At the moment there is a real hype about fish oil and omega 3. But is fish oil really healthy, or is it just empty promises and commerce?
Americans and Europeans first drew attention to the positive effects of omega 3 fish oil in the 1970s. Currently, researchers have wondered why the Inuit in Greenland hardly die from heart disease, even though they eat such a fatty diet.
It turns out that not all fats are created equal. Because most of the fats that the Inuit ingest through their food, which are mainly fish, seals and whales, consist of the polyunsaturated fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6, among other things.
In this article we will explain the actual effect of omega 3 fish oil to you. We also resolve whether the current hype is justified or not.
the essentials in brief
- Omega 3 fish oil consists of the polyunsaturated fatty acids EPA and DHA. These fatty acids are important for cell activity, but cannot be produced by the body itself. Therefore, they must be ingested through food. The right ratio between omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids is important: 4 to 1.
- In general, everyone should try to eat 1 to 2 fish meals per week to prevent certain diseases. Cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring are best suited for this because they are rich in healthy fats.
- Omega 3 fish oil helps against diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, skin diseases, premature births, weakened intestinal flora, fatty liver and many more. However, more studies need to be carried out for many diseases in order to be able to fully explain the improving or preventing effect of fish oil. However, it is certain that omega 3 fish oil usually has no serious side effects.
The effectiveness of omega 3 fish oil: what you should know
So that you can understand exactly what the beneficial and negative effects of omega 3 fish oil can be, we have briefly summarized the most important questions regarding the effectiveness of omega 3 fish oil below.
How does omega 3 fish oil work?
Omega 3 fish oil consists of a fatty acid composition and lipid peroxides. The omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids and therefore the miracle cure of fish oil. The composition consists of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
The human body cannot produce omega 3 itself, which is why it has to be ingested through food. This is very important because the cell membrane consists of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Thus, the membrane permeability is increased and the tissue hormones (eicosanoids) are supported in the regulation of some metabolic processes. These processes include cell proliferation, blood clotting and inflammatory reactions.
These eicosanoids ensure that the vessels dilate and inflammation is inhibited. They also control cell growth and inhibit blood clotting. (1) In contrast to polysaturated fatty acids, however, lipid peroxides should be treated with caution. Because they are the product of the reaction of lipid structures and free radicals and are therefore toxic. (2.3)
When and for whom is the income due to the effect of omega 3 fish oil useful?
The German Society for Nutrition recommends 1 to 2 fish meals per week. The fatty cold-water fish salmon, mackerel, herring and shellfish are best suited for Omega 3 intake.
This means that basically everyone should consume omega 3 fish oil, since the body cannot produce omega 3 itself. However, if you don't like fish, you can also use Omega 3 fish oil capsules. In the following we have listed certain groups of people for whom omega 3 fish oil is particularly important.
- Pregnant women: can reduce the risk of premature birth with the help of omega 3 fish oil. (4)
- Babies: if they are supplied with sufficient omega 3 fish oil through their mother's milk, for example, it has been proven that they have a lower risk of developing asthma as small children. (5) In addition, children with attention deficit disorders can be treated with omega 3 fish oil for small symptom relief. The advantage of this is that although the effect is not as strong as with pharmaceutical products, there are fewer or no side effects. (6)
- People with cardiovascular diseases: should take even more fish or omega 3 fish oil capsules to reduce the risk of heart attack or sudden cardiac arrhythmias. (7)
Omega 3 fish oil can also work against many other diseases or at least improve them. You can see exactly what these are below. We will now list some diseases and ailments and briefly explain to what extent omega 3 fish oil can counteract them.
What diseases and conditions can Omega 3 fish oil counteract?
By taking omega 3 fish oil, numerous diseases and ailments can be improved or even prevented. A preventive intake of omega 3 fish oil can, for example, prevent premature births, heart attacks and fatty liver.
In addition, the consumption of fish oil can alleviate or even heal cardiovascular diseases, migraine attacks, damaged intestinal flora, a weakened immune system as well as dermatological diseases and cancer variants.
Pregnant women are generally recommended by their doctors to consume enough omega 3 fish oil during their pregnancy. Because taking it can reduce the risk of premature birth many times over.
