The health benefits of fish oil are so all encompassing that everyone can benefit from taking it. High quality fish oil can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, cancer, arthritis and skin problems. The cell membrane of every cell in the body is composed of fatty acids. The fats we take in through diet and supplements control the prostaglandins that create inflammation or stop it.
The cardiovascular disease protection that fish oil can offer includes the prevention of abnormal heart rhythms, reduced blood clots and reduced inflammation in the blood vessel walls. Even a few fish meals a week are associated with less heart disease.
Eczema and psoriasis are improved with the anti-inflammatory effects of fish oil. Arthritis pain is reduced as the pathway producing inflammatory chemicals is cooled through increasing fish oil and decreasing animal fats in the diet. This same mechanism applies to any injury or problem of the musculoskeletal system that involves inflammation.
In fact, inflammation anywhere in the body can be reduced through the use of fish oil. Inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, as in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can benefit from fish oil. Menstrual cramps also respond to regular use of omega 3 fats.
Immune system problems such as recurrent colds and flu are also improved with the regular use of fish oil. Cod liver oil also contains vitamins A and D, which also support immune health, which confirms the traditional use of giving it to children to help them stay well.
DHA is the fatty acid in fish oil which is critical for infant brain and eye development. Breast milk contains some, but American women have lower levels than other women throughout the world. Fortunately, supplementation of the mother with fish oil will increase the DHA content in her breast milk. Infant formulas in the U.S. are now available with added DHA.
Other benefits include improving depression and bipolar disorder, and preventing osteoporosis (calcium absorption is higher with fish oil).
How do I find a good quality product?
The fish with the most healthful oils are the cold water deep sea fish. These fish are often contaminated with heavy metals, especially mercury. The levels of mercury increase with fish size, as the larger predatory fish accumulate more mercury up the food chain. A good quality fish oil product will state that it has been tested for heavy metals and other harmful contaminants. The list should also include testing for PCB’s, dioxins, bacteria, and rancidity.
How much should I take?
Potency of the fish oil is another important factor to consider. Look at the label to check the EPA and DHA content, not just the fish oil level per capsule or teaspoon. The most potent fish oil contains 600 mg. of EPA and DHA per cap, or 1,800 mg. per teaspoon of the liquid. A lower potency product may have 200 or 300 mg. per cap. For most of the health benefits, a dose of 1,000 to 2,000 mg. of EPA and DHA daily is best for adults.
The best way to optimal wellness is to find a licensed naturopathic physician to work with, then you will also have access to professional quality herbal and nutritional supplements that can be the most effective. It this is not possible, there are good online natural pharmacies.