- Fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) has long been considered a health-supporting supplement for cardiovascular health, cognitive function and more.
- This can be true, but only if the fish oil supplement is of high-quality and correctly processed to remove toxins and impurities.
- We must also be careful to balance our intake of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, in the 4:1 ratio for optimal cellular health.
- BodyBio Fish Oil is processed using Supercritical Fluid Extraction, which preserves the delicate EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids without heat or chemical solvents.
Fish oil remains one of the most popular supplements on the market today, favored for heart, brain, and joint health. In fact, American consumers spend over $1 billion annually on over-the-counter fish oil supplements, motivated by the promise of improved heart health and brain function. But are they really getting the fish oil benefits they’re paying for? The simple answer is: probably not.
This supposed miracle worker has a long history of toxic production methods, resulting in a rancid oil that is actually doing you much more harm than good. There is also such a thing as too much fish oil, as we’ve explained before. Despite the mainstream media heaping praise on fish oil and omega-3 fats and demonizing omega-6 fatty acids, we need them both for health on the cellular level.
In this article, we’re going to dig a little deeper into the benefits of fish oil and what research supports those benefits. But first, we’ll touch on the necessary balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, before ending on how fish oil should be processed for the highest quality, non-toxic product.
Table of Contents
- What is Fish Oil?
- What Does Fish Oil Do?
- 8 Health Benefits of Fish Oil
- Fish Oil Must Be Carefully Processed
- Supporting Your Health With Fish Oil
What is Fish Oil?
Fish oil is a dietary supplement derived from the tissues of oily fish, primarily from fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, and trout. Fish oils are a popular source of omega-3s, or “good fat.” They are an important fatty acid group that can’t be produced by the body; instead, we get them from our diets. Fish oil is a rich source of two important omega-3 fatty acids:
- Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA).
Fish oil supplements are available in various forms, including capsules, liquids, and soft gels. They are commonly used to increase dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids, especially when individuals don't consume enough fish in their regular diet. Omega-3 fatty acids, especially EPA and DHA, have been associated with various health benefits. They are considered essential nutrients because the human body cannot produce them and must obtain them from external dietary sources.
It's important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen to determine the appropriate dosing and ensure it's suitable for your individual health needs.
What Does Fish Oil Do?
As mentioned above, fish oil contains the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. These fatty acids are very important for managing inflammation, promoting a healthy immune response, and supporting brain function – and we can only get them from our diet. Pregnant women especially need lots of omega-3s to support their baby’s brain development.
However, excessive omega-3s can quickly become too much of a good thing when they are not balanced out by omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic, gamma-linolenic, and arachidonic acids). Omega-6s found in common (toxic) cooking oils like canola, peanut, and even sunflower oil, have been dismissed and demonized by many in the health promotion community, as they should. But omega-6 fats as a whole cannot be dismissed in the context of cellular health.
BodyBio was founded on the science behind these essential fatty acids — and the fact that we actually need both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, in a 4:1 ratio for optimal cellular health. The omega-6 linoleic acid, for example, is abundant in mitochondrial membranes. We still need omega-6s, just not from toxic sources like commercial cooking oils.
This is why we developed BodyBio Balance Oil, a completely non-toxic blend of organic flaxseed and organic, unrefined safflower oil to supply the right balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, extracted via low-temperature, expeller-pressed technology.
8 Health Benefits of Fish Oil
High-quality fish oil offers a multitude of health benefits that make it a valuable addition to your daily routine. From heart health to cognitive function, this natural supplement is renowned for its wide range of advantages. These fish oil benefits make taking a high-quality product well worth it for many, such as those with systemic illness, aging brains and joints, mental health imbalances, and more.*
Let’s review the potential benefits of fish oil supplements and some of the research behind each.
1. Fish Oil for Mental Health
There is some high-quality research showing that fish oil can help improve mental health in people suffering from depression and anxiety.
