Though fat is often given a bad name, there are fats that are essential for health, and fish oils are top sources of these fats. Known as omega-3 fatty acids, the essential oils in fish help protect against a range of illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, mood disorders and some forms of cancer.
The body needs two kinds of fats, omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. Though both essential oils are necessary, they must be consumed in the proper ratio to prevent byproducts of omega-6 fatty acids from doing more harm than good. Modern diets unfortunately consist of far too much omega-6 and far too little omega-3, the fatty acid found in fish oils.
Fish oils play a large role in brain function. Studies have shown that low levels of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils are associated with depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies suggest that people who eat large amounts of fatty fish oils may have lower rates of depression, suicidal tendencies and violence. This is because omega-3 fatty acids are thought to affect serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate and enhance mood.
Fish oils are also extremely beneficial to the cardiovascular system. Unlike other fats, fish oils can protect against heart disease rather than contribute to its development. Omega-3 fatty acids appear to have the ability to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, prevent blood clots and maintain the elasticity of blood vessels. Research shows that fish oils may also prevent heart arrhythmia, sudden death from heart attack and strokes.
In addition to its positive effects on mood and cardiovascular health, fish oil has also been shown to reduce pain and inflammation. It is particularly effective in helping to ease the pain of arthritis and colitis, and fish oil supplements may reduce the need for NSAIDs and other pain medications in patients who suffer from inflammatory conditions.
There is also some evidence that fish oils can prevent or delay the development of breast and colon cancer. Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids have also been associated with prostate cancer.
Despite the considerable list of positive effects from fish oils, it is estimated that the vast majority of people in the West are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. For this reason, many nutritionists and health care providers recommend fish oil supplements.
The recommended dosage of fish oils is about 650 mg per day, and they can be taken in amounts of up to 5 grams per day. Most fish oil supplements are in the form of gel capsules. Since fish oil supplements can lower blood levels of vitamin E, people who use fish oil supplements should consider taking vitamin E as well.
Side effects from fish oils are rare, but some people do report mild effects like a fishy odor on the breath, gastrointestinal discomfort or greasy stools. Fish oil supplements should not be taken in excessive amounts as they may thin the blood or lower the body’s ability to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
It’s important to get your fish oil from a source that has been molecularly distilled to remove contaminants. Otherwise, you’re getting a hearty dose of the toxic waste materials we’re dumping into the sea.
For this reason, I recommend Xtend-Life’s “Omega 3 DHA / Fish Oil”, or their “Omega 3 Premium” fish oil which costs a couple dollars more, but offers a more extensive formula. The oil is extracted from a fish called the “hoki” harvested in the pristine waters off the New Zealand coast. It is also molecularly distilled to remove any trace contaminants. I use this product myself extensively.