Seafood is probably the most nutritious and healthy thing you can add to your diet. it is rich in essential nutrients including vitamins and minerals. Fish is one of the richest sources of omega-3 fats. But, if you aren't as fond of fish and still want to enjoy the health benefits of these healthy fats then you can opt for fish oil instead.

Apart from omega-3 fats, fish oil also contain some amounts of vitamin A and Vitamin D which add to the many health benefits of this oil.

Derived from the tissues of oily fishes like salmon and cod, fish oil is one of the richest dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids,  like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). 

EPA and DHA are the precursors of some eicosanoids which are known to reduce the levels of inflammation in human body.And the best part is, they don’t increase the harmful cholesterol! Omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil have been well studied in a variety of other conditions like clinical depression, anxiety, cancer, and macular degeneration. 

Interestingly, fishes don't actually make this fat by themselves but it is obtained from the planktons they eat.

Fish oil supplements can be taken in a liquid form, however, if you aren’t fond of the taste soft fish oil capsules can be easily bought from your local chemist. It might interest you to know that apart from being a health supplement, fish oil has also found roles in external usages such as ointments, emollients and even body art!

  1. Cod liver oil nutrition facts
  2. Fish oil health benefits
  3. Fish oil side effects
  4. Takeaway

Fish which are especially rich in the beneficial oils known as the omega-3 fatty acids include herring, tuna, mackerel, salmon, cod liver, whale blubber and seal blubber.

Cod liver oil is the most common form of fish oil in India.

Nutrition values in fish oil, cod liver as per the USDA Nutrient Database is as follows:

Nutrient Value per 100 g
Energy 902 kCal
Fats 100 g
Vitamins Value per 100 g
Vitamin A 30000 µg
Vitamin D 10000 µg
Fats/ Fatty acids Value per 100 g
Unsaturated 22.608 g
Monounsaturated 46.711 g
Polyunsaturated 22.541 g
Cholesterol 570 mg

Fish oil is beneficial for maintaining the overall health of the body. Recently, it has received a lot of attention from scientists. And for a good reason. Studies suggest that fish oil is a blessing for the heart, brain, and eyes. Let us explore some health benefits of fish oil.

Fish oil benefits for brain

Fish oil is probably the best dietary supplements for brain health. Studies indicate that there is a direct link between anxiety, depression and a reduction in omega 3 fatty acids in the blood. However, research has shown that fish oil and omega-3 supplementation can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. EPA and DHA are the two main omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil and they have an incredible effect on the brain. It has been observed that oils rich in EPA help diminish the depressive symptoms more than DHA.

In a pilot study, DHA supplementation has been found to alleviate several behavioural problems, associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. As per this study, children who consumed a few grams of EPA and DHA per day, reflected in considerable improvements in their behaviour, as observed by their parents and psychiatrists working with them.

(Read more: How to improve brain power)

Fish oil for improving memory

Most of the people think that omega-3 fatty acid is good for the heart but only a few know its significance for the brain. Fish oil must be taken as an essential part of the diet, especially if you are experiencing memory struggles and brain fog. Omega-3 fatty acid consumption can help to improve the working memory in healthy young adults, according to a research reported in the journal PLoS One.

Another study indicated that regular consumption of omega-3 can prevent cognitive impairment when combined with aerobic exercise and cognitive stimulation. 

Fish oil for Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease wherein the brain slowly loses its cognitive and memory functions. It has been found to be the most common cause of dementia in older people.  Individuals who consume more fish oil tend to experience a slower decline in the functioning of the brain in old age.

According to a few studies, there is strong evidence that the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented by regular intake of omega-3 fatty acid.

Studies published in a journal of neurology also report that a regular diet high in fish, omega-3 oils, fruit, and vegetables significantly reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's

Fish oil benefits for eyes

Fatty acids are the building blocks of fats. They are important for the normal functioning of body. Fish oil is rich in DHA. An adequate dietary consumption of DHA can protect people from vision loss due to age-related issues, as Canadian researchers report in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. Omega-3 fats make up an important role in the structure of the eye. Studies have shown that people who do not get sufficient omega-3 fats have a greater risk of eye diseases.

Furthermore, eye health gradually begins to decline with old age and this can lead to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Fish oil supplementation seems to help with AMD to a certain extent.

(Read more: Macular degeneration treatment)

Fish oil for epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder which affects the brain activity and causes seizures. Fish oil consumption has already been linked to a healthier brain and an improved brain function.

According to a study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, epileptic people who consume moderate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids daily have fewer seizures.

