Fish oil, made from the tissue of oily fish-such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, lake trout and sardines-has many health benefits. Fish oil contains important Omega-3 fatty acids , most notably eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and decosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to have health benefits ranging from reducing the risk of heart attack and coronary heart disease to combating depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Omega-3 fatty acids are not only good for the heart; they also help to reduce inflammation. This is perhaps one of the most valuable benefits of the Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, as inflammation is associated with many serious diseases. Heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, psoriasis, and Alzheimer's, for example, are characterized by increased levels of pro-inflammatory markers. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil reduce inflammation by preventing production of pro-inflammatory signaling molecules. This may help to prevent serious illness associated with inflammation.
The ability of fish oil to reduce inflammation is not only good for preventing serious illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer. Fish oil is also effective in reducing the symptoms and pain of arthritis. Morning stiffness and joint tenderness was shown to decrease with regular intake of fish oil supplements. Fish oil does not act as a painkiller, and it takes regular use before a difference is noticed. However, fish oil is a viable, natural way to reduce the pain and symptoms associated with arthritis if one is dedicated to the long term outcome rather than focused on immediate cessation of symptoms.
As if the benefits of fish oil on heart health and arthritis were not enough, it is believed that fish oil also helps with anti-aging as well. Omega-3 fatty acids slow the rate at which protective caps on the end of chromosomes shorten, thus increasing the lifespan of cells. The caps, or telomeres, are made from copied strands of DNA and prevent the chromosomes from becoming damaged. When a cell divides, its telomere gets shorter until it can get no shorter and the DNA becomes damaged. When the DNA is damaged the cell no longer divides. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil slows the deterioration of the telomeres, resulting in longer life of cells.
Age-related macular degeneration - better sight Prolonging the life of cells is not the only anti-aging benefit of fish oil. Fish oil has also been shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. A major component of the eye's retina is DHA, accounting for 60% of the fatty acids in the retina. Macular degeneration is a common cause of blindnessin the elderly and has no effective treatment. Omega-3 fatty acids help support healthy circulation and blood vessel strength, as well as naturally lowering cholesterol levels-all of which are causes of macular degeneration. Due to the benefits of fish oil, it may prove to be the first effective treatment against macular degeneration.
Fish oil benefits to pregnant women and the unborn children
The benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are not only for the aging or those facing serious medical issues. Fish oil has also been shown to be beneficial to pregnant women and the unborn child. It is recommended that apregnant woman have 900 mg of fish oil per day, which is equivalent to a serving of salmon per day. The benefits to the unborn child are numerous and include: a healthier brain with increased intelligence; good nervous system development; better eyesight from retina formation; fewer behavioral problems after birth; and better sleeping patterns as a new born. The mother also receives benefits from her consumption of fish oil. These benefits include: a lower chance of developing preeclampsia; a decreased chance of preterm labor; and a greatly reduced incidence of breast cancer. With benefits such as those, all pregnant women should adhere to the recommended daily dosage of fish oil and thus increase her odds of delivering a happy and healthy child. The reason fish oil is so beneficial to the unborn child is because 70% of a newborn's brain, retina and nervous system are made up of the Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. Therefore, increasing the amount of these fatty acids present in the mother's diet, and therefore being given to her unborn child, aides in the child's development of the brain, retina and nervous system.