Are supplements, such as fish oil capsules, really useful for you and your body? Which fats does the body and mind need in order to function optimally and to provide enough energy for the day?
If you've already asked yourself this exact question and are wondering whether you should include fish oil in your diet, you've come to the right place. Especially the omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oil can have a positive effect on your body and your health.
However, before you start taking it, we have put together a few well-known questions about fish oil for you and answered them briefly. From the production to the ingredients and the intake or dosage, everything is included. This will also allow you to take a closer look at your concerns and find out if you need this supplement.
the essentials in brief
- Fish oil can stimulate and strengthen your body and mind to heal. A daily dose before a meal can do a lot.
- You can also get the important omega-3 fatty acids in vegetarian or vegan form. You can easily incorporate these into your meal.
- A healthy diet usually already contains enough fatty acids. An additional intake of fish oil capsules should therefore always be approached with caution.
Fish oil: what you should know
The trend towards omega-3 fatty acids as a dietary supplement has increased significantly in recent years. The extracted fat is said to have certain benefits that are good for you and your body in the long run. The intake can be particularly helpful if, for example, you rarely eat fish and you lack the important vitamins and minerals it contains.
A consumption recommendation for fish meals is about 2 to 3 times a week. It should preferably be wild-caught fish, as it has grown up naturally and has not been artificially fed.
What is fish oil?
Fish oil is fats obtained from different types of fish. The polyunsaturated fatty acids are very often taken in capsules. This includes the omega-3 fatty acids. The formation process of this fatty acid only works via microalgae, which are eaten by fish in the sea.Fish oil is often available in capsules, making it easier to take. A few capsules per day are usually sufficient. (Image source: Michele Blackwell / unsplash)
However, not every fish, with the exception of cold-water fish, can produce these fatty acids. Salmon, mackerel, herring and tuna in particular have many omega-3 fatty acids in their bodies. In general, omega-3 is found in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
What does taking fish oil do?
Daily intake of fish oil can provide various benefits. However, you should always consult a doctor before taking it, as too high a dose or incorrect intake can also have side effects.
A basic ratio of 5:1 (omega-6 to omega-3) has a healthy effect on your body.
In general, the intake of others, such as food consumption and the proportion of omega-6 fatty acids it contains, is crucial. These are contained, for example, in animal fats, sunflower oil or safflower oil.Advantages
- regulation of blood pressure
- increase in teachers
- Regulation of heart and brain function
- Increase in the ability to concentrate
- effective against cancer cells
It is important to know that all of the effects mentioned can occur, but only if you take the fish oil capsules over a period of several weeks. In addition to this, a balanced diet and plenty of physical exercise are also necessary to achieve the desired results.
What is the dosage of fish oil?
It is an overall advantage if you spread out the intake of the capsules throughout the day. As a result, your body is sufficiently supplied with unsaturated fatty acids throughout the day. It also follows that, for example, it is possible to alleviate your symptoms or discomfort.
It is also important that you should take your appropriate dosage before a meal. This depends on how often and how much fish oil you consume with your food. To give you an idea of the amount of intake, we have briefly summarized a few guide values for you.
|Type||intake of omega-3|
|child||400 - 500mg/day|
|Child / adult with frequent fish consumption + dietary supplements||600 or 2700 mg/day|
A guideline is 5 grams per day, which you should not exceed (4). You can also read your supplement package insert to be really sure of the dose per capsule. A recommended daily dose is usually given. A typical capsule size is between 200 and 1000 milligrams.
What fatty acids or vitamins are in fish oil?
As briefly mentioned at the beginning, fish oil is composed of polyunsaturated fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (6). Another component are triglycerides, which consist of the molecule glycerol and contain other fatty acids (7,8). Additional antioxidants in the form of vitamin E are sometimes added to the fish oil.There are also many plant-based foods that also contain omega-3 in high quality and quantity. (Image source: Louis Hansel / unsplash)
In principle, no other ingredients are contained in fish oil. Nevertheless, additional vitamins or minerals are often found in fish oil capsules. However, you shouldn't worry about that, because extra vitamins for the body always do something positive for your health.
Is fish oil also suitable for children or during pregnancy?
