Health effects of fish oil: Where do we stand?

Using fish oil supplements, though, will be under near-constant debate.

This particular guideline will be intended to provide you with healthy amounts of two essential omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) as well as also eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

These nutrients play important roles in brain function, normal growth as well as also development, metabolism as well as also curbing inflammation, according to the National Center for Complementary as well as also Integrative Health. Our bodies cannot manufacture these fatty acids, so we must consume them.

Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel as well as also sardines, are rich in both DHA as well as also EPA. (There’s a third omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in walnuts, canola oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds as well as also pumpkin seeds. Our bodies can convert ALA, in limited quantities, to DHA as well as also EPA.)

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Despite the plentiful options for adding DHA as well as also EPA to our diet, many people prefer to hack the process by taking fish oil supplements, the same way you’d drink vegetable juice instead of eating actual veggies.

“A lot of people don’t know why they take fish oil,” said R. Preston Mason, a faculty member at Harvard Medical School as well as also president of Elucida Research, a biotechnology research company. “You take fish oil for the omega-3 content. … People have heard in which’s not bad for you, so they take in which. in which’s a booming industry.”

In fact, fish oil will be the third most widely used supplement inside the United States. A National Institutes of Health study published in 2015 estimated in which 7.8% of Americans used fish oils in 2012, though various other studies put the number of Americans using fish oil as high as 23%, according to Adam Ismail, executive director of the Global Organization for EPA as well as also DHA Omega-3s.

Though a simple swap appears to make sense to huge numbers of people, the underlying science suggests in which fish oil supplements may not do justice to our physical need for omega-3s.

as well as also, in recent times, opinion on its benefits has gone back as well as also forth.

18th century (as well as also earlier): Fish oil cures what ails you

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Fish oils had been used as a cure for generations in Northern European fishing communities, according to the National Museum of American History. In particular, citizens of Germany as well as also Britain used cod liver oil to treat rickets, rheumatism, gout as well as also tuberculosis during the 18th century.

Yet in which will be widely believed in which fishermen of earlier centuries commonly used oils for a range of conditions including wounds, body aches, the common cold as well as also skin diseases. Cod liver oil, as a mass-produced product, dates to the 1700s as well as also 1800s, according to Ismail.

“In fact, in which can be traced to the Viking era,” Ismail wrote in an email. The age of the Vikings will be commonly believed to range through the late eighth century to the mid-11th century.

19th century: Fish oil will be big business

Though the Vikings may have begun the disruptive technology of fish oil production, the commercial industry took flight at the beginning of the 19th century in northern Europe as well as also North America, according to the Food as well as also Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Based mainly on surplus catches of herring, oil production activities found industrial uses in leather tanning, soap production as well as also various other non-food products.

Originally, the residue was used as fertilizer, nevertheless since the turn of the 20th century, the oil leftovers have been dried as well as also ground into fish meal for animal feeding.

20th century: Fish oil production becomes more refined

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Some of the olders traditions continue unchanged into the 20th century, though the UN report notes in which many options inside the fields of energy saving, automation as well as also environmental protection have increased in recent years. Unpalatable species of fish — or so-called industrial fish, including menhaden, sand eel, anchoveta as well as also pout — are reduced into oil by standard methods — essentially, heating, pressing as well as also grinding.

While Europe may have dominated production in previous centuries, inside the latter half of the 20th century, Peru as well as also Chile came to the forefront of the industry, each exporting about 18,000 metric tons of fish oil worldwide. Iceland, Denmark, Norway as well as also the United States also produce fish oil, with all production companies selling mainly to Asia as well as also Europe.

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

Fish oil supplements taken during pregnancy have no effect on postpartum depression as well as also do not help babies’ brains develop more quickly, according to a 2010 study published inside the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A team of Australian researchers had anticipated to find in which fish oil had positive effects for the more than 2,000 pregnant women studied. However, the women who took the supplements during their pregnancy were just as likely to experience postpartum depression as those who didn’t as well as also the brains of their babies didn’t appear to grow as well as also develop more quickly than various other babies. Yet, the supplements were associated that has a reduced risk of preterm birth.

The authors attributed their study’s silver lining to DHA, which benefits the cardiovascular as well as also neurological systems, as well as also the various other disappointing results to overinflated claims through two past studies.

One study looked at a mother’s seafood consumption as well as also a child’s verbal IQ score, while the second study looked at a mother’s seafood consumption as well as also depressive symptoms during pregnancy. nevertheless both of these studies involved the benefits of seafood rather than fish oil itself.

2011: Fish oil eases ADHD symptoms as well as also lessens baby colds

Fish oil supplements, particularly those with higher doses of EPA, were found to be “modestly effective” inside the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, according to a review published inside the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

After reviewing as well as also analyzing 10 clinical trials involving 699 participants, Yale Child Study Center researchers found “a modest nevertheless significant effect” demonstrated by omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. Separately, the authors found in which supplementation treated symptoms of inattention as well as also hyperactivity. However, they cautioned against using omega-3s in lieu of pharmaceutical treatments.

