If you had to guess the most used natural supplement in the country, you might be surprised to know that it’s fish oil. Nearly 8% of adults take it – which is actually quite a lot, as most people don’t take supplements at all.
Whether you’re among fish oil enthusiasts, or you’re thinking about buying a fish oil supplement yourself, you might be curious about the exact benefits of the oil—and whether there any downsides to adding it to your diet. This video will cover everything you should know, starting with fish oil’s impressive range of possible health perks.
Below are some benefits of fish oil you might be interested in.
1. It may fight chronic inflammation
Inflammation is a vital part of the immune system’s response to injury and infection. We need it to stay healthy and alive, but chronic inflammation, which causes this response to linger, can lead to pain and discomfort that won’t go away.
Oils extracted from fatty fish like sardines, anchovies, and mackerel provide two types of omega-3 fatty acids, called eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA for short, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA for short. These fatty acids are known to help lower inflammation, and generally improve inflammatory conditions in the body. Inflammation is associated with premature aging and a number of diseases, so taking fish-derived omega-3s as a supplement may offer a broad spectrum of health protection.
2. It’s thought to be heart protective
As we get older, the importance of looking after our hearts only increases. Aging can cause changes in the heart and blood vessels, and your heart can’t beat as fast during physical activity or times of stress as it did when you were younger. There are many ways to protect your heart, and supplementing with fish oil is thought to be one of them.
Thanks to its EPA and DHA content, fish oil has been shown to help increase “good” HDL cholesterol, lower fat deposits in the blood, reduce blood pressure, prevent plaques from forming in arteries, and prevent the hardening of the arteries. For all these reasons, experts think that including fish oil in your diet can support the health of your heart.
3. It can keep your skin healthy
So many of us focus on how to keep our insides healthy that we forget about the biggest organ in our body – our skin. Ageing, exposure to pollutants and irritants, and even not having a proper cleansing routine can all cause skin to become dry, oily, itchy or pimply.
The foods we eat in our diet can greatly affect the quality of our skin, and fish oil is thought to be one of the best supplements to take for keeping skin healthy. Research suggests that diets low in omega-3 fatty acids may be linked to increased acne, while one study found that teenagers who consumed higher amounts of omega-3 rich fish and seafood tended to have fewer breakouts. Experts also think that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids can have a positive influence on the skin’s hydration levels, helping to prevent early ageing.
4. It can help boost bone density
In the typical British and American diet, it’s common to consume far more omega-6 fatty acids—which are found in plant oils, like corn and sunflower oils—than omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA and EPA. That imbalance is thought to be one of the reasons why there is such a high rate of low bone density in both men and women.
The good news is that older adults with higher omega-3 intakes have been shown to maintain greater bone density, making fish oil a potential fighter of age-related bone density loss. It’s even been researched and used by NASA for its role in preventing bone density loss in astronauts as a result of exposure to the weightlessness of space.
5. It’s good for healthy hair
Fish oil has long been used as a supplement for promoting hair growth, with hundreds of women swearing by the stuff to give them thicker, longer, shinier hair. But fish oil isn’t only supposed to be good for growth – it can also help to maintain a healthy scalp, thereby benefiting the health of your hair.
One study found that taking a supplement containing omega-3 fatty acids, like fish oil, could help with hair thinning. The women who took the supplement for 6 months lost less hair, and their hair also grew thicker. It’s thought that since omega-3 has anti-inflammatory properties, fish oil helps to open up the hair follicles and promote hair growth, making up for daily hair loss. Additionally, as omega-3 is a healthy fat, it can prevent a dry and flaky scalp.
6. It can support eye health
It’s natural for our eye health to decrease over time, but there are things we can do to protect our eyes to some extent, and eating the right foods in our diet is a big part of this. Fish oil in particular has been found to promote eye health, thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids it contains.
In particular, research shows that fish oil can help lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration. This condition, which tends to worsen as we get older, can result in vision loss and blurred vision.