A randomized clinical trial tested whether people with self-identified depression would experience improvement with implementing a Mediterranean diet and taking supplemental fish oil. At three months, participants reported improved depression and those improvements were sustained at six months.
Notably, the Mediterranean diet also supplies fresh fish on a regular basis, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables and minimal to no processed foods, so the combination of the two interventions likely influenced a positive outcome.
A study that further combined EPA and DHA fatty acids with phospholipids like phosphatidylserine (PS) and phosphatidylcholine (PC) showed a synergistic effect on mood and other factors, concluding:
“Utilizing DHA and EPA together with phospholipids and membrane antioxidants to achieve a triple cell membrane synergy may further diversify their current wide range of clinical applications,”. As proponents of cellular and cell membrane health, this is music to our ears!
2. Fish Oil for Heart Health
A 2021 systematic review analyzing 19 clinical trials found that fish oil “plays an important role in reducing [coronary heart disease] and cardiovascular events”.
Even the American Heart Association recommends fish oil as a “reasonable” therapeutic complement for those who have heart disease or other cardiovascular complications. (Though they stopped short of recommending it as a preventative measure.)
Studies also show that EPA and DHA can help:
- Lower triglyceride levels*
- Lower blood pressure*
- Increase heart rate variability*
- Reduce platelet aggregation (decreasing risk of blood clots)*
- Modulate cholesterol levels.*
Fish oil is definitely worth considering for heart health, especially for those already diagnosed with or predisposed to CVD.*
3. Fish Oil for Brain Health
Omega-3s are critical for brain development and maintenance. DHA is especially important for cell membrane flexibility and function, as well as releasing neurotransmitters.
Low omega-3 intake has also been linked to conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, bipolar disorder, and suicidal ideation. Fish oil seems to benefit brain health for those with these conditions, possibly by curbing inflammation in the brain* .
However, the benefits are not limited to mental illness or cognitive decline. Research conducted on special operations forces members identified improvements in reaction time, mental fatigue, and possible reductions in mild traumatic brain injury (MBTI) with fish oil supplementation.
4. Muscle Recovery and Fish Oil
Despite fish oil being used for years to support various health concerns, few point out its potential support for athletes. A 2020 review of 32 studies featuring athletes from recreational to Olympic-level performers found “consistent effects” of fish oil on mood, reaction time, skeletal muscle recovery, and cardiovascular measures in cyclists.
Positive effects in muscle recovery were also observed for rugby, soccer, and American football players. Fish oil supplements also consistently modulated inflammatory markers across athletes in both individual and team sports*.
5. Fish Oil Benefits for Skin
In one study, researchers found that fermented fish oil had an anti-aging effect when exposed to human skin cells. Another systematic review on the cosmetic and therapeutic implications of fish oil fatty acids on the skin found that fish oil helped to protect skin from photoaging due to UV exposure.
They also found benefits for treating mild atopic dermatitis and in general, “maintaining skin homeostasis and ameliorating cutaneous abnormalities”. Translation: nourishing the skin and healing superficial blemishes or wounds.*
6. Fish Oil for Eye Health
We know that omega-3 DHA is especially important for eye development during pregnancy. But in terms of eye disease, a scientific review examining the effects of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids on cases of dry eye syndrome determined that significant subjective improvements occurred in seven clinical trials. They concluded that while omega-3 and omega-6 supplementation is not a standalone treatment, it may be useful for some patients with DES.
Based on this study, those with DES may actually benefit more from a supplement like BodyBio Balance Oil, which supplies both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. But for those with a specific deficiency of omega-3s and a high intake of omega-6s, fish oil can supply the missing omega-3s to even out the balance of nutrients.
7. Fish Oil for Joints
Omega-3s are super important for bone metabolism and may benefit those with bone or joint diseases* . A review of studies looking at fish oil supplements for different types of arthritis found that fish oil supplements significantly alleviated pain for rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Another review once again looked at the therapeutic potential of the Mediterranean diet combined with fish oil supplementation for improving rheumatoid arthritis symptoms such as:
- Reducing pain*
- Reducing swelling in joints*
- Improving the inflammatory response*
- Slowing progression to pharmacotherapy*
They concluded that both interventions (diet and fish oil supplements) may help achieve these outcomes and improve patients’ quality of life.
