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Fish Oil

Fish Oil (Omega-3 Fatty Acids)

Fish oil is a common term used to refer to the different types of omega-3 fatty acids. Marine animals such as fish provide eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), while flaxseed other plants offer alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), are essential for human health. Because the human body cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, they must be obtained either through diet or supplements.

Overall Health Benefits of EPA

  • Lowers Risk of Cardiovascular Disease [1-5]
  • Prevents Inflammatory Disorders [6-8]
  • Treats Major Depression and Improves Mood [9-11]
  • Prevents Alzheimer’s disease Cognitive Decline [12-14]
  • Prevents and Treats Kidney Disease [15-18]
  • Combats Cancer [19-22]
  • Improves Eyesight [23-24]
  • Helps Lose Weight [25-26]
  • Lowers Blood Pressure [27-29]
  • Improves Sexual Function [30-32]

Overall Health Benefits of DHA

  • Lowers Risk of Cardiovascular Disease [33-37]
  • Prevents Inflammatory Disorders and Autoimmune Diseases [38-39]
  • Treats Major Depression and Improves Mood [40-42]
  • Prevents Alzheimer’s disease and Improves Cognitive Function [43-45]
  • Prevents and Treats Various Kidney Diseases [46-47]
  • Prevents Cancer [48-53]
  • Improves Eyesight [54-56]
  • Helps Lose Weight [25] [57-59]
  • Lowers Blood Pressure [60-63]
  • Improves Sexual Function [64-65]

Proven Health Benefits of EPA

EPA can be found in cold-water fatty fish like salmon and in fish oil supplements. This omega-3 fatty acid offers a wide range of health benefits such as:

Lowers Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

A number of convincing studies support the beneficial effects of EPA on heart health:

  1. A study showed that EPA can help reduce cardiovascular disease risk by lowering triglyceride (blood far) concentrations, inhibiting platelet activity, and reducing oxidative stress. [1]
  2. A study showed that EPA can reduce blood fat concentrations in the liver. [2]
  3. A study showed that increased consumption of EPA was associated with a lower risk of heart disease. [3]
  4. A study showed that the addition of EPA to a healthy diet can prevent cardiovascular disease. [4]
  5. A study also found that EPA consumption can help prevent fatal cardiac events. [5]

Prevents Inflammatory Disorders

A broad range of studies also support the anti-inflammatory properties of EPA:

  1. Supplementation of EPA in patients with several inflammatory and autoimmune diseases has been shown to decrease disease activity and lower the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. [6]
  2. A study showed that EPA can stimulate the dilation of smaller arteries and inhibition of inflammatory genes. [7]
  3. A study found that EPA can help treat autoimmune blood vessel inflammation. [8]

Treats Major Depression and Improves Mood

EPA has also been found to boost overall mood:

  1. In patients with depression due to insufficient omega-3 fatty acids, supplementation with EPA reduced symptoms. [9]
  2. In subjects with major depressive disorder, EPA prevented the loss of neurons in the brain. [10]
  3. In animals, EPA reduced depressive-like behaviors by improving cognitive function. [11]

Prevents Alzheimer’s disease Cognitive Decline

Evidence suggests that EPA can help combat age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease:

  1. A study reported that EPA may help prevent vascular dementia. [12]
  2. In rodents, supplementation with EPA reduced deposition of abnormal proteins in the brain. [13]
  3. A study showed that EPA can help treat Alzheimer’s disease through its neuroprotective effect. [14]

Prevents and Treats Kidney Disease

A number of studies also found that EPA is essential for kidney health:

  1. A study showed that EPA supplementation delayed the progression of kidney disease and it also reduced the risk of end-stage renal disease. [15]
  2. A study showed that EPA may counter pathologic processes that can lead to the development and progression of inflammation and oxidative stress in the kidneys. [16]
  3. In patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), administration of EPA daily improved the kidney’s filtering ability. [17]
  4. A study also found that EPA may be beneficial for kidney health through its anti-inflammatory activities. [18]

Combats Cancer

There’s increasing evidence that supports the potent anti-cancer properties of EPA:

  1. In patients with cancer, EPA supplementation prevented muscle wasting.[19]
  2. A study showed that EPA inhibited the production of colon cancer cells by decreasing the genes involved in cancer formation. [20]
  3. A study showed that EPA suppressed the growth of cancer cells by affecting the production of certain genes. [21]
  4. In patients with higher cancer risk, EPA supplementation at a dose of 2 g per day prevented colon cancer. [22]

Improves Eyesight

EPA has also been found to improve eye health:

  1. In animal models, dietary EPA intake prevented degeneration of the retina. [23]
  2. A study showed that consumption of fish oil is associated with reduced risk of inflammatory eye diseases. [24]

Helps Lose Weight

  1. In overweight and obese adults, EPA supplementation reduced abdominal fat. [25]
  2. In rodents, administration of EPA prevented obesity. [26]

Lowers Blood Pressure

Studies show that consumption of EPA can produce anti-hypertensive effects:

  1. In patients with essential hypertension, EPA administration reduced systolic blood pressure. [27]
  2. In human subjects, EPA reduced total body fat percentage as well as risk of fatal diseases. [28]
  3. In older and hypertensive subjects, high doses of EPA produced significant decrease in blood pressure, especially systolic blood pressure. [29]

Improves Sexual Function

EPA also has beneficial effects on sexual health:

  1. In rat models, EPA improved erection and protected the penis against damage caused by scarring or low oxygen levels. [30]
  2. Studies found that higher EPA levels were associated with improves sexual function. [31-32]

Benefits of DHA

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 fatty acid found in the meat of cold-water fish, mackerel, herring, and tuna. It is widely used for the prevention of heart disease and high cholesterol. It is also used to increase memory, reasoning capacity and much more.

