Health Benefits of Fish Oil, Where do we Stand?

Health Benefits of Fish Oil

In CNN’s Susan Scutti article, it has emerged that adding fish to your diet is a healthy choice since study upon study confirms that. In this article, we reproduce the health benefits of fish oil and where we stand.

Supplements containing fish oil, on the other hand, are a more nuanced affair. The federal advisory committee that created the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommends that individuals consume 8 ounces of a variety of seafood each week.

This recommendation is meant to supply you with enough levels of two essential omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (EPA).

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, these nutrients serve critical roles in brain function, appropriate growth and development, metabolism, and inflammation reduction. Because our bodies cannot produce these fatty acids, we must consume them.

DHA and EPA levels are high in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines. (Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a third omega-3 fatty acid, is found in walnuts, canola oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds. In modest concentrations, our bodies can convert ALA to DHA and EPA.)

Despite the abundance of choices for incorporating DHA and EPA into our diets, many people prefer to circumvent the process by taking fish oil supplements, much like you might drink vegetable juice instead of eating actual vegetables.
“A lot of individuals don’t realize why they take fish oil,” said R. Preston Mason, a Harvard Medical School faculty member and head of Elucida Research, a biotechnology research firm. “You take fish oil for the omega-3 fatty acid content….” People take it because they’ve heard it’s healthy for them. It’s a thriving business.”

18th century (and earlier): Fish oil cures was everywhere

Fish oil is, in fact, the third most popular supplement in the United States. According to Adam Ismail, executive director of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s, a National Institutes of Health research published in 2015 showed that 7.8 percent of Americans took fish oils in 2012. Other studies put the proportion of Americans using fish oil as high as 23 percent.

Though a simple shift appears to make sense to a large number of individuals, the underlying science reveals that fish oil supplements may not meet our physical demand for omega-3 fatty acids.


And, throughout time, people’s perspectives on its benefits have shifted.

“In fact, it can be dated back to the Viking age,” Ismail noted in an email. The Vikings are thought to have lived between the late ninth and mid-eleventh centuries.

Due to health benefits of fish oil, it was a huge business in the 19th century.

Though the Vikings may have pioneered the revolutionary technology of fish oil production, the commercial sector took off in northern Europe and North America from the beginning of the nineteenth century, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. https://www.health-impress.com/the-side-effects-of-consuming-too-much-oil/Oil manufacturing activities, which were mostly based on surplus herring catches, found industrial use in leather tanning, soap making, and other non-food goods.

Originally, the waste was utilized as fertilizer, but since the start of the twentieth century, the oil residue has been dried and crushed into fish meal for animal feed.

The manufacture of fish oil becomes more sophisticated throughout the twentieth century.

Some of the older traditions survived into the twentieth century, while the UN report notes that a variety of choices for energy conservation, automation, and environmental preservation have risen in recent years. Unpalatable fish species, or so-called industrial fish, such as menhaden, sand eel, anchoveta, and pout, are converted into oil using normal procedures, primarily heating, pressing, and grinding.

While Europe dominated production in earlier centuries, in the second half of the twentieth century, Peru and Chile rose to the top of the business, each exporting around 18,000 metric tons of fish oil globally.
Fish oil is also produced in Iceland, Denmark, Norway, and the United States, with all production businesses primarily supplying to Asia and Europe.

2010: Fish oil supplements during pregnancy do not prevent postpartum depression

According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, fish oil supplements given during pregnancy had no effect on postpartum depression and do not help newborns’ brains develop faster.

A team of Australian researchers expected to find that fish oil was beneficial to the almost 2,000 pregnant women investigated. However, mothers who took the supplements throughout their pregnancy were equally as likely as those who did not experience postpartum depression, and their newborns’ brains did not appear to expand and develop faster than other babies’. Nonetheless, the supplements were linked to a lower incidence of premature birth.

The authors ascribed the study’s silver lining to DHA, which boosts the cardiovascular and neurological systems, and the other dismal findings to exaggerated claims from two previous research.

The first study looked at the relationship between a mother’s seafood consumption and her child’s verbal IQ score, while the second looked at the relationship between a mother’s seafood consumption and depressive symptoms during pregnancy. However, both of these studies focused on the benefits of seafood rather than fish oil.

2011: Fish oil alleviates ADHD symptoms and shortens the duration of newborn colds.

