This week I am going to be talking about a dietary supplement that I am sure that most, if not all of you are already somewhat familiar with. This supplement is fish oil. Now, I want to be clear with you - I am not a doctor. Therefore, I cannot prescribe any medications or supplements. What I am aiming to do by writing this post is primarily to make people aware of some of the potential health benefits that fish oil brings to the table. Secondly, I hope to clear away some of the misinformation on fish oil that you may or may not have already been exposed to. On that note, let’s jump right in to some of the potential health benefits that one can expect when supplementing with fish oil.
Due to the fact that I am an exercise physiologist and personal trainer, I will be going into much more detail on the exercise and fitness related health benefits of fish oil. When talking about non-fitness related benefits, consider that fish oil has been shown to benefit those who suffer from depression, ADHD, anxiety, and different skin and eye disorders. In the cases of all of these conditions, fish oil was never seen as a cure, but it did help to alleviate various negative symptoms. Additionally, there have been numerous studies on fish oil and its potential benefits for people with Alzheimer's disease. Fish oil has been shown to help slow brain atrophy that is associated with the disease.
On the exercise and fitness front, there are many benefits that one can look for when adding fish oil to their diet. One study from 2007 conducted by Australian researcher compared two different exercising groups. One of these groups took a normal amount of a good quality fish oil, and the other was given a placebo. Even though both groups exercised, only the exercise and fish oil group showed a significant reduction in belly fat. A recent meta analysis that looked at 21 different studies found that individuals who supplemented with fish oil had improved waist-to-hip circumference ratios, compared to those who did not take the supplements. These effects were further increased when fish oil supplementation was combined with aerobic exercise.
Although it was done on mice, a study published in December 2015 showed some very promising results as well. Mice that were given fish oil showed less weight gain compared to peers who did not take it. They also had improved fasting glucose, insulin, TG, and leptin levels as well. All of these biomarkers have implications in weight gain and metabolic diseases. The fish oil mice also saw a significant shift in their fat cells. A good portion of their fat cells were converted into brown fat cells. These help to prevent fat formation in the future and also help with temperature regulation.
However, while there are some great reasons to take fish oil, it should be said that there are also a few reasons why taking it may not be the best choice for you. As I said before, I am not a doctor. If you are considering taking fish oil, or any other supplement for that matter, please consult your physician before doing so. One reason to not take fish oil - and probably the most common one at that - would be the financial cost. Bottles of good quality fish oil can be priced at up to $60. If you eat fish 3-4 times a week or more, you probably already meet the recommended intake of omega-3 fatty acids. For these individuals, your money is likely better spent elsewhere. There are also a few health risks associated with fish oil in certain populations. Some people can have allergic reactions to fish oil and omega-3s. Another common problem other people might encounter with fish oil is its blood thinning effect. Although this is a potential benefit in some situations (especially for people with heart disease), when combined with blood thinning medications, this particular effect can be very problematic. But like I said before, always check with your doctor before taking new supplements.
I am not going to go into great detail about which fish oils to take or not to take, but I will share a few things to look for when buying a fish oil supplement. First off, you want a substantial amount of EPA and DHA in each fish oil capsule. Between 200 and 400 mg of each in every capsule is a pretty good amount. Be skeptical of products with more than that, and don't bother buying ones with less. One brand that has a variety of high quality fish oil products is Nordic Naturals. They have been in the business for a long time, and are known for their high quality and consistency. If you don't know where to start when looking for a product, I would recommend heading there!
So there you have it, my two cents on fish oil! Please let me know what you guys think or if you have any questions. Hope everyone has a fantastic
week, and thanks for reading!