Lowers Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

A convincing body of evidence supports the beneficial effects of DHA on heart health:

  1. A study indicated that DHA supplementation has beneficial effects on other cardiovascular disease risk factors including blood pressure and resting heart rate. [33]
  2. A study showed that approximately 1g per day of eicosapentaenoic acid plus docosahexaenoic acid is recommended to reduce elevated triglyceride levels and blood pressure. [34]
  3. A study showed that DHA can lower the risk of heart disease by preventing cell adhesion. [35]
  4. In 3000 participants, DHA supplementation reduced abnormally increased heart rates. [36]
  5. A study showed that the combination of EPA and DHA can produce significant beneficial effects on heart health. [37]

Prevents Inflammatory Disorders and Autoimmune Diseases

Studies also suggest that DHA has potent anti-inflammatory properties necessary for the prevention of autoimmune diseases:

  1. A study showed that in human cancer treatment, DHA and its metabolites produced suppression of chronic inflammation. [38]
  2. In animal experiments, DHA reduced the levels of inflammatory substances. [39]

Treats Major Depression and Improves Mood

A number of studies found that DHA has antidepressant effects:

  1. A study showed that DHA can help improve depressive symptoms. [40]
  2. A study reported that DHA can help protect against major depression, bipolar disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder. [41]
  3. DHA supplementation at a dosage of ≤1 g/d has been shown to have beneficial effects on depression. [42]

Prevents Alzheimer’s disease and Improves Cognitive Function

Evidence also suggests that DHA can help boost cognitive function:

  1. A study showed that DHA increases the brain levels of neuroprotective brain-derived neurotrophic factor and decreases the fatty acid arachidonate and its prostaglandin metabolites that have been implicated in promoting Alzheimer’s disease. [43]
  2. In animal models, DHA derivatives were found to regulate inflammatory mediators as well as enzymes involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. [44]
  3. A study showed that DHA can reduce nerve inflammation and cognitive decline by maintaining normal brain structure. [45].

Prevents and Treats Various Kidney Diseases

Studies suggest that DHA supplementation can help improve kidney health:

  1. In 21 IgA Nephropathy patients, treated with EPA and DHA resulted to stabilizing the renal function of patients. [46]
  2. A study showed that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a substantially reduced risk of end-stage renal disease and delays the progression of this disease. [47]

Prevents Cancer

A number of convincing studies also found that DHA can help protect against different types of cancer:

  1. A cell study showed that DHA induced apoptosis (programmed cell death) in pancreatic cancer cells. [48]
  2. A cell study showed that DHA inhibited the development of non-small lung tumors. [49]
  3. In breast cancer patients, administration of DHA in the form of algal oil induced pyroptosis, a highly inflammatory form of programmed cell death. [50]
  4. A study showed that DHA-treated breast cancer cells exhibited destruction of their cell membrane. [51]
  5. In colorectal cancer cells, DHA promoted programmed cell death by altering survival pathways. [52]
  6. In lung cancer cells, DHA decreased tumor growth by suppressing certain signaling pathways. [53]

Improves Eyesight

There’s increasing evidence that supports the beneficial effects of DHA on eye health:

  1. A study showed that lower DHA levels were linked to poor visual function. [54]
  2. In patients with eye problems caused by diabetes and other medical conditions, DHA has been found to improve visual function. [55]
  3. A study showed that early dietary intake of preformed DHA appears necessary for optimal development of the brain and eye of infants. [56]

Helps Lose Weight

Studies also reported that DHA has anti-obesity effects:

  1. In overweight and obese adults, DHA supplementation reduced abdominal fat. [25]
  2. In children, administration of 300 mg DHA daily led to a decrease in body weight. [57]
  3. A study found that DHA can help control obesity and other related metabolic disorders. [58]
  4. When administered in obese patients who were on a very low-calorie ketogenic diet, DHA significantly reduced body weight. [59]

Lowers Blood Pressure

Administration of DHA in hypertensive patients has also been shown to produce beneficial effects, according to studies:

  1. Daily doses of EPA+DHA as low as 0.7 g showed clinically meaningful BP reductions in hypertensive patients. [60]
  2. A study showed DHA reduces blood pressure by widening blood vessels. [61]
  3. A study showed that DHA is the principal omega3 fatty acid in fish and fish oils that is responsible blood pressure-lowering effects in humans. [62]
  4. A review of several studies found that EPA+DHA can help reduce systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. [63]

Improves Sexual Function

Just like EPA, studies also show that DHA is vital for sexual function:

  1. In rats, DHA administration at a dose of 50 μg/kg improved erectile function. [64]
  2. A study showed that higher estrogen levels in women were associated with higher DHA and improved sexual function. [65]

References

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  2. Oscarsson, J., Hurt-Camejo, E. Omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid and their mechanisms of action on apolipoprotein B-containing lipoproteins in humans: a review. Lipids Health Dis 16, 149 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12944-017-0541-3.
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