combination of EPA and DHA in a 3:2 ratio.
*Always speak with your physician or another healthcare professional before taking any nutritional & lifestyle changes or before taking any nutritional supplement. For more information, please view our terms and conditions.
Now that you are aware of how fish oil can benefit your health, take a look at our omega 3 supplements at Human Performance Hub.
Whether you’re looking to reduce inflammation or improve your heart health, we have something for everyone’s needs.
If you have any questions or would like advice on nutrition, supplements or training, please book in for a consultation.
If you’re not quite ready to leave us yet, take a look at some of our other articles on supplements.