The Health Benefits of Fish Oil
Supplements are often fiercely debated due to a lack of well-researched evidence when it comes to efficacy. Fish oil is one of the few supplements that have been researched and generally accepted by many in both of the Western and Alternative health communities for its multitude of benefits.
The most widely touted benefits of fish oil is its powerful anti-inflammatory benefits that can be attributed to the omega-3 fatty acids in the oil. Inflammation has been linked with multiple chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and autoimmune disease just to name a few. The inflammation that is strongly associated with coronary artery disease contributes to increased atherosclerotic plaques and damaged blood vessels The damage can happen particularly the small vessels that the heart, and when this happens heart disease, or coronary artery disease results. Coronary artery disease is the number one cause of heart attacks. Preventing these vessel plaques is essential to maintain a healthy heart and keeping inflammation low is one part of the puzzle.
Fish oil and omega-3 fatty acid supplementation also supports a healthy cholesterol profile by lowering harmful triglycerides. There is even a prescription fish oil on the market that is given to patients suffering from very high triglyceride levels. In addition to being heart healthy, fish oil is also thought to lower the risk of stroke via similar mechanisms. By decreasing systemic and vascular inflammation as well as lowering risk for vessel damaging plaques, stroke risk declines.
Benefits Of Fish Oil Beyond the Heart
The anti-inflammatory benefits of fish oil are also important in chronic inflammatory disorders like autoimmune disease. While there is no clear link between fish oil and improving symptoms of autoimmune disease, it is a commonly used supplement taken by patients with inflammatory conditions. Fish oil is also wonderful skin food. Essential fatty acids are thought to support skin elasticity and improve supple skin texture. It has also been purported that fatty acids may help fight acne and wrinkles too. Another benefit of fish oil beyond the heart is in the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to positively impact brain health. Conditions such as dementia, memory loss, anxiety, depression, and ADHD may benefit from fish oil supplementation. Higher quality studies are needed to cement these relationships but there have been associations noted in smaller studies. With all of these benefits, there are very few drawbacks to taking fish oil. However, fish oil supplementation can cause a ‘blood thinning’ effect so people who take blood thinning medications or have bleeding disorders should use caution. And also, people who have allergies to fish or seafood should also steer clear.
Where to Get Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Ideally, the best place to get fish oil is straight from the source … fish! Wild caught fish is the best quality source because it has been able to eat natural sea vegetables that help the fish produce quality fatty acids. Look to include for wild salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and tuna into your diet to books your intake of Omega-3s. However, if eating fish is not right for you, finding a quality omega-3 supplement that contains EPA and DHA is also an acceptable alternative. Make sure your capsules are focused on Omega-3 fatty acids and leave out Omega-6 fatty acids which can be pro-inflammatory. One other way to supplement is by using cod liver oil. While this option may not be as palatable for some, cod liver oil is also a quality way to add fatty acids to your diet and help lower your inflammation.
*As with any medication, you should consult your doctor before starting a supplement regimen to see if it is right for you and to check for side effects or possible interactions.
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