6 reasons to love fish oil (Omega-3 fatty acids)
Turns out your grandmother was right! Fish oil is good for your heart, your brain, and your muscles.
Dr. Michael Turner is an integrative physician in Washington state with a passion for natural health measures. He writesand is sharing a series of articles on “Power Supplements” with us. Today, Dr. Turner looks at another supplement featured on FLCCC protocols:
The story of Omega-3 fatty acids as a health supplement dates to at least the 1950s, when cod liver oil was found to be effective in treating ailments like eczema and arthritis. (Turns out Grandma was right when she tried to bribe you to swallow the stuff… Respect!)
In the 1980s, scientists reported that Eskimos who ate a fish-rich diet enjoyed better cardiac health than their counterparts who consumed mainland foods.
Fish oil is rich in two essential fatty acids that have profound health-promoting effects: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). They are present in the cell membranes of all cells but are especially concentrated in the brain, heart, and testes.
Here are just 6 reasons to love fish oil:
1. It prevents sudden cardiac death
HELLO!!... Anyone been hearing about “sudden cardiac death” lately?
I remember discovering this way back during my medical school days at Harvard, when one of the faculty published this review article.
Prior to his research, there was already a well-established association between fatty fish consumption and a reduction in fatal heart attacks, but the reason was not precisely understood. His contribution to the science was to discover how: fatty acids from n-3 fish oils are stored in the cell membranes of heart cells and act to stabilize them from aberrant discharges.
Mmmm… Okay... Sign me up.
2. It has other significant cardiac benefits
Fish oil also helps reduce the development of atherosclerosis (also known as “hardening of the arteries”), plus it lowers triglyceride levels, and lowers blood pressure. (Read more here and here).
Extra credit: My other all-time favorite cardiovascular supplement is Nattokinase, which thins the blood, dissolves clots, reverses atherosclerosis, lowers blood pressure, and improves cholesterol levels.
3. Fish oil has profound anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects
Just like our good friend NAC, fish oil shows notable anti-inflammatory properties (it inhibits COX, for you health nerds) and antioxidant functions (it stimulates NRF 2 pathways, boosts Superoxide Dismutase and Catalase activity, reduces F2 isoprostanes). Hence, we discover benefits for…
Arthritis: This study in older and overweight individuals showed a 42% reduction in pain after four months.
Autoimmune problems: such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, lupus erythematosus, and multiple sclerosis (read more here).
4. It’s amazing for your brain
Something called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) strengthens neural connections in areas critical to learning and memory. Think of it like “Miracle-Gro” for the brain.
Guess what? DHA supplementation increases BDNF levels. It also promotes the growth of new neurons. Additionally, Omega-3s benefit the brain thanks to their aforementioned anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Bonus: As a result, they hold promise for conditions like Alzheimer’s (they also stimulate the glymphatic system to clear beta Amyloid), depression, schizophrenia, and traumatic brain injury (including concussion). (Read more here and here.)
Bonus Bonus: If you would like a further exploration of BDNF and other brain health concepts, we did this podcast series and created this brain health curriculum.
5. It boosts energy by optimizing mitochondrial health
Does the phrase “mitochondrial biogenesis” mean anything to you? No? Well, to be honest, it makes my heart go pitter-pat because I understand what is behind that concept – the creation of new mitochondria within our cells. More mitochondria = more energy production = improved function of any given organ.
Mitochondrial function is so important to human health that there is even a well-established concept called “the mitochondrial theory of aging,” which considers loss of mitochondrial number and function as a central pillar in the aging process.
It turns out that Omega-3 fatty acids stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis and enhance mitochondrial efficiency (read here).
6. Strength and muscle gains.
Several years ago, my interest was piqued when I read of a nationally known strength coach who insisted his clients supplement with fish oil. Now I know why: Omega 3s directly enhance muscle protein synthesis, while simultaneously decreasing protein breakdown (read here). This effect is so striking that even elderly people, non-athletes, and patients with cancer have experienced benefits.
Wow! So, there you have it… Somebody pass the salmon, please.
Omega-3s are best absorbed if taken with food.
Aim for between 2,000-3,000 mg a day (combined DHA and/or EPA).
I just started Nattokinase a few weeks back, and also with Citicoline (one month on, one month off with it). Between those and time restricted eating (8hr/16hr) I am definitely feeling more clear headed and higher energy levels.
Nice post! Fish oil is a great pain reducer for arthritis. I take 7 grams daily of Swanson Triple Strength EPA and DHA. I also like Mercola Krill but it is more expensive. Loads of Fresh (or capsules) daily Tumeric ( with bioperine) and Ginger too!