Why You Should Be Taking Omega 3 Fish Oil Daily
Fish oil has been consumed for hundreds of years, back to the people of cold climates eating whale blubber. And the cod liver oil our grandmothers fed us, saying it was good for our health. Why has this oil continued to survive throughout the years? There must be some wisdom to it. This question has motivated scientists to study fish oil, its characteristics, composition, and benefits. A look at the history of fish oil can help us understand this phenomenon.
Fish Oil: History
Roman garum, a fish oil-based sauce, goes back to the 8th century. It was very popular because of its taste as well as its medicinal properties. It is believed to have been used as an aphrodisiac, laxative, and headache cure. This garum was analyzed recently by Spanish scientists using an ancient recipe. It was found to contain extremely high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, making it the world’s first-known fish oil supplement. (1)
During the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, a serious condition in children known as rickets was prevalent. It was discovered that vitamin D deficiency was the cause and thus began the use of cod liver oil which contains high amounts of vitamin D. Produced from the liver of the codfish, this oil also contained fatty acids which, at the time, had not yet been studied for its benefits.
It took the work of George and Mildred Burr in 1929 to discover the essential fatty acids omega-6 and omega-3. This discovery is now considered to be one of the landmark discoveries in nutrition research. (2)
In the late 1960s, Danish scientists studying the Inuit people in Greenland were surprised at how healthy they were, despite a fatty diet of seal meat, fish, and whale. Then in the 1970s, Danish physicians Jorn Dyerberg and Hans Olaf Bang provided the first evidence that the fatty acids in fish have beneficial effects on coronary heart disease. Today, the main reason people take fish oil is for the cardiovascular benefits.
What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Fatty acids are part of the complex lipid family. Fatty acids are involved in maintaining the body’s cell membranes, particularly those in the brain responsible for the transformation and regulation of energy and information flow between cells.
Omega-3 fatty acids cannot be made by the body. They must come from our food, so they are called essential fatty acids. The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found mainly in plant oils such as nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils. EPA and DHA are commonly found in fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, trout, and shellfish, such as mussels, oysters, and crabs.
Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.
Fish Oil: Benefits and Research
Research has shown that “raised levels of polyunsaturated omega-3 in tissue correlate with a reduced incidence of degenerative cardiovascular disease, some mental illnesses such as depression, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.” (3)
Heart Disease and Stroke
Scientists continue to study the efficacy of consuming fish oil on a daily basis. The majority of these studies focus on cardiovascular diseases, the number one cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, coronary heart disease caused 8.9 million deaths in 2000. (4)
Add to this high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, heart arrhythmias, obesity, and stroke and you have a world in a health crisis.
Although there are conflicting results from numerous studies, it appears that fish oil is a benefit to your heart health and is associated with a lower risk of heart failure, coronary disease, and fatal coronary heart disease. (5)
The American Heart Association recommends one to two servings of seafood per week to reduce the risk of congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, and sudden cardiac death, especially when the seafood replaces less healthy foods. (6)
Other Health Conditions
Although fish oil has been studied as it may benefit other health conditions affecting the nervous system and mental health such as depression, Alzheimer’s, and cognitive impairment, results have been inconclusive. (7)
Other conditions including allergies, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and osteoporosis have also been studied with inconclusive results.
The challenge for fish oil use is the availability of popular pharmaceutical therapies for many of the conditions that fish oil has been proposed for. However, the increase in interest for more natural remedies, particularly in people with sensitivities to pharmaceuticals, has led to new research for naturally occurring fish oil.
How to Choose Your Fish Oil
The most widely available dietary source of EPA and DHA is cold-water oily fish. These fish do not synthesize fatty acids but obtain them from the microalgae or plankton in their diets. (8)
The Federal Government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 recommends that adults eat 8 or more ounces of a variety of seafood per week for the total nutrients that seafood provides.
The American Heart Association recommends that everyone eat fatty, cold-water fish at least twice a week. Salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, lake trout, and tuna are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish oil supplements sold over the counter come in liquid, capsule, and pill form. The best brands favor wild, small oily fish. Although these are the most popular, other sources for omega-3s include marine animal oils such as krill and plant sources such as algae. There are more choices than ever before, with discerning consumers increasingly opting for supplements that are pure, fresh, sustainable, and certifiably toxin-free with a focus on potency, absorbability, and bioavailability that can affect their therapeutic benefits.
A fairly recent process called molecular distillation assures toxin-free fish oil. This process removes heavy metals, pesticides, and PCBs. All quality manufacturers sell molecularly distilled fish oil.
The American Heart Association says taking up to 3 grams of fish oil daily in supplement form is considered safe. So be good to your heart and consider taking a potent, quality fish oil supplement like Triple Strength Omega 3 Fish Oil from Purity Labs. (6)