Science

Health Effects Of Fish Oil: Can Fish Oil Heal The Brain?

By Dante Noe Raquel II , Jan 19, 2017 10:55 PM EST

Study after study will say counting on fish to your diet is a healthy move. Fish oil supplements, though, are a more complex story. The federal advisory commission that wrote the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 advises adults to eat about eight ounces of a variation of seafood each and every week.

This guideline is envisioned to provide you with healthy amounts of two vital omega-3 and fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

Fish Oils Are Rich With Omega 3 That Is Good For Our Development And Growth

These nutrients play significant roles in brain function, normal growth and development, metabolism, and curbing swelling, per the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Our bodies cannot manufacture these fatty acids, so we must consume them.

Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are rich in both DHA and EPA. (There's a third omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in most walnuts, canola oil, flaxseeds, small but most potent chia seeds and pumpkin seeds. Our bodies can change ALA, in limited quantities, to DHA and EPA.)

Despite the abundant options for adding DHA and EPA to our diet, many people prefer to hack the procedure by taking fish oil enhancements, the same way you'd drink vegetable juice in its place of eating actual veggies. "A lot of folks do not know what is essentials and what why they take fish oil," said R. Preston Mason, a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and president of Elucida Research, a biotechnology research company. "You take fish oil for the omega-3 content. ... Public must have heard it's good for you, so they take it. It's a booming industry."

Fish Oil - Third Most Used Supplement In The United States

In fact, fish oil is the third most extensively used supplement in the United States. A National Institutes of Health study published in 2015 estimated that 7.8 percent of Americans used fish oils in 2012, though other revisions put the number of Americans using fish oil as high as 23 percent, according to Adam Ismail, executive director of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s.

Though a simple swap appears to make sense to huge numbers of people, the fundamental science suggests that fish oil supplements may not do justice to our bodily need for omega-3s. And, over the years, viewpoint on its benefits has gone back and forth.

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