In addition, taking omega 3 fish oil also reduces the chances of perinatal death. This means that fish oil consumption can lead to fewer unwanted abortions. In addition, omega 3 supplementation during pregnancy can significantly increase a woman's fertility shortly after giving birth. (4)
It is particularly important for unborn babies and pregnant women that their mothers consume sufficient Omega 3. This can prevent, among other things, premature births and early asthma diseases. (Image Source: Garrett Jakson / Unsplash)
It should be added that fish oil can help even if the baby has already been born prematurely. It can promote weight gain in fruit through intravenous administration. However, there are not too many studies on this yet, although the studies to date can already show a small but positive weight gain in premature babies. (8th)
The best known is the positive effect of omega 3 fish oil on cardiovascular diseases. The Inuit lead by example as their diet consists primarily of healthy fats, including omega 3 fish oil.
The fish oil ensures that the blood's tendency to clot is reduced, which is why the risk of thrombosis and thus the risk of a heart attack is reduced. An annoying but usually not worse side effect could be more frequent nosebleeds, since the blood is slightly diluted. (9)
People with cardiovascular disease should consume significantly more fish oil than healthy people.
In addition, there have already been some cases in which patients have been able to treat their high blood pressure by increasing their omega 3 fish oil consumption. But the fact is that people with cardiovascular disease should take significantly more omega 3 fish oil than healthy people in order to see improvement or avoid sudden cardiac arrest.
In this way, blood pressure and triglyceride levels (elevated blood levels) can be reduced. Elevated blood levels are caused, for example, by an unhealthy lifestyle, i.e. greasy bad food, lots of sugar, alcohol and hardly any exercise. (7)
However, it has been found that fish oil has often been unsuccessful in secondary prevention. Secondary prevention means that the disease already exists and the patient is trying, in this case with fish oil, to prevent or slow the progression of the disease.
So maybe it's better to start a healthy lifestyle earlier, which includes sufficient omega 3 fish oil sources, rather than when it might already be too late. (10)
Damaged intestinal flora
Do you, like many others, struggle with your intestines and digestion and have tried many things, but nothing has helped you yet? If so, then a change in diet with sufficient omega 3 fish oil might be worth a try. Because people with inflammatory bowel diseases can actually achieve success with it.
This is because omega 3 can alter microbiome composition and promote the production of anti-inflammatory substances. Microbiomes are tiny creatures (microbes) that colonize humans and play an important role in the material cycle.
In addition, regular omega 3 fish oil consumption can have a positive effect on the gut-brain axis, because it is well known that our gut also affects us on a psychological level. And when our intestines are healthy, we feel better mentally as well. (11)
weakened immune system
You already know that omega 3 fatty acids are important for the cells and for this reason fish oil also helps in strengthening the immune system . This is because it can influence cell activation in different directions. In addition, omega 3 fatty acids direct the cell membrane properties, such as fluidity or assembly. In this way, pathogens can be warded off in a more targeted manner. (12)
Non-alcoholic fatty liver is often the result of an unhealthy lifestyle that consists of high sugar, greasy diets and little exercise. However, there is also alcoholic fatty liver, which can develop as a result of excessive alcohol consumption.
Both variants can be prevented with omega 3 fish oil, although this type of prevention and treatment is more effective in alcoholic fatty liver disease. Fish oil decreases the function of a transcription factor while increasing the function of a protein involved in fatty acid metabolism. Thus, the large amount of fat can be better processed. (13)
There are many skin diseases such as photoaging, skin cancer, allergy, dermatitis and skin wounds. Photoaging is skin aging caused by the sun's UV rays and dermatitis is inflammation in very dry skin. Fish oil can significantly improve the severity of skin diseases due to the polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Omega 3 has a protective effect on the skin.
