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Why Exactly Is Fish Oil Good For You?

Fish oil is one of the more popular dietary supplements. Almost everyone has heard about fish oil before, but not so many know what it precisely does.

Fish oil has numerous health benefits, many of which are more or less related to the fact that it reduces inflammation.

If you belong to the majority of people, then you know this is a pretty good thing, but you likely don’t know what it precisely means or why.

Below I will be breaking down these things and answer the question: why exactly is fish oil good for you.

What Is Fish Oil?


First, let me just very briefly go over what fish oil is.

Fish oil is literally the fat or oil from the fish, which is extracted from the fish tissue and processed.

Fish oil is rich in certain kinds of fatty acids called “omega 3 fatty acids”. These are essential for your body because it cannot create it by itself (Actually it can, but only to a very limited extent).

There are two important types of omega 3s in the fish oil, and it is the quantity of these that you should be concerned about. They are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

So when you are looking at the label of the fish oil container you want to look at the amount of DHA and EPA, and use the quantities as an important factor in your decision making.

Omega 3s are also present in shellfish, plants, and nuts. Plants and nuts mostly contain another fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA) which is not as beneficial.

What Is Inflammation?


Inflammation is on a very basic level the reaction of your immune system to different stimuli. It is a natural and very important function in your body. It is what simply happens when your immune system is fighting something that it finds potentially could be harmful to you.

Examples are fighting off diseases or infections, or the reaction to highly stressful situations. The normal and detectable signs of inflammation are heat, pain, redness, and swelling. This can be seen in the tissue around a wound or felt in a sore throat.

Inflammation is a good thing. Too little and you can’t effectively fight off harmful things to your body. However, if you have too much of it for a prolonged period it is a very bad thing.

High Inflammation And Health Risks

Having chronic high inflammation is linked to countless of health risks.

If you have heard or read about anti-aging techniques or methods, then you perhaps know that lowering inflammation is one of the most important things.

You might also have heard or read that high inflammation is the main reason why people can’t lose weight.

It is true that high inflammation effects your insulin resistance, and that this can lead to lowered metabolic rate and affect your feeling of hunger. But, these effects are often highly exaggerated by weight loss programs and their marketing. However, it is still something to be concerned about.

Because too much inflammation affects your body negatively keeping it under control and limiting the number of causes that can lead to inflammation is very important.

fish oil to fight inflammation

Fish Oil And Inflammation Reduction


The real reason why fish oil reduces inflammation is that it alleviates a big problem in most people’s diet. The problem is that many people are getting too many omega 6 fatty acids compared to omega 3s. Omega 6 fatty acids are also essential fats like omega 3s.

In other words, there is an imbalance in the ratio between omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids.

As you read above fish oil is rich in omega 3s and supplementing can thus improve a potential imbalance in this ratio.

If your diet more or less aligns with what can be described as the “western diet”, then you are getting a lot of omega 6 fatty acids and too few omega 3s.

The omega 6s are very high in polyunsaturated fats such as most vegetable, nuts and seed oils.

Initially, this doesn’t sound so bad, but the problem is that these fats are used in all processed foods and is fed livestock that we ourselves consume. The result is that omega 6 fatty acids are abundant in most of the food we eat.

Ideal Omega 3:6 Ratio

I have read several estimations of omega 3:6 ratios in average Americans. They are usually somewhere between 1:16 – 1:20.

The ideal omega 3:6 ratio is said to be 1:4 or less.

Having a ratio that is very high in favor of omega 6 is a bad thing as it causes inflammation.

A very short explanation is that omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids compete against each other in the body. They are absorbed by the same enzyme, and there is a hard cap on the total amount of the two your body can use.

Because of the structure of the fatty acids and how they interact in the body, omega 6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory and omega 3s are neutral. In addition, omega 3s have some unique benefits for cell membranes and your brain, which you are not getting the full effect of if you are absorbing a lot of omega 6s.

Fish Oil Is Likely Not The Complete Solution

All this being said, I think it is important to understand that while supplementing with fish oil can be very beneficial in alleviating the problems caused by an imbalance in the omega 6:3 ratios present in many people, it is likely not going to solve the problem.

Of course, it all depends on your diet, more specifically omega 6 fatty acids intake.

If your diet results in a ratio of 20:1 eating a few fish oil pills is going to be no way near enough to lower that ratio to 4:1 or less.

