By: Dr. Schoer
Fish oil is abundant in omega-3s, which are an excellent “healthy fat” that supports your heart and brain health, among other benefits. One way of consuming adequate omega-3s is through fish oil - while getting fish oil directly from eating fatty fish is the better option, taking a fish oil supplement is a great alternative.
The two main types of omega-3s that are found in fish oil and work together to nourish our bodies are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). As you will see below, both types work together or are individually linked to a variety of benefits.
#1. May improve risk factors for heart disease.
Heart attacks and stroke are the world’s leading cause of death and many years ago, there was evidence to show that fish-eating communities had very low rates of these diseases – this was linked to the consumption of omega-3s.
Omega-3s have been linked to numerous benefits for heart health, including:
- Reduces levels of triglycerides
- Improves levels of “good” cholesterol – HDL
- Reduces level of “bad” cholesterol - LDL
- Prevents formation of blood clots
Although omega-3s help improve risk factors for heart disease, there is no evidence to support that omega-3s directly reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, specifically.
#2. May reduce inflammation.
Inflammation is a natural response to damage detected in the body, for example spraining your ankle or acquiring an infection – both lead to inflammation in the body. But inflammation can persist even in the absence of injury or infection – this is chronic inflammation, and is usually linked to chronic illness, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, etc.
Research has shown that omega-3s are linked to reducing the production of molecules and substances responsible for inflammation such as inflammatory cytokines! Omega-3s may reduce chronic inflammation, which may also influence chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
#3. May help prevent age-related mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
A decline in brain function is a natural, aging process – many people experience this! The good news is that many studies have linked a higher omega-3 intake with a decrease in age-related mental decline and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
#4. May improve bone and joint health.
Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are two very common disorders that affect our musculoskeletal system.
Research suggests that omega-3s may help improve bone strength by boosting the amount of calcium in your bones, theoretically leading to a reduced risk of osteoporosis. Additionally, research has shown that omega-3s were able to significantly reduce pain in people with osteoarthritis of synovial joints such as the knee, hip, and finger joints.
Although research has suggested that omega-3s may improve bone strength and joint health, more high-quality studies are needed.
#5. May improve sleep.
Good sleep contributes to the foundation of our health – research has shown that sleep deprivation has been associated with many diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and depression. Additionally, low levels of omega-3s have been linked to sleep problems in children and sleep apnea in adults. Research has also shown that low levels of DHA specifically, is linked to lower levels of melatonin, a hormone responsible for helping you fall asleep. In summary, omega-3s may improve your sleep quality and quantity, but more research is needed.
As you can see, consuming adequate amounts of omega-3s provides many health benefits and one way of ensuring you are consuming an adequate amount is through fish oil supplements. One fish oil supplement the clinic strongly recommends is the CanPrev Omega-Pro that provides 1000mg of wild deep sea fish oil containing 600mg EPA + DHA. This product is available at the clinic and is also 15% off for the month of February!