Fish Oil

What is Fish Oil?

Fish oil contains the omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and it is derived from the tissues of certain types of fish. These fatty acids are considered essential because the human body is incapable of producing them on its own. Consequently, they must be taken in through diet or supplementation. Interestingly, the fish used to make fish oil do not produce omega-3 fatty acids either - they accumulate it from the foods they eat, such as microalgae or smaller prey fish.

epa and dha

Fig 1. EPA and DHA

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Benefits of Fish Oil


Due to its ability to lower triglycerides levels, fish oil is FDA approved for the treatment and prevention of many diseases. For instance, fish oil is most commonly used for conditions related to the heart and blood system because it can prevent heart disease, and even treat high blood pressure and clogged arteries. Although there are many uses for fish oil, studies have failed to prove that fish oil supplementation will prevent heart attacks or strokes.

When it comes to the kidneys, fish oil has been used to help treat kidney disease, kidney failure, and kidney issues related to diabetes. Furthermore, fish oil has also been shown to benefit those who suffer with psoriasis. As a matter of fact, studies show that infants of women who supplemented with fish oil during pregnancy were less likely to develop certain skin issues during the first year of life, and they were also less sensitized to food allergies. Additionally, there was a decreased prevalence of eczema, hay fever, and asthma. This effect seemed to last until adolescence.

Benefits of fish oil for an athlete


Fish oil can offer many uses and benefits to athletes and bodybuilders. One of them is the fact that it has actually been proven to increase protein synthesis. What’s more, fish oil also increases the insulin sensitivity effect on protein metabolism. Therefore, when fish oil is combined with an anabolic stimulus, such as exercise, it will improve protein metabolism.

Another benefit of fish oil for a bodybuilder is its proven ability to reduce exercise induced muscle damage and delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This is a very important property, since people often ask what they can do to prevent or ease the pain of DOMS. Finally, fish oil may also combat the negative effects of intense training on the immune system, strengthen bones, improve cardio-respiratory functioning, and improve cognitive function.

Fish Oil vs Krill Oil


In spite of the fact that fish oil has many benefits, there are also some negative effects associated with its use. Luckily, there is an alternative source for getting your EPA and DHA – krill oil. However, what is the difference between these two kinds of oil?

The first difference is where these oils comes from - fish oil is extracted from such fish as halibut, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, cod, and albacore tuna. Meanwhile, krill oil comes from krill, which are tiny crustaceans that live in Antarctica and feed on plankton.

Secondly, fish oil is around 30% EPA and DHA, whereas krill oil is only 14%. At the same time, the krill oil is 48 times more potent than fish oil, and it is much more absorbable. Another difference has to do with natural sustainability, as there is a big difference between the two kinds of oil in this regard. Since the 1950’s, 90% of large fish species consumed by humans and used to make fish oil have been fished out. Nonetheless, there is a very large amount of krill for predators and humans. In fact, krill harvesting could increase by 50 times and still be within safe harvesting limits. One final difference is the possibility of contaminants - it is well known that fish oil will contain some levels of mercury. It may also contain PCB's, and other toxic metals like cadmium, lead, chromium, and arsenic. On the other hand, krill oil is clean in this aspect because these crustaceans live far from industrial areas, and they are at the bottom of the food chain.

Conclusion


The human diet has changed dramatically in the last thousands of years, but our genetics are not much different, if at all. Hence, it is very beneficial to get the proper amount of omega-3 fatty acids in our diets. The best case scenario would be if you were able to catch your own fish in clean water and eat them. Nevertheless, if you are not able to do this, supplementing with fish or krill oil is a great addition to any diet and supplement plan, since the benefits to both the body and mind make fish/krill oil an ideal supplement.

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