This does not change the fact that fish oil is a great supplement and that it will provide great benefits when it is lowering your omega ratio considerably.

Even if you still have an unhealthy amount of omega 6s in your body, the fact that it has been lowered will still cause a big reduction in inflammation. This is a very good thing and in my opinion worth spending money on.

“But I Eat Fish, So I Don’t Need Fish Oil”

I have heard many people say they don’t need to supplement with fish oil because they eat fish.

Eating fish is, of course, great for getting those omega 3 fatty acids. But that doesn’t necessarily make fish oil supplements a bad choice. It really depends on the specific intake of omega 6s and omega 3s and not whether you eat fish or not.

In case you eat fish the amount of omega 3s you get depends on the type of fish you are eating. Obviously, the fatty ones are the best. But eating the fatty fish are regretfully also the ones that come with more heavy metals like mercury.

This is something you have to worry less about when you are taking fish oil because heavy metal contents are closely monitored and reduced.

Fish Oil For Faster Strength And Muscle Gains

Supplementing with fish oil will of course not directly help you build any strength or muscle.

But as I mention briefly in my other post on the best supplements for strength training, having a healthy body is very important for long-term success with gaining strength and muscle.

In my perspective, a strong and muscular body is a healthy body, and I think that is the kind of body most people are interested in. At least they should be.

So Which Fish Oil Supplements Should You Get?


Like other supplements, there are many different brands to chose from when buying fish oil.

A few years ago there was a major scandal about big companies selling rancid fish oil, which you probably can guess is not beneficial at all. It is therefore important to see what third-party testing companies have to say about the fish oil before you make your buying decision.

Other things that are tested for worth mentioning are the labeling accuracy (does the pills really contain the DHA and EPA as labeled) and mercury content.

There are some fish oil supplements that have been processed to have increased DHA and EPA. These are often labeled “triple strength” or “ultra strength” and comes with much more DHA and EPA. That way you get more of the good stuff in one pill.

Another important factor is obviously the price.

My Fish Oil Recommendations

Taking all these into consideration there are two fish oil brands that I would recommend. You can get both at Amazon often at the best price. Click the links below to go to Amazon.

Viva Naturals

Nutrigold 

I may receive compensation should you chose to buy through these links, but it doesn’t affect you.

If you find the price a bit high compared to other fish oil supplements you have been used previously, please have in mind that these two products have about 3-4 times the potency of regular fish oil supplements.

If you compare the DHA and EPA amount the price roughly evens out to be the same. However, with these two products, you will be getting some of the highest ranked on the market by qualified testing companies, and you get the convenience of eating 3 – 4 times fewer pills.

I have found that this helps a lot on any fishy aftertaste or burps.

Please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you about whether you take fish oil supplements and which.

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Is fish oil good for you? You have probably heard about fish oil and its benefits. That it fights inflammation etc.. But what does that really mean and why? All this is answered here.
#whyfishoil
#benefitsoffishoil
#omega3s
#benefitsofomega3
#benefitsoffish
#bestsupplements
#cheapsupplements
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Marcus

16 Comments

  1. I am a huge fan of fish, but I do not eat enough of it and this is something I never really looked into. I didn’t realize all the benefits of fish oil until now. I have always heard people say to take the supplements and I always overlooked it. Thank you for this amazing article.

    • Fish oil has some great benefits. But overall your diet should be optimized to reduce inflammation. that is the “real” solution 🙂

  2. Hi Marcus,

    Thank you for all of this valuable information! There was a period of time where I was taking fish oil supplements everyday, but I was skeptical of whether or not it worked. I’m now convinced that I should continue to take them and I’ll recommend my friends to purchase them as well!

    Thanks!

  3. Thank you for this information.
    I believe Omega 3 is very important for having a big positive effect on the body. Your article confirms me in that belief.
    But I have one question because it´s so many vitamins which can help too. So the two fish oil brands you recommended, can a man take vítamín with it both?

    • Yes. Omega 3s are great for your body 🙂
      And sure you can take vitamins at the same time is your fish oil. Many of the vitamins are fat-soluble, which means that fat needs to be present for your body to absorb. That is why you often read on the labeling of the vitamins, that it should be taken with a meal.

      I think taking a mulit-vitamin is great as “insurance policy”. If your body needs something it should be able to absorb it.