Given “evidence of modest efficacy” as well as also the “relatively benign” side-effects, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, particularly with higher doses of EPA, “will be a reasonable treatment strategy” to use either alone or along with the usual prescribed pharmaceutical drugs, the researchers concluded.

Also in 2011, a study published inside the journal Pediatrics found in which the babies of pregnant women who took fish oil supplements containing DHA had more fortified immune systems.

Specifically, those babies had fewer days with cold symptoms in their first six months of life than those whose mothers received a placebo, the researchers found. Newborns inside the DHA group were also slightly less likely to come down that has a cold inside the first place.

2012: Fish oil might help the brain stay young as well as also heal traumatic brain injury

Accelerated brain aging will be more likely to occur in people who eat diets short on omega-3 fatty acids — the kind found in fish oil, according to a study published inside the journal Neurology.

Lead author Dr. Zaldy S. Tan as well as also his colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles looked at circulating levels of DHA as well as also EPA inside the blood of 1,575 people.

Next, they compared these levels with participants’ MRI brain scans as well as also cognitive test results: problem-solving, multitasking as well as also abstract thinking.

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They discovered in which those participants who scored inside the bottom 25% on various mental tests had lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood as well as also lower brain volumes — what equates to about two years of brain aging.

Tan as well as also his co-authors said those with lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids were also more likely to have minute nevertheless significant structural modifications inside the brain, apparent on the MRI images. The brain scans of the low omega-3 fatty acids group even showed tiny lesions inside the brain, which would certainly raise their risk for death, stroke as well as also dementia.

With blood vessels supplying a full third of the brain’s volume, the results are consistent with signs of damage to in which intricate network, according to the study authors.

Also in 2012, high-dose fish oil supplementation helped 17-year-old Bobby Ghassemi, who was in a coma after a car crash.

Two weeks after beginning a fish oil regimen, Ghassemi began to emerge through his coma, showing movement on his left side. Shortly after, he began to show signs of recognizing his family as well as also his dog as well as also of discerning things like colors as well as also numbers. His family ardently believed high-dose fish oil helped his brain heal.

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

Eating a lot of oily fish or taking potent fish oil supplements was associated that has a 43% increased risk of prostate cancer, according to a Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center study published online inside the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The researchers also discovered a 71% increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer among those consuming fish oil or large amounts of oily fish.

They researchers had looked at blood samples of men taking part inside the Selenium as well as also Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial, which ultimately found in which selenium supplements did not prevent prostate cancer, while vitamin E supplements slightly increased risk of the disease.

However, blood samples through men who went on to develop prostate cancer over the course of the trial showed more omega-3 fats than those of healthy men.

Perhaps because of This particular well-publicize news, sales of fish oil supplements, which grew through about $100 million inside the late 1980s as well as also peaked at $1.3 billion during 2012, began to flatten as well as also decline beginning in 2013, according to Ismail, of the Global Organization for EPA as well as also DHA Omega-3s.

2015: Fish oil may transform fat cells

Fish oil may transform fat-storage cells into fat-burning cells, which may reduce weight gain in middle age, according to research conducted in mice as well as also published in Scientific Reports. According to Kyoto University researchers, fish oil not only activates receptors inside the digestive tract, in which induces storage cells to metabolize fat.

The scientists fed fatty foods to one group of mice, as well as also a second group ate non-fatty fish oil additive foods. The mice in which ate fish oil gained 5% to 10% less weight as well as also 15% to 25% less fat than the others, the researchers discovered. An animal study, more research will be needed to see if the same effects occur in humans.

2016: Fish oil during pregnancy lowers risk of asthma in children — nevertheless are the supplements all they claim?

Women who took fish oil during the last three months of pregnancy lowered the risk of their children developing asthma, according to a Danish study published inside the brand new England Journal of Medicine.

About 17% of children whose moms took fish-oil capsules had asthma by age 3, compared with nearly 24% of the children whose mothers were given placebos.

The doses were 15 to 20 times what most Americans consume through foods a day — 2.4 grams per day — yet no adverse effects occurred in either the mothers or babies. Still, the researchers hesitated to recommend in which pregnant women routinely take fish oil until more studies are done.

While This particular will be certainly not bad news, a very different study of fish oil authored by Harvard’s Mason appeared around the same time.

“I just wanted to ask the question: What’s actually inside these capsules?” Mason said of his study, which looked at a limited number of well-known US fish oil supplements. “We were quite surprised to see in which in some of these widely used supplements, only a third of the product was the favorable omega-3s, as well as also the balance of them were these various other lipids, including saturated fats, which we don’t associate with health benefits.”

