Why We Need Fish Oil Supplements


Fish oil is a widespread term that we use to denote two important types of omega-3 fatty acids. One of these is EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and the other DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). We can find these omega-3 fats in the following places:

  • Oily fish
  • Animal products
  • Phytoplankton (plankton containing microscopic plants)

How Much Fish Oil Should You Take?

In the video below, health and fitness coach, Jimmy Smith, looks at how much fish oil you should take.

The buzz surrounding fish oil is there because it’s a rich source of these important omega-3 fats. It’s the cheapest and most common supply of them too. In supplement form, fish oil provides its host with a whole range of health benefits.

Why We Need Fish Oil Supplements

We need fish oil because our body needs omega-3 fats. A few generations ago we would get all we needed through diet alone, but not anymore. The typical western diets of today fall well short on omega-3 fatty acids. What's even worse is that the modern diet provides us with far too much omega-6. The result of this is that we have way more omega-6 fatty acids in our system than omega-3s. This is a major problem as it should be the other way around. Too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 is harmful to human health in the mid to long term.

Fish oil supplements can help to redress this imbalance but in a lot of cases there also needs to be a few changes in the diet to reduce the amounts of omega-6s

How it Works

Fish oil works mainly through eicosanoids. These eicosanoids are local hormones that are released by most cells.  A proper ratio of omega 3:6 fatty acids influences the release of eicosanoids in response to stress levels. Fish oil can also help to reduce triglycerides in people who suffer with high triglyceride levels.

The Deficiency Dilemma

Essential fatty acid deficiency is a major health problem. Here are some of the most common health issues that an imbalance can lead to:

  • Dermatitis
  • Increased susceptibility to infection
  • Poor wound healing
  • Stunted growth in infants and children

Points to Note

  • Fish oil increases brain activity. This means the FO taker may feel a stimulatory effect after supplementation.
  • There are not any “immediate” benefits to taking fish oil supplements. To reap all the benefits takes a little time, days and even weeks in some cases.
  • Freeze the fish oils capsules or take them with food to avoid “fish burps” and other side effects

Further Reading

The scientific study below looks at the health implications of a diet too high in omega-6s.

Health Implications of High Dietary Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
E. Patterson, R. Wall, G. F. Fitzgerald, R. P. Ross and C. Stanton
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3335257/

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