According to a review published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, fish oil supplements, particularly those with greater dosages of EPA, were shown to be “modestly beneficial” in the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Yale Child Study Center researchers discovered “a small but substantial benefit” indicated by omega-3 fatty acid supplementation after evaluating and analyzing 10 clinical trials involving 699 participants. Separately, the scientists discovered that supplementation helped with symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity. They did, however, warn against utilizing omega-3s in place of pharmacological therapy.

Given the “evidence of modest efficacy” and “relatively benign” side effects, the researchers concluded that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, particularly with higher doses of EPA, “is a reasonable treatment strategy” to use either alone or in conjunction with the usual prescribed pharmaceutical drugs.

In 2011, a study published in the journal Pediatrics discovered that kids of pregnant mothers who took DHA-rich fish oil supplements had stronger immune systems.

The researchers discovered that those newborns had fewer days with cold symptoms in their first six months of life than those whose moms received a placebo. In addition, newborns in the DHA group were marginally less likely to catch a cold in the first place.

2012: Fish oil may help the brain stay young and recover severe brain injury

According to a study published in the journal Neurology, persons who eat diets low in omega-3 fatty acids — the type found in fish oil — had a higher risk of brain aging.

Dr. Zaldy S. Tan, the study’s lead author, and his colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles examined the amounts of DHA and EPA in the blood of 1,575 participants.

The researchers then matched these levels to the patients’ MRI brain scans and cognitive test scores in the following areas: problem-solving, multitasking, and abstract thinking.

They discovered that people who scored in the bottom 25% on several mental tests had lower amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood as well as lower brain sizes, which equated to about two years of brain aging.

Tan and his co-authors found that people with lower omega-3 fatty acid levels were also more likely to have a minute but significant structural alterations in the brain, as seen on MRI pictures. The brain scans of the low omega-3 fatty acid group even revealed microscopic lesions in the brain, raising their risk of mortality, stroke, and dementia.

According to the study authors, with blood arteries providing a full third of the brain’s volume, the findings are consistent with the evidence of damage to that intricate network.

In 2012, high-dose fish oil supplementation aided 17-year-old Bobby Ghassemi, who was in a coma following a vehicle accident.

Ghassemi began to come out of his coma two weeks after starting a fish oil regimen, with movement on his left side. Soon later, he began to show evidence of recognizing his family and dog, as well as distinguishing colors and numbers. His family was adamant that high-dose fish oil had helped his brain repair.

2013: Fish oil supplements linked to increased the risk of prostate cancer

According to a Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center study published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, eating a lot of fatty fish or taking potent fish oil supplements was connected with a 43 percent elevated risk of prostate cancer.

The researchers also observed a 71% greater risk of aggressive prostate cancer in people who consume fish oil or a lot of oily fish.

The researchers examined blood samples from men who took part in the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial, which concluded that selenium supplements did not prevent prostate cancer and that vitamin E supplementation marginally raised the risk of the disease.

Blood samples from men who went on to develop prostate cancer throughout the research, on the other hand, contained higher omega-3 fats than those from healthy individuals.

According to Ismail of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s, sales of fish oil supplements began to flatten and drop in 2013, possibly as a result of this widely publicized discovery. Sales of fish oil supplements surged from $100 million in the late 1980s to $1.3 billion in 2012.

2015: Fish oil has the potential to change fat cells.

According to a study conducted in mice and published in Scientific Reports, fish oil may turn fat-storage cells into fat-burning cells, which may limit weight gain in middle age. According to researchers at Kyoto University, fish oil not only stimulates receptors in the digestive tract but also induces storage cells to metabolize fat.

One set of mice was fed fatty foods, whereas the other was offered non-fatty fish oil additive diets. The mice that ate fish oil grew 5% to 10% less weight and 15% to 25% less fat than the other mice, the researchers reported. More research is needed to establish if the same effects occur in people as in animals.

2016: Fish oil during pregnancy reduces the incidence of asthma in children – but are the supplements as effective as they claim?

According to a Danish study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, women who consumed fish oil during the last three months of pregnancy reduced their children’s risk of having asthma.

By the age of three, around 17% of children whose mothers took fish-oil capsules had asthma, compared to nearly 24% of children whose mothers were given placebos.

