Fish oil is one of the most commonly consumed dietary supplements.
According to research(1), over 7.8% of adults in the U.S. take fish oil supplements.
It is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids, which have been linked to facilitating overall good health.
Fish oil is available in various forms, like ethyl esters (EE), triglycerides (TG), free fatty acids (FFA), and phospholipids (PL).
How Is Fish Oil Made?
Fish oil is the oil extracted from fish tissue, usually from oily fish. These fish do not produce omega 3 acids themselves but get it through the fish they consume as prey.
Making fish oil is a lengthy process and varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but the basic process of extracting fish oil is the same. Here’s a look at how it’s done.
- When making fish oil, raw fish is steamed in a processing plant.
- This cooked mass is then centrifuged so that the oil and water are separated from the dry mass.
- This is further processed to separate the oil and water. The solid elements in the oil are added to the fish meat.
- Next, all the impurities from the oil are removed and antioxidants are added before the fish oil is processed.
What Is Fish Oil Made of?
Fish oil is obtained from fatty fish and contains two groups of fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
These two fats originate in algae, which is the base of the food chain for fish. Fish consume and process this alga which results in the production of EPA and DHA in fish.
Fish oil helps support your body’s natural anti-inflammatory response.
Top Uses and Benefits of Fish Oil
Fish oil has been used to treat various health problems and its supplements are recommended for those suffering from mental health problems, like depression and anxiety. Here are the most common uses of fish oil and why it is beneficial.
The Omega-3s present in fish oil can improve blood flow throughout your body, which can prevent stiffness and tenderness of joints in the morning.
Its anti-inflammatory properties also reduce swelling in the joints, making fish oil a good choice for joint pain and even arthritis. Taking 1-3 grams of fish oil a day can reduce arthritis symptoms.
Fish oil and omega-3s are a primary ingredient in many hair care products. Using fish oil for hair has various benefits.
The anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil can help open the hair follicles and facilitates hair growth. Omega-3 is a healthy fat and can prevent dry scalp.
3. Skin and acne
Fish oil has fatty acids that hydrate your skin and also reduce inflammation caused by acne.
According to a study by Dermatology Clinic(2), a deficiency of fish oil can cause hair loss and skin concerns like acne.
Overall, taking supplements of fish oil for skin will facilitate a glowing and healthy-looking skin, and help you get rid of acne.
[ Read: Benefits of Using Fish Oil for Acne ]
4. Anxiety and depression
The Omega-3 in individuals suffering from depression have shown to be low. Taking fish oil supplements will help to increase Omega-3 in the body.
Some anti-depressants also use Omega-3s to reduce depression. Poly-saturated fatty acids in fish oil can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Children suffering from ADHD have a short attention span and cannot concentrate.
Taking fish oil for ADHD can improve brain function. The Omega-3s in fish oil improves blood circulation to the brain, which helps reduce various mental health concerns.
6. Weight loss
Omega-3 in fish oil is beneficial for weight loss. Taking fish oil supplements with a regular workout routine can reduce body fat.
This is because fish oil can help you digest food better which can aid in your weight loss efforts.
7. Dry eyes
When the layer of tears on the front surface of your eye reduces, it leads to dry eyes, inflammation, and other eye problems.
The fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, and eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA in fish oil can improve the production of oil in the eye glands, making fish oil a good supplement for eyes.
According to research by Cleveland Clinic(3), fish oil supplements can reduce the level of bad fat called triglycerides in your blood and increase good cholesterol.
Taking fish oil for cholesterol can also improve your overall heart health.
9. Eczema, psoriasis, and dry skin
The fatty acids in fish oil help reduce leukotriene B4, which is an anti-inflammatory substance that aide in eczema.
Fish oil can also be used for psoriasis because of its anti-inflammatory properties. The omega-3s in fish oil hydrate your skin and prevent dry skin.
Fish oil has hydrating properties and can provide the necessary oils to your skin to prevent dryness.
The EPA and DHA in fish oil can help manage constipation. Omega-3 fatty acids also help stimulate your digestive system and reduce constipation. Taking fish oil regularly also helps prevent pancreatic cancer.
Adding DHA and EPA in the daily diet of pregnant women can have a positive effect on the cognitive and visual functions of the baby. Taking fish oil supplements for pregnancy also prevents dry skin and is good for overall health.
13. Women’s health
There are two kinds of fats, good fats like omega 3s and bad fats like trans fats. The omega-3 fats have various benefits for your heart, skin, and health, but it also has various other benefits for women.
- It can soothe menstrual pain and abdominal discomfort.
