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Fish Oil: A Modern Day Miracle Cure?

“Fish oil is good.” “Take fish oil”. For years, we heard people saying the same phrase again and again. Some even go so far toward taking them just because people said it is good. But have you ever wondered how good actually fish oil is?

What Is Fish Oil?

Fish oils are oil derived from the tissues of oily fish. When comes to oils and fats, it definitely freaks out most of us. We were taught that taking less fat are best for us. In fact, not all fat are bad for us. Fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good fat. Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oils are good example of this good fat. Omega 3 fatty acids are vital and essential for the normal growth of a human body. It is essential in the term that the body couldn’t produce such fatty acids and it must be obtained from food or supplement. EPA and DHA is the member of this omega 3 series. It is true that this fatty acid can be obtained from other sources but they are most concentrated in fish oil.

The Health Benefits

The benefit of fish oil was first discovered in 1980s when researchers found that fish oil might work in preventing Heart Attacks and High Blood Pressure. Indeed, it was EPA and DHA that played the role. DHA are expert in cardioprotective action in body and are responsible in protecting the cardiovascular system. EPA on the other hand helps protect against irregular heartbeats, lower blood pressure as well as prevent blood clot formation. Because fish oil is abundant in DHA and EPA, consuming fish oils are found to be good for both heart and arteries without doubt.

According to American Heart Association (AHA), clinical trials have proved that fish oil reduce and regulate cholesterol level in body. They can lower the level of LDL (the bad cholesterol) and increase the level of HDL (the good cholesterol). The harmful effects of bad cholesterol happened in the body when they accumulate in the artery walls causing the formation of plaque that lead to Atherosclerosis, a disease that causes heart attacks and strokes. Also, research found that fish oils significantly prevent the accumulation of excess triglycerides in the body and reduce them in the way that can lower the chance of developing heart disease. Since Atherosclerosis is much likely to occur in people with high cholesterol and triglycerides level, regular consumption of fish oil may also reduce the risk of Atherosclerosis.

For A Healthy Heart

In addition to that, fish oil keeps our heart healthy in other ways too. The omega 3s found in fish oil has been found to protect the hearts against abnormal heartbeats or arrhythmias and lowers blood pressure, especially in people with Hypertension or Atherosclerosis. These benefits are contributed by EPA which possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-coagulant properties that thins the blood, allowing them to be pumped more efficiently throughout the body and consequently lowers blood pressure.

Besides that, fish oils also exhibit anti-inflammatory properties that are good in reducing inflammation in inflammatory conditions and production of inflammatory chemicals in body. EPA found in fish oil is nature’s anti-nflammatory fatty acids. One of the benefits of fish oil in inflammation is the reduction of inflammation of joints which cause athritis such as Rheumatoid Arthritis. Omega 3 fatty acids that are found in fish oils help prevent or reduce the inflammation in joints that make arthritis painful and swelling. They are able to reduce the duration of stiffness joint and possibly suppressing immune system as well as the production of Cytokine.

The Brain Food

Sometimes we hear that fish oil is brain’s food. There is reason why they are called so. Omega 3s namely DHA and EPA that is abundant in fish oil are the instrument that make fish oil the brain’s food. As we know, Omega 3s are important for the healthy growth of our brain and is essential for it development, especially in the youngs. DHA has been reported as the essential building blocks of the brain while EPA is responsible for the healthy function of brain on day to day basis. In simple words, they are the brain builders which significantly improve brain development that is related with intelligence. This is the reason why pregnant women are always encouraged to take omega 3s as prenatal supplement.

Fish such as salmon, herring and trout are the best source of fish oil for EPA and DHA in diet. However, they are also the major source of mercury that causes harmful effects to human body and may also diminish the health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids. For this reason, two servings of this fish a week are appropriate for a healthy person. Anyhow, fish oil in capsule in the market nowadays is also a good choice for those who keen to take fish oil since they are free from mercury and organic toxins. But we must always remember that too much of a good thing can sometimes be harmful too, therefore if you are taking fish oil supplements, take them in a wisely manner.

How to Choose A Fish Oil Supplement

The essential Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce triglyceride levels, and improve heart health, when used along with appropriate medications and lifestyle changes. It has also been suggested that fish oil may improve symptoms of depression, attention deficit disorder, dementia and rheumatoid arthritis, and even play a role in cancer prevention. When opting to add a fish oil supplement, choosing a safe, good quality product is essential.

• Choose a supplement with less than three grams of omega-3 fatty acids for daily consumption. According to the American Heart Association, you should not take more than three grams without the supervision of your health care provider.

• Opt for a fish oil supplement that contains both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

• Consider potential environmental toxins. While methylmercury is a concern with fatty fish, this chemical is concentrated in the meat, rather than the oil. Look for a supplement with low levels of polychlorinated biphenyl compounds, or PCBs.

• Get fish oil from small fish species, such as anchovies, sardines, or jack mackerel (or a combination of any of these). Small fish have less accumulation of contaminants. Check the ingredients list on the bottle.

• See if “Moleculary distilled” is on the label. This ensures that the fish oil contains as little contaminants, such as PCBs or mercury, as possible.

• Most fish oil supplements will also contain an antioxidant, such as d-alpha tocopherol (vitamin E), to help prevent the fish oil from going rancid. It’s best to store fish oil supplements in the refrigerator to help prevent this as well.

• Check the Environmental Defense Fund for the safest options.

Tips and Warnings

• Take fish oil with meals to reduce stomach upset.

• If you tend to get an upset stomach when taking fish oil, consider taking it at night.

• If you get fishy burps after taking fish oil supplements, it’s most likely rancid.

• While fish oil is considered generally safe, speak to your health care provider if you have a low blood pressure, diabetes or a tendency toward excessive bleeding.

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