Fish oils come from fatty or oily fish. These fish oils are found in the tissue of fish such as trout, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines, and salmon.
Oily fish can contain up to 30 percent oil. White fish contains high levels of oil in the liver, and have much less oil overall.
Oily fish are good sources of vitamins A and D, along with Omega 3s. Whitefish also does contain these nutrients but at much lower concentrations.
Health experts have often told people that oily fish have greater health benefits than less oily white fish. Some researchers say that is not necessarily the case.
Many health authorities around the globe have recommended that people should consume either plenty of oily fish or to take a fish oil supplement, because of the health benefits associated with fish oil. Some studies in recent years though have produced mixed results about the dietary intake of fish oil
Fish oils and Cod liver oil are often confused – they are different. Fish oils are taken from the tissue of deep sea oily fish such as salmon, tuna or mackerel. Cod liver oil is extracted solely from the livers of cod fish.
What are omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat mostly found in plant and marine life. There are two different types that are found to be plentiful in fatty fish: See our top 10 Omega-3’s reviewed.
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
EPA helps with blood clotting and inflammation. EPA is not produced by fish, but rather it is a byproduct of the algae they eat.
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is a big component of the human retina, sperm, and cerebral cortex (in the brain).
Forty percent of all the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the brain consist of DHA. DHA also makes roughly 60 percent of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the retina. Also, breast milk is rich in DHA.
Possible health benefits of fish oils
While some research has shown that fish oils are not that beneficial to our health, other research has found fish oil to benefit with the following.
1) Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Fish oils have been said to benefit people with MS, though a study done in Norway years ago seems to find this inconclusive.
2) Prostate cancer
Studies have found that a moderate amount of fish oil consumed along with a low-fat diet, can reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
3) Post-natal (post-partum) depression
Fish oil taken during pregnancy may help mothers from suffering post-partum depression. DHA consumption during pregnancy at reasonable levels that is ingested through food intake has the potential to decrease symptoms of postpartum depression.”
4) ADHD Benefits
Studies have concluded that children who consume moderate amounts of EPA and DHA, as reported by their doctors and parents, have experienced a reduction in the symptoms of ADHD.
5) Memory Benefits
Studies have found that taking Omega-3 fatty acid intake can help improve the memory in healthy young adults.
However, older adults, especially women with cognitive decline experienced no benefit taking Omega – fatty acids.
6) Heart Benefits
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils may protect the heart from mental stress.
A study published in the American Journal of Physiology revealed that people who took fish oil supplements for longer than 1 month had improved cardiovascular function during mentally stressful tests.
7) Protection from Alzheimer’s disease
Claims have been made for years that consistent fish oil consumption would help prevent people from developing Alzheimer’s disease. However, some specific studies have shown this not to be the case.
Although a major study published in Neurology in 2007 reported that a diet high in fish, omega-3 oils, fruit, and vegetables reduced dementia and Alzheimer’s risk.
8) Protection from Vision Loss
Moderate dietary consumption of DHA protects people from age-related vision loss. Researchers have reported this finding in the journal of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry proclaims that epilepsy patients could reduce the frequency of seizures by taking low doses of omega-3 fish oil every day.
The research team at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine, says their findings may be particularly useful to epilepsy patients who no longer respond to medication.
10) Schizophrenia and psychotic disorders
In what was believed to be the first study of its kind, researchers revealed the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may be effective for reducing the risk of psychosis.
The study, published in Nature Communications, details how a 12-week intervention with omega-3 supplements substantially reduced the long-term risk of developing psychotic disorders.
11) Benefits for the fetus
Omega-3 consumption may help boost fetal cognitive and motor development.
In a study from 2008, scientists found that omega-3 consumption by the pregnant mother during the last 3 months of pregnancy improved the baby’s sensory, cognitive, and motor development.
Do fish oil supplements offer heart benefits? Does omega-3 benefit heart health?
Many people believe that a high consumption of omega-3 oils can benefit the heart. However, studies have produced mixed results.
Heart benefits discovered in a 2011 study, carried out by researchers at Michigan Technological University, found that fish oil consumption can improve blood flow by reducing triglyceride levels, as well as slowing down the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaques.
Fish oils help patients with stents in their arteries – people with stents in their heart who took two blood-thinning drugs, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, were found to have a lower risk of heart attack compared with those not on fish oils.
Researchers from one United States University set out to determine why the incidence of heart disease in Japan is much lower than in America, Canada, Western Europe, and Australia.
They reported that omega-3-rich fish consumption in Japan is much higher than in other developed nations. The authors believe that this is the main contributor to its relatively low rate of heart disease.
The scientists explained that the difference cannot be explained by genetic factors. Third and fourth generation Japanese-Americans have either the same or higher rates of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) than the rest of the American population.
Researchers have concluded that Americans and Canadians eat far too much meat and not enough fish,
They also suggested that the North American lifestyle means people are not getting adequate amounts of dietary omega-3 fatty acids. They emphasized the fact that pregnant and breastfeeding women in particular need to ensure that they consume plenty of omega-3 oils.