Fish oil for weight loss

 Having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 is generally defined as obesity. Lifestyle and dietary factors have led to a steep rise in obesity cases all over the world. The numbers are even higher in high-income countries like America. Obesity, in turn, can significantly increase the risk of other serious ailments such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Clinical studies indicate that fish oil supplementation may help improve body composition and risk factors for heart diseases in obese people.

Additionally, some studies have shown that fish oil supplementation when added with diet or exercise, can help you lose weight.

(Read more: Diet chart for weight loss)

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Fish oil reduces inflammation

Inflammation is the natural response of our immune system against infections and injuries. However, it is possible for inflammation to occur at low levels over longer periods of time. This is known as chronic inflammation. It makes the cases of certain chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, depression and heart diseases even worse. Reducing the effects of inflammation can help treat the symptoms of the diseases in these instances. Several studies suggest the anti-inflammatory characteristics of fish oil which can be helpful in treating such diseases.

Animal-based studies claim that the anti-inflammatory potential of fish oil can be linked to the downregulation of inflammatory genes.

In a clinical study, fish oil supplementation has been found to reduce inflammation and joint pains in arthritic people. The study further indicated that fish oil is as effective as ibuprofen (a commercial anti-inflammatory drug) and can thus act as a medicament for people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Fish oil benefits for skin

The skin is the largest organ in the human body and it consists of a lot of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Apart from being the major lipid in skin cells, omega 3 fats are needed to maintain the barrier function of skin tissue and for facilitating water and nutrient transport to the inner layers of skin.  However, skin health tends to decline with age. Exposure to harmful pollutants and UV rays also makes our skin to lose its natural shine.  Studies suggest that as a source of omega 3 fatty acids, fish oil supplements are quite useful in maintaining skin health and reducing skin dryness.

In a clinical study, fish oil was administered topically to 25 psoriasis patients for a period of 4 weeks. Marked reduction in the size of psoriasis plaques was observed in all of the subjects. According to a recent study, polyunsaturated fatty acids present in fish oil can reduce skin inflammation by interfering with inflammation pathways and inhibiting the function of proinflammatory molecules.

Fish oil for foetal development

Omega-3s are required for early growth and development, therefore, it is essential for the mothers to get enough proportions of omega-3s during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Research states that the consumption of omega-3 during last three months of pregnancy might be able to improve sensory, cognitive, and motor development in the fetus. It is advised that pregnant women must include fish oil in the last trimester of their pregnancy for the better development of the fetus.

Fish oil supplementation during pregnancy and breastfeeding may help in improving hand and eye coordination in infants as well. Maternal and an early start to fish oil supplementation may also improve the infant visual development and help decrease the risks of allergies.

Consumption of omega-3 supplements of fish oil and fish liver oil can prove to be risky for the health of some people.

  • Bleeding gums and nosebleeds are considered the hallmark side effects of excess fish oil consumption. According to research, fish oil can inhibit blood clot formation in healthy adults, which may increase the risks of this bleeding. Therefore, it is often suggested to stop taking fish oil prior to a surgery and to talk to your doctor before taking supplements if you are on blood thinners like Warfarin.
  • In diarrhoea is one of the most common ill effects of fish oil along with other digestive troubles such as flatulence. In addition to fish oil, there are other types of omega-3 supplements which may also cause diarrhoea. If diarrhoea is experienced after taking omega-3 fatty acids, make sure you are taking your supplements with meals and consider decreasing the dosage to see if the symptoms persist.
  • There are certain types of omega-3 fatty acid supplements which are high in Vitamin A. This can be toxic if consumed in large quantities. Vitamin A toxicity can lead to side effects such as dizziness, nausea, joint pain and skin irritation. In the long run, it can also lead to liver damage and even liver failure in severe situations. For this reason, it is important to pay close attention to the Vitamin A content of your omega-3 supplements. 
  • If you are just starting to take fish oil supplements, you might experience heartburn and stomach discomforts. This is mainly because of its high-fat content. Fat has also been shown to lead to indigestion in several studies. Consumption in a moderate dose and taking supplements with meals can often effectively reduce acid reflux and relieve symptoms. Furthermore, splitting your dose into smaller portions and consuming them throughout the day may help decrease indigestion.

Decent doses of fish oil supplements are supposed to be safe as long as there are no medical issues restricting its use. Fish oil is well known for its wealth of health benefiting properties. Being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil has been shown to reduce blood triglycerides, relieve inflammation and even ease symptoms of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

However, more fish oil is not always better and taking high doses may cause more harm than good when it comes to your health.


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