The Benefits of Fish Oil
We see fish oil supplements stocked up in our local health food stores of grocery stores, and hear that fish oil is good for you all the time. But is it really? and how is it good for you?
One of the most common benefits known of fish oil is that it is “cardioprotective”, meaning it helps to lower the LDL (the bad cholesterol), triglycerides, blood viscosity, and blood pressure, while increasing HDL (the good cholesterol), and preventing clotting and plaque formation in your arteries. All of these thereby decrease your risk of stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular diseases.
Fish oil may also help to maintain a healthy level of cholesterol and hormones! Cholesterol is the precursor to the steroidal hormones in our body, which include pregnenolone, DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, estrogen, etc. When our total cholesterol is below 150mg/dL, our body has a hard time making hormones. When it goes below 130mg/dL, our body is not able to make any hormones.
Fish oil has also been shown to affect brain function – it may improve ADHD in children and memory function in older patients.
Fish oil plays a huge role in decreasing inflammation and the C-reaction protein levels (indicator of inflammation) in the body. Hence, it is used to treat any inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, back pain, IBD, psoriasis, dermatitis, allergy, and asthma.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I TAKE?
When looking for a fish oil supplement, it is important to look at the EPA and DHA levels, which are types of Omega 3’s. It is recommended to take around 1000/750 EPA/DHA grams/day preventatively. Around 3000/2200 EPA/DHA grams/day should be taken after a cardiovascular event or as an intervention, especially for treating arthritic pain or any other inflammatory conditions.
Although consuming 1-2 fish per week has been shown to have a similar effect as taking purified fish oil, you need to consume the right type of fish. The least toxic fatty fish are: Wild-caught salmon, anchovies, sardines, and herring.
Some patients will not tolerate fish oils due to GI upset or the taste. You can try freezing the capsules, switch to krill oil, or even implement flax, chia, and hemp seeds into your diet.
Please be careful when combining fish oil with anti-coagulants, as they both work to thin the blood and can potentially increase the risk for bleeding.
CAN I TAKE ANY SUPPLEMENT OUT IN THE MARKET?
No! When not manufactured properly, fish oil may contain impurities such as mercury, and may go rancid pretty quickly. Therefore, it is so crucial to find a quality fish oil supplement that is also third-party tested and contain the right amount of EPA/DHA.
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