Fish Oil Benefits: Tip The Scales In Your Favor With Our Expert Guide
If you've ever swum through supplement research, you've surely dipped a toe in the ocean of information surrounding fish oil. This little supplement has made waves, but should you dive headfirst into the fish fry?
In a word, yes. In a bad joke, fish oil is off the hook!
It might sound silly, but there's nothing fishy about this incredible supplement. Care to know more? Then cast your line and get ready for school.
Fish oil contains essential fatty acids (EFAs) that have been shown to offer myriad benefits. Since they're the most widely researched and important, we'll focus here on two essential Omega 3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA.
These fatty acids are termed "essential" because we need them for proper function, but our bodies cannot produce them. Thus, we must obtain them through food or supplements.
While there are a number of EFA supplements, such as flax and other oils, fish oil is one of the finest sources available.
Who is Fish Oil For?
Fish oil supplements provide a wide variety of health benefits. Thus, they're incredibly useful for the general population and can help everyone from athletes to sedentary individuals.
Bodybuilders and physique athletes find fish oil intriguing due to potential body composition benefits, but almost anyone looking to support overall health may be interested in the fine fats from fish oil.
As mentioned, fish oil's primary, active components are EPA and DHA. In the body, EPA and DHA can be stored in the phospholipid bilayer of cells for future use. If you consume enough EPA or DHA, you can significantly alter the composition of the fats that make up the bilayer of your cells. This can have a profound impact on processes that utilize those stored lipids (fats).
Of particular relevance is the anti-oxidant and acute, exercise-related anti-inflammatory nature of EPA and DHA. Since high-intensity exercise and weight training cause increases in inflammation and oxidation, reducing this response may be beneficial in improving exercise recovery. While it's emerging, the research has yet to fully examine this angle of EPA and DHA supplementation.
Perhaps more interesting for people looking to build muscle, EPA and DHA supplementation has been suggested to support muscle protein synthesis and limit muscle protein degradation. This can mean less muscle breakdown and more muscle growth.
Now bear with me, 'cuz I'm about to drop some algebra on you.
The essential formula for gaining muscle is that the rate of lean tissue gain, or protein balance, is the rate of synthesis minus the rate of degradation. Since EPA and DHA can increase synthesis and decrease degradation, they can light both ends of the candle and help push the muscle-building balance in your favor!
Additionally, EPA and DHA have been suggested to support insulin function and increase glucose and fatty acid uptake into muscle cells. This may help partition nutrients toward muscle and away from fat, improving overall body composition and providing more fuel to the muscle during workouts.
EPA and DHA have also been suggested to increase cardiac output and stroke volume, which may help support healthy blood flow and possibly exercise performance, though this has not been examined directly.
Different fish oil supplements have different concentrations of EPA and DHA. In order to gain the body composition and muscle metabolic benefits of these two fatty acids, make sure you consume around 2-4g of EPA & DHA combined every day.
There is some evidence that taking fish oil with meals may enhance the anabolic response to a meal. Additionally, taking fish oil with a meal may improve the fish oil's uptake, though this is personal speculation.
Fish oil—EPA in particular—has been shown to work synergistically with HMB for reducing muscle protein breakdown. Since EPA can enhance muscle protein synthesis, it may also be useful to take with leucine, BCAAs or whey protein, which also support muscle protein synthesis.
Of course, you can also stack fish oil with your usual foundational supplements (such as a multivitamin).
As a rule, I recommend purchasing supplements from labels which can provide lab analysis of their products. This ensures that what's on the label is actually in the bottle.
Since most of the benefits from fish oil are from the EPA and DHA content, look for supplements which contain a high concentration of these fatty acids.
Fish oil is tolerated well by most people, though there are a few side effects that some people may experience. These include excessive bleeding if you take a very high dose of fish oil—far beyond what is recommended here. This is due fish oil's ability to break down blood clots in high concentrations.
A small percentage of people are allergic to fish oil and should not consume it.
Perhaps the most common side effect is gastrointestinal distress from fish oil consumption. Many people also experience unpleasant belching while taking fish oil capsules. If this is the case, try using a product that has enteric-coated capsules, which should reduce the incidence of gnarly fish oil burps.
As always, talk with your physician before starting any new supplement.
Fish are an awesome source of essential fats, especially EPA and DHA. Unless you love daily deep-sea diving, a fish oil supplement is one of the best ways to get the multiple muscle-building and health benefits of essential fishy fats.
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Fish Oil is one of those supplements I always forget to take consistently. I can tell my body responds differently when I don't take it for a few days too. Recently I switched up to the liquid fish oil that you keep in the fridge. It's a lot better quality and has more EPA/DHA ... but I tend to forget it more when it's in the fridge.
Yeah John, I'm the same way. If I don't take it I really notice. A good test is to freeze one of your capsules. If you notice white frozen deposits, that is fillers. Excellent way to test for a pure product.
I am on the way to transform my beloved body.so I observe the impact of taking fish oil liquid capsules which enhance losing fat and enhance the joint functionality beside getting better skin. recently I am using MRM smart blend which contains CLA and EPA/DHA.
I have now added this supplement to my daily vitamin supply. I have been on BCAA already and also taking ISO100 - same thing but I'd like to see the change that sounds so good. 2 a day and probably wil take a wk or two to feel the benefit but glad i'm taking it.
Interesting test PixelKilla. I'm going to try that ... Good to know! Where'd you learn about that?
Definitely, get a pill box, or buy a protein shake mixer that has the extra space for your pills under it, then you will never forget it. Fish Oils are very important and as you can see you can feel the difference when not taking it.
Great info. FIsh Oil is one of those things that is not as sexy as some of the other supplements but ultimately more effective for body composition and overall health. I try to get 2 grams of epa/dha per day.
I've been taking fish oil for many years now. It is an important part of my daily diet and supplement intake. John makes a good point though. You definitely want a fish oil with more EPA/DHA. Always important to look at the ingredient label. Look forward to hearing more from our visitors. Keep rockin' the comments!
i take fish oil after all meals 3 times a day sometimes 4.
very good for the body, mind and etc. Just take it everyday one day at a time with daily exercise along with other supplements. body should improve.....
Good article, informative with out getting to sciencey.
Fish oil has become a new staple in my regimen to maintain good heart health, and joint flexibility.
Plus it helps my mind less dumb. All good :)
It's important to see how much Omega3 is in the fish oil capsule. It varies a lot. Flax oil and nuts, especially English walnuts (those that you cook with) are also great sources of Omega3 and they don't further deplete the seas of fish if you are into green.
Fish oil is an important part of life supplement for the joints, muscles and organs... im taking mine constantly on cycles just to keep the body running so i can pump harder for a longer period of my life
This article says(and other sources) that we should intake 2-4g of DHA & EPA, but most suppliments I see only offer a fraction of this amount. Does the 2-4g refer to the TOTAL amount of fish oil or am I being instructed to take four servings a day of these fishy pills?
I thought fish oil were bad because they are very susceptible to oxidation and thus going rancid because our body is full of oxygen. I would say krill oil is a lot better choice since it has such factors as astaxanthin, and some vitamins which prevents the rancid.