In fact, children in particular need omega-3 fatty acids, which can be taken as a dietary supplement through fish oil. The reason for this is that the ingredients in fish oil ensure the development of nerve tissue in the brain, gastrointestinal tract and spinal cord. Since children have not yet fully developed this, the supply of omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oil is particularly important.
Fats are an important part of a balanced and healthy diet. These include particularly unsaturated fatty acids such as omega-3 from fish oil.
Apart from that, omega-3 fatty acids are also important in the teenage years. A study was able to show that perception, attention and the processing of external stimuli could be visibly improved with the intake of omega-3 (11).
In general, fish oil contains essential substances that your body cannot produce itself. The additional intake of these fatty acids can hardly harm your body. But make sure to choose a healthy dosage and take high-quality capsules.
What does fish oil do for muscle building?
As you've gathered by now, fish oil can do quite a few things in your body. But does it also make sense to take it regularly if you want to build muscle through strength training? First of all, it can be said that the omega-3 fatty acids contained in it prevent the breakdown of muscles.
But that is not the only effect of taking fish oil. It has already been proven that omega-3 can produce an anabolic effect. What this means for you and your body is that it can have muscle-building effects (12). This allows you to build up and strengthen your muscles even better.
Another benefit that follows from fish oil supplementation is better insulin sensitivity (13). Insulin has a decisive effect on muscle growth, especially when it is high in the muscles. Due to the polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as fish oil, insulin can be used more favorably (14).
How long does fish oil keep?
A dietary supplement such as fish oil should not necessarily be bought and stored in advance. It is often enough if you only take the capsules for a short period of time (e.g. 6 to 12 weeks). Just try to use up the amount you bought before the sell-by date. It is possible that fatty acids can become rancid if their shelf life is exceeded or if they are stored incorrectly.
Appropriate storage is in a dry and light-protected environment.
Just make sure that no fumes or excessive heat get to the product. You may also need to refrigerate the contents. To be sure which storage location is best, you should read the instructions on the packaging. You can often tell from the smell whether your fish oil capsules are still edible.
How is fish oil made?
As the word suggests, fish oil is only obtained from fish. This in turn means that this is neither a vegan nor a vegetarian alternative. The fish used are caught either by traditional fishing from the sea, or fisheries, or in a fish farm.
Algae oil is a vegan alternative. These are cultivated under biological conditions and also contain omega-3 fatty acids.
In some cases, however, fish oil is also made from by-products. This is slaughterhouse waste or bycatch. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to which product you buy as a supplement. However, the majority is still obtained from aquaculture. The fish live together in a very small space and are fed with the important microalgae.Aquaculture is now a common way to raise fish. However, species-appropriate husbandry is not always guaranteed. (Image source: Jakob Owens / unsplash)
The oil is ultimately obtained by drying and pressing the fish caught. These are mostly fish that are not suitable for consumption. Japanese mackerel or anchovies are used particularly frequently for this purpose. The coasts of Chile and Peru are quite suitable for catching these species due to high fish stocks (9,10).
What alternatives are there to fish oil?
If you're not a fan of fish oil and don't plan on taking a few capsules a day, you can incorporate alternatives into your diet. Basically, many plant-based alternatives also contain a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids. In the following we have put together an overview for you, which gives you possible options for fish oil.
|green-lipped mussel||A species of mussel from the mussel family, from aquatic culture in New Zealand||Omega-3, glucosaminoglycan, antioxidants|
|algae oil||Vegetable oil, made from seaweed, hardly polluted by mercury or heavy metals||Omega 3|
|linseed oil||vegetable oil obtained from flaxseed||Omega 3, Vitamin E|
|Chia seeds||herbal seeds derived from the Salvia hispanica plant||Omega-3, Calcium, Vitamin A, Iron, Zinc|
|Salmon||medium-sized, high-fat cold-water fish with pink flesh||Omega 3|
|walnuts||nut of the walnut tree||Potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, omega-3|
As you can see, you have a few alternatives. How you fill up your household of fatty acids is of course up to you. Both taking fish oil capsules and the alternatives mentioned here can help you. Always pay attention to the dosage indicated on the packaging and take it regularly to achieve a positive effect.