- Rheumatoid arthritis affects more men than women, and fish oil can help relieve it.
- It also helps reduce weight by enabling your body to shed faster when working out.
Omega-3s play important roles in the body as components of the phospholipids that form the structures of cell membranes.
Fish Oil: Myths vs. Facts
While fish oil has a lot of benefits for hair, skin, and body, there are also various myths surrounding the potential health benefits of fish oil. Let’s look at some of the common myths associated with fish oil and how true they actually are.
1. Myth: All Omega-3 sources are equally beneficial
All EPA and DHA sources are the most beneficial, but other fatty acids in fish oil don’t have the same value. ALA alone, for instance, does not have the same benefits.
Taking ALA-based foods is not sufficient to get the essential fatty acids to your system, and hence fish oil supplements are recommended since they have the highest content of EPA and DHA.
2. Myth: Eating only fish will give you the required omega-3s
While consuming fish regularly can certainly give you the omega-3s your body needs, not all fish contain the fatty acid.
The content of fish oil in fish differs from the condition the fish was raised in. For instance, farm-raised salmon will not have the same content of Omega-3s as wild-caught fish.
3. Myth: Taking small doses of Omega-3 is better than not taking it at all
While Omega-3 has a lot of benefits for your health and skin, taking it in small doses is not going to get you the required nutrients.
Depending on the reason for taking fish oil, the dosage requires, but a minimum of 1500-1800 mg of fish oil is needed daily.
4. Myth: Fish oil tastes and smells like fish
Fish oil supplements do not taste or smell anything like fish. If your fish oil capsule starts smelling like fresh fish, it has been oxidized and will go rancid.
Consuming rancid fish oil can have adverse effects on your health, so if your fish oil supplements smell like fish, do not consume them. Storing fish oil in an airtight container in the freezer can help increase its life.
While several Omega 3s exist, but alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have the most benefits.
Some Side Effects of Fish Oil
Fish oil is popular for its various health benefits, but in this case, more is not always better. Below are common some side effects of taking too much fish oil.
1. Increased blood sugar
If you have diabetes, taking too much fish oil can increase the level of sugar in your blood.
This occurs since omega-3s improve the production of glucose in your body. According to a study(5), taking 8 grams of Omega 3 daily can increase the level of sugar by 22% in people with type 2 diabetes.
2. Lower blood pressure
Fish oil is great for people who have high blood pressure, but if you already have low blood pressure, taking fish oil can have adverse effects.
Consult with your doctor before starting fish oil supplements if you have low blood pressure.
It is common to use fish oil for constipation since it improves the digestive system, but taking too much of it can also cause diarrhea.
Taking fish oil supplements with your meal can help to reduce the chance of getting diarrhea.
4. Acid reflux
Fish oil is great for improving the overall health of your heart, but some people complain of heartburn after taking fish oil supplements.
This is because fish oil has a high-fat content, and your body might have difficulty ingesting it.
Fish oil in small doses can also improve the quality of sleep quality, but again, taking too much of it can interfere with sleep and even lead to insomnia. A high dose also increases anxiety in people with a history of depression.
6. Bleeding in gums
Excess fish oil can cause bleeding gums and nose bleeding. It can also increase the risk of blood clotting, and hence it is advised to reduce the intake of fish oil before any surgery.
Regular consumption of fish oil can reduce the risk of heartburn and even some types of cancers, such as pancreatic cancer.
Omega-3s facilitate brain and eye health and reduce inflammation. Fish oil contains omega-3 which are considered good fatty acids.
Consuming fish 2-3 times a week can have the same health benefits and taking fish oil supplements.
But, if you don’t eat fish, taking fish oil supplements is a great alternative since a deficiency in omega-3s is linked to many health disorders.
1. How much fish oil should you take for depression?
The recommended dose of fish oil for depression is 1-2 grams per day. Some doctors might also recommend higher doses based on the severity of depression.
2. How much fish oil should I take for dry eyes?
It is advised to take 180 mg of EPA and 200 mg of DHA for dry eyes, so make sure you get the fish oil supplement that has this distribution of fatty acids.
3. How much fish oil should I give my dog for dry skin?
To make sure that the fish oil has no side effects on your dog, start with a dose of 20 mg of EPA per lb of their body weight. You don’t need to measure the amount of corresponding DHA.
4. Is fish oil good for joints and arthritis?
Fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce swelling and pain in the joints.
5. Is fish oil benefits for hair?
Fish oil stimulates your hair follicles which improves hair growth and it also enables better blood circulation to your scalp.