Fish Oil

Written by Carl Lombard

What is Fish Oil?

Fish oil is a very effective nutrient and contains important omega 3 fatty acids that can be absorbed easily. Fish oil contains both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). There is evidence from multiple studies supporting intake of recommended amounts of DHA and EPA in the form of dietary fish or fish oil supplements lowers triglycerides, reduces the risk of death, heart attack, dangerous abnormal heart rhythms, and strokes in people with known cardiovascular disease, slows the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques (“hardening of the arteries”), and lowers blood pressure slightly. However, high doses may have harmful effects, such as an increased risk of bleeding. Fish oil comes from cold water fish such as mackerel, tuna, salmon, cod and many other fish. It is recommended for a heart healthy diet.


Benefits of Fish Oil Supplements

“Fish oil supplements have been promoted as easy way to protect the heart, ease inflammation, improve mental health, and lengthen life.”

“Evidence linking fish oil and cancer has been all over the map. Some research suggests diets high in fatty fish or fish oil supplements might reduce the risk of certain cancers, including prostate cancer.”

“Exercise induced inflammation is caused by the immune system attempting to heal damaged muscle sarcomeres. Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) provide temporary relief, yet fail to inhibit the mechanism of inflammation. Alternative therapies, such as fish oil, are commonly recommended to adults to decrease inflammation related to cardiac stress.”

“Combination of exercise and fish oil can reduce regulate inflammatory response caused by in-cremental exercise.”


Fish oil: friend or foe?

Effects of Fish Oil on Exercise

The effects of fish oil supplementation and exercise were investigated in healthy, previously sedentary males, ages 19-34. Thirty-two subjects were assigned to four groups: control (C), fish (F), exercise (E), fish and exercise (FE). The fish groups consumed 4 g.d-1 of omega-3 fatty acids. The exercise groups performed aerobic exercise for one hour three per week. The study was conducted for 10 weeks with pre and post values obtained for cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), ventilatory anaerobic threshold (VAT), percent body fat, and dietary composition of macronutrients and polyunsaturated to saturated fat (P:S) ratio. No significant differences were noted between groups for any of the blood lipid values, percent body fat or dietary variables. VO2max and VAT did exhibit significant changes among groups. VO2max was greater for the exercise groups (E, FE) as compared to the control group (p less than 0.05). E, but not FE, was significantly greater than F. VAT was significantly greater in F, E, and FE as compared to controls, however the control’s VAT decreased slightly. The slight improvement, although statistically non-significant, in VO2max and VAT by the F group requires further study. This data indicates an improvement in aerobic metabolism from aerobic exercise, alone or in combination with fish oil, compared to controls.

“Elite and recreational athletes, who participate in various types of physical activity and sports, consume fish oils and CLA supplements to improve their performance, increase training effects, reduce body fat, increase lean body mass, and reduce muscle damage and inflammatory responses.”

Fish oil and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) belong to a popular class of food supplements known as “fat supplements”, which are claimed to reduce muscle glycogen breakdown, reduce body mass, as well as reduce muscle damage and inflammatory responses. Sport athletes consume fish oil and CLA mainly to increase lean body mass and reduce body fat. Recent evidence indicates that this kind of supplementation may have other side-effects and a new role has been identified in steroidogenensis. Preliminary findings demonstrate that fish oil and CLA may induce a physiological increase in testosterone synthesis. The aim of this review is to describe the effects of fish oil and CLA on physical performance (endurance and resistance exercise), and highlight the new results on the effects on testosterone biosynthesis. In view of these new data, we can hypothesize that fat supplements may improve the anabolic effect of exercise.


Side Effects

“Omega-3 supplements may interact with drugs that affect blood clotting.”
“It is uncertain whether people with fish or shellfish allergies can safely consume fish oil supplements.”


From Wikipedia

Fish oil is oil derived from the tissues of oily fish. Fish oils contain the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), precursors of certain eicosanoids that are known to reduce inflammation in the body,[1][2] and have other health benefits. Nonetheless, fish oil supplement studies have failed to support claims of preventing heart attacks or strokes.[3][4][5]

The fish used as sources do not actually produce omega-3 fatty acids, but instead accumulate them by consuming either microalgae or prey fish that have accumulated omega-3 fatty acids.

Fatty predatory fish like sharks, swordfish, tilefish, and albacore tuna may be high in omega-3 fatty acids, but due to their position at the top of the food chain, these species may also accumulate toxic substances through biomagnification. For this reason, the United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends limiting consumption (especially for women of childbearing age) of certain (predatory) fish species (e.g. albacore tuna, shark, king mackerel, tilefish and swordfish) due to high levels of the toxic contaminant mercury. Dioxin, PCBs and chlordane are also present.[6] Fish oil is used as a component in aquaculture feed. More than 50 percent of the world’s fish oil used in aquaculture feed is fed to farmed salmon.


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Carl Lombard

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