  4. I have indeed heard a lot about the benefits of fish oil, but until I read your very detailed article I never knew exactly why it was so good. I know there are a lot of brands out there and it can be confusing so thank you for your article it will help me to decide which of the many fish oil supplements I should start using. Do you think the fish oil made by GNC is a good choice?

    • I am just happy that it was a useful read!

      And yeah, GNC sells some good fish oil. They also have the “triple strength” version, which I have actually used.  However, in tests from labdoor GNC doesn’t rank as high as Nutrigold and viva naturals, and the price point seems to be about the same.
      This doesn’t mean GNC is not a good fish oil.

  5. Although I take fish oil every day, I guess I’ve never really known what it does for me. I heard it was a healthy supplement to take and has great benefits, but never really bothered to understand exactly what they were. I also never knew exactly what to look for on the type of fish oil capsules I bought.

    Your post is so informative and helpful to understanding not only the benefits of fish oil, but what to look for when buying the product. I definitely want to make sure I’m getting the full benefit of the supplement I’m taking, so I will take your recommendations into account when buying my fish oil supplements. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and recommendations! Very helpful! ~Jen

    • Thanks Jen! I am happy I could help out :))

      There are many great supplements out there, but depending on your situation they might not worth your time and money. Understanding how they work will make sure you are choosing the right for you!

  6. Good Day, Marcus.

    Great post on Fish oil science. I always wondered what a proper ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 would be and I have found it here.

    Nutrition is such an important subject for me that I enjoy reading these blogs and you are obviously passionate about the topic as well. Like your thoughts on inflammation. Preventive measures are always best.

    Do you feel it is important to boost the levels of Omega 3’s in supplements?

    Is the 4:1 ratio the best for all body types?

    Do Omega 3’s affect obese and less obese people differently?

    Paul.

    • Hey Paul

      I totally agree that preventive measures are the best. That is why I also think strength training is so powerful since it prevents injuries and counteracts that we are simply becoming weaker from living our modern lifestyles. Also, as we are getting older we naturally lose muscle mass unless we do something about it.

      Ultimately it is up to the person himself/herself to find the balance in their diet and nutrition that they feel they can sustain. The focus should be eating healthy but also being flexible and eat the food they prefer. With that in mind, I think supplementing with fish oil can be a very good help to counterbalance getting too many omega 6s. I know for fact, that I am getting too many omega 6 fatty acids because I live in China, where they use A LOT of vegetable oils in their cooking.

      I believe that the exact ratio 4:1 is just arbitrary. Most sources argue that humans evolved in a 1:1 – 1:2 ratio. I think why you see 4:1 mentioned many places you might read about fish oil or omega ratio, is because it was used as a benchmark in some tests that clearly showed how beneficial it was for individuals to go from a much higher ratio to 4:1. I never heard or read anything about there should be a difference in body types, but if you are predisposed to certain health risks controlling inflammation can become even more important.

      I don’t believe that omega 3s affect obese or less obese people differently, and if you read anywhere that fish oil will help against obesity know that it is a far-fetched, indirect and most likely insignificant. The cause of obesity is eating too many calories, and not because of high inflammation (which eating fish oil might help you reduce).

  7. Thanks for this valuable article, Marcus.
    Omega-3 deficiency is among the most common ones in an average western diet and it has a strong impact on people’s health.
    Krill oil is another great omega-3 supplement. Krill is usually less contaminated than fish and it contains astaxanthin— a potent anti-oxidant that protects omega-3s in oil and packs additional health benefits.

    Best wishes!

    • Funny you should mention krill oil 🙂 I was doing some research on it some weeks ago to find out what benefits krill oil had over other fish oil supplements.

      Krill oil is more expensive than fish oil, and I am not completely convinced that the price difference is worth it. As you mention it can be less contaminated, but I think already most of the fish oil brands are doing a great job of purifying the oil.

      Perhaps the astaxanthin could be a reason for some? But that doesn’t really have anything to do with omega-3 deficiency, right?

      • Hey Marcus, thanks for your reply!

        That’s true! The data are still limited and I’m also hearing different recommendations.

        Given that astaxanthin protects omega-3s in oil, it can help address the deficiency indirectly. It also has some unique cardiovascular benefits, so it may be worth the price for those who take omega-3s to improve cardiovascular health.

        • Cool. It sounds like it could potentially have benefits worth the price 🙂

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