Saturated fats raise our bad cholesterol, or LDL.

Mason said he was also surprised to learn the fish oil supplements contain cholesterol.

“Omega-3s are highly vulnerable to breakdown during manufacturing. They become oxidized or rancid,” Mason said. Along with the challenge of manufacturing these products without damage, most of them come in large shipments sailing the seas.

“During in which process, they are often exposed to elevated temperatures, which will rapidly break them down,” he said, adding in which “inside the lab, if we expose omega-3s to just normal environmental conditions, within hours, they’re breaking down into these oxidized products.

“Once they are broken down, certainly they don’t have their favorable benefits in which we trust for,” Mason said.

Though the same thing can happen with fish, you can smell fish as well as also look in which over before you purchase in which.

“Imagine going to a store where the fish will be rotted as well as also smells terrible,” Mason said, explaining in which supplements contain deodorants as well as also various other chemicals to cover their bad smell.

He said he believes in which supplementation will be necessary for many people, nevertheless the bottom line will be in which there’s no consistent quality.

2017: Precision medicine

Registered dietitian Nancy Copperman, who works for Northwell Health, reviewed the latest research as well as also recommends a simple — if more expensive — option for consumers who want to add fish oil to their diets: “pharmaceutical-grade fish oil supplements in which tend to be purer.”

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nevertheless don’t believe all you read, says Copperman. In many studies of fish oil, “the data waned as well as also waxed.” Though some people did well, others did not, as well as also even worse, the scientists were unable to replicate the not bad findings through one study to the next.

One exception will be people who have very high triglycerides as well as also are at risk of cardiovascular disease, Copperman said. “Adding a marine oil supplement — again, in which needs to be … pharmaceutical-grade — in which does lower triglyceride levels in in which population,” she said, based on all the research she’s seen over time.

There may also be some benefit in using fish oil to reduce ischemic stroke risk among people who have atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, according to Copperman.

Since omega-3s are necessary nutrients, Copperman suggests in which people stick with eating oily fish rather than taking supplements: When you’re eating more fish, you are most likely eating less beef, including fatty hamburgers.

Fast food burgers, as well as various other fatty foods such as cakes as well as also cookies, contain lots of omega-6s, which in abundance may lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer as well as also inflammatory as well as also autoimmune diseases, according to the American Heart Association.

“You can’t tell the omega-3 story without telling the omega-6 story,” said Floyd “Ski” Chilton, a professor of physiology as well as also pharmacology at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. Omega-3s as well as also omega-6s come into our diet simultaneously as well as also are metabolized by the same enzymes.

Over the past 50 years, the ratio shifted through two omega-6s for each omega-3 to what will be today about a 10- or 15-to-one ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s, said Chilton. Working hard to metabolize omega-6s, our bodies cannot metabolize as well as also effectively use omega-3s. Meanwhile, many people find in which difficult to get enough omega-3s through the get-go.

There’s dramatic ancestry-based variation in our ability to transform ALA into EPA or DHA, according to Chilton. African-Americans transform ALA into EPA or DHA very well, Europeans not so much, as well as also Native Americans not at all, with variability among individuals within each group.

When in which comes to supplementation, then, “the one-size-fits-all design will be likely not appropriate,” Chilton said, adding in which we have entered the “bold brand new world of precision nutrition.”

“Precision nutrition simply says in which different individuals as well as also in particular different ancestry-based populations, racial as well as also ethnic populations may very well require — when in which comes to omega-3 as well as also omega-6 fatty acids — different recommendations,” he said.

2018: Help with childhood allergies?

In a systematic review as well as also meta-analysis of approximately 500 studies, researchers at Imperial College London found in which adding omega-3 fish oil supplements to the diet during pregnancy as well as also lactation reduced a child’s risk of egg allergy by 30% at one year of life. The analysis didn’t find a correlation between omega-3 supplements as well as also a reduced risk of any various other allergies, nevertheless using probiotics during late pregnancy as well as also early breastfeeding reduced eczema risk by 22%.

“The studies only included participants that has a high risk of developing allergies so in which will be unclear what effect probiotics or fish oil supplements would certainly have in families with no history of allergies,” Dr. Louisa James of Queen Mary University of London, who was not involved inside the study, said in a statement. “While the results of This particular study are likely to inform the development of guidelines on maternal as well as also infant diet, in which seems in which there will be much more work to be done.”

The UK’s National Health Service recommends against taking fish oil supplements during pregnancy, as some can contain vitamin A, which in high doses can be harmful. inside the US, neither the American Academy of Pediatrics nor the American College of Obstetricians as well as also Gynecologists carries a stated policy. Instead, they suggest in which pregnant women eat fish in which will be low in mercury two or three times a week, avoiding fish high in mercury.

Health effects of fish oil: Where do we stand?

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