What if I told you there was a supplement that has proven to be good for your heart, your mind, your brain, your immune system, your joints, your digestive system AND improves women’s health? There is!
It’s fish oil. Yep, the lowly fish oil capsule can help ALL these parts of your body.
As you know, I’m very interested in nutrition and supplementation and their role in health. It’s been fascinating to read research supporting the role of fish oil in general health.
I’m beginning to think EVERYONE from birth to death should take fish oil.
First let’s talk about all the physical and mental benefits of fish oil supplementation. I’ll try to be brief!
- Reduces the risk of atrial fibrillation after heart attack
- Reduces blood pressure
- Eliminates aspirin resistance
- Helps keep grafts open after bypass surgery
- Decreases triglyceride levels
- Improves heart function and decreases hospitalizations in heart failure patients
- Inconclusive evidence about preventing both first and subsequent heart attacks
- Reduces anxiety symptoms by 20%
- Prolongs remission and decreases depression symptoms in patients with bipolar disorder
- Decreases depression symptoms and aggression in patients with borderline personality disorder
- Decreases symptoms and promotes remission in major depression
- Decreases psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia
- Improves cognition and behavior in children with developmental disorders
- Inconsistent benefit in Alzheimer’s patients (some studies show benefit, some don’t)
IMMUNE RESPONSE / PAIN
- Decreases pain and stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis
- Decreases symptoms in systemic lupus
- Decreases pain and the need for pain medication in patients with nonsurgical neck and back pain
- Decreases need for rescue inhaler in exercise-induced asthma
- Decreases risk of type I diabetes in children
- Decreases insulin resistance in type II diabetes
- Significantly reduces menstrual symptoms in women
- Reduces the frequency of menopausal hot flushes (but not their severity, unfortunately)
- Decreases testosterone levels in women with PCOS
- Decreases the rate of preterm birth when used in pregnancy
Wow, fish oil is good for such a long list of conditions and problems! So how much fish oil is the right amount? It depends on why you’re taking it, and what your diet is like.
In the USA we eat a LOT of omega-6 fatty acids. They are found in nearly every oil used in cooking. Omega-3 fatty acids are harder to get. They are in flaxseeds, hemp seeds, purslane and walnuts as well as in fatty fish.
The best and safest sources of fish oil are small oily fish (like anchovies, sardines and herring) found low down on the food chain. Fish high on the food chain (like tuna, mackerel and shark) tend to store up toxins from fish they’ve eaten, a phenomenon called bioaccumulation.
Recommended dosages vary based on why you’re taking it. For general health purposes it’s reasonable to take 500-1000 mg daily. Those with heart or vascular disease (including high cholesterol) should consider 1-3 gm daily. Much higher doses are needed for those with autoimmune disease, neurological or psychiatric problems, or chronic pain. A therapeutic trial of 5-10 gm daily is reasonable for these conditions.
Be careful which fish oil products you buy, some are not labeled accurately according to a review I found at ConsumerLab.com. (I subscribe to this website because it gives me third-party testing results for all sorts of supplements.)
Want to know what fish oil my family and I take? (Bet you can guess, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile.)
OmegaGuard from the Shaklee Corporation is ultrapurified fish oil made from sardines. Two capsules gives 1200 mg fish oil, free of mercury and other contaminants.
And no fish burps! Yay!
QUESTION: I was surprised to learn that fish oil was so effective in controlling chronic pain. Was there one use for fish oil that surprised you?