A common question I get from friends and family is: what does fish oil actually do for you and your body?
In this article we’ll take a look at what it does in simple terms and without the scientific jargon. Okay, so there’ll be some jargon, but I’ll make sure to clarify it for you.
Let’s start from the beginning. As you may already know, fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in foods such as salmon, walnuts, hemp oil, flaxseed, eggs and meat.
It’s estimated that a large majority (80%+) of people in the west are deficient in omega-3 fats. We get too much omega-6 fats, which messes up the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in our body.
This is a big no no, because it leads to disease and general health issues.
The good news is that fish oil has been proven to be beneficial for a variety of different health problems, such as:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing inflammation
- Improving brain function
- Increasing intelligence
- Relieving pain
- Bone health
- Protecting against cancer
- Improving mood
- Helping your heart
- Reducing the risk of obesity
- Decrease asthma
Now you know what fish oil does, but that’s not enough, let’s take a look behind the scenes of what goes on in your body.
What Does Fish Oil Do for Your Body?
We could go into the molecular details and processes of how fish oil and omega-3 fats work, but let’s focus on what’s relevant to you.
The cells in your body are surrounded by membranes. Basically the job of these membranes are to act as guardians to the cells in your body. They make sure that the nutrients that go in and the waste that goes out is according to plan.
Now the cool thing is that these membranes are made up out of fatty acids. This is where the fats you eat come into play. If you eat healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, these “guardians” function optimally.
But if you eat an unhealthy diet and a lot of unhealthy (often saturated fats) they start performing poorly, which means your cells don’t get the right nutrients, and they don’t dispose of waste properly.
So as you can see, eating the right kind of fats is essential. And they’re called essential for a reason. Your body needs these fats for optimal functioning.
When Fish Oils Fail
The problem we face today is that our food supply is deficient in vitamins, minerals and fats, because modern farming practices drain our soil of nutrients.
But what about the fish? A lot of the fish caught today is farmed fish. Now, farmed fish is much fattier than wild fish, but those fats are less usable by our bodies.
And farmed-raised fish contain higher amounts of omega-6 fatty acids which increase inflammation in your body. So you see, there are quite a few factors at play here. It may not always be “enough” to just eat fish.
This is not even taking into account the other problems of farmed fish, such as the use of antibiotics, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals.
If you can get your hands on wild-caught fish high in omega-3 fats, I recommend you do so, but even in that case, you have to be careful about mercury and other metals that fish may ingest.
What About Supplements?
Supplements are a great option, but once again, you can’t just go out there and buy any supplement.
In some cases, food has been shown to be more digestible than supplements, but this again depends on how high quality food and/or supplements you can get. The best way to start may be with a supplement if you don’t have access to high-quality fish.
The oil in supplements goes rancid if it’s not processed correctly. So make sure you look at where the fish is caught. Are the fish healthy, and is catching the fish sustainable for the environment?
These are a few things I think about.
On top of this, you have to find supplements that are purified properly so as not to lose any of their benefits, but also be free from any harmful chemicals.
I know, I know. It’s a big mess, and supplements are not really regulated. I don’t know if I want them to be regulated anyway. This just simply means you have to do diligent research on what supplements you use.
In summary, fish oil gives essential nutrients to your body that are required for the healthy function of your heart, bones, brain, and many other systems.
If you haven’t been eating a lot of wild-caught fish, and you suspect your diet is lacking in nutrients, then you may want to consider taking a supplement.
A high-quality supplement doesn’t have to cost a lot. I personally spend under $20 per bottle on high quality fish oil.
There are plenty of options out there. But make sure you do your research and don’t just go for the cheapest option.