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Do you take fish oil supplements? If the answer is yes, you are among the nearly 19 million Americans who take this popular supplement. However, if you are in the group of the more than 85 percent of Americans who is missing out on the health benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, then it’s time to think about what you allowing to pass by. It’s been shown that fish oil and the omega-3s they contain are critical for heart health, and heart problems are among the top 10 causes of death in the United States. Men need fish oil not only for heart health but overall well-being as well.
It’s important to note that fish oil is derived from the tissues of fatty, cold water, oily fish, which contain high concentrations of these essential oils. Unlike other fats, the human body cannot make its own omega-3 fatty acids, so food and fish oil supplements are the only sources.
Are you ready to include fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA; and docosahexaenoic acid, DHA) as part of your lifestyle? Here are 9 reasons you need to include these essential oils in your diet starting today.
Related: Omega 3 Buyers Guide
Fish oil enhances memory
Evidence that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can enhance memory has been shown in various studies. The authors of a May 2017 study, for example, reported that use of omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful in onset of mild Alzheimer’s disease. Among young people (18- to 25-year olds) without dementia, other researchers found that use of fish oil pills daily for six months resulted in a 23 percent increase in working memory.
Fish oil helps with mental disorders
A number of studies show that omega-3 fatty acids can be helpful in reducing symptoms of depression as well as other mental conditions. For example, a new (July 2017) study conducted in children with depressive disorders found that supplementation with omega-3 fish oil for 12 weeks resulted in significant reductions in depressive symptoms. Another new study (May 2017) reports that use of omega-3 fatty acids for mental conditions is on the rise, with some evidence it can be helpful in dementia, borderline personality, schizophrenia, and mood disorders.
Fish oil improves skin health
The addition of fish oil and/or omega-3 fatty acids to the diet or as supplementation has been associated with an improvement in various skin conditions. A University of California San Francisco study, for example, noted that atopic dermatitis improved when fish oil was added to the diet. Antiaging benefits of omega-3 fatty acids were seen in a French study in which reduction in photoaging was seen in men who had a higher intake of the omega-3 known as alpha-linolenic acid. The anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3s have been observed in many studies, including those involving eczema. It appears fish oil can reduce levels of leukotriene B4, a substance involved in the development of eczema.
Fish oil helps eye health as you age
One of the most disturbing eye problems that occurs with aging is macular degeneration. In a prospective study that involved more than 114,000 adults, the authors noted that higher consumption of EPA and DHA may prevent or delay the development of macular degeneration.
Higher intakes of EPA and DHA may prevent or delay the occurrence of visually significant intermediate AMD. However, the totality of current evidence for EPA and DHA and advanced AMD is discordant, though there was no association with advanced AMD in the present study.
Fish oil boosts metabolism and weight loss
Healthy oils such as fish oil have an ability to improve metabolism and thus facilitate weight loss. For example, a French study found that adults who switched to fish oil from other oils and fats showed a lower body fat mass index, indicating that fish oil can reduce body fat and trigger the use of fatty acids to produce energy. The addition of fish oil supplements to regular aerobic exercise also can improve body composition.
Weight gain as men get older is a concern, and fish oil may help. The findings of an animal study indicate that consuming fish oil can boost fat metabolism and result in less weight gain and less fat accumulation. Essentially, the authors found that fish oil can transform fat-storage cells into fat-burning cells, which may reduce the amount of weight gained in middle age.
Fish oil supports cardiovascular health
Heart disease is the number one killer of men in the United States, and fish oil can help reduce its risk. A new review from Harvard on dietary fats and cardiovascular risk factors reported that omega-3 fatty acids are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and that individuals are encouraged to replace saturated fatty acids with unsaturated fats, especially polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3s.
Fish oil strengthens the immune system
Consuming DHA has been shown to boost the activity of B cells, which play a critical role in immune system health. The authors of the study, which appeared in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, suggested that this finding could mean that fish oil may help with immunocompromised individuals.
Fish oil helps reduce diabetes risk
Intake of fish oil has been shown to increase levels of the hormone adiponectin in the bloodstream, and this in turn improves insulin sensitivity. Thus, omega-3 fatty acids can be helpful in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes as well as in preventing complications associated with the disease. An example of the benefit of omega-3 fatty acids among people who have already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can be seen in a JAMA Ophthalmology report in which researchers found that diabetic adults who consumed 500 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids daily or two servings of fatty fish per week were nearly half as likely to develop diabetic retinopathy compared with those who consumed less.
Fish oil fights cancer
Omega-3 fatty acids have demonstrated an ability to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells in the lab, animals, and humans. DHA in particular has been shown to shrink tumors as well as boost the effects of cisplatin, a chemotherapy drug. Some research has indicated an association between higher consumption of fish and a decreased risk of prostate cancer-related death.
Aucoin M. Fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids and prostate cancer: a systematic review. Integrated Cancer Therapy 2017 Mar; 16(1): 32-62
Canhada S et al. Omega-3 fatty acids’ supplementation in Alzheimer’s disease: a systematic review. Nutritional Neuroscience 2017 May 3:1-10
Couet C et al. Effects of dietary fish oil on body fat mass and basal fat oxidation in healthy adults. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders 1997 Aug; 21(8): 637-43
Gurzell EA et al. DHA-enriched fish oil targets B cell lipid microdomains and enhances ex vivo and in vivo B cell function. Journal of Leukocyte Biology 2013 Apr; 93(4): 463-70
Hill AM et al. Combining fish-oil supplements with regular aerobic exercise improves body composition and cardiovascular disease risk factors. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition May 2007; 85(5): 1267-74
Hu Z et al. Docosahexaenoic acid inhibit the growth of hormone-dependent prostate cancer cells by promoting the degradation of the androgen receptor. Molecular Medicine Reports 2015 Sep; 12(3): 3769-74
Kyoto University. Fish oil helps burn fat by transforming fat-storage cells into fat-burning cells. 2015 Dec 18
Naguy A. Omega-3 use in psychiatry: evidence-based or elegance-based? Journal of Dietary Supplements 2017 May 30: 1-5
Narendran R et al. Improved working memory but no effect on striatal vesicular monoamine transporter type 2 after omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation. PLoS One 2012 Oct 3
Nosrati A et al. Dietary modifications in atopic dermatitis: patient-reported outcomes. Journal of Dermatology Treatment 2017 Jan 24: 1-19
Sala-Vila A et al. Dietary marine w-3 fatty acids and incident sight-threatening retinopathy in middle-aged and older individuals with type 2 diabetes. Prospective investigation from the PREDIMED trial. JAMA Ophthalmology 2016; 134(10): 1142-49
Trebaticka J et al. Emulsified omega-3 fatty acids modulate the symptoms of depressive disorder in children and adolescents: a pilot study. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health 2017 Jul 5; 11:30
Wang DD, Hu FB. Dietary fat and risk of cardiovascular disease: recent controversies and advances. Annual Review of Nutrition 2017 Jun 23
Wu J et al. Dietary intakes of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid and risk of age-related macular degeneration. Ophthalology 2017 May; 124(5): 634-43
Wu JHY et al. Effect of fish oil on circulating adiponectin: a systematic review and met-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2013 Jun; 98(6): 2451-59