Fish oil is simply oil coming from fish flesh as some fish have a large quantity of it in their body. The main elements of these fish oils are omega-3 acids eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These two fatty acids are are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, and research has shown that they provide many health benefits. This is why fish oil is one of the leading type of health supplements nowadays.
Fish do not produce omega-3 directly, but accumulate it in their bodies. Either by consuming micro-algae that produce these fatty acids (like herring or sardines) or by eating prey fish that have accumulated omega-3 from these micro-algae (such as shark, swordfish or yellow fin tunafish).
Omega-3 acids strongly influence the behavior of some blood components called platelets, which are essential factors for blood clotting. The problem with the platelets is when they become too active. They congregate such as in a coronary artery and accelerate the process of atherosclerosis, the medical term for hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of death from heart disease. The omega-3 fatty acids makes platelets less sticky so it is harder for them to accumulate in one area and cause a clot.
Coagulation is also influenced by substances called prostaglandins made of fatty acids from food. The functions of prostaglandins are both numerous and essential, such as temperature control and blood pressure regulation. A type of prostaglandin, thromboxane A2, stimulates coagulation (often at the wrong time in the arteries). The omega-3 fatty acids prevent its synthesis and stimulate the production of a rather inert form thromboxane A3, which is more or less inoperant. In this way, the omega-3 fight against fatal heart attacks.
They also reduce the synthesis of other chemicals derived from fats, such as leukotrienes, which have a crucial part in the initial inflammatory stage of an asthma crisis. Many studies show that omega-3 supplements can provide relief to such situations.
Although polyunsaturated oils as a means to prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels, omega-3 is 2 to 5 times more effective in this regard than vegetable polyunsaturated oil. Omega-3s are particularly favorable to lower blood fats such as triglycerides associated with atherosclerosis. Unsaturated oils in turn, are able to decrease immune functions by a detrimental effect on the activity of a certain type of immune cells called T lymphocytes. These cells protect us from viruses and select and destroy cancer cells before they can proliferate. The omega-3 fats on the other hand do not reduce the functions of T cells and since they are more effective in preventing heart disease than polyunsaturated oils, it is infinitely more desirable to include them in our daily diet as a prevention.
Fish oil can also be beneficial to diabetics by increasing the sensitivity of cells to insulin hormones. In type 2 diabetes, cells become insensitive to the effects of insulin due to the lack of cellular receptors. The result is that the cell cannot metabolize sugar properly, which leads to a series of side effects, including heart heart diseases due to a high percentage of fat in the blood. Aside from the fact that they increase insulin sensitivity, omega-3s are also beneficial for people suffering from hypercholesterolemia by increasing the proportion of one part of the protective cholesterol called high-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL helps remove excess bad cholesterol in the blood that transports it to the liver where it undergoes degradation that turns it into bile where it gets eliminated.
Omega-3 may also change another risk factor for heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), through two different mechanisms: first, by altering the production of prostaglandins, which would relax the arterioles (small arteries) and thus to lower the blood pressure or, on the other hand, its effect with calcium reduces tension.
From their content of omega-3 acids fish can be divided into two categories depending on whether they store such fat in their muscles (herring, mackerel, salmon) or in the internal organs (cod). The second type gives a lower intake of omega-3, although cod oil contains about 20% of it. In other varieties of fish, omega-3 is about 30% of the total oil they contain. Sardines, sablefish, river trout, fresh tuna and canned (especially albacore), herring and anchovies are excellent sources. It was long believed that canned tuna would lose most of its omega-3 content in its packaging. But the opposite has been proven since. A can of 180g of tuna contains as much omega-3 as 3 to 5 capsules of fish oils and albacore has 2 times more omega-3 than white tuna. Nature tuna is better than tuna in oil, as 25% of Omega-3 oil mix with oil and you lose if you remove it.
Fish oil also improves skin health. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are two essential fatty acids provided by fish oil supplements. But the EPA is directly related to the health of the skin. A study published in 2005 in the “Journal of Lipid Research” found that some of the benefits of this type of oils on the skin condition are: regulating the production of oil, increased hydration, less acne, fewer wrinkles, protect skin from damage caused by UVA rays (which cause wrinkles, lines and permanent damage to the skin).
In addition omega-3 improves brain function in babies. Studies have shown that the benefits of fish oil are numerous for babies when pregnant women consume fish oil supplements during pregnancy. These supplements promote brain development and eye health. In addition, women who took a supplement of this type of oil (but high quality) gave birth to babies with higher IQs and less learning disabilities. These babies were also less likely to develop mental retardation or cognitive delays.
No offense to fans of weight loss programs, our body needs fat to live! And if we synthesize some, others must be present in our diet to meet our needs. They are called essential fatty acids, which include omega 3. In case of deficiency, the health risks are numerous. So no question of missing on it!