A useful addition is to include the foods mentioned here in your daily diet. This allows you to ensure a sufficient supply of omega-3 fatty acids and other vitamins and minerals. In addition, you create a varied and nutrient-rich diet, which can strengthen you against diseases.
Overall, fish oil is a good addition to your diet if you want to take in extra omega-3 fatty acids. The intake is not mandatory and too high a dose can also cause side effects. If you don't want to eat animal products, one of the plant-based alternatives mentioned is a good option. However, you can also try all alternatives and omega-3 sources and take them daily.
Whether there is a health benefit from taking it depends on your clinical picture and should also be discussed with a doctor. Although studies repeatedly show positive effects, this is no guarantee that fish oil is considered a healing food. Just try it out over a longer period of time and let your family doctor advise you on how to take it.
- Harold E Bays, Safety Considerations with Omega-3 Fatty Acid Therapy, The American Journal of Cardiology, Volume 99, Issue 6, Supplement 1, 2007, Pages S35-S43, ISSN 0002-9149, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjcard.2006.11.020. Source
- Janice K Kiecolt-Glaser, Martha A Belury, Rebecca Andridge, William B Malarkey, Beom Seuk Hwang, Ronald Glaser, Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation in healthy middle-aged and older adults: A randomized controlled trial, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, Volume 26, Issue 6, 2012, pages 988-995, ISSN 0889-1591, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2012.05.011. Source
- Tassos Georgiou, Anastasia Neokleous, Despina Nicolaou, Barry Sears, Pilot study for treating dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with high-dose omega-3 fatty acids, PharmaNutrition, Volume 2, Issue 1, 2014, pages 8-11, ISSN 2213-4344, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phanu.2013.10.001. Source
- European Food Safety Authority, EFSA evaluates the safety of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids Last accessed on 03/03/2021 Source
- Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA): Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung Last accessed on 03/03/2021 Source
- Fatty acid composition of fish oil capsules Prof. Dr. TO Sagredos First published: 1991, https://doi.org/10.1002/lipi.19910930505 Source
- Pharma Wiki - Medicines and Health: Triglycerides Last accessed on 03/03/2021 Source
- Pharma Wiki - Medicines and Health: Fish Oil Last accessed on 03/03/2021 Source
- Shepherd, CJ and Jackson, AJ (2013) Global fishmeal and fish‐oil supply: inputs, outputs and marketsa. J Fish Biol, 83: 1046-1066. https://doi.org/10.1111/jfb.12224 Source
- Status of and trends in the use of small pelagic fish species for reduction fisheries and for human consumption in Peru, Sánchez Durand, N. ; Gallo Seminario, M. Peruvian Institute of Fishery Technology, Km. 5.2 Carretera a Ventanilla, Callao, Peru. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper 2009 No.518 pp.325-369 ref.22 Source
- Verónica Portillo-Reyes, Miguel Pérez-García, Yolanda Loya-Méndez, Antonio E. Puente, Clinical significance of neuropsychological improvement after supplementation with omega-3 in 8–12 year old malnourished Mexican children: A randomized, double-blind, placebo and treatment clinical trial, Research in Developmental Disabilities, Volume 35, Issue 4, 2014, pages 861-870, ISSN 0891-4222, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ridd.2014.01.013. Source
- Smith GI, Atherton P, Reeds DN, Mohammed BS, Rankin D, Rennie MJ, & Mittendorfer B (2011). Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids augment the muscle protein anabolic response to hyperinsulinaemia-hyperaminoacidaemia in healthy young and middle-aged men and women. Clinical science (London, England: 1979), 121(6), 267-278. https://doi.org/10.1042/CS20100597 Source
- Popp-Snijders C, Schouten JA, Heine RJ, van der Meer J, van der Veen EA. Dietary supplementation of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids improves insulin sensitivity in non-insulin-dependent diabetes. Diabetes Res. 1987 Mar;4(3):141-7. PMID: 3038454. Source
- Long-term Effects of High-carbohydrate, High-fiber Diets on Glucose and Lipid Metabolism: A Preliminary Report on Patients with Diabetes James W. Anderson, Kyleen Ward Diabetes Care Mar 1978, 1(2) 77-82; DOI: 10.2337/diacare.1.2.77 Source