by Alex Trem
One of the most compelling reasons to consume oily fish or fish oil supplements is the Omega 3 that is present in these fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, herring and lake trout. Fish oil benefits have been researched and substantiated time and time again in studies done around the globe, particularly in the arena of cardiac health.
In a 3 ½ year study of Omega 3 by Italian researchers using a group of over eleven thousand participants who had previously suffered myocardial infarctions, within the first 3 months the mortality rate was significantly lower in those receiving Omega 3 than in the other groups receiving Vitamin E or no supplements at all. In the same group after 4 months there was even a notable difference in the mortality rate for all other causes of death.
Another study at the Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan produced similar results with a 19% reduction in risk for coronary disease with those receiving fish oil supplements.
Yet another study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found fish oil supplements beneficial in preventing sudden death from heart attacks.
This puts cardiac health at the top of the list for fish oils benefits. The data gathered in these studies and many more is powerful evidence that is difficult to ignore.
– Fish oil is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
There is evidence from studies to support fish oil’s anti-cancer properties, in particular, breast, prostate and colon cancers.
Ongoing studies being conducted for Omega 3 fatty acids in the treatment and possible prevention of Parkinson’s Disease is showing promise. Parkinson’s is caused by a decrease in dopamine levels, and the Omega 3 was found to prevent the disruption that caused the decrease.
There are some noted side effects and health risks to taking fish oil mostly related to higher doses or the types of fish oil consumed. The liver in any animal is where toxins are filtered and where the detoxifying process takes place. Therefore any product manufactured using the liver, such as cod liver oil or shark liver oil, has the danger of containing higher levels of toxins and contaminants such as PCBs, mercury, dioxins and chlordane. There are regulatory bodies which set limits on the percentage of toxins that are allowed to be present in available fish oil supplements.
Some other side effects which might be noted, mostly related to higher doses, when taking any fish oil supplement are:
- Increased risk of bleeding such as blood in urine, nose bleeds, etc.
- Gastrointestinal issues such as stomach upset, diarrhea, increased burping, abdominal bloating and/or pain, acid reflux, heartburn, indigestion.
- Lowered blood pressure. People taking medication to lower blood pressure need to consult their doctor before taking fish oil products.
- Possible increase in LDL levels by 5% to 10%–related to higher doses.
- Possible effect on blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
However, side effects are generally mild and dissipate with continual use and fish oil consumption is considered safe for the general population. The health benefits definitely outweigh the negative aspects, but with all new ventures you should discuss it with your doctor first. With results from research and studies as conclusive and solid as this, it is definitely worth serious consideration.