Reeling in Your Health: 4 Benefits of Fish Oil Supplements

May 7th 2016

Fish oil is a generally safe supplement with myriad health benefits. However, it can interact with certain types of medications, and overdosing may cause side effects. It a good idea to talk with your doctor before supplementing your diet with it.

Reduced Inflammation

Fish oil can help relieve chronic pain from arthritis and other conditions. It reduces inflammation throughout the body, and inflammation is the cause of many types of pain. One study found that omega-3 fatty acids can even help reduce the pain from menstrual cramps.

Most studies on pain and inflammation have looked at the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on rheumatoid arthritis. Fish oil does not seem to affect the progress of the disease, but it does relieve the painful symptoms and can help make life more pleasant.

Heart Health

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are most obvious when looking at cardiovascular health. Diets high in fish oil are linked to lower levels of heart disease, lower cholesterol and healthy blood pressure. People who eat a lot of omega-3 fatty acids are also at a lower risk of stroke. Fish oil can help prevent plaque from building up in the arteries. Even if the damage is already done, adding fish oil to your diet can help reduce your chances of sudden death due to cardiac disease.

Mental Health

Fish oil seems to have some positive effects on brain function, although studies on this are a bit more mixed. Some studies show it can alleviate symptoms of depression and help people with bipolar disorder manage their moods. It tends to work best when paired with psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants. It may help pregnant women avoid postpartum depression.

There does seem to be a link between omega-3 fatty acids and attention deficit disorder because studies of children with ADD show lower levels of these acids. However, there is conflicting evidence about whether it actually helps the symptoms. Fish oil can also help slow the onset of Alzheimer's disease and other types of cognitive decline.

Cancer Risk

Fish oil has been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, particularly breast cancer and colorectal cancers. This usually requires long-term consumption of diets high in omega-3 fatty acids. People who are already suffering from colon cancer may be able to slow the progress of the disease by adding fish oil to their diets.

Conclusion

Fish oil is sometimes touted as a miracle cure, but its beneficial effects are very real. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to a variety of good health outcomes. Although obtaining it in natural form through dietary sources is the best way, supplements can also have a beneficial effect.

Sources

UMM.edu "Omega-3 fatty acids" http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids
MayoClinic.org "Omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil, alpha-linolenic acid" http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil-alpha-linolenic-acid/background/hrb-20059372
WebMD.com "Omega-3 fish oil supplements for heart disease" http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/omega-3-fish-oil-supplements-for-high-blood-pressure
Health.Harvard.edu "Fish oil: Friend or foe?" http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/fish-oil-friend-or-foe-201307126467

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