Fish oil is loaded with health benefits. Most often seen in gel capsules, it comes from the tissue of fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are responsible for most of its benefits, which range from reduced risk of heart attack and heart disease to fighting depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. When choosing your fish oil it is good to find out from which fish it is made, what level of purity it is, and whether indeed it contains the omega-3 fatty acids that make it so beneficial.
Here are six important health benefits of fish oil.
The Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are polyunsaturated fatty acids known to protect the heart, and the arteries and veins that make up your cardiovascular system. These so called “good fats” aid in lowering cholesterol, decrease blood clotting, and relax and decrease inflammation in blood vessels. They also aid in the prevention of erratic heart rhythms, and facilitate greater variability between heartbeats, reducing the risk of arrhythmia. Omega-3s have also been shown to lower levels of triglycerides, high amounts of which are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Fish oil has demonstrated effectiveness against three of the most common forms of cancer – breast, colon and prostate. Once again, this is owed to the good old omega-3 fatty acids so abundant in fish. They keep normal healthy cells from mutating into a cancerous mass, inhibit unwanted cellular growth and even cause cancer cells to commit suicide, or apoptosis.
The high levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids in fish oil offer substantial protection against macular degeneration (AMD) of the eye, a condition in which fine vision deteriorates, resulting in central vision loss and is the leading cause of blindness in people over 50. Studies also strongly suggest that the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids also reduces the risk of dry eye syndrome, a common cause of ocular complaints.
Maintain Skin and Hair Health
The omega-3s found in fish oil lock moisture into skin cells, encouraging the production of strong collagen and elastin fibers, which contribute to more youthful looking skin. Omega-3s have also been known to alleviate skin blemishes and maintain good hair luster. Omega-3s provide nourishment to hair follicles, helping hair grow healthy and preventing hair loss. A rich supply of proteins is also important for hair growth. The high protein content of fish oil helps maintain strong, healthy hair.
Bone and Connective Tissue
Recent studies also show that the omega-3s found in abundance in fish oil support joint cartilage and help regulate and stabilize the balance of collagen and minerals in bone and surrounding tissue.
Brain and Nervous System
Taking fish oil supplements may be of value to the babies of pregnant and nursing mothers, increasing both their intelligence and happiness. For the rest of us, omega-3 fatty acids improve memory, reasoning and focus. They improve blood flow and may even affect both hormones and the immune system, each of which have an important effect on brain function. One such omega-3, DHA, is used in ion channels in the brain, helping transmit electrical signals, and is involved in serotonin metabolism, a key factor in depression. Researchers have also found omega-3 fish oil supplements lighten bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and may reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.