This can, for example, promote wound healing and reduce skin inflammation. In addition, skin cancer could be prevented, since omega 3 fish oil has a general protective effect on the skin in addition to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Thus, omega 3 fish oil is an agent that is used cosmetically and therapeutically to combat and improve skin diseases. Depending on the disease, the therapists administer the fatty acids in different ways: either orally, intravenously or as a cream. (14)
If you suffer from migraine attacks, you can try taking omega 3 fish oil in addition to valproate. Valproate counteracts uncontrolled transmission of electrical signals and also has a mood-enhancing effect. When combined with omega 3 fish oil, the duration, frequency and severity of your migraine attacks could be significantly reduced. (15)
Cancer is a malignant growth (tumor) whose cells multiply uncontrollably and usually rapidly. According to this, cancer is a cell disease and since omega 3 fish oil affects cell activity, many cancer patients are treated with these fatty acids as a supportive treatment. This is supposed to help against inflammation.
In addition, certain receptors that trigger pain, depression and paraneoplastic syndromes can be coupled and thus inhibited. A paraneoplastic syndrome is typical for cancer patients. It occurs as a symptom related to the disease but is not a consequence of the malignant ulcer.
Omega 3 fish oil is essential to us and keeps us healthy. It can also help against certain diseases. (Image source: Elias Shariff Falla Mardini / Pixabay)
However, omega 3 is only an additional form of treatment for cancer patients to counteract cancer-related complications and has not yet been sufficiently researched. What is certain, however, is that this additional treatment has no negative effects, so it is only, but still, worth a try. (16)
To what extent does omega 3 fish oil work in weight regulation?
The omega 3 fish oil has a supporting effect on weight loss . Unfortunately, body fat reduction is still not a sure-fire success, because the fish oil is only helpful to maintain the decrease.
Nevertheless, the omega 3 fish oil has already helped many people suffering from obesity. They have succeeded in reducing their weight, for example, in that omega 3 promotes an adaptation of the lipid metabolism and reduces adipose tissue inflammation. (17)
Also, some preterm babies gain weight faster when they get enough omega 3 fish oil. This has the advantage that the fruit can be nursed back to health more quickly, as they reach their normal weight more quickly. This makes them less vulnerable to pathogens. (8th)
What are the Side Effects of Omega 3 Fish Oil?
Good news first: there are no known serious side effects from normal consumption of omega 3 fish oil, as long as you are not allergic to fish or shellfish.
Nevertheless, there are few negative side effects, such as a fishy aftertaste or a small increase in LDL cholesterol. This is a cholesterol transporter that could cause hardening of the arteries.
In addition, fish oil, like fish itself, can be contaminated with environmental pollutants such as mercury. (18) You should also pay attention to the composition of your fish oil, as the peroxide value should be as low as possible. Because the lipid peroxides and their decomposition products are toxic. (3)
|body region||side effect||possible consequences|
|mouth, throat||fishy aftertaste||malaise|
|Heart||slight increase in LDL cholesterol||arterial calcification|
|mouth||mercury poisoning||salivation, tooth loosening|
|Body||allergic reaction||Itching, shortness of breath, digestive problems and much more|
The table above shows you the possible side effects of omega 3 fish oil. However, the LDL cholesterol increase and mercury poisoning are rather unlikely. These side effects are more likely with excessive fish oil consumption.
If you get a fishy aftertaste every now and then, you can probably live with that. Because you know how valuable omega 3 is for your body. If you are allergic to fish, you usually know this beforehand and should of course resort to alternatives.
What do studies and science say about the effectiveness of Omega 3 fish oil?
There are countless studies that discuss the effectiveness of omega 3 fish oil. There are many studies, especially for the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases with fish oil.
In addition, there are also many different successes that have been achieved with a wide variety of diseases after the controlled intake of omega 3 fish oil. Most studies were also able to confirm their assumptions through numerous clinical investigations.
However, the subject of 'The effectiveness of Omega 3 fish oil' has not yet been adequately researched in some areas and still leaves room for speculation. What the scientists all agree on, however, is the low weighting of the negative side effects of fish oil.
Finally, you can finally put your doubts about omega 3 fish oil out of the way. Because even science agrees that there are no serious side effects from normal fish oil consumption, except for the natural ones that also have to be accepted through normal fish consumption.
Rather, the question is where more research needs to be done in order to be able to better explain positive abnormalities that have already been discovered as a result of consuming omega 3 fish oil.
But the fact is that fish oil has already shown a preventive or improving effect for many diseases, which is why the current hype about it is definitely justified. Diseases include cardiovascular disease, premature birth, skin diseases, fatty liver and some others.
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