8. Immune System Support of Fish Oil
A fascinating review on fish oil omega-3s, the gut microbiota, and the immune system suggests that these three elements can work together to modulate immunity and strengthen the gut lining. Inflammation is one connecting factor between these three, but research also shows that fish oil omega-3s are able to increase the species of SCFA-producing bacteria, including butyrate-producing bacteria. Butyrate is well known for protecting the gut environment and modulating the enteric immune system.
Because of this connection, the authors hypothesize that fish oil supplementation may be useful for managing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), an inflammatory autoimmune condition*.
Fish Oil Must Be Carefully Processed
Now that you know more about omega-3 and fish oil benefits, it’s important to note a few additional considerations that arise when choosing a fish oil supplement, like processing and extraction methods.
To start, omega-3 fatty acids are easily damaged by heat, becoming oxidized and rancid. When you ingest toxic fatty acids, they can truly wreak havoc on the body and mind. Ironically, many cheap fish oils are processed in a way that immediately renders them oxidized and rancid — making them the exact opposite of the health beacon they claim to be.
Does this mean we don’t recommend fish oil, which is pure omega-3 fats? Of course not, there are still plenty of cases where fish oil can be a powerful ally for health and wellbeing, especially for those stuck in chronic disease states.* But additional considerations arise for those taking fish oil supplements, like processing and extraction methods.
Problems with Extraction Methods
Diagnosing the problem is complicated. First, our bodies absorb naturally sourced omega-3s in different ways, involving different digestive and biochemical processes. Second, the process of extracting pure fish oil is exactly that — a process. Unlike squeezing the juice from an orange, acquiring oil from fish involves separating the omega-3s — namely, the DHA and EPA that was mentioned earlier — from other proteins, fats, and heavy metals (like mercury). Filtering out these substances is technically difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.
There are three common extraction methods:
- Most companies resort to molecular distillation to extract fish oils, which is an oxidized process that affects oil acidity, decreases the product’s shelf life, and is less effective in eliminating the volatile compounds found in the raw material.
- This process removes impurities, (heavy metals, dioxins, impurities, etc.) saturated fats, and other undesirable organic compounds.
- Molecular distillation always requires the use of heat during processing to turn the raw materials into oil and remove impurities.
- Wet extraction is another commonly used method to extract fish oil from fish. This process involves drastic temperature and pressure conditions used for protein coagulation and subsequent oil release.
- This method modifies the polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) present, due to degradation reactions such as hydrolysis and oxidation.
Supercritical Fluid Technology
- Though more expensive to produce upfront, this method (called supercritical fluid extraction) converts DHA and EPA into smaller molecules to increase the concentration of each capsule.
- This advanced technology is capable of purifying highly sensitive omega-3s without the use of excessive heat, chemical solvents (green technology), or oxygen.
- This is the method we use to make BodyBio Fish Oil.
Supporting Your Health With Fish Oil
In this article, we’ve given examples of the many benefits of fish oil, with a few important caveats. Fish oil may be beneficial for your health, if:
- You are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and need to increase your intake.
- You are being mindful to balance the right ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in your diet (4:1).
- You are taking a high-quality supplement that has been processed using a low-temperature extraction method to preserve the benefits of the fish oil and ensure a non-toxic end product.
Is your fish oil supplement supporting your health? Or is your “health-boosting” supplement actually sabotaging your cellular health? Unlike some other extraction methods, the technology we use to create BodyBio Fish Oil has no chemical solvents, water, sugar, saturated fatty acids, cholesterol, or proteins found in the finished oil.
As a result, our fish oil product offers nearly three times the amount of DHA and EPA compared to most fish oils on the market, which typically contain 30% or less.
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