I’m going to be talking about taking fish oil, but just to be clear, throughout this post, I will be referencing omega-3s when I’m talking about omega-3 fish oil. This is because while you can get omega-3s from various vegetarian sources (in the form of ALA), the biggest bang for your buck is getting the omega-3s from fish.
If you want to read up on omega-3s first, then why not check out the Ultimate Guide to Omega-3, but if you’re here for the fish oil, then keep reading as I talk more in-depth about why we should take fish oil and some of the major benefits.
Fish Oil Supplements are Different Than They Once Were
I want to acknowledge the fact that, not so much for this generation, but the prior generation may have a negative association with fish oil. They may link it to fish burps or an unpalatable taste since many of us used to rely on liquid fish oils as opposed to the capsule options that are available today.
The good news is that fish oil supplements have made leaps and bounds in what’s now available to us as consumers. When you select a pure, high-quality fish oil, you shouldn’t even be dealing with those notorious fish burps.
So, Why Take Fish Oil Supplements?
If you are selecting a purified product with clean ingredients and very high quality omega-3 fish oil supplements, there can be numerous benefits.
Cardiovascular, Brain, & Eye Health
First and foremost, a steady regimen of omega-3s ensures that your body is getting what it needs for cardiovascular as well as brain and eye health. (1, 2)
Getting enough of these fatty acids is important because omega-3s are essential, meaning that the body cannot produce them on its own. We have to get them from either food sources or through quality omega-3 supplementation. (3)
Inflammation and Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio
Having the right kind of fats, such as omega-3s, ensures that you won’t be using inferior fats for primary metabolic functions — we want to focus on good healthy fats to support wellness, not hydrogenated, trans, and damaged omega-6 fats that are abundantly found in the Standard American Diet.
Taking an omega-3 supplement, like fish oil, is also an important part of balancing the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. While we do need both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, we need both in a healthy and balanced range, and unfortunately, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 we are seeing today is anywhere between 10:1 to 20:1 (4). This is much higher than the ideal ratio of 1:1 or the acceptable ratio of 4:1 for general wellness.
When we are getting too many omega-6 fats (from things like vegetable oils) and not enough omega-3 fats, our omega-6 to omega-3 ratio can be thrown off, which can then disrupt our body’s inflammatory response. (5) The good news is that research has found that reducing the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio may help lower inflammation. (6) Prioritizing healthy fats, such as fish, or getting enough omega-3s through supplementing with fish oil, while avoiding processed foods is a huge part of lowering this ratio that is commonly far too high in the US.
Omega-3s for Metabolism
Omega-3s may also help support metabolism, aka the rate at which you burn energy. A 12-week study found that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increased both resting and exercise metabolic rate. (7)
What To Look For in a Fish Oil Supplement
With all this being said, we have to make sure that the supplements that we choose to take are of the highest quality possible. Unfortunately, with fish, our oceans have become so polluted that we run the risk of consuming a tainted supplement with heavy metals if we don’t opt for something that has been 3rd party purity tested. So, whenever selecting your supplement, keep purity, and quality standards in mind.
Give Fish Oil a Chance
Omega-3s are essential fats, meaning that the body cannot produce them, so we must ensure that we are getting enough through the foods we eat, or in supplement form. If you know that you aren’t getting enough through diet alone, give omega-3 supplementation a try and combine that with fun exercise and healthy eating, which you already know is good for you. Mix in some regenerative sleep, and you can set yourself up for a happy and healthy life.
There are so many studies, including from the NIH, showing the efficacy of Omega-3s, so give it a chance! I always recommend 90 days of adding a new supplement to your regimen. Give your body enough time to work and then if you need to, try something else after 90 days.
- Emma Derbyshire. Brain Health Across the Lifespan: A Systemic Review on the Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6116096/
- Harvard Health Publishing. Omega-3 For Your Eyes. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/omega-3-for-your-eyes
- National Institutes of Health. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/
- Balancing Act Aglaée Jacob, MS, RD. Today’s Dietitian. Vol. 15 No. 4 P. 38. https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/040113p38.shtml#:~:text=As%20a%20consequence%20of%20these,of%20chronic%20and%20inflammatory%20diseases.
- Simopoulos AP. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002;56(8):365-379. doi:10.1016/s0753-3322(02)00253-6
- James J DiNicolantonio and James H O’Keefe. Importance of maintaining a low omega–6/omega–3 ratio for reducing inflammation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6269634/
- Logan SL, Spriet LL. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation for 12 Weeks Increases Resting and Exercise Metabolic Rate in Healthy Community-Dwelling Older Females. PLoS One. 2015;10(12):e0144828. Published 2015 Dec 17. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0144828