In the past 10 years or so, fish oils have become one of the most commonly consumed dietary supplements, due to their countless health benefits.
Oily fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, containing both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which are essential nutrients for preventing and managing many health conditions and diseases primarily related to our heart and brain. Our bodies cannot make these beneficial nutrients, so we can only consume them through our diets.
Findings show that Omega-3 fatty acids may help to:
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce blood fats (triglycerides)
- Slow the development of plaque in arteries
- Reduce the chance of abnormal heart rhythm
- Reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke
- Lessen the chance of sudden cardiac death in people with heart disease
- Improve memory, focus and mood
- Decrease pain and swelling associated with arthritis
- Decrease risk of certain cancers
- And so much more…
The World Health Organisation recommends eating 1-2 portions of fish per week. However, if you don’t eat a lot of oily fish in your diet, taking fish supplements can help to get enough Omega-3 fatty acids into your system.
Here are a few popular natural fish supplements that you can easily buy over the counter:
Cod liver oil
Cod liver oil comes only from the livers of cod. It contains less Omega-3 fatty acids than regular fish oils, but more vitamins A and D, so is still an excellent source of nutrients. Cod liver oil is thought to help relieve joint stiffness associated with arthritis, have a positive effect on cardiovascular health, and help repair damaged teeth, nails, hair, and skin.
If taken along with a balanced diet and regular exercise, salmon oil will help to lower levels of a certain blood fat (triglyceride) and to raise levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL). It may also be used to help treat high blood pressure or rheumatoid arthritis.
Krill oil is oil from a tiny, shrimp-like animal and is used for heart disease, high levels of certain blood fats (triglycerides), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis, depression, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and painful menstrual periods. Krill oil contains fatty acids similar to fish oil. These fats are thought to be beneficial fats that decrease swelling, lower cholesterol, and make blood platelets less sticky. When blood platelets are less sticky they are less likely to form clots.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a substance similar to a vitamin and can be found in some oily fish such as herring, sardines and mackerel, while it’s also available as a supplement. Your body makes CoQ10, and your cells use it to produce energy your body needs for cell growth and maintenance. It also functions as an antioxidant, which protects the body from damage caused by harmful molecules.
Shark liver oil
Shark liver oil has been used for centuries and is considered an immune boosting nutrient with significant ability to help healthy aging. A number of studies say that shark liver oil also helps in wider areas, including improving vascular health, supporting immunity during pregnancy and reducing muscle wasting.
Omega-3 fish oil
Finally, of course you can just purchase purely Omega-3 fish oil supplements with all of the great health benefits as mentioned above. Omega-3 fatty acids are also great for reducing pain and swelling, so this may explain why fish oil is also likely effective for skin conditions such as psoriasis and dry eyes. Fatty acids also prevent the blood from clotting easily, which may explain why they’re fantastic for those with heart conditions.
Fish supplements have incredible health benefits and are known to be very safe when taken in recommended low doses. However, if these fish supplements are taken in high doses (more than 3 grams a day), do be aware that they can cause some side effects.
High doses may keep your blood from clotting, but can increase the chance of bleeding. It can also reduce the immune system’s activity, reducing the body’s ability to fight infection. This is a great concern for people taking medications to reduce their immune system’s activity and the elderly. So make sure to only take high doses of fish supplements while under medical supervision.