Fish oil from fatty cold water fish like salmon, sardine or herring is a valuable source of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). These ingredients, long-chain fatty acids called Omega-3s, have positive effects on general health and especially heart health (see http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/2/6/e000513.long and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24205713). They are known to improve the health of the blood vessels, have a positive effect on blood pressure. They also increase protein synthesis and reduce inflammatory reactions (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19515734), as well as the DNA damage done by smoking cigarettes (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24288948). To increase the health benefits of fish oil, supplements often combine it with CoQ10 (coenzyme Q10), a powerful natural antioxidant. Scientific studies suggest show evidence that CoQ10 may help treat heart failure, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even diabetes, especially when combined with conventional medications. (see http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/coenzyme-q10). While many studies show clearly positive effects, fish oil and Omega-3 supplements certainly do not heal any heart disease, but as a part of a healthy lifestyle they help keep your hearth and cardiovascular system healthy.
And there is even more fish oil benefits: Although there is no clear causation, there is a correlation between a Omega-3 rich diet and an obviously lower risk of the occurrence of certain types of cancer, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer. Fish oil also seems to have a positive influence on people suffering from certain degenerative mental illnesses, including Parkinson and Alzheimer. Higher doses of DHA additionally seem to lower the risk of depression and some other mental disorders. Please note that studies on these additional benefits are contradicting, there are no reliable statistic proofs, just correlations indicating that there are far more benefits than scientifically proven so far.
Does Omega-3 fish oil have any disadvantages or known side effects?
The main disadvantage is the very strong taste and smell. Many people even recognize it when taking pills or capsules, in the form of “fishy burps”. The alternative is Omega-3 oil from calamari, a certain type of squids. It contain a lot of DHA as well, but doesn’t come with the unpleasant aftertaste side effect. This so-called calamarine® Omega-3 is mainly used in high quality supplements like Omega 3 Plus from Dr. Sinatra, by the way a product that was sold over 7 million times and the US and is often recommended as one of the best Omega-3 supplements available.
Are there health benefits of fish oil for pregnant women?
In general pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid any supplements without explicit permission by a doctor. The is no reason to assume that natural ingredients like fish oil are dangerous, but as long as there aren’t any specific scientific studies, ask your doctor first.
Does fish oil help me lose weight?
Fish oil itself does will not make you lose weight, but combined with a proper weight-loss regimen it makes it even more effective. In a study with 63 people (see http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/70/5/817.short) it significantly improved the glucose-insulin metabolism and dyslipidemia, showing better results than the individuals in the group who just took fish oil supplements or just followed a weight-loss regimen. So, fish oil doesn’t replace a weight-loss diet, but helps getting the best results from it.
Does fish oil have benefits for bodybuilding?
Yes, according to leading industry magazines like Bodybuilding.com (see http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/fish-oil-benefits-tip-the-scales-in-your-favor.html) and Livestrong (see http://www.livestrong.com/article/395289-list-of-the-benefits-of-fish-oil-in-bodybuilding/). Especially the anti-inflammatory effect of EPA and DHA is a real advantage for those who train hard and often, additionally it can help to lower the increase of blood pressure that often comes with an increased protein intake necessary to build muscle mass. Fish oil doesn’t seem to be related directly to muscle gain, but it helps stay healthy and more resilient to injuries.
Why not eat fish instead of using a fish oil supplement?
Fatty cold water fish is healthy, go ahead, 3.5 ounces contain about 1 gram Omega-3 fatty acids (http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-993-FISH%20OIL.aspx?activeIngredientId=993&activeIngredientName=FISH%20OIL). The advantage of supplements is that many people don’t like fish or at least don’t want to eat it on a daily basis. Pills or gel capsules are simply an easy and comfortable alternative to ensure a constant daily intake.
What is the recommended dosage for DHA and EPA?
The upper dosage recommended by experts of the WHO is about 2000 mg/day for the average adult, DHA and EPA combined (see http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/FFA_summary_rec_conclusion.pdf). Most studies are based on about 2000 mg daily as well. The FDA considers 2000 mg/day as the upper limit for supplementation with an overall limit of 3000 mg/day. Higher doses are not recommended due to a probably increased lipid peroxidation. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipid_peroxidation). This is by far more than the average daily intake in the USA, 100 mg. The consumption of fatty cold water fish has diminished over the years and was replaced by a steadily growing meat consumption, with negative effects on health in the overall population.
Is the quality of all fish oil supplements the same?
No, they aren’t. Especially cheap supplements, for example from China, are often not manufactured according to the standard operation procedures (SOPs) recommended in the good manufacturing pratice guideslines (GMPs) or the Federal Drug and Food Administration (FDA). Additional quality assurance and internal product testing increase the overall manufacturing price, but are important. We would always recommend picking a quality product like Omega Q Plus you can trust in. Other popular and similarly reputable brands are Barlean’s, Carlson, Finest Natural, Nature Made, Nature’s Way, Nordic Naturals, Norwegian Gold, Spring Valley, The Vitamin Shoppe and Walgreens.
Low cost fish oil supplements from dubious sources can contain toxic contaminants, especially found in predatory fish species that aren’t from aquaculture, like mercury or even dioxin. So, do yourself and your health a favour and pick a reputable product from the US. Also keep in mind that you may want to verify that the company offering the product cares for consumers and consumer service by being accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and showing a positive BBB score on a scale from A+ to F.
Who is Dr. Sinatra?
As you may have recognized, we mentioned the supplements from Dr. Stepen Sinatra on our website. He is a highly respected cardiologist with over 30 years of experience and is the founder of the New England Heart Center. His reputation and expertise are beyond any doubts, he’s a leading expert for integrative cardiology.
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