Fish oil is one of the most commonly consumed dietary supplements. It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are very important for your health. If you don’t eat a lot of oily fish, taking a fish oil supplement could help you get enough omega-3 fatty acids. Here is an evidence-based guide to fish oil supplements and their health benefits.
What Is Fish Oil and Why Should You Care?
Fish oil is the fat or oil that’s extracted from fish tissue. It usually comes from oily fish such as herring, tuna, anchovies and mackerel. Yet sometimes it’s produced from the livers of other fish, as is the case with cod liver oil.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eating 1–2 portions of fish per week. This is because the omega-3 fatty acids in fish provide many health benefits, including helping protect against a number of diseases. But if you don’t eat 1–2 portions of fish per week, fish oil supplements can help you get enough omega-3s.
Around 30% of fish oil is made up of omega-3s, while the remaining 70% is made up of other fats. Also, unprocessed fish oil contains some vitamin A and D. It’s important to note that the types of omega-3s found in fish oil have greater health benefits than the omega-3s found in some plant sources.
The main omega-3s in fish oil are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), while the omega-3 in plant sources is mainly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Although ALA is an important essential fatty acid, EPA and DHA have many more health benefits.
Another reason it’s important to get enough omega-3s is because the Western diet has replaced a lot of omega-3s with other fats like omega-6s. This distorted ratio of fatty acids may contribute to a number of Western lifestyle diseases. Below are 13 of the many health benefits of fish oil.