Fish oil is oil derived from the tissues of oily fish, such as trout, mackerel, tuna, sardines, salmon and herrings. It is of interest to health care professionals and nutritionists because it has two main ingredients, both types of Omega-3 fatty acids: DHA ( decosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosahexaenoic acid). These fatty acids cannot be made by the body and must be consumed in the diet.
Apart from these ingredients, oil fish is also rich with Vitamin A and Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2.
Researchers have shown that the use of fish oil has positive effects on patients suffering from diabetes.
Its metabolic effects like lowering the LDL and triglycerides and increasing HLD, causes the reduction of the build-up of atherosclerotic plaques. By doing so, the possibility of strokes and coronary diseases is reduced.
Given that diabetic people are very prone to these conditions (strokes and coronary diseases), their health condition is highly improved by taking fish oil.
Also, fish oil, by lowering triglycerides and triacylglycerol concentrations, improves many of the adverse metabolic effects of insulin resistance. (It is well known the fact that the main problem in Type II Diabetes is insulin resistance and not the lack of insulin, as it is in the Type I Diabetes)
Fish oil offers numerous health benefits apart those for diabetes. But, most of the benefits are related to the heart health. Fish oil is shown to:
The health benefits of fish oil include the following:
1. Heart health - it reduces the incidence of cardiovascular diseases, of heart arrhythmias, lowers the LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides and increases the HDL-cholesterol. It slows the build-up of atherosclerotic plaques and thus, decreasing the possibility of strokes.
2. Weight loss - It is shown that fish oil improves the efficacy of exercises in the attempt to reduce weight.
3. Improved immunity - Fish oil multiplies the immune boosting power.
4. Reducing inflammation - Fish oil is effective in reducing inflammation in both, blood and tissues. It helps in treating gastrointestinal disorders ( Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease etc), and arthritis, which also is an inflammatory disease of the joints. Consuming fish oil helps in reducing the dosages of the medicaments used for treating these diseases.
5. Mental diseases - Fish oil has earned its name as “brain food” because of the help it gives in treating diseases like Depression, Anxiety. ADHD( attention deficient hyperactivity disorder ), Alzheimer’s disease, psychosis.
6. Eye disorders - it has the ability to improve vision and helps in avoiding age-related macular degeneration.
7. Skin care - Fish oil is useful in treating various skin problems like dry skin( improves its condition by making it shiny and healthy and vibrant) , psoriasis, eczema, rashes, itching, acnes, skin redness etc.
8. Cancer - Fish oil helps in improving the condition of people with cancer, especially with colon cancer, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer. It also fights the hypercholesterolemia when it presents itself as a paraneoplasic symptom.
9. Diabetes - due to the fact that type II diabetic persons are prone to cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease or stroke, by lowering the level of lipids in the blood, fish oil decreases of the possibility of this people suffering from the aforementioned complications.
10. Pregnancy - Fish oil helps in the development of the eyes and brain of the baby. Also it avoids premature births, miscarriages, and low-birth weight.
11. Blood circulation - Fish oil improves the blood circulation
12. Hair - fish oil prevents the loss of hair and maintains a good luster of the hair.
Fish oil can be taken in a variety of forms: pills, capsules, supplements.
When fish oil is obtained by eating fish, the way the fish is prepared makes a difference: If the fish is broiled or baked it reduces the risk for heart diseases, but if it is eaten fried or fish sandwiches, not only it cancels out the benefits of oil fish, but it increases the risk of heart diseases.
It is important not to surpass the fish oil amount given by the doctor.
The intake for healthy adults, generally, is two servings per week.
When deciding the dosage of the fish oil that we have to take, the thing that must be taken into consideration is the dosage of the Omega-3 is contained in the capsule that we take; it is precisely this ingredient that gives all the health benefits.
So, when making the purchase, be sure to determine the amount of Omega-3 per serving.
Generally, doctors recommend 1000 mg to 1200 mg fish oil, because this amount contains the total amount of Omega-3 that you need to consume.
It is important to know that 1000 mg or 1200 mg fish oil does not equal the same amount in Omega-3. A standard 1000 mg capsule of fish oil contains approximately 300 mg Omega-3.
Also, the quality of fish oil does matter. It is important to purchase the fish oil from a reputable manufacturer that takes all the necessary steps to purify it.
Written by Dr.Albana Greca Sejdini, Md, MMedSc
Medically reviewed by Dr.Ruden Cakoni, MD, Endocrinologist