If there is one supplement that I would take for the rest of my life… that would be fish oil. And you should too. In a market where you pay a gazillion dollars for fat burners & tummy trimmers or whatever the hell it is that people pay for… this is one truly great dietary supplement with reams of data supporting all the claims.
Now we obviously cannot discuss fish oils without touching Omega-6 fatty acids, Omega-3 fatty acids and the relation between the two. Let’s have a quick look.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids:
These are a family of unsaturated fatty acids that have in common a final carbon–carbon double bond in the n−6 position. Click here for a list of Omega-6 fatty acids. Research suggests that excessive amount of Omega-6s relative to Omega-3s have detrimental effects on ones health [1, 2, 3]. The detrimental health effects are due to systemic inflammation caused by their conversion to n-6 eicosanoids. We get plenty of these from vegetable oils and our existing diets are pretty high in these. The Omega-6 Omega-3 ratio can be as high as 30:1 in some cases while the optimal ratio is 4:1 or lower[4,5]. Click here for detailed information on Omega 6 fatty acids.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
These are a family of unsaturated fatty acids that have in common a final carbon–carbon double bond in the n−6 position. Click here for a list of Omega-3 fatty acids. We need to get more of these Omega 3s in our diet in order to balance out the omega 6:omega 3 ratio we discussed previously (Click here for detailed information on Omega 3 fatty acids). In short, these Omega-3s help in reducing systemic inflammation which is the major cause of pretty much all bad things that can happen to you… from weight gain to diabetes.
Clearly, we are taking in more than required Omega-6s and not enough Omega-3s. Reason? Most vegetable oils & nuts contain Omega-6s and hardly any Omega-3s. So our goal should be to increase the amount of Omega-3s we eat. This is where the fish oil comes to play.
The oil derived from the tissues of oily fish like salmon, herring, tuna etc. contains the all powerful Omega-3 fatty acids (Alpha Lineolic Acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), Docosahexaenic Acid (DHA)) in high concentrations and taking this as a supplement to our existing diet will reduce the Omega-6 Omega-3 ratio hence controlling inflammation.
Benefits of Fish Oil:
1. Several studies report cancer fighting properties of Omega-3s found in fish oil. Click here, here and here for publication.
2. Diets higher in fish and omega-3 LC-PUFA may reduce cardiovascular risk in diabetes by inhibiting platelet aggregation, improving lipid profiles, and reducing cardiovascular mortality. Click here for publication.
3. While the typical Western diet has a much greater ratio of n-6 PUFAs compared with n-3 PUFAs, research has shown that by increasing the ratio of n-3 to n-6 fatty acids in the diet, and consequently favoring the production of EPA in the body, or by increasing the dietary intake of EPA and DHA through consumption of fatty fish or fish-oil supplements, reductions may be achieved in the incidence of many chronic diseases that involve inflammatory processes; most notably, these include cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis, but psychiatric and neurodegenerative illnesses are other examples. Click here for publication.
4. Omega-3 supplementation from fish oil represents a reasonable therapeutic strategy in individuals with Type 2 Diabetes to decrease the risk of complications. Click here for publication.
5. Experts believe that taking fish oil (in any form) can help regulate cholesterol in the body, because fish oil has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Click here.
6. The American Heart Association recommends the consumption of 1g of fish oil daily, preferably by eating fish, for patients with coronary heart disease.Note that optimal dosage relates to body weight. Click here for article.
7. According to a study from Louisiana State University in September 2005, fish oil may help protect the brain from cognitive problems associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Click here for publication.
8. Omega-3 rich diet could counteract atherogenic oxidative stress. Click here for publication.
I can list more benefits but seriously if you can get all these benefits by taking a few pills a day why wouldn’t you do it? All these statements have legit studies backing them up. I very strongly urge every single one of you… whatever age, sex, build, nationality you are… to start supplementing your diet with fish oil. The only reason you don’t need fish oil if you are including wild caught fatty fish 4-5 times a week in your diet.
Go here to find out how much you need. Robb Wolf came up with this calculation based on your bodyweight and health status. (Robb Wolf is dope by the way. Read as many of his posts as possible. You will be thankful!).
- Lands, William E.M. (December 2005). “Dietary fat and health: the evidence and the politics of prevention: careful use of dietary fats can improve life and prevent disease”. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences(Blackwell) 1055: 179–192. doi:10.1196/annals.1323.028. PMID 16387724.
- Hibbeln, Joseph R.; N; B; R; L (June 1, 2006). “Healthy intakes of n−3 and n−6 fatty acids: estimations considering worldwide diversity”. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (American Society for Nutrition) 83 (6, supplement): 1483S–1493S. PMID 16841858.
- Okuyama, Hirohmi; Ichikawa, Yuko; Sun, Yueji; Hamazaki, Tomohito; Lands, William E.M. (2007). “ω3 fatty acids effectively prevent coronary heart disease and other late-onset diseases: the excessive linoleic acid syndrome”. World Review of Nutritional Dietetics (Karger) 96 (Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease): 83–103. doi:10.1159/000097809. ISBN 3805581793. PMID 17167282.
- Daley, C.A.; Abbott, A.; Doyle, P.; Nader, G.; and Larson, S. (2004). A literature review of the value-added nutrients found in grass-fed beef products. California State University, Chico (College of Agriculture). Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- Simopoulos, Artemis P. (October 2002). “The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids”. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 56 (8): 365–379. doi:10.1016/S0753-3322(02)00253-6.PMID 12442909.