Despite the fact that the doses were 15 to 20 times higher than what typical Americans receive from meals on a daily basis — 2.4 grams per day — no detrimental effects were observed in either the moms or the babies. Nonetheless, the researchers were hesitant to recommend that pregnant women consume fish oil on a regular basis until more research was completed.

While this is undoubtedly encouraging news, completely different research of fish oil was published around the same time by Harvard’s Mason.

“I just wanted to know what’s inside these capsules.” Mason described his study, which focused on a small number of popular fish oil supplements in the United States. “We were astonished to learn that in some of these frequently used supplements, only one-third of the product was the beneficial omega-3s, and the rest was these other lipids, including saturated fats, which we don’t associate with health benefits.”

Saturated fats raise LDL cholesterol or bad cholesterol.

Mason was also somewhat aback to hear that the fish oil tablets include cholesterol.

“Omega-3s are extremely prone to disintegration during manufacture.” “They oxidize or get rotten,” Mason explained. Along with the difficulty of making these products without damage, the majority of them arrive in enormous cargoes that cruise the oceans.

“During that process, they are frequently exposed to extreme temperatures, which will rapidly break them down,” he explained, adding that “in the lab, if we expose omega-3s to simply typical ambient circumstances, they are breaking down into these oxidized compounds within hours.”

“Once broken down, they clearly do not have the beneficial impacts that we hope for,” Mason said.

Though the same thing can happen with fish, you can smell it and inspect it before buying it.

“Imagine going to a supermarket where the fish is rotten and stinks terrible,” Mason added, noting that supplements contain deodorants and other compounds to mask their unpleasant stench.

He believes that supplementation is necessary for many people, but the bottom line is that the quality is inconsistent.

What’s next for fish oil in 2017?

Nancy Copperman, a licensed dietitian and associate vice president of public health and community collaboration at Northwell Health, evaluated the most recent studies in order to forecast the future. For people looking to add fish oil to their diets, she advises a straightforward — albeit more expensive — option: “pharmaceutical-grade fish oil pills that tend to be purer.”

At the same time, Copperman warns consumers not to believe every health claim because most only apply to a small sample of people who have been studied.

“The findings dwindled and waxed” in numerous fish oil studies, she noted. Though some people performed well, others did not, and scientists were unable to repeat the favorable results from one trial to the next.
People with extremely high triglycerides who are at risk of cardiovascular disease are an exception, according to Copperman.

“Adding a marine oil supplement — again, it must be… pharmaceutical-grade — does cut triglyceride levels in that demographic,” she added, citing all of the data she’s seen over the years.

According to Copperman, there may be some advantages to utilizing fish oil to lessen the risk of ischemic stroke in patients who have atherosclerosis, or artery hardening.

Because omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients, Copperman advises individuals to consume oily fish instead of taking supplements: When you eat more fish, you probably eat less meat, even greasy hamburgers.

According to the American Heart Association, fast food burgers, as well as other fatty meals like cakes and cookies, are high in omega-6s, which may raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune illnesses.

“You can’t tell the omega-3 tale unless you share the omega-6 story,” Floyd added. “Ski” Chilton is a Wake Forest School of Medicine professor of physiology and pharmacology. Omega-3s and omega-6s enter our bodies at the same time and are processed by the same enzymes.

According to Chilton, the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s has evolved over the last 50 years from two omega-6s for each omega-3 to around a 10- to 15-to-one ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s. Our systems are working hard to process omega-6s, yet they are unable to metabolize and properly employ omega-3s. Meanwhile, many people struggle to acquire enough omega-3s from the start.

According to Chilton, there is significant ancestry-based heterogeneity in our ability to convert ALA into EPA or DHA. African-Americans convert ALA to EPA or DHA very well, Europeans less so, and Native Americans not at all, with variation within each group.

When it comes to supplements, “the one-size-fits-all strategy is likely not applicable,” according to Chilton, who adds that we have entered the “bright new realm of precision nutrition.”

“Precision nutrition simply states that different individuals, particularly different ancestry-based populations, racial and ethnic communities, may require — when it comes to omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids — different recommendations,” he explained.

Chilton admits that all of this “is perplexing for the general people, and it’s understandable that it’s confusing,” but he is ultimately disturbed by the change away from the two-to-one omega-6 to omega-3 ratio that has naturally evolved over a long period of time.

“From that perspective, the addition of omega-3s to nearly any diet would make sense